August 18, 2019

HATE, THREAT & VIOLENCE: Kashmir – a New Territory for Right-wingers to Issue Obnoxious Threats

Satyaki S

AS the Narendra Modi government scrapped the constitutional provisions that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir and divided the state into two union territories over the past week, BJP leaders and right-wingers started issuing obnoxious threats – both online and offline. Exposing the scheme of the RSS, which has always been interested in the territory of Kashmir and not its people, right-wing leaders and activists made threatening statements about being able to “buy land” in Kashmir and marrying “gori (fair)” Kashmiri women.

Leading the abhorrent announcements was the BJP MLA from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Radha Mohan Das Agarwal. Soon after union home minister and BJP president Amit Shah announced the government decisions in Rajya Sabha on August 5, Agarwal said, “I have initiated the process to buy land in Kashmir and have spoken to my friend Yasir there in this regard.” Going further, BJP leader and Goa minister Michael Lobo made similar nasty assertions in the assembly. Speaking on a motion in the Goa Assembly congratulating the union government for its decisions on Jammu and Kashmir, Lobo said, “The government’s move has given us an opportunity to buy land in Kashmir…I am planning to buy land in Kashmir. I want to build a house there. I will invite all my legislator friends there.”

Agarwal’s colleague in the party and the assembly Vikram Singh Saini followed suit and, in fact, went a step ahead with his obnoxious threat. Saini, who represents Khatauli in the Uttar Pradesh assembly, said BJP workers were happy with the government’s decisions as they can now marry “gori” (fair) Kashmiri women. Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar sought to present such abhorrent threat against Kashmiri women as joke, reflecting the sick mentality of the RSS-BJP. While expressing concern over low sex ratio in the state, Khattar told an event, “Now some people say, Kashmir is open, they (brides) will be brought from there. But jokes apart, if (sex) ratio is improved, then there will be a right balance in society.”

As the BJP leaders made statements about buying land in Kashmir, right-wing trolls unleashed a barrage of posts making similar threats. A poster of a fictional developer in Kashmir, doing rounds on Facebook, read: “Plots and plots -- build your house with cheap installments, pay Rs 11,000 and get possession of your land, in Anantnag, Pulwama and Baramullah.”

Another Facebook user, in response to a make-believe real estate poster, wrote, “Please get it booked for me too. Route cleared for getting a bride. A wave of excitement among unmarried youths.” Scores of similar posts appeared on Twitter and circulated on WhatsApp as the RSS-BJP propaganda machinery launched an offensive to justify its move carried out in stealth and utter violations of democratic norms and federal spirit.