An Indian diplomat has sparked fury after calling for the adoption of an “Israeli model” in New Delhi-administered Kashmir by building settlements in the Muslim-majority region.
Sandeep Chakravorty, India’s consul general in New York, offered the controversial plan in an address to a group of Kashmiri Hindus — known as Pandits — at a private event in the US city last week. The speech was captured on video and shared widely on social media.
“I believe the security situation will improve, it will allow the refugees to go back, and in your lifetime, you will be able to go back … and you will be able to find security, because we already have a model in the world,” he said.
“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, adding that the current Indian leadership is “determined” to do so.
Chakravorty’s remarks triggered a wave of condemnations, especially among Pakistani officials and social media users worldwide.
We strongly condemn the perspective of the #Indian Consulate General, but we are not surprised by this brazen perspective. We have known all along that the Indian state’s intention is DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE in #Kashmir. @nytimes @washingtonpost @thewire_in @AJEnglish @scroll_in
— StandWithKashmir (@standwkashmir) November 26, 2019
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan shared on Twitter an article by the Middle East Eye news portal, which covered the story, saying that Chakravorty’s views reflect “the fascist mindset of the Indian government.”
“Shows the fascist mindset of the Indian govt’s RSS ideology that has continued the siege of IOJK (Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir) for over 100 days, subjecting Kashmiris to the worst violation of their human rights while the powerful countries remain silent bec of their trading interests,” he tweeted.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, abbreviated as RSS, is a Hindu umbrella group which is the ideological inspiration for Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Khan was referring to a decision in early August by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modit to revoke Article 370 of the Indian constitution, effectively ending Kashmir’s 70-year semi-autonomous status and bifurcating it into two “union territories” under the central government’s direct control.
Shows the fascist mindset of the Indian govt’s RSS ideology that has continued the siege of IOJK for over 100 days, subjecting Kashmiris to the worst violation of their human rights while the powerful countries remain silent bec of their trading interests. https://t.co/ESZiaVp563
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 27, 2019
Additionally, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi, told TRT World TV channel that Chakravorty’s “remarks are shocking but not surprising at all.”
“It has been apparent all-along that encouraged by the international community’s inability or unwillingness to address the situation in the Occupied Palestinian territories, India is now following the same colonial strategy,” he said.
Qazi further censured both India and Israel for committing “flagrant violations” of international law in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, “including by taking unilateral actions to change the status of the occupied territories and their demographic composition.”
Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their partition from Britain in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory, where anti-New Delhi sentiments are high and
“The silence of the international community will only further encourage India’s colonial hubris,” Qazi added. “The Kashmiris and the Palestinians, unfortunately, face the same predicament.”
Moreover, Hilal Mir, a journalist based in Kashmir, told TRT World that the Indian consul general’s remarks “have only validated the fears of Kashmiri Muslims that the real intent behind abrogation of special legislations was not development, but changing demographics.
Kashmiri novelist and journalist Mirza Waheed also told the Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcaster that it was “simply outrageous” that a senior Indian diplomat was allowed to express “such offensive and extremist views.”
“One wonders whether the Indian state has outsourced parts of its home and foreign policy to private gatherings where a high-ranking official feels free to essentially call for the expropriation of Kashmiris,” he said.
The comparison with Israel cannot have any other meaning but an endorsement of a settler-colonial project,” Waheed pointed out.”The diplomat, who clearly supports the idea that Kashmiri Muslim identity should be erased to solve the historic Kashmir conflict, should have caused international embarrassment for India,” he told Al Jazeera.
After sparking the uproar, Chakravorty took to Twitter to claim that his comments had been taken “taken out of context.”
Relations between India and Israel have developed since Modi’s election in 2014. New Delhi is Tel Aviv’s biggest purchaser of arms, amounting to $1 billion per year.
Featured image: In this file photo taken on August 9, 2019 Indian security personnel walk on a street during widespread restrictions on movement in Srinagar. (By AFP)