Abdul Malik (57), a resident of the Kashmir valley, voted for the PDP in the recent state elections.
When asked about his reasons for choosing PDP, he said “to keep the BJP out of power”. Malik’s fears aren’t unwarranted. BJP’s allegiance to programs such as ‘Ghar Wapsi’ has done little to resurrect its image of a hardcore Hindu party.
Opposites come together
Coming together of the BJP and PDP in Jammu & Kashmir stands true to the theory of ‘opposites attracting each other’. The results of the recent state elections divided the state into two different segments. While the BJP came up as the representative of Hindus and the Jammu region, the people of Kashmir region chose to go with the PDP. Now with both parties joining hands, it is difficult to decipher if any voter is excited about this unparalleled idea.
A closer look at the individual performance of the parties would indicate that PDP, the single largest party in the state, didn’t have many options other than warming up to the BJP. The two parties that were up in arms against each other before the elections suddenly changed their stand to “keeping all the options open”. The PDP, once dismissive of BJP’s chances in the state, was seen as accepting BJP’s growing stature in the valley.
Article 370 & AFSPA
The major bone of contention between the two parties remain the Article 370, which gives a special status to Jammu & Kashmir and the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) which grants special powers to the armed forces deployed in ‘disturbed areas’. While the BJP had always been vocal against the Article 370 and made it a major election agenda in the state, it readily dropped the idea in return of a hand in the state Government. When asked about his party’s changed stance on Article 370, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that “As far as divergence of views is concerned, to agree to disagree is a part of democratic practice which the two parties have decided to live up to,” As if to return the favour to the BJP, the PDP softened its stand on AFSPA. Once a strong opponent of AFSPA, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed took it upon himself to tackle the army when he said “I know how to ensure that Army is made accountable. Being the chief minister, I am also the chairman of the Unified Command.”
Common minimum program
Soon after the oath taking ceremony in the state, the Government came out with a common minimum program that highlighted its stand on all the key issues related to the state. The major postulates of the program include revising the need and desirability of AFSPA in the state, discussions on Article 370 while taking into account the views held by both the parties, dialogues with Hurriyat and Pakistan and measures for settlement of refugees from West Pakistan.
Off to a shaky start
The newly appointed CM in the state kicked off a storm on the first day in office when he spoke to the media and commented that “I want to say on record and I have told this to the Prime Minister, that we must credit the Hurriyat, Pakistan and militant outfits for the conduct of assembly elections -in the state.” While the BJP soon dissociated itself from the statement, its alliance with the PDP makes it answerable to such statements coming out from the CM’s office. If the PDP continues to walk on its own merry path, the Prime Minister and the BJP may have a lot of explaining to do in the coming days.
India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as "chinkis" This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.
The author spent several years in Delhi and sadly witnessed numerous unfortunate incidents in Delhi involving shoddy treatment of Northeast women and girls especially by Jats of urban villages like Katwaria Sarai, Ber Sarai and Munirka.
Northeastern states of India comprises of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim & Mizoram. This region is also referred to as the Seven Sisters. The physical characteristics of the inhabitants of these states are different than the Indian people. Due to which they face racial discrimination in other parts of the country.
Northeasterners have oriental looks and are hard-working, friendly people. Matriarchy is practised among many groups in the Northeast. Successive Indian governments neglected this whole region, as a result it has stayed backwards in terms of infrastructure.
Tourists need special permits from the government authorities to visit many regions of Northeast India. In 1958, the Indian government passed a law, the Armed Forces Special Act (AFSPA) that applies to various seven Northeastern states. This grants security forces the power to search properties without a warrant, to arrest people and to use deadly force if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person is acting against the state.
Army officers have legal immunity for their actions as per AFSPA; there can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under this law. Indian army frequently misuses its power by harassing the residents of Northeast region under the pretext of this draconian law.
Social Exclusion of the Seven Sisters
An activist from Manipur, Irom Chanu Sharmila holds the world record as the longest hunger striker”. Sharmila grew up in Manipur, one of the Seven Sister States in India’s northeast, which has suffered from continuous neglect by the Indian government for decades.
Sharmila’s primary demand to the Indian government has been the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).
