Modi’s ‘settler’ masterplan for Indian Kashmir

Modi’s ‘settler’ masterplan for Indian Kashmir
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Indian policemen detain a Kashmiri Shiite Muslims as he and others attempt to take out a religious procession in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, on Aug. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
Modi’s ‘settler’ masterplan for Indian Kashmir
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A Kashmiri Shiite Muslim man is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on August 28, 2020. (AFP / Tauseef Mustafa)
Modi’s ‘settler’ masterplan for Indian Kashmir
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A Kashmiri Shiite Muslim is detained by Indian police for defying restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on August 28, 2020. (AFP / Tauseef Mustafa)
Modi’s ‘settler’ masterplan for Indian Kashmir
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Indian policemen detain Kashmiri Shiite Muslims as they attempt to take out a religious procession in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, on Aug. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
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Updated 29 August 2020

Modi’s ‘settler’ masterplan for Indian Kashmir

Modi’s ‘settler’ masterplan for Indian Kashmir
  • Modi’s government tore up Kashmir’s special residence rules dating back to 1927 which had ensured only permanent residents could own land and property, secure government jobs and university places and vote in local elections

SRINAGAR, India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is changing Indian Kashmir’s residency laws for the first time since 1947, in a bid to snuff out any challenge to the disputed territory belonging to India.
Drawing comparisons with Israel’s “settler” tactics in the Palestinian Territories, Modi’s Hindu nationalist government aims to change the demographic makeup and identity of the Muslim-majority region, critics say.
AFP looks at the background, what the new rules are and their implications for the area’s 14 million population.

Siege-like curfew
The Himalayan former princely state has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.
In the Indian-administered part a conflict between separatist rebels and government forces has killed tens of thousands since 1989, mostly civilians.
More than 65 percent of the population is Muslim. In the Kashmir Valley, the main center of the rebellion, it is close to 100 percent.
On August 5, 2019 Modi’s government revoked articles in the Indian constitution that guaranteed Kashmir’s partial autonomy and other rights including its own flag and constitution.
A huge accompanying security operation saw tens of thousands of extra troops — adding to 500,000 already there — enforce a siege-like curfew. Thousands were arrested and telecommunications were cut for months.
Jammu & Kashmir state was demoted to a union territory governed directly from New Delhi, while the Ladakh region was carved out into a separate administrative area.
Creating such new “facts on the ground” in Kashmir has long been advocated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the hard-line Hindu parent organization to Modi’s BJP party.
The move sent a further shudder through India’s 200-million Muslim minority and defenders of its secular traditions, who fear Modi wants to create a Hindu nation — something he denies.
“What I see unfolding is a Hindu settler colonial project in the making,” Mona Bhan, associate professor of anthropology at Syracuse University who has long researched Kashmir, told AFP.

'Demographic flooding'
Modi’s government tore up Kashmir’s special residence rules dating back to 1927 which had ensured only permanent residents could own land and property, secure government jobs and university places and vote in local elections.
Now a raft of different categories of people from anywhere in India can apply for domicile certificates, giving them access to all the above.
These include those living in Kashmir for 15 years, who include around 28,000 refugees who fled Pakistan and as many as 1.75 million migrant laborers — most of whom are Hindus.
In addition, civil servants who have worked in Kashmir for seven years and their children, or students who have taken certain exams, also qualify for domicile status.
The changes are “the most drastic imposed since 1947,” Siddiq Wahid, a historian and political analyst, told AFP. “It was done with the intent to open the gates to demographic flooding.”

Domicile certificates
Locals too now have to apply for the new “domicile certificates” in order to qualify for permanent resident rights.
To get this, they have to produce their Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC), cherished documents valid since 1927, which then become worthless.
Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, an engineering graduate said young Kashmiris were in effect being forced to give their political loyalty to India in exchange for a livelihood.
“They say, you want a job, OK, get the domicile document first,” he said.
A few people. Bahadur Lal Prajapati, born in Indian Kashmir to Hindu refugees who fled Pakistan during its first war with India over Kashmir seven decades ago, is finally an official resident and has “never been so happy.”
“We got the right to live in this part of India as citizens after 72 years of struggle,” Prajapati, 55, told AFP from his home in Jammu, the Hindu-dominated district of the region.
One of the first people to receive the new domicile certificate was Navin Kumar Choudhary, a top bureaucrat from the Indian state of Bihar who worked in Kashmir for many years.
Photos on social media of Choudhary proudly holding the certificate sparked huge anger among Kashmiris but delight among Modi’s supporters.

