The situation in Kashmir is exactly the same situation in Palestine. If we recognise Israel’s takeover of Palestine territories, then we also have to recognise what India has done in Kashmir, so we completely lose moral standing,” said Imran Khan to a Turkish channel in July last year.
Relating Kashmir all the way to Palestine was not a far cry indeed if you remember the statement of India’s consul general in New York, Sandeep Chakravorty, given in 2019, wherein he insisted that the Israeli model in Palestine should be copied in Kashmir too. “I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” he said.
Chakravorty’s statement came after Modi’s second election and after the repeal of Article 370, and it seems to be an underestimation that it was only about the resettlement of Hindu Kashmiris. In fact, just like the Israeli model, the Modi government’s plan was a complete demographic change of Kashmiri population by flooding in not only Indian nationals from other provinces but also encouraging the over 700,000 Indian forces already present there to apply for permanent residence in the Occupied Valley.
Under Modi, anti-India agitation once again took an upshot with a new breed of young, educated, tech-savvy militants in Kashmir, with the likes of Burhan Wani and Zakir Musa. It is hard to say if this sharp increase in anti-India militancy provoked the Indian authorities to heighten security operations against the locals, or reciprocally, if increased Indian counter-terrorism measures actually push the youth to join militant groups — and this new wave of counter-terrorism had been refurbished by Israel.
After the Pulwama incident, Robert Fisk wrote, “For months, Israel has been assiduously lining itself up alongside India’s nationalist BJP government in an unspoken — and politically dangerous — ‘anti-Islamist’ coalition, an unofficial, unacknowledged alliance, while India itself has now become the largest weapons market for the Israeli arms trade.” India and Israel have entered agreements on joint counter-terrorism since 2014, and from then onwards search-and-cordon and search-and-destroy operations have become norm. These operations have featured ambushes of alleged militants, destruction of civilian properties, and increased surveillance of the locals, especially the youth.
When Modi met Netanyahu in 2017, he said India had suffered first-hand the violence and hatred spread by terror, and so India and Israel would “cooperate to combat growing radicalisation and terrorism, including in cyber space”. Since then, surveillance on social media increased; work on installing CCTV cameras in all schools across Kashmir to monitor activities of the youth was started; use of pellet guns to maim and blind Kashmiris was made vogue; and humiliating house searches in the middle of the night, typical psychological operations (PSYOPs) applied regularly by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank, have risen in Kashmir.
In repulsion, the locals have been evolving their own techniques to suffocate the Indian forces; funerals of the martyrs have become a daunting phenomenon for the authorities. These funerals have increasingly been attended by tens of thousands, and the events’ images not only flood the social media, but the funerals themselves have become like religious processions in celebration of valour, and active grounds for new recruitments. Moreover, a new phenomenon of ‘disruptive crowds’ has evolved, wherein hundreds or thousands of locals force upon a cordon-and-search operation with stone-pelting and other assaults, forcing forces to flee the scene and resulting in the ‘victory’ of the militants.
This evolution has gone a step further with new militant groups in Occupied Kashmir raising the slogan of pan-Islamism and Islamic Shariah. Though most of these groups have advocated merger with Pakistan, this recent non-nationalistic ideological development is perhaps owned to Israel’s deepening involvement in India and more so in Occupied Kashmir. The more the BJP embraces Israel, the more the Kashmiri freedom fighters find themselves in credo with the Palestinians who suffer the same fate as they, at the hands of a same oppressor as theirs. Burhan Wani’s 2015 video address, “Leaving our homes, our families, the comforts of the world and sacrificing our future, we have come into the field of action so that the honour of our mothers and sisters is safeguarded so that a caliphate is established in Kashmir. We will not stop until a caliphate is established over the entire world,” symbolises this shift to pan-Islamism.
In fact, there are reports on how social media has enabled ideologues from both in mobilising their networks and coordinating and campaigning for each other’s causes. Likening the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to that of Occupied Kashmir can potentially electrify the whole Muslim belt in between the two poles, attracting sympathies from otherwise dormant stakeholders. Relating the two atrocities give amplification to both just causes and adds veritableness to Muslim unity.
It also adds to the burden on the United Nations which is guilty of criminal neglect over its two oldest cases, since 1948. Not just neglect, but a bias towards the oppressing parties in both cases. In the case of Palestine, the UN had inherited the “property” of the “Palestine Mandate” from the League of Nations, and the mandate says that “the Allied Powers agree that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917 (the Balfour Declaration)… in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”, clearly wording out Israeli precedence in UN law-making.
Likewise, Resolution 47, on the Kashmir dispute, required Pakistani fighters to withdraw, as the first step; Indian troops to reduce phase-wise as a second step; and the plebiscite to be held as a third — underscoring Indian legitimacy over Kashmir from the onset!
All this makes sense in relating Palestine with Kashmir, it makes sense for the Muslim world to understand that they are victims of a world-system biased against them, and awareness and re-assertion are the tools to fight this bias. Pakistan’s solidarity with Kashmir is only a preliminary that invites the concern of the Muslim world and the wider humanity over these injustices that are weighing on our conscience.