She started her fast in Malom on 5 November 2000 and vowed not to eat, drink, comb her hair or look in a mirror until AFSPA was repealed. She ended her hunger strike on 9 August 2016 after 16 years of fasting. Sadly, AFSPA is still in force. Ordinary people of Northeast India are tormented by Delhi through its army.
No major industry exists in this region, therefore, the employment prospects for the locals are practically non-existent. Basic infrastructure like roads and electricity supply is not up to the mark in this area. Youngsters from these parts migrate to big cities of India like Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore etc. to find jobs.
The women of North East are good looking and fashion conscious. Majority of Indian males are sexually frustrated perverts. They harass Northeast women on a daily basis. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as “chinkis”, This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.
The same abusive word is also used by the majority of Indians while referring to the Chinese citizens. State of affairs is dreadful in New Delhi, which is the capital city of India. Delhi has many localities known as Urban Villages. These places are just villages in a name. They do not have any farming land.
Owners of houses in these neighborhoods have got tall buildings erected by flouting all building laws, regulations in order to build the maximum number of rooms and put them on rent to earn easy tax-free cash. Northeast migrants to Delhi are overcharged higher rents by these deceitful landlords.
Urban villages, especially in areas around South Delhi are dominated in particular by a community known as ‘Jats’. They own most of the houses in these parts.
The Jat community comprises of male chauvinists of the worst kind on this planet. They earn huge tax-free income every month as rent from Northeasterners and other migrants to Delhi; as a result, most of them don’t do much productive work. They just sit in groups, play cards and drink liquor from morning-night.
All Indian political parties are scared of Jats as they resort to hooliganism to blackmail central as well as state governments in order to get concessions for their community.
These Jat men have made the life of Northeastern women in Delhi a living hell. These Northeastern women cannot go back to their homes in Northeast because they face sexual violence at the hands of Indian army personnel furthermore; there are no job prospects in the region. They are teased, sexually harassed and even raped by these unscrupulous Jat house owners and their family members.
Delhi Police also has plenty of Jat personnel so, these poor, unfortunate Northeast women cannot even complain about their ordeal to the Police.
A few women, who gather the courage to approach police stations to lodge complaints are ridiculed and abused by the Police staff as women of loose character, ‘chinki whores’ etc.
Northeasterners are highly depressed and frustrated due to this daily ordeal. Their culture, language, food habits and norms are all entirely different from the mainland Indians.
Does Unity in Diversity really exist in India?
India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk.
The citizens of all seven Northeastern states should not tolerate this discrimination anymore. They must pressurize their local politicians to raise this matter seriously with the central government in Delhi alternatively, they could completely boycott their so called political representatives.
“No taxation without representation”, this slogan originated during the 1750’s and 1760’s in U.S.A. It summarized the primary grievance of American colonists in the thirteen colonies against the British Parliament. This ultimately culminated in the successful American Revolution.
No voting without safety & respect
Northeastern citizens across the entire length and breadth of India should unite under the slogan; “No voting without safety & respect.”
Election Commission of India has introduced NOTA (None of the above) on the ballot papers as an option for the voters. It means that the voter does not find any political party’s candidate competent enough, that’s why they exercise the NOTA option by not voting for a candidate of any political party.
If, the ordinary residents of all seven northeastern states unite together and press NOTA during all state assembly as well as Parliamentary elections, then their local politicians, as well as political parties in Delhi, would definitely wake up to their serious grievances and initiate measures to prevent this dastardly treatment meted out to Northeast citizens in India.
Footnote– This composition is dedicated to three beautiful, kind, compassionate, independent & friendly girls from Northeast India. Suzie, Tanya and Mikii were friends of the author in Delhi during the late 1990’s before we lost contact with each other. These girls were unfortunate victims of numerous atrocities perpetrated on them by Jats.
The writer sincerely hopes that all three of them are presently leading happy, peaceful lives somewhere and women from the Northeast region of India do not face any future trauma in Delhi as well as other cities in India.
– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.
June 19 marks the International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
UN Action Against Sexual Violence states that women and children are the worst victims of any violence in the world
Kashmiri women are the worst sufferers of sexual violence in the entire world. 11.6% women in Kashmir Valley have to face of sexual assault and 1 in 7 become victims of rape
– by Supreet Aneja
June 20, 2017: June 19 marks the International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. With increasing conflict in the world, the number of sexual cases in such areas are alarming. Whether the conflict is between two people or two countries, women are always the first victims.
