Meerut hoardings warning Kashmiris to 'leave UP or else...' is a barely hidden threat of ethnic cleansing

Despite Rajnath Singh tweeting assurance to J&K students across India, the climate of animosity is intensifying.

 |  5-minute read |   21-04-2017
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A call for "stone-pelting Kashmiris" to leave Uttar Pradesh printed in giant fonts on massive hoardings that have sprung up in Meerut has jolted Indians all over, at least those who still believe in a secular democratic republic.

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Amid trying times for ordinary Kashmiris caught in the crossfire of militancy and Indian Army's increasing heavy-handedness, the despicable sight of the giant hoardings asking the young J&K students to leave UP has only added fuel to the fire of mutual animosity and climate of fear.

According to reports, "Police said on Thursday they have asked the controversial ‘Uttar Pradesh Nav Nirman Sena’, which admitted to have put up the warning signs, to pull down the hoardings or face action."

“We have put up these hoardings along the stretch of Delhi-Dehradun road passing through Meerut on NH-58 to send out a message against those who “disrespect Army and sympathise with Kashmir-based separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik,” Uttar Pradesh Nav Nirman Sena chief Amit Jani had said.

Although a case has been registered against Jani, a known lumpen and a former jail-bird who has been rotating his political affiliations with low-intensity goondaism and antisocial behaviour for years now, he's yet to be arrested and the hoardings are yet to be taken down.

Kashmir - the alