– J&K: Donald Trump reiterates offer to resolve ‘explosive situation’ between India and Pakistan

The US president added that the neighbours were ‘not exactly friends’ at the moment and said ‘a lot has to do with religion’.

United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday reiterated his offer to mediate in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. The crisis in Kashmir “is a big deal”, Trump said, adding that it was an “explosive situation”.

Washington DC – USA, 21 August 2019. India ended Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, and moved to split the state into two Union Territories. The Centre also imposed a security lockdown and a communications blackout. New Delhi’s actions were swiftly condemned by Islamabad, which downgraded diplomatic ties and ended bilateral trade.

Since then, Pakistan has attempted to raise the Kashmir matter at the United Nations Security Council, saying India’s decisions were a threat to regional and global peace. On Tuesday, Pakistan said it would approach the International Court of Justice.

When a reporter asked Trump if the bilateral crisis was solvable, the US president spoke about the history of the region. “Well, they have been having this, these talks for hundreds of years, even under different names,” he told reporters in the White House.

“But this is, but it is Kashmir. And Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have the Hindus and you have the Muslims, and I would not say they get along so great. And that is what you have right now.”

The US president added that millions of people “want to be ruled by others, and maybe on both sides”. “And you have two countries that haven’t gotten along well for a long time. And, frankly, it’s a very explosive situation.”

On Monday, Trump spoke to both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Imran Khan in an effort to bring down the tensions in the region. He also said that he would meet Modi in France over the weekend during the G7 summit, indicating that he would discuss the matter with him.

“They’re both friends of mine,” Trump said, referring to Khan and Modi, adding that they were both “great people” who love their countries but are in a “very tough situation” now.

“Kashmir is a very tough situation,” he added. “And, you know, we are talking about, this has been going on for decades and decades. Shooting. I don’t mean shooting like shooting a rifle, I mean like major shooting of howitzers, of, you know, of heavy arms. And it’s been going on for a long period of time. But I get along really well with both of them.”

The US president said his government was trying to help, adding that there were tremendous problems between India and Pakistan. “And I will do the best I can to mediate or do something.” He added that India and Pakistan were “not exactly friends” at the moment and said the situation was complicated. “A lot has to do with religion. Religion is a complicated subject.”

Last month, Trump had inserted himself into the dispute by claiming that Modi had asked him to mediate in the Kashmir dispute. The US president reiterated his willingness to help India and Pakistan resolve the decades-old Kashmir dispute “if they wanted”.

While India refuted the claims, the Trump administration said the president stood firm on his statement. Last week, Indian Ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla said Trump had made it clear that his mediation offer was “not on the table anymore”.

Trump’s latest attempts to help came on a day when India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told United States Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper that Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter of India. A statement by the Ministry of Defence said Esper appreciated New Delhi’s stance on the troubled region.

BBC News – Kashmir: A priority for British [South] Asians?

Hazel Shearing & Francesca Gillett

Among the thousands of people gathered outside the Indian High Commission in London on Thursday, a woman stood with tears in her eyes as she joined in the chants: “What do we want? Freedom.”

London – UK, 20 August 2019. Part of the city was brought to a standstill as crowds of anti-Indian government demonstrators flooded the road, protesting against the country’s decision to place part of Kashmir under lock down.

Police had to keep them apart from a separate group who had gathered to celebrate India’s Independence Day.

But for the protesters, passing around black strips of cloth which they tied to their arms and waving photographs from Kashmir, it was a “black day”.

The protest came as Indian PM Narendra Modi said his decision to strip Indian-administered Kashmir of its special status, which gave it significant autonomy from the rest of India, would restore the region to its “past glory”.

But how much of a priority is the issue for British South Asians?

Riz Ali, 34, travelled for about three hours from Peterborough to be at the protest. He calls what is happening in Kashmir, the birthplace of his grandparents, “disgusting”.

“It’s another version of what Hitler did,” he says.

