Highlights Of February, 2022


February, 2022

The Committee to Protect Journalists called for the immediate and unconditional release of the critically acclaimed Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah. Fahad is the founder and chief editor of The Kashmir Walla, an online news portal that reports on human rights and political issues. Arrested for allegedly publishing “anti-national content”, he is being investigated for crimes that come under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), sedition and other laws. The immediate context to Fahad’s arrest is a police shooting in which 4 people were killed, including a teenage boy about which The Kashmir Wala reported on the basis of both the police and victim family’s accounts of what transpired. Sajad Gul, a contributor to The Kashmir Walla, continues to be imprisoned despite several calls for his release.

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists and Front Line Defenders

Two years after 53 people were killed in mass violence in North East Delhi in February 2020, Human Rights Watch noted that Indian authorities continue to wrongfully prosecute 18 activists, students, opposition politicians, and residents – 16 of whom are Muslim – under UAPA. The police cases rely extensively on disclosure statements that are suspiciously similar and WhatsApp chats to make a case about a larger conspiracy behind the violence. Those charged include members of Pinjra Tod, an autonomous collective of women students; United Against Hate, a group that works to protect religious minorities; and the Jamia Coordination Committee, which led the student protest at Jamia Millia Islamia University. HRW also called for the prosecution of BJP supporters who instigated the violence. It noted that policemen involved in the Delhi violence have not yet been prosecuted or punished, including in case of 23 year old Faizan who was among the 5 Muslim men forced to sing the Indian national anthem to “prove their patriotism” and beaten by the police officers, resulting in grievous injuries and Faizan’s death within days.
Source: Human Rights Watch

A New York Times article on Islamophobia in India traces the recent words and silences of key Hindu Nationalist players. It speaks of how while Yati Narsinghanand tells his followers that to prevent India becoming a Muslim state they must “be willing to die”,he ironically points to the Taliban and Islamic State as “role models”. Amidst such calls to arms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his top leaders remain silent. Experts like Genocide Watch’s Gregory Stanton say that these are genocidal calls. Comparing the situation with Myanmar, Stanton says that the difference in India is that it would be civilian mobs taking action instead of the military. “You have to stop it now,” he warns, “because once the mobs take over it could really turn deadly.” Source: New York Times

20 years after Gujarat 2002…
The diaspora group South Asia Solidarity organized a protest outside the Indian High Commission in London to remember “the 2000 murdered 20 years ago in the 2002 Gujarat Genocide under Chief Minister Modi”. “Modi and his Hindu Supremacist BJP want to repeat Gujarat nationwide,” they said.
Source: South Asia Solidarity Group

Kim Leadbeater, a British Member of Parliament, sought the repatriation of the bodies of three victims of the 2002 Gujarat violence in recognition of the pain and loss of the family members who are her constituents. The victims were said to have been travelling to Gujarat after a trip to the Taj Mahal when they were killed.
Source: Kim Leadbeater

The growing number of cases of violence and vandalism aimed at Christians by Hindu Nationalists continued into this month. These included the demolition of a Christian prayer hall in Mangaluru, Karnataka and a 20 feet Jesus statue in Gokunte Village also in BJP-ruled Karnataka being pulled down by the district administration, accompanied by around 400 policemen.
Source: Indian American Muslim Council

Messages from fifty-four renowned intellectuals, musicians, scholars, and activists from 24 countries gathered in ‘A Scream from Global Civil Society: India Genocide Warning!’, a live YouTube public event included the following,
  • “Islamophobia is growing throughout the West. It takes its most lethal form in India where the Modi government is systematically dismantling Indian secular democracy and turning the country into a Hindu-ethnocracy.” Noam Chomsky, Linguist and Philosopher
  • “This is not about Hindu’s disliking Muslims, it’s about the faith of Hinduism being used to mobilise hate for those in power in India. We must all act.” Maung Zarni, Co ordinator, Free Rohingya Coalition
  • “What makes these genocides so unspeakable is that they were preventable. We knew but we did not act. Just like Darfur, Rohingya and Uyghur, we know but we are not acting. We must act upon the lessons of NEVER AGAIN!” Irwin Cotler, Founder/Chair, Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
The performances can be viewed on you tube. Source: FORSEA, Forces of Renewal for Southeast Asia

The conference, “Counting Caste – the Caste Census Deadlock”, organized by the Oxford South Asian Society and South Asian Alternative Forum, highlighted how a caste census in India could take forward conversations on representation, access to resources, wealth distribution and participation of marginalised caste groups in governance and electoral politics. Source: South Asia Alternative Forum

Young activists from Pakistan, Thailand, India, Philippines and Chile spoke at the Asia Pacific Social Forum about their struggles against authoritarianism. The moderator from Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy highlighted how such a gathering gave hope that new global alliances of revolutionary youth movements, weaving together class, caste, gender, ethnicity and sexuality to fight authoritarianism, were possible. Source: Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy

On Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day, paying tribute to the struggles of the survivors of mass rape and torture in the twin villages of Kunan an Poshpora on the night of the 23rd February 1990, India Justice Project, Berlin organised an online event together with the Humboldt Universität Berlin; Recht-Geschlecht-Kollektivität, DFG- Forschungsgruppe (a Research Unit of the German Research Foundation) and Europa Universität Viadrrina. The issues highlighted by the scholars who participated in the event included sexual violence in Kashmir by the Indian military forces and the need for decolonising feminism. Source: India Justice Project

As part of the News Wrap, The World is Watching India presents In Focus, a detailed look at some events of the month. February 2022 In Focus shares glimpses of the global outpouring after Muslim women students were targeted in Karnataka for wearing the hijab. This short video can be viewed here. In Focus also presents glimpses from “India on the Brink: Preventing Genocide” the three-day global summit organized by diaspora groups around the world. This can be viewed here Twitter and here on Instagram