OFMI – India West Diaspora Newspaper Sells Out to RSS Paramilitary

San Leandro, California – USA, 12 August 2019. One of the US’s oldest Indian diaspora newspapers, India West, has angered segments of the Indian-American community after publishing a front-page ad featuring the founding fathers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, including MS Golwalkar, who praised Nazi Germany’s racial policies.

The full-page ad celebrates the Indian government’s controversial decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomous status and strip the region of statehood. The add states that “Akhand Bharat”, a Hindu nationalist demand for an “Undivided India,” is “finally a reality.” Showing a saffron flag planted in J&K, the ad features images of Golwalkar and RSS founder KB Hedgewar.

“India West has sold out to the RSS, a fascist paramilitary responsible for pogroms and lynchings of India’s minorities,” states Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India. “The publishers of this newspaper are a disgrace to journalism.

They have showered contempt on the millions of Indians who are persecuted by the RSS. Does India West stand by Golwalkar’s praise for the Nazi purge of the Jews? We demand a retraction of the paper and a sincere apology from the publishers.”

Golwalkar, who led the RSS from 1940 to 1973, infamously wrote in 1939: “To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races, the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here.

Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Subsequently, in 1966, Golwalkar endorsed annexation of Pakistan, calling for “the hoisting of our flag in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan.” The long-standing demand of Hindu nationalist outfits like the RSS includes establishment of a mythical “Akhand Bharat.” Such a nation might include every South Asian country from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka to Myanmar.

“We’re shocked at India West’s complete lack of judgement in approving advertisers,” says Balbir Singh Dhillon, the president of West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara.

“The RSS wants to purge India of Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and anyone else who isn’t Hindu. Fascists like the RSS are celebrating Modi’s tyranny in Kashmir, but Sikhs here in California are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our oppressed Kashmiri brothers and sisters. The publishers of India West should be ashamed of themselves.”

Dhillon, who spent months in jail in India in the 1990s on false charges, adds that the torture he experienced is a regular feature of life in Kashmir. “So many Kashmiris have been tortured like I was,” he says. “Tens and tens of thousands of Kashmiris have been simply murdered. The Sikhs in Punjab suffered the same thing.”

Last week, the Bharatiya Janata Party ruled Indian government passed a bill stripping J&K of statehood. The move was preceded by a presidential order abrogating Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, which had officially granted J&K autonomy in most of its domestic affairs.

Kashmiris generally considered the article as the primary legal justification for their state’s alignment with India. The BJP’s actions prompted international outcry.

Kashmiris have remained under martial law for over a week. Phone and internet service is blocked. A few images obtained by international outlets like The New York Times show furious Kashmiris clashing with Indian security forces. Reports from the BBC show security forces using tear gas to disperse a protest rally. India denies the protest occurred.

“The growing instability in this nuclear region presents a global threat,” concludes Dhillon. “By placing this ad, India West is openly intimidating minorities of Indian origin who are living in the US.

India West’s publishers are sending a chilling message that they endorse the lynchings, torture, killings, and forced assimilation of India’s minorities under the saffron flag of Hindu supremacists.”

India West, a weekly print newspaper based in California, was founded in 1975 by Ramesh and Bina Murarka.


Scroll.in – 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.


Dawn – Rise of virulent nationalism

Zahid Hussain

Op/Ed, 14 August 2019. Muscular nationalism, majoritarianism and populism are the most definite manifestations of the fascist ideology that now seems to be on the rise in various parts of the world. Ascendency of authoritarian strongmen is causing the rollback of liberal democratic values.

The most dangerous fascist trait is the new virulent nationalism that seeks to assert racist, political and cultural hegemony, thus threatening not only democratic processes within states but also regional security.

Two events in the past weeks in different parts of the world, the US and India, are demonstrative of such increasing fascistic trends. One of these incidents, of the kind described as domestic terrorism motivated by white supremacist ideology, left several Americans dead.

The manifesto posted by the young shooter who on 03 August slaughtered more than two dozen shoppers, most of them of Hispanic origin, at a mall in El Paso, Texas, talked about the “invasion of immigrants”.

It echoed the rhetoric used by President Trump against non-white immigrants. His re-election campaign too often mentions the ‘invasion’ of illegal immigrants. Trump’s white supremacist ideology has polarised American society as never before.