'Travesty'
Some 430,000 new domicile certificates have been issued — despite the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear how many of them are to people from outside and how many to locals.
Many locals are refusing to swap their old documents, even though this makes life harder. Some do it in secret for fear of censure from their neighbors.
Wary of being labelled “anti-national” by the authorities many Kashmiris are also scared to speak out openly. Some are deleting their Twitter accounts.
“It’s a travesty that I have to compete with outsiders for citizenship rights in my own homeland,” said a student — who also wished also to remain anonymous out of fear of problems with the authorities.

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’Get out Bolsonaro!’ say ex-supporters in Brazil as COVID-19, vaccines weigh

’Get out Bolsonaro!’ say ex-supporters in Brazil as COVID-19, vaccines weigh
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’Get out Bolsonaro!’ say ex-supporters in Brazil as COVID-19, vaccines weigh

’Get out Bolsonaro!’ say ex-supporters in Brazil as COVID-19, vaccines weigh
RIO DE JANEIRO: Meggy Fernandes voted for Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s 2018 presidential election, attracted by the far-right former army captain’s promise to shake up a hidebound political establishment mired in endless graft scandals.
But after watching him jettison his anti-corruption pledges, strike pacts with the politicians he vowed to shun, and, most importantly, botch Brazil’s coronavirus response, Fernandes, 66, now says she was wrong to place her faith in Bolsonaro.
“I’m so revolted by my vote,” she said in a supermarket carpark in Rio de Janeiro, at an unusual pro-impeachment rally convened by right-wing groups. “Bolsonaro is overseeing a terrible government. He’s doing a disservice to the nation. His handling of the pandemic is completely wrong.”
Despite repeatedly denying the severity of the pandemic and overseeing a response that has blighted Brazil with the world’s second highest number of COVID-19 fatalities after the United States, Bolsonaro ended 2020 riding high in the polls, buoyed by a generous coronavirus support package.
January has been less kind, however. The welfare program is now over, leaving many poor Brazilians stranded as a second wave gathers steam. Others have been irked by the federal government’s slow and patchy vaccine rollout, and Bolsonaro’s personal pledge not to take any COVID-19 shot.
A recent surge in cases in the northern city of Manaus, which was one of the first places badly hit by the virus during the first wave, has proved to be another stain on the president’s coronavirus response. The city, deep in the Amazon rainforest, ran out of oxygen last week, leaving hospitals reliant on black-market cylinders, or tanks imported from Bolsonaro’s longtime foe Venezuela.
Support for Bolsonaro has fallen by the largest amount since the beginning of his government in 2019, a Datafolha poll on Friday showed. His administration was rated as bad or terrible by 40% of respondents, compared with 32% in early-December. Just under a third of respondents rated Bolsonaro’s government as good or excellent, versus 37% in the previous poll.
In Brasilia, though, Bolsonaro seems to be on steadier ground. A majority of Brazilians reject him being impeached, a second Datafolha poll on Friday found. It showed that 53% of respondents are against Congress opening impeachment proceedings, up from 50% in a previous survey. Those favoring impeachment fell to 43% from 46%.
Bolsonaro-backed candidates are also expected to win control of Congress next month. His growing willingness to discuss political horse-trading has helped him secure a base of center-right lawmakers who could scotch any chances of impeachment.
But it is exactly those partnerships that brought out a smattering of protesters to a scorching parking lot in Rio’s Barra da Tijuca neighborhood on Sunday.
Convened by Vem Pra Rua and Movimento Brasil Livre, two right-wing groups whose nationwide protests in 2016 helped precipitate the impeachment and later removal of former leftist President Dilma Rousseff, Sunday’s protests were full of disgusted former Bolsonaro supporters. Similar events took place in Sao Paulo and Brasilia, with left-wing pro-impeachment protests across Brazil on Saturday.
Although turnout in Rio was thin, if the numbers swell in the months ahead, it may pose a problem for the president ahead of 2022, when he is certain to seek re-election.
Like others at the protest, Patricia Resende, a 57-year-old civil servant, said Bolsonaro was unlikely to be impeached.
She said many of her friends who voted for Bolsonaro still liked him. But Resende said she had come to “take a stand” against what she described as his “electoral swindle.”
“He has been a coronavirus denier,” she said. “He didn’t try to buy enough vaccines for a population of more than 200 million people.”
As the crowd assembled, Fernandes picked up the microphone and gave an impassioned speech about Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic and her disappointment of his presidency.
“’Long live Bolsonaro!’” she exclaimed as she finished, before realizing her error, blushing and quickly correcting herself. “Sorry, I meant ‘Get out Bolsonaro!”