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India uses political opportunism in occupied Kashmir under Covid-19

Is COVID-19 a “perfect cover” for political opportunities? CJ Werleman.

While international community is fighting Covid-19 lockdown, Kashmir is under continued lockdown since5 August 2019. 

Opportunism and politics are intertwined in reality. For example, how Americans forgot impeachment proceedings for President Trump by diverting attention to the killing of Iranian military general Qassem Soleimani in the beginning of 2020.

India intensified military aggression since Covid-19 lockdown by killing maths teacher turned resistance leader Riyaz Naikoo. As part of the operations Indian troopers used earth movers to dig up patches of land including school playgrounds, blasted civilian homes with explosives and used pellet guns to shoot protesters.

In past few days Indian security forces torched 15 homes in Srinagar. The victims confirm that the troopers looted valuables such as gold and cash from houses they raided under the so-called ‘operation’ before blowing them up.

The Indian armed forces are protected by Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), an act passed in Indian Parliament in 1958.  AFSPA gives a free-hand in committing atrocities against civilians in Kashmirwithout any accountability.  Observers see theseatrocities as racially motivated.

Israel has close friendship with India while it faces growing international isolation and is using the global coronavirus distraction to increase ethnic cleansing of Palestine.  What Israel is doing in Palestine is whatIndia is doing in Kashmir. 

Since right-wing Modi came into power in 2014, headopted a policy called de-hyphenation towards Israel.  Today India and Israel share increasingly common interests in many fields.   It is not surprising that xenophobic India’s Hindutva nationalists find mutual affinity with Israel.

On 01 July 2019, Israel signalled its intention to formalise its annexation of the occupied West Bank through a bill.  On 05 August a month later, India revoked article 370 which gave special status toKashmir.  Analysts see this as no mere coincidence butpart of a bigger plan in motion by these two nations. 

In April 2020 India passed a new set of laws allowing rights for Indian citizens, particularly for soldiers and their families or those who have lived in Kashmir for 15 years or longer to purchase and own property in Kashmir.  Article 370 had prevented Indians frompurchasing properties in Kashmir as it is a disputed land. 

While the world is busy fighting Covid-19, both Israel and India are using the pandemic to expand settler-colonial projects.  Werleman compares this political opportunism as “while France was distracted with a national election and range of unresolved domestic issues in 1936, Nazi Germany seized it as an opportunity to violate the Treaty of Versailles by remilitarising the Rhineland.”

During Covid-19 and an unplanned lockdown, Modi faces political turmoil at home as millions of migrant labours walk hundreds of kilometres to reach home. They are dying on the way without food and shelter asModi failed India in its hour of need.  Modi uses this crisis as political opportunism by using further aggression in occupied Kashmir where one million India security forces are on the streets. 

Killing innocent Muslims in Kashmir then declaring them as ‘terrorists’ has been an acceptable political norm in India. India always used its military aggression in Kashmir and blamed Pakistan to divert domestic failures and tactfully silenced political opponents anddissidents.  

Suffering of the average Kashmiri has only increased over India’s warmongering during the ‘double lockdown’ under Covid-19.

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