His tweets and the speeches he gives at public rallies include racist invective and encourage jingoistic hatred. One example of his incitement of racial grievances is his constant attack on four congresswomen of colour for their outspoken criticism of the administration’s racist politics.

Trump’s remarks that the congresswomen should “go back’ to their countries of origin has become a popular slogan among his supporters. He has stoked right-wing violence and his administration has actively opposed efforts to fight it. Given such a campaign of hatred, the increasing occurrence of racist terrorism in the United States is not surprising.

The rise of neo-Nazism in other Western countries is a symptom of their racist politics and populism. Most worrisome is the prospect of Trumpian populism prevailing in other countries.

Over the past years, there has been a notable rise of more virulent nationalism and authoritarian trends. Anti-immigration sentiments have strengthened right-wing extremist nationalism. It has also reared its ugly face in other parts of the world.

The Indian action to annex the occupied territory and attempt to destroy Kashmiri identity is also a part of muscular nationalism under a Hindu majoritarian regime.

It is not just a matter of territorial occupation but also a move to turn a religious community into a minority. Driven by RSS ideology, Modi is trying to turn India into a Hindu rashtra and marginalise other religious communities.

Not only is this brute military force an attempt to suppress the Kashmir struggle for self-determination, it is also cultural subjugation of an entire community.

We are witnessing in India today the escalation of a violent Hindu nationalism that is causing instability in the region. What has happened in India-held Kashmir could be a prelude to the strengthening of Modi’s authoritarian rule.

The return of Narendra Modi with a larger mandate on the wave of militant nationalism and populism has further shaken the secular foundations of India which had already been weakened over the years.

This trend has been most distressing for India’s minorities. The BJP’s politics, rooted in Hindu supremacist groups, have polarised this heterogeneous country, raising fear and tensions.

Mob violence against Muslims, who make up about 14 per cent of India’s population, and lower-caste Hindus, has risen alarmingly. In many cases, right-wing communal groups that form the nucleus of Modi’s support base have perpetrated the violence. And the bloodshed often goes unpunished.

The ideology behind Hindutva as articulated by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar views Muslims and Christians as outsiders who, according to him, “cannot claim equal membership in the Indian nation”.

The ideology sees non-Hindus as an existential threat to Hindutva. “Their holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine,” Savarkar wrote in what became the de facto manifesto of the RSS, which was founded in 1925.

“Their mythology and Godmen, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently, their names and their outlook smack of a foreign origin. Their love is divided.”

For nearly a century, there has been a deep ideological battle over the idea of India, pitting an inclusive vision of a pluralistic, multi-faith nation against the Hindu majoritarianism of the RSS, which says Hindus should have primacy in Indian society.

The RSS was banned briefly after one of its members assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.

Over the years, the RSS has emerged as one of the most powerful political forces in India.

It is also a component of the BJP. Modi and some other top leaders of the ruling party come from the ranks of the RSS and are taking forward the ideology of Hindutva and turning India into a Hindu rashtra. A big question is whether the followers of Savarkar have won this ideological battle.

A divided and rudderless opposition will hardly be able to stop the BJP’s communal roller coaster. The wave of aggressive Hindu nationalism has even split the secular parties as was witnessed during the voting in the Indian parliament on revoking Article 370 that provided a semi-autonomous status to occupied Kashmir.

The militant nationalism also affects state institutions, even the judiciary. Hence it is not likely that the Indian Supreme Court would strike down occupied Kashmir’s annexation despite its legality being questioned by many top Indian jurists.

A major cause of concern is that what has been happening in India and the rising wave of militant nationalism elsewhere could also strengthen the right-wing Islamic groups in Pakistan that also espouse the idea of a majoritarian Islamic state and are still active despite the state’s claims of reining them in.

The very fact that some of the provisions in our Constitution discriminate against non-Muslims gives the right-wing groups a sense of impunity. Some argue that the provision whereby the state can decide who is a Muslim goes against the spirit of Pakistan as propounded by the founders of this nation. It is also a battle for the soul of Pakistan.

The writer is an author and journalist



Pulwama: A Present Moment in the Longer Kashmir Story

The attack at Pulwama needs to be understood in context of 70 years of unrest

Pieter Friedrich

While the bodies of the 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troops who died in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on Valentine’s Day are only just now being laid to rest, unrest prevails throughout the Indian subcontinent in the wake of the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in the world’s hottest nuclear flashpoint in 30 years.

