Amid a nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, authorities in India are arresting and summoning Muslim students, activists and journalists who have been critical of Narendra Modi’s right-wing government. India is pushing the Muslims under the cover of COVID-19 with its unlawful tactics.
India is pushing Muslims by linking corona cases to Muslims. Indian authorities had linked dozens of cases of COVID-19 to a Muslim missionary group that held its annual conference in Delhi in early March, and health officials were racing to track down anyone who had contact with the participants. Coronavirus fears and religious tension were already at a fever pitch in India, and it didn’t take long for the two forces to intermingle. Videos deceptively claiming to show members of the missionary group spitting on police and others quickly went viral on social media, worsening an already hazardous atmosphere for Muslims.
Scores of Muslim activists and journalists have either been summoned by the police or charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which empowers the state to ban individuals as “terrorists” and can carry punishments of up to seven years.
History is replete with examples of expansionist states using interruption and diversion as a weapon or element of surprise – as illustrated by Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 when the world’s attention was fixated on the Beijing Olympic Games.
It’s no underground that world leaders often use foreign policy as a means to divert attention from political problems at home, as exemplified by the United States’ assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, which was likely carried out to distract from President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearing.
The limitations on mobility and assembly of people because of the lockdown seems to have provided a fresh opportunity for the state to come down hard on voices critical of the government – particularly those belonging to the minority Muslim community.
What Muslims are effectively facing now is a new form of concerted, deliberate economic marginalization. Having been largely shut out of the formal sector, many Muslims depend on the informal sector and self-employment for their livelihood.
Across the other side of the world, India has taken its first steps towards repeating Israel’s settler-colonial model but in the disputed territory of Kashmir, where Indian security forces rule over the lives of 8 million Muslims with total impunity.
Last month, New Delhi passed a new set of laws for Indian administered Kashmir, including domicile rights for Indian citizens, paving the way for soldiers and their families, or specifically those who have lived in the territory for 15 years or longer, to purchase and own property.
It should be no secret to anyone by now that the Government of the Bharatiya Janata Party wishes to do to Kashmir what Israel has done to the Palestinian territories.
India is pushing the Muslims under the cover of Corona virus with various tactics. Not only have Muslims been blamed and targeted in a spree of attacks across the country for ‘deliberately’ spreading the virus, they are also now on the receiving end of a state-led crackdown on dissenting voices from the community.
New Delhi’s motive is to facilitate and encourage “demographic flooding”, or rather make the Muslim majority a minority in their land – and kill any chance of a future independent Kashmiri state. This is the same way Israel has killed any prospect of a Palestinian state by migrating nearly one million Jewish settlers into the occupied Palestinian territories since 1967.
India has been upping the ante in Kashmir by mounting its military activities in the territory since the Covid-19 pandemic began, including moving heavy artillery into residential neighborhoods and villages, to use as a base from which to target Pakistani military locations tens of thousands of kilometers from its own bunkered positions. This is effectively using locals as human shields, to deter Pakistani military counter strikes.
One of the great tragedies of the Covid-19 pandemic, beyond the immediate death and economic destruction, will be the international community’s disregard in resolving intractable conflicts and global human rights violations, given European, American and Asian nations will be focused on their survival, and not that of others in distant lands.
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