However, the tensions don’t affect his everyday social life, or relations with British Asians of Indian descent. “We’re Muslim and our religion teaches us to show peace,” he says.

Razaq Raj, a lecturer from Leeds, whose parents are from the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, says the political crisis is not divisive in his daily life, but is adamant that he will not buy Indian products.

“We are all Asian, our heritage is Asian,” he says. “Indians are as good as anybody to me. It’s not the Indian people, it’s the Indian government.”

‘They’ve got other concerns’

But away from the protests, South Asian activists in the charity sector tell BBC News that combating social injustices unite communities regardless of their faith or ethnicity, and suggest that younger generations are more likely to be divided over tensions between India and Pakistan.

Neelam Heera, 30, from Huddersfield, is of Indian Sikh descent. She says her family’s ethnicity never comes up in conversation – except on social media “where people find it easy to argue with each other”.

She founded Cysters, a charity that combats misconceptions around reproductive health, and works extensively with women from a range of South Asian communities.

“These health conditions and medical conditions don’t discriminate, so why should we?” she asks.

She says that tensions between Pakistan and India have never been raised in the meetings or online communities.

“For these women there are far bigger things to think about. They’re living in chronic pain, so dealing with Kashmir, and which side you’re on, isn’t something that is going to come across [their minds]. It’s not their priority, they’ve got other concerns,” she adds.

‘Really inclusive’

Like Heera, Khakan Qureshi, an LGBT activist from Birmingham, says common goals unite people from all faiths and nationalities.

Mr Qureshi, 49, also works with people from a broad range of backgrounds as part of BirminghamAsianLGBT, a voluntary-led organisation for LGBT South Asians in the UK.

“Everybody tries to be really inclusive of one another, that’s what makes us bond together and connect. If I connect with somebody I don’t really consider their faith or religion, it’s their personality,” he says.

But he is concerned that is not always the case for younger generations.

“Now people are trying to be much more specific when it comes to identity, when it comes to identity politics.” he says.

“Myself and all my peers we’re trying to support commonality, in that we’re looking at building bridges, friendships, regardless of whether we identify as Pakistani, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Indian.

“I feel that the younger generation are looking at identity and are wanting to be much more separated, in some cases, not always.”

‘More divided’

Pragna Patel founded Southall Sisters, a secular organisation made up of black and minority women which challenges gender-based violence. She says she has fostered an ethos that aims to unite people against inequality.

“But outside of our centre, of course the currents are swimming against us,” she says.

“People are divided more and more, it’s harder to forge solidarity among South Asians, let alone among all minority groups. That is because religion has become too politicised as an identity.”

She says younger people are more likely to “think of themselves in opposition to others” because they have no memory of Partition – in which up to 1 million people died and millions more were displaced when British-ruled India became the two new nations of India and Pakistan in 1947, and have grown up amid increasingly polarised politics.

What is going on in Kashmir?

Kashmir was plunged into an unprecedented lock-down this month, following the revocation of Article 370, the constitutional provision which gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir special dispensation to make its own laws on everything apart from matters of foreign affairs, defence and communications.

Telecommunications were cut off and local leaders were detained as tens of thousands of troops were deployed to patrol the streets.

The UN said the restrictions are deeply concerning and “will exacerbate the human rights situation”.

Last week the BBC witnessed police opening fire and using tear gas to disperse thousands of people who took to the streets to protest. The Indian government denied the protest took place.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, but they each control only parts of it.

There is a long-running separatist insurgency on the Indian side, which has led to thousands of deaths over three decades. India accuses Pakistan of supporting insurgents but its neighbour denies this, saying it only gives moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris who want self-determination.

Mr Modi defended his highly controversial decision to remove the special status accorded to Kashmir, calling it a “new era” for the Indian-administered part of the region, while large numbers of Indians celebrated the move.