Sabers are rattling. India has stripped Pakistan of “most favored nation” status and imposed a 200 percent tariff on all Pakistani imports. The sanctions evoke the economic adage that when goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will. Various Indian television personalities are demanding war.

Neither Pakistan’s disavowal and denouncement of the attack nor the fact that the alleged attacker was a young Kashmiri who reportedly became a militant after being profiled, detained, and beaten in the streets by Indian police register as data points in India’s present dialogues.

The only people who appear to be taking into account the Kashmiri identity of the attacker are mobs who, fielded by militant Hindu nationalist organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), are attacking innocent Kashmiri Muslims throughout India.

Dehradun, a city located in the Himalayan foothills just 45 kilometers from the hippie hotspot of Rishikesh, is one notable example. Chanting “shoot the traitors,” mobs of hundreds besieged Kashmiri students who took refuge in their university hostels.

One female student said they appealed to the police for help but were told they should instead apologize to the mobs. Other students were seized and beaten. Although some of the assaults were caught on camera, and show officers standing by passively observing, police denied the occurrence of any incidents of violence. Students, said police, “are making a big deal out of nothing.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was already mobilizing to fight for BJP supremacy in the Indian General Elections later this year, urged voters in Uttar Pradesh (India’s most populous state) to back his religious nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to guarantee a “strong government” which will give “glory on the international stage.” His comments came just a day after the Pulwama attack.

The Pulwama attack set a new record, surpassing that previously set by the 2016 attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri district. Nineteen Indian Army soldiers died in the Uri attack. Then, just as now, Pakistan denied involvement.

Nevertheless, India insisted the attack was Pakistani orchestrated and claims it launched retaliatory “surgical strikes” against alleged militant bases inside Pakistani territory. Pakistan denies the strikes even occurred.

Yet the Indian narrative was etched in celluloid in the Bollywood film Uri: The Surgical Strike, which is still playing in India’s theaters after its release last month. As a columnist for The Wire.in commented, “The film’s timing will help the BJP market the surgical strike in the 2019 elections as its unique contribution to Indian security.”

What is not unique about the BJP is its commitment to continuing the conflict over Kashmir, even at the risk of provoking nuclear war with Pakistan. Clutching Kashmir tighter and closer to its chest, even as its inhabitants struggle against the unwanted attention and scream that they are being stifled, has been the approach of the Indian Central Government since 1947. Escalation rather than re-evaluation is India’s singular policy towards the region.

When the colonial British ignored all organic borders of language and ethnicity to partition the entire subcontinent into just two outsized territories, they set the stage for one of the most intractable and longest-lasting religio-political conflicts in modern history.

Demarcating Pakistan as a Muslim State, they (perhaps inadvertently) bolstered India’s burgeoning Hindu nationalist movement and its sense of self-justification in pressing for “equal treatment” by demanding a Hindu State.

Since no one not belonging to the State Religion (whether official or de facto) wanted to be stranded in that state, the partition sparked the largest mass migration in history.

The two-way migration was beset by acts of horrendous violence. No one really knows how many died, but estimates range from a few hundred thousand to two million. Jammu and Kashmir, then an independent monarchy, was among the worst affected areas.

Above the Kashmir Valley, in the hills of Jammu, cadres of the Hindu nationalist paramilitary Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) joined hands with the monarch, Maharaja Hari Singh, to ethnically cleanse the region of Muslims.

The death toll was up to 100,000. On 26 October 1947, two weeks after the violence began and four days after India and Pakistan went to war with each other over the region, the Hindu Maharaja ceded control of his still Muslim majority kingdom to the freshly-formed country of India.

The territory has remained disputed ever since, and served as fuel to the fire of nationalist fervor throughout the subcontinent as the governments of both India and Pakistan treat the land as a feather which belongs in the cap of one nation alone.

Caught in the crossfire are the Kashmiri people themselves, whose lives seem subordinate to the pride of maintaining “territorial integrity.” Thus, India currently keeps a minimum of half a million troops lodged in the midst of the region’s 13 million residents.

In 1987, Jammu and Kashmir emerged from nearly a year of President’s Rule, in which the Central Government dissolves the state legislature and imposes direct governance, to hold elections. Amidst allegations that the Indian National Congress (INC) rigged the polls to defeat candidates sympathetic to independence, anger boiled over into mass street demonstrations.

