India enforces Independence Day celebration in Kashmir
India spends $1bn per year on Israeli-made weapons. But do you know what kind of hardware Delhi buys?
At the start of the week, India celebrated its 75th independence Day.
The celebrations were vociferous across the country and at embassies around the world, many of which were lit up in the colours of the Indian flag.
In Indian-occupied Kashmir, the Indian army put up flags on street poles in the capital, Srinagar. On Boulevard Road, alongside the iconic Dal Lake, the Indian army escorted several hundred people as they paraded alongside the water’s edge.
The enforcement of Indian nationalism in Kashmir has been a mainstay of India’s occupation for decades.
However, the spectacle behind this recent bout of nationalism is both for Kashmiri and Indian audiences. For Kashmiris, it is an attempt to humiliate them, let them know that their struggle for self-determination and freedom has been defeated.
For Indians, the idea is to continue to depict the success of the government’s policy that “Kashmir is indeed ours, if you don’t believe it, look at all of the flags.”
It doesn’t matter that it is mostly the army and other Indians partaking in this orgy of nationalism. It’s doesn’t matter that the Kashmiris involved are either under duress or doing so as a survival tactic.
What is evident, however, is that these are a signs of a colonial power, a power that knows that it can only enforce its will through force and spectacle.
Days after the triumphant march through Srinagar, the Indian government announced that Indians living temporarily would be able to vote in local Kashmir elections.
These additional voters will be comprised of mainly Indian military personnel, government and private sector employees, and migrant workers, Al Jazeera reported.
Under Article 370 and Article 35A, voting rights and land ownership rights in Indian-occupied Kashmir were limited to Kashmiri residents.
However, on August 5, 2019, Modi’s government unilaterally stripped the region of its special status.
Each policy or program since then has been geared towards demographic change.
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Baba Bulldozer in New Jersey
There were embarrassing displays of Indian jingoism in other places over the past week.
In California, Indian supporters attacked a small group of activists protesting against Modi’s majoritarianism outside an Independence Day event.
In Edison, New Jersey, organizers brought a bulldozer, covered in Modi and Yogi Adityanath ‘Bulldozer Baba’ posters, to an India Independence Day rally.
For bystanders, the bulldozer may have looked peculiar, but for Indian Muslims, its inclusion was a provocation.
As I wrote in Middle East Eye earlier this week, bulldozers have come to represent putting Muslims in their place in India.
The Indian government, particularly Adityanath, have repeatedly used bulldozers to demolish Muslim-owned homes to establish and assert dominance over the minority.
It has become so widespread in India that the UN wrote to Modi’s government in June 2022 calling it an act of collective punishment; it urged the government to put an end to the practice.
Indian American activists like the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and Hindus for Human Rights (HHR) have called on Edison’s Mayor Sam Joshi to condemn the incident in his town, but thus far, nothing of the sort has been forthcoming.
Several Indian American companies who sponsored the rally have also yet to distance themselves from the scenes on Sunday.
And about the Israeli-weapons headed to India:
Bulldozing homes are a longtime Israeli practice. It is used to punish, control and erase Palestinians. The Indian government, of course, didn’t need Israel to learn how to demolish homes. It has been doing so for decades. Still, the destruction of Muslim homes as an act of collective punishment is eerily similar to Israeli tactics.
To the question of Israeli weapons: since 2019, several journalists and activists have pointed out that India purchases around $ 1 billion worth of arms from Israel each year.
But little is discussed about the types of weapons that India purchases from Tel Aviv. Here are some examples:
India has also started joint production of Israeli-weapons as part of its Make in India initiative.
Today marks 100 days since Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. No one has been held to account.
Until next time,
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