Indian Government Orders Complete Internet Blackout In Kashmir On Republic Day
In a blatant move to silence a population under brutal military occupation, the Indian government ordered a complete internet blackout in Kashmir, the nation’s only Muslim-majority province, on January 26, India’s 73rd Republic Day.
Authorities claimed that the shutdown was to ward off any “untoward incident” from occurring. However, it is clear that this is the latest attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to quash dissent and criticism against the government in Kashmir, which has been under brutal Indian occupation since the region’s semi-autonomy was revoked in late 2019.
In addition to completely blacking out the internet, authorities also ordered that all public transportation and businesses, including medical facilities, be shut down till noon that day. In the leadup to Republic Day, government forces had also set up additional security checkpoints in certain areas and also increased frisking.
This is not the first time Kashmir has been subjected to internet blackouts as a way of silencing dissent. After Article 370 of the Indian constitution was revoked, stripping Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, Indian military forces cracked down, subjecting Kashmiri civilians arbitrary detentions, police brutality, killings, and torture. Dissent and news reporting is often criminalized as terrorism, leading journalists and human rights defenders to be booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), India’s draconian anti-terror law.
Delhi Court Seeks Action Against TV Anchor For Hate Speech, Taking Oath To “Kill And Die” To Create A Hindu Nation
A Delhi magistrate court has ordered action against Suresh Chavhanke, a prominent TV news anchor, for leading a vitriolic anti-Muslim hate speech event in December 2021. Chavhanke had posted a video of himself administering an oath to a group of people, vowing that they would create a Hindu nation by any means necessary: “We will fight for this, die for this, and if required, kill for this.”
The hateful oath-taking event was held on the heels another Hindu supremacist event in Haridwar city last month, where several Hindu extremist leaders called repeatedly for a genocide of 2 million Muslims. Despite the heightened danger for minorities, especially given Chavhanke’s large platform and influence, Indian authorities barely made any effort to pursue the case against him.
“Despite all the available electronic evidence against Suresh Chavhanke and after approaching all the ranks of police hierarchy, no action was taken on my complaint in due time,” said the civilian who had filed the complaint.
Hateful oath-taking events have grown increasingly common in India. In Uttar Pradesh, Hindu youth were indoctrinated into the Hindu supremacist ideology through multiple oath-taking events shortly after the Haridwar assembly. In an event reminiscent of the Hitler Youth, schoolchildren swore “to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra (nation).
In early January, extremists in Chhattisgarh state pledged that they will not sell or lease their lands to any Muslim: “From today, we Hindus, will not sell or lease our lands to any Muslims. If we have given away our lands on lease to Muslims we will immediately take them back and we will not labour for, or employ any Muslim for any sort of work. Despite the heightened genocidal rhetoric, the Modi government has continued to remain silent on all these cases.
Karnataka BJP Official Calls Muslim Students’ Push To Wear Hijab “International Conspiracy”
As Muslim students of a Karnataka college continue to face national harassment over their decision to continue wearing their hijabs, fighting back against the college’s discriminatory hijab ban, state BJP official Raghupathy Bhat termed their determination an “international conspiracy.”
“The forces against the nation are behind this,” he said, implying that students who want to practice their Muslim faith as per their constitutional rights are somehow not Indian. His hateful comments echo rhetoric used by the BJP, implying that Muslims who dissent against discrimination are anti-national and deserve to be killed. A common slogan used by Hindu extremists mobs during the Muslim-led Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in 2019-2021 was “shoot the traitors to the nation” – words taken directly from the mouths of BJP leaders.
The students, meanwhile, have been vocal about the humiliating and severely discriminatory treatment they have faced at the hands of the school faculty.
“We are not being allowed to sit outside the classroom and hear lecturing… It is a very shameful matter for the government officials to not allow us to attend classes as they are not allowing our fundamental rights,” said A.H. Almas, one of the protesting students.
As the debate drags on, the students have seen support from various activists, including the Campus Front of India, which issued a statement condemning the hijab ban.
“Despite the issue being discussed at national and international levels, the silence of the department of undergraduate education, who should have intervened, is causing suspicion towards the department. The minister of Education’s irresponsible statement that the hijab is ‘indisciplined’ results from a sense of religious intolerance too. While looking into these series of events, it is clear that the government and the Department of Undergraduate Education, who should have upheld justice have continued to be unjust. Their inaction will be legally questioned,” stated State President Athaulla Punjalkatte.
The anti-Muslim hijab ban was implemented last month by the school administration. The decision is a blatant violation of India’s constitutionally mandated secularism, as well as an attempt to bar women from education over the way they choose to dress.