On 19 January 1990, New Delhi again imposed President’s Rule. Protests increased, and on the 21st, CRPF troops cut off protesters at Gawkadal Bridge in Srinigar, the region’s largest city. Opening fire, the troops gunned down at least 50 civilians, some say over 100.

Protests again increased, with hundreds of thousands and up to a million demonstrating at a time. Many abandoned protesting for militancy. Later that year, Delhi imposed the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, granting immunity to security forces for acts committed on duty, even atrocities. As the militancy continued throughout the 1990s, the atrocities escalated.

Indian security forces massacred people, disappeared, tortured, raped, killed in custody, looted, destroyed houses, burned religious structures, desecrated religious books, and generally waged total war.

In 1995, Kashmiri human rights attorney Jalil Andrabi traveled to the United Nations in Geneva to appeal for intervention. Noting that “more than 40,000 people have been killed,” he asserted, “These atrocities being committed on the people of Kashmir are not mere aberrations. These are part of deliberate and systematic state policy.”

In March 1996, Andrabi was picked up by the Indian Army while driving with his wife near his Srinigar home. Twenty days later, his body, tied up in a sack, washed ashore on the Jhelum River. His hands were tied behind his back, eyes gouged out, facial bones crushed. He had been killed with a gunshot to the head.

As the insurgency subsided in the early 2000s, a larger pattern of state-sponsored human rights abuses began coming into light. In 2008, Amnesty International reported the discovery of mass graves, many of them concentrated in Uri district. Thousands of mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been uncovered over the years since. And mass demonstrations again grew.

Since 2010, India has resorted to “non-lethal” methods of crowd control such as pellet guns, blinding hundreds of civilians, including children. Sometimes, troops even embrace less conventional methods, as in 2017 when an Indian Army major lashed a protester to his jeep to use as a human shield.

Meanwhile, on a societal level, there are efforts to inspire Muslim flight which are, in spirit, reminiscent of the RSS collaboration with Maharaja Hari Singh in 1947.

In January 2018, with the goal of driving out a local nomadic Muslim community, several men (including at least one police officer) abducted an eight-year-old girl near Kathua, a city known as the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir. They locked her in a temple owned by one of them, and gang-raped her for days before murdering her and dumping her body.

When they were arrested, the BJP’s State Secretary organized a protest march for their release. Joining the march were two BJP State Ministers. They had, they later said, been instructed to attend by their party leadership.

In the heat of the moment, as the BJP campaigns for re-election, mobs attack Kashmiris, and pundits call for war, beating drums and rattling sabers seems to be a far more popular approach than consideration of the history that brought South Asia to this point.

Yet it’s the same stale strategy. Escalation, never reevaluation.

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent. Discover more by him at pieterfriedrich.net.

From: Pieter Friedrich <pieterjfriedrich@gmail.com>
To: Harjinder Singh <harjindersinghkhalsa@yahoo.co.uk>


Dawn – National Security Committee expresses satisfaction over constitutional reforms in Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan

A meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the transformational reforms introduced by the government with regard to Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Sanaullah Khan

Islamabad – Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 29 May 2018. The committee observed that the mainstreaming of Fata and its merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the transfer of all the powers to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who will enjoy similar rights which the people of other provinces have without any discrimination “have gone a long way in fulfilling the aspirations of the people of these regions with far-reaching outcomes for national life”.

The 24th NSC meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was attended by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, National Security Adviser retired Lt General Nasser Khan Janjua, the army chief and other senior civil and military officials.

The NSC condemned the “reign of terror unleashed by Indian occupation forces on innocent Kashmiris and resolved that Pakistan would continue to play its role in realising the right of the people of Kashmir to self-determination”.

During the meeting, the interior ministry official briefed the committee on the basic features of the new visa policy aimed at making Pakistan a tourist and business-friendly country. In view of this policy, it was agreed that the ‘visa on arrival’ facility should be initiated as a pilot project in the first instance.

Earlier this week, ousted prime minister and PML-N “supreme leader” Nawaz Sharif had appeared to draw a parallel between his own recent statement on the Mumbai attack case and the contents of a new book jointly penned by former ISI chief Lt General Asad Durrani and former RAW chief A S Dulat, and called for the National Security Council (NSC) to re-convene on the matter as it had in his (Sharif’s) case.

The NSC had unanimously termed Nawaz Sharif’s statements regarding the 2008 Mumbai attacks as incorrect and misleading.