Dawn – Nobel laureate Amartya Sen slams decision to revoke occupied Kashmir’s special status

New Delhi – India, 20 August 2019. Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has slammed the Narendra Modi-led government’s decision to revoke occupied Kashmir’s special status, saying that India had “lost the reputation” of being the world’s first non-Western country to adopt a democratic system.

“As an Indian, I am not proud of the fact that India, after having done so much to achieve a democratic norm in the world, where India was the first non-Western country to go for democracy, that we lose that reputation on the grounds of action that have been taken,” he said in an interview with NDTV on Monday night.

On 05 August the Indian government repealed Article 370 of the constitution that granted occupied Kashmir special status and prevented non-Kashmiris to buy property or start business in the region. A strict curfew and communications blackout is still in place in the region while international news agencies have been reporting protests held by residents.

Sen said that the decision to allow non-Kashmiris to buy property in the region should have been left for the Kashmiri residents because “it is their land”.

“That is something for the Kashmiris to determine. If that is the will that the Kashmiris have on democratic grounds, we can accept it.”

“This is something in which Kashmiris have a legitimate point of view because it is their land,” he added.

He also criticised the imposition of a lock-down, that has been in place for over two weeks, in the occupied region as well as the arrests of Kashmiri leaders under the pretext of preventing violent protests in the valley, calling it a “colonial excuse”.

“That’s how the British ran the country for 200 years. The last thing that I expected when we got our independence is that we would go back to our colonial heritage of preventive detentions.”

More than 4,000 people have been arrested by the Indian forces in occupied Kashmir under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial, AFP reported last week. Several prominent Kashmiri leaders, including former chief ministers of occupied Kashmir, have been placed under house arrest.

The Asian Age – Protest to United Kingdom over anti-India violence

New Delhi has told foreign nations that this was an “internal matter” of India that fell within its “sovereign jurisdiction”.

New Delhi – India, 20 August 2019. India has “conveyed its concerns” to Britain on the compromising of the security of the Indian High Commission in London by violent Pakistani demonstrators outside India House on Independence Day, sources said Monday.

Sources said New Delhi has also noted that Britain seems to have been backing China in pushing for the issue of a statement after the closed-door UN Security Council meet to discuss the Kashmir issue on Friday. However, this issue has not been raised with the British.

On India’s Independence Day on August 15, Indians celebrating the event outside the high commission were attacked by violent Pakistanis who, according to global news reports, pelted eggs and water bottles at them. Stones were also allegedly hurled at the Indian high commission.

“India’s concerns have been conveyed to Britain,” a source said, adding that the Indian high commission’s security was compromised by the violence unleashed by the Pakistani demonstrators. But apparently no formal protest has been lodged yet.

Britain is a member of the P-5, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It may be recalled that on Friday, the UNSC held closed-door deliberations in New York on the latest developments in Kashmir after China called for the meeting at the behest of Pakistan.

India had recently bifurcated J&K state and revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, that gave a special status to J&K within India. New Delhi has told foreign nations that this was an “internal matter” of India that fell within its “sovereign jurisdiction”.

Britain apparently was in favour of adopting a formal resolution after the meeting, which China had mooted, sources said, but others did not think it was necessary. Eyebrows were raised since this indicates Britain did not fully support India on the matter.

The Atlantic – Modi’s Kashmir decision is the latest step in undoing Nehru’s vision

The Indian government’s move to revoke special status for Kashmir is its latest step in reversing what it regards as historic wrongs committed by India’s first prime minister.

Krishnadev Calamur

New Delhi – India, 05 August 2019. No single person is as responsible for the shape and foundation of modern India as Jawaharlal Nehru. In August 1947, Nehru, a Harrow and Cambridge educated atheist who was deeply influenced by Fabian socialism, led a newly independent, intensely religious, and poorly educated developing country, and made it in his image.

Nehru’s three biggest ideas, a socialist economy based on centralized planning; a secular state where, unlike France, all faiths would be celebrated equally; and the promotion of a scientific temper, which resulted in the creation of world-class educational and research institutions, shaped India’s path for the next five decades.

