With the world seemingly less than moved over state aggression against unarmed civilians in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK), experts on Wednesday called on the Pakistan government to adopt innovative strategies to highlight the brutalities.
At a roundtable on “Violations of Religious Minorities –Muslims & Sikhs – in India”, organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said that stressed that Pakistan should try and find new ways to highlight violations of human rights of religious minorities in India, especially those in IoK.
He added that there is nothing which can separate Pakistan from Kashmir given their socio-cultural, historical and religious commonalities.
Dr Mujeeb Afzal, an assistant professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, discussed the plight of the Muslim community and Indian atrocities on Kashmiris. He stated that Indian Muslims were the victims of an ‘Indian myth’ of nationhood and socio-cultural integration of Hindu majority and their deeply entrenched in their caste system.
Dr Afzal pointed out that politically, India’s reliance on aggression against minorities ensures a large vote bank since the presence of religious minorities is perceived to be a hurdle in the process of national integration.
“In the process of cultural transformation, religious minorities, especially Muslims have been the victims of ‘soft Hindutva’,” he suggested.
Moreover, he said given the social circumstances of the Indian Muslim community, they only speak out over the human rights violations in Kashmir but stop short of supporting the freedom struggle there.
Earlier, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Director General Khalid Rahman said that “The reason India chose secularism over Hinduism—constitutionally—was not by choice, it is rather because of inescapable political needs of the country.” He added that incidents of abuse and mistreatment against religious minorities in India are taking place because secularism in the country was merely an arrangement for political gains without any commitment to its core values.
He pointed out that since Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party came into power, Muslims had been targeted by various hate campaigns such as Ghar Wapsi, Love Jehad, and most recently in the name of cow vigilantes and a ban on beef slaughtering.
Quoting a 2017 report by India Spend, he informed that in the 63 heinous hate incidents from 2010–2017, 86 per cent of the victims were Muslims while 98 per cent of these incidents took place after Modi assumed power.
He recommended Indian Muslims should devise innovative and comprehensive socio-academic strategies with which they can empower themselves and protect their rights.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2017.