‘Reign of terror’ in northern India follows citizenship law

Indian women hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens India's secular identity in Bangalore, India, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019. (AP)
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Updated 27 December 2019

‘Reign of terror’ in northern India follows citizenship law

  • Critics say BJP is openly at war with Muslims as Modi praises police action

NEW DELHI: Idul Hasan has been crying since he saw the body of his 20-year-old son Asif, unable to believe that life has become so tragic. 

“I was called by the ambulance driver, he told me to see my son in the hospital’s post-mortem section,” a sobbing Hasan told Arab News. “What was his crime?”

Asif, a rickshaw driver in the Meerut district of northern Uttar Pradesh state, was killed after Friday prayers when police fired at people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). 

The act fast-tracks citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before the end of 2014 from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. But critics say the law is discriminatory and goes against the secular spirit of India’s constitution. 

Six people have been killed by police fire in Meerut and a fact-finding team comprising civil society activists accuses authorities of targeting Muslims. One activist has said there is a “reign of terror” in Uttar Pradesh.

“The UP authorities are brazenly targeting Muslims ... throwing democratic norms, constitutional rights and the due process of law to the wind,” the National Action Against Citizenship Amendment team said.

FASTFACT

There have been protests across India but most of the killings and violence has occurred in places governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party such as Uttar Pradesh.

The citizenship law follows decisions by New Delhi that disproportionately affect the country’s Muslim population including revoking the special status of the Muslim-majority state of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, the screening of Muslims from the National Register of Citizens in Assam state, and plans to build a Hindu temple at the site of centuries-old Babri Mosque.

There have been protests across India but most of the killings and violence has occurred in places governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) such as Uttar Pradesh.

Media and police reports said there had been 18 deaths from police fire in the state, and that hundreds of people have been detained.

“There is a reign of terror and the minority is living in deep fear,” political activist Yogendra Yadav told Arab News after a visit to Meerut. 

Arab News contacted the director-general of Uttar Pradesh police, O.P. Singh, but he refused to comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has praised the role of state police in enforcing law and order, telling an audience in Lucknow that people who committed violent acts and damaged public property should sit peacefully at home and ponder if it was the right path.

Activists who visited the state told Arab News that the BJP was openly at war with Muslims, and that people were so scared they were not going to the police station to file reports about missing relatives.


Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

  • Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status
  • Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan branded India an “oppressor and aggressor” on Wednesday, a year after New Delhi imposed direct rule on Indian-administered Kashmir.
Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, a move that outraged Islamabad.
Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it.
“India stands exposed before the world, yet again, as an oppressor and aggressor,” Khan said in a statement.
“Its so-called secular and democratic credentials stand fully discredited,” he added, calling India’s action last year a “crime against humanity.”
Khan led a march through Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, before addressing the region’s legislative assembly.
Across the city, more than 2,000 people turned out at a series of anti-India protests.
“We ask the world to give Kashmiris their right of self-determination, otherwise we will cross the Line of Control and help our brothers on the other side with arms,,” Arslan Ahmad, a refugee who fled Indian-administered Kashmir, told AFP.
“Half of my family is under siege in Indian-occupied Kashmir, my mother is dying to meet her sister, this dispute has left our generations torn apart,” 31-year old Usman Mir added.
Police were enforcing tight restrictions in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, where religious and political groups had called on residents to observe a “black day.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government had promised the move would bring peace and prosperity to Indian Kashmir after three decades of violence sparked by an anti-India uprising.
Pakistan, however, has alleged it is a violation of the rights of Kashmiri people.
Khan accused India of trying to turn Kashmir’s Muslim majority into a minority by ending restrictions on outsiders buying up property “in blatant violation of... UN Security Council Resolutions and international laws.”
The change in rules has sparked fears that the Modi government is pursuing an Israel-style “settler” project.
A referendum in Kashmir mandated by a UN resolution in 1948 has never taken place.
“India has learned from Israel how to change the demography (of Kashmir),” President Arif Alvi told a rally in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, which observed a one-minute silence.
Hundreds of billboards and banners displayed graphic images purportedly of human rights violations by Indian authorities in Kashmir.
On Tuesday, Pakistan released a new official map showing all of Kashmir as its territory.
The Pakistan military, meanwhile, said Indian troops had fired a shell across the de-facto border, killing a young woman and wounding six other people.
Such exchanges are common along the Kashmir demarcation line, with shells blasted in both directions.