A fourth idea was pursued by Nehru, and its consequences are being felt even now: special status for his beloved Kashmir.

India’s government announced today that it is revoking Article 370, the constitutional provision that gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir its special status; downgrading the state’s status so that New Delhi has more direct say over how Kashmir is governed; and splitting it so that Ladakh, the mountainous region that borders Tibet, becomes its own union territory.

The controversial move will almost certainly result in unrest in Kashmir, where a separatist movement has bedeviled India since the 1980s, and which has been at the heart of multiple wars and armed conflicts with Pakistan. It will also almost certainly be challenged all the way to the Indian Supreme Court, which ruled last year that Article 370 cannot be abrogated.

Whichever way the court ultimately rules, today’s announcement by the Indian government is the latest in a series of measures that have attempted to reshape Nehru’s vision for India. Under this view, propagated by the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters, Nehru was far too Western to understand India; his socialist economic policies choked growth for decades; and his views toward India’s minorities, especially Muslims, were tantamount to appeasement.

In the BJP’s vision, much of India’s ailments spring from policies adopted during Nehru’s premiership, from 1947 to his death in 1964, and so the party is doing its best to reverse them. Kashmir might be the centerpiece of this effort.

In 1947, Britain divided India on the basis of religion: The two Muslim-majority regions that flanked what is today’s modern India became a new country, Pakistan (the eastern flank of which became an independent nation, Bangladesh, in 1971).

But there was the matter of more than 600 princely states that Britain, the imperial power, said could choose among India, Pakistan, and independence. The overwhelming majority of states picked one of the two countries. Some of the rulers of the states that chose to remain independent were ultimately coerced into joining India or Pakistan. And then there was Kashmir.

Kashmir, from where Nehru’s family hailed, had a Hindu king, Hari Singh, and mostly Muslim subjects. Singh opted to remain independent, but quickly found his kingdom overrun by tribesmen from Pakistan. He sought India’s help, which Nehru offered on the condition that Kashmir join India.

Singh agreed. But Nehru took two additional steps: He promised a plebiscite in Kashmir in the hopes that Kashmiris would overwhelmingly pick India, and he accorded Kashmir special status that ensured, among other things, no one but a resident of the state could buy property there.

Since then, India and Pakistan have fought two wars and innumerable skirmishes over Kashmir, which has been the scene of a bloody separatist rebellion that India says is abetted by Pakistan; the plebiscite was never held.

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP maintain that Kashmir is a mess because of Nehru’s decision to accord it special status. This, Modi’s supporters say, has stifled investment in the state, which lags behind other Indian regions in economic growth.

As Arun Jaitley, the former Indian finance minister said on Twitter today: “Separate status led to separatism. No dynamic nation can allow this situation to continue.”

But indications are that the BJP, which ironically enjoys the same kind of hefty parliamentary majority that Nehru did, has other plans to remake India, apart from its so far mixed record of reforming the economy. Last week, Parliament banned “instant divorce” for India’s Muslims.

The step has been long demanded by Muslim women’s-rights groups, but critics of the government say they believe it is the first step toward the introduction of a uniform civil code that would reverse the current system, which allows each of India’s major faiths to follow religious doctrine on matters such as divorce and inheritance.

Nehru, as an atheist, supported a uniform civil code, but gave in to pressure on personal law at the time from religious minorities.

The issue is fraught because of the BJP’s perceived hostility toward India’s minorities, especially Muslims: The country’s Islamic past, which at its zenith combined India’s many faiths, is presented more and more as alien; minorities are forced to praise the Hindu god Ram; Hindu vigilantes, who consider the cow sacred, attack and kill Muslims they suspect of eating beef.

Nehru, whose vision of India was that of a modern, secular nation, wrote more than seven decades ago: “It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, or a rich country inhabited by starving people.”

That view has been cast aside in favor of a more nationalist view of science. In Uttar Pradesh state, which is ruled by a BJP government, cow urine is sold as an elixir.