UN Action against Sexual Violence states that women and children are the worst victims of any violence in the world. Talking about India, the horrifying cases of sexual abuse against women and children in conflict zones like Chhattisgarh, Kashmir, and Manipur leave one in a sense of shock.
A recent rape case of 14 years old girl on April 2, 2017, in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh is one such example, in which security forces while using their power left the poor girl in trauma. This is not the only case.
In a report by National Human Rights Commission in January 2017, it stated about the sexual assault of 16 tribal women between 16th and October 25, 2015. NHRC held the Chhattisgarh Government responsible for the same but the government had sidelined these cases saying that such cases are measures to defame the police forces.
[bctt tweet=”Women and children are the worst victims of any violence in the world.” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]
Well, other than Chhattisgarh, the situation in Kashmir is also terrifying. According to the Medicines Sans Frontiers Report of 2005, Kashmiri women are the worst sufferers of sexual violence in the entire world. 11.6% women in Kashmir Valley have to face of sexual assault and 1 in 7 become victims of rape. Government figures reveal that between 2015 and 2016, 595 cases of rape were reported in Jammu and Kashmir.
The sad part is that these figures reveal only those cases that are reported. More than half the cases never come out because of factors like fear of the society and the power of the forces. Human Rights Organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have time and again pressurized India to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that gives unlimited powers and impunity to the armed forces.
The Secretary of All India Women’s Association, Kavita Krishnan, on the day of International Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict shares how government instead of repealing an act like AFSPA, calls such activists anti- nationals. She also emphasizes that the need of the hour is to rouse the conscience of those who don’t live in conflict areas and try to think the plight of the sufferers. And to think if it is nationalist to rape the women in the name of power.
The plight of such unfortunate women, definitely makes us ponder if we are living in the humanitarian world or not. It is that we come forward to stop this epidemic from spreading further. Whether it is in conflict zones or a normal area, done either by security forces or civilians, we should all pledge to stand against sexual violence of any form.
– by Supreet Aneja of Newsgram Twitter: @supreet_aneja
Jammu and Kashmir, June 15, 2017: According to the Minority Community status, National Commission Minorities (NCM) chairman Gairul Hasan Rizvi favored Kashmiri Pandits in the state on Tuesday and said he would take up the matter with the Centre.
The NCM is nonfunctional in Jammu & Kashmir according to the article 370, which grants Kashmir a status of the special autonomous state. Rizvi stated that it would enable the government to extend benefits to the Kashmiri Pandit, which hold a minority status in Kashmir.
Currently, there are six minority communities in the country, namely – Muslim, Jain, Christian, Sikh, and Parsi.
“Kashmiri Pandits should get the minority community tag, mainly because they are in minority in their state, Jammu and Kashmir,” said Rizvi concerning the issue.
Rizvi said he would take up the matter with Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and stakeholders involved.
The community members greeted Rizvi’s comment on the matter which was suppressed over the past 5 years. The members said they would take up the matter with the authorities again.
Manoj Bhan, the general secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Vichar Manch, said the organization and others would provide the authorities with the required documents in accordance with the Pandits minority community status.
“We had raised the issue with the authorities two-three times (during UPA-II regime), but nothing happened then…We deserve the status,” Bhan said.
According to Bhan, the minority population in Kashmir is between 4 lakh and 5 lakh in the country.
Benefits availed by the Minority Community (Kashmiri Pandit) with accredited with minority tag are mentioned below:
Scholarship will be made available to students with family’s annual income below than Rs 4.5 lakh
Educational institutions managed by the community will be recognized as minority institutions. Up to 50 percent of the seats will be reserved for community students at such institutions
Some key welfare schemes the Centre implements for minority communities:
Scholarship schemes (pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means)
Padho Pardesh (scheme of interest subsidy on educational loans for overseas studies for community students)
Free coaching and allied schemes
Skill training such as learn and earn, Nai Manzil
Prime Minister’s new 15-point program, which aims at ensuring an equitable share for minorities in economic activities besides their educational empowerment