Officials have claimed at scientific congresses that ancient Indians possessed the ability to conduct stem-cell research, and cast doubts about Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Even as India launches rockets that go to the moon and Mars, it promotes pseudoscience.

If Nehru is the man most responsible for the first half century of India’s modern life, then Modi may well be the one most consequential for its next 50 years. Nehru, the elite atheist who willed India into a secular, socialist, scientific republic, one where Kashmir held a special status—built India into what it is today. Modi is transforming it into what he wishes it to be.

Outlook – Pro-Khalistan Sikhs, Pakistanis hold protest on Kashmir outside UN In New York

About 400 people marched from India’s UN mission to a cordoned-off area opposite the UN shouting slogans for Khalistan and Kashmir on India’s Independence Day.

UNO – New York – USA. 17 August 2019. Pro-Khalistan Sikhs joined by some Pakistanis held a protest outside the UN demanding the restoration of Kashmir’s special status.

About 400 people marched from India’s UN mission to a cordoned-off area opposite the UN on Thursday, which was India’s Independence Day. They shouted slogans for Khalistan and Kashmir, holding flags of Kashmir-occupied “Azad” Kashmir and yellow Khalistani and blue “referendum” banners.

Most of the participants were Sikhs, with a few Pakistanis and Kashmiris.

A diplomat from Pakistan’s UN Mission was seen moving in their midst taking pictures of the demonstration.

The organisers billed it as a protest by “Kashmiris and Pro-Khalistan Sikhs” with the support of “local Sikh Gurdwaras”.

Gurpatwant Pannun of Sikhs for Justice, who was the main organiser, said that they shared a common cause with Kashmiris. He said that his organisation was organising a “referendum” on Khalistan next year.

Pannun that they had presented to a UN Human Rights official, whom he would not identify, a memorandum addressed to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesperson asking for deployment of UN peace-keepers in Kashmir and holding a plebiscite there, as well as recognising his group’s Khalistan “referendum”.

Only the Security Council, and not the Secretary-General, can deploy peacekeepers.

Kuldip Singh Dhillon, the President of the Sikh Cultural Society of New York, which runs the biggest gurdwara in the city, said that his organisation supported the demand for returning to the status quo in Kashmir and asserted that they had a common cause with Kashmiris.

The Hindu – Pandits’ return to Kashmir possible only with support of stakeholders: adviser to Governor

Government committed to the safe return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, says Farooq Khan

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 16 August 2019. Jammu Adviser to J&K Governor, Farooq Khan, has said the complete return of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) to the Valley is possible only with the support and cooperation of all stakeholders.

“The complete return of Kashmiri migrants to the Valley is possible only with the support and cooperation of all stakeholders, including the civil society of Kashmir, who share a social and cultural bond with the Kashmiri migrants,” Mr Khan said on Thursday.

He said the government was committed to the safe return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.

Mr Khan further said the process for the recruitment against 3,000 posts for the migrants and the construction of transit accommodations for the migrant employees serving in the Valley would start soon.

The statement came in the wake of hopes for the return of over 3 lakh displaced pandits to the Valley after the scrapping of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.

‘Stop terror to start talks’: India to Pakistan after UNSC meeting on Kashmir

India asserted that matter related to Article 370 was “entirely an internal matter” and called on Pakistan to “stop terror to start talks”.

United Nations – New York – USA, 16 August 2019. Minutes after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a closed-door meeting on the Kashmir issue, India on Friday asserted that matter related to Article 370 was “entirely an internal matter” and called on Pakistan to “stop terror to start talks”.

“Our national position was and remains that matter related to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is entirely an internal matter of India. We took preventive measures in Kashmir to stop terrorists bleeding our people,” said Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council.

Defending the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status enjoyed under Article 370, Akbaruddin said the Indian government’s decision will have no external ramifications and that it was intended to ensure the promotion of good governance and enhancement of socio-economic development in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

“We’re committed to gradually removing all restrictions. Since the change is internal to India, we have not made any difference to our external orientation. India remains committed to ensure that the situation there (J&K) remains calm and peaceful, he said.

India’s response came hours after China, a permanent member of the security council, said that UNSC members are concerned about the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting took place after Pakistan, backed by its all-weather ally China, requested “closed consultations” on the issue.

Beijing had approached Poland, which holds the UNSC presidency this month, to discuss Pakistan’s letter on India’s move to revoke special status for J&K and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.

However, the outcome of the UNSC meeting will not be a formal pronouncement as the consultations are informal in nature. The meeting, which was open only to the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members, was not attended by India and Pakistan.

The Council began its deliberations at 10 am (7:30pm IST) in the Security Council Consultations Room. Interestingly, the discussions are not being held at the horse-shoe table in the Security Council Chamber, which is a more formal format for meetings.

Russia’s deputy permanent representative, Dimitry Polyanskiy told PTI before entering the meeting room that Moscow’s view is that it is a “bilateral issue” between India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan today discussed the Kashmir issue with US President Donald Trump over phone, reported PTI.

India diluted Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, scrapping special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir. The Centre’s move has also bifurcated the state into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

In reaction to India’s decision, Pakistan expelled the Indian High Commissioner soon after deciding to downgrade diplomatic ties with New Delhi. India has categorically conveyed to the international community that its move on Article 370 was an “internal matter” and advised Pakistan to “accept the reality”.

India will also track how the 15 UNSC members proceed on the issue, and whether there are any statements issued later, especially by the five permanent members, that refer to restrictions in the Valley or human rights violations.

In a setback to Pakistan’s intentions, the consultations on its letter to the Council are closed and informal and there will unlikely be a formal pronouncement after the meeting, diplomatic sources said.

Observing Aug 15 as Black Day, Sikh bodies protest against Modi’s onslaughts on Minorities

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 16 August 2019. Representatives of various Sikh groups namely SAD (Amritsar), Dal Khalsa and others urged the Indian state and the world community to acknowledge the right to self determination of all struggling peoples in accordance with international treaties and covenants, which all democratic nations are expected to adhere to and oblige.

In a significant move, Panthik bodies supported by Students for Society (SFS), staged a protest against injustices, discrimination, denial of rights and abrogation of article 370 and caging the people of Kashmir at gunpoint. They rue that using army against civilians has become permanent feature of Indian polity.

They observed 15 August as Black day by holding mass protest in 15 districts of Punjab on 15 August.

Dal Khalsa president Harpal Singh Cheema led around 400 activists in Jalandhar to stage a spirited protest against injustices and Indian subjugation.

Carrying placards the demonstrators alleged that the last few decades have been tumultuous years of denial, torment, torture, mayhem, vandalism and death. One of the signboard they were carrying conveyed the message of unity between Punjab and Kashmir. It reads “Our pain is same, our enemy is same”.

Leaders expressed solidarity with Kashmiri Diaspora and said revoking 370 won’t kill aspirations of freedom in Kashmiri people. Taking a jibe at government amending UAPA to brand an individual as terrorist, the protesters were carrying placards on which it was written: “Under UAPA, we are terrorists”.

To convey their message they carried placards covering issues from Bargari sacrilege to amending UAPA making the law more draconian to crush dissenting voices. The protest remained focused on giving more teeth to NIA calling the agency a dragon, reviving dead SYL issue, not releasing Sikh detainee who have completed their life term.

The organizations lambasted previous and present Punjab governments for failing to prosecute Sirsa cult head in sacrilege and Maur Bomb Blast case and guilty cops especially SS Saini in Behbal Klan firing case.

The leaders extended their support for the protest event held at UN office in Geneva on 15th against torture, violence, human shield and rape as an instrument against minorities being organized jointly by minorities of Indian sub-continent.

The leaders slammed Tarn Taran police for crackdown on Sikh activists and detaining them to prevent them for exercising their democratic right to protest.

Simranjit Singh Mann, president of SAD (Amritsar) said, since 1947, whenever we had asked for our rights, we had to face bullets, detention and hardships. He urged the Sikhs not to forget the various actions taken by Indian state against the Sikhs before taking part in celebrations.

He said the genesis of the Sikh problem was rooted in the betrayal of commitments and promises Indian leaders made during the partition. Appointing individuals at the higher ranking constitutional post was a ploy to deceive the world that the country was “secular” in real sense, he pointed out.

Dal Khalsa leader Kanwar Pal Singh said while Pakistan and India were celebrating their 72nd Independence Day with great fervor, we, the Sikhs regret that “we had missed the bus”. However, he reiterated that the Sikh desire for freedom is alive and kicking.

Justifying their protest on India’s National day, he clarified that in principle they were not against rejoicing Independence Day of any country. However, it is irony of fate that a country like India has misused every democratic institution to deny the glow of freedom to Sikhs and other minorities.

SFS leader and president of Punjab University, Ms Kanupriya said, on the entire political spectrum, from left to right, we are suffering from an overdose of over-patriotism. “Presently, in India, dissension is sedition. Crackdown and arrest of so many protesters in Tarn Taran gives us clear indications of the repressive system we are living in.

The day also marks the state violence against the people of various linguistic and religious minorities. We oppose the very nature of the Indian state that has always been Hindutva fascist”, he added.

Observing Aug 15 as Black Day, Sikh bodies protest against Modi’s onslaughts on Minorities

Reuters – Sikh leader in Kashmir raps India’s revoking of region’s autonomy

Zeba Siddiqui, Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 14 August 2019. India’s move to revoke the autonomy of Kashmir has increased anti-India sentiment in the Himalayan region and will backfire, said the president of the largest Sikh group in Jammu and Kashmir state.

Sikhs represent just 2% of the population in Muslim-majority Kashmir but are spread across the state, engaging in everything from farming and government services to running bakeries and provision stores.

“They have committed a big blunder,” said Jagmohan Singh Raina, president of the All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, a group of civil and religious organisations from the Sikh community. “They could have changed laws, but at least they should have consulted us,” Raina said in an interview.

The federal and Jammu and Kashmir governments did not immediately return emails and messages seeking a response to from Raina, one of the few community leaders in Kashmir to go public with criticism of India’s step following the detention of over 500 local leaders or activists over the past 11 days.

The Delhi government has said its lifting of Kashmir’s special rights, which allowed it to create many of its own laws, is meant to bringing the state more into the India fold, help combat terrorism and to give the region a chance to grow faster.

The dramatic policy shift is getting widespread support within India’s majority Hindu community. Many opposition MPs have supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party on the matter.

The change means that non-residents will be allowed to buy property in Kashmir and state government jobs will not be reserved for residents. To some in the Sikh community that is a threat as many families own land on which they grow produce and have members who are in government jobs.

Raina, who sells liquefied petroleum gas for cooking in central Srinagar, said he was concerned the government was creating anti-Muslim sentiment and dividing the community.

The Sikh community in Kashmir still bears the scars from the Chittisinghpura massacre in 2000, in which 36 Sikhs were lined up and shot in a village. The Indian government said the atrocity was committed by an Islamist militant group.

Raina said the current security clampdown in Kashmir, including the detention of moderate local leaders, meant that “anti-India sentiment has grown stronger.” That, he said, would make it more difficult for someone with nationalist pro-India views to live in Kashmir in the future.

Raina’s views were backed up by Harbinder Singh, a Sikh businessman from Srinagar’s Batamaloo area. “There is a big problem, it’s not a small thing that (special status) has been revoked. We are extremely disappointed,” he said.

Singh said he feared for the future of the Kashmiri Sikh community. “We Kashmiris didn’t have much, we just had this special status, and now this is also taken from us. This will mean that our people will find it hard to get jobs here.”

Edited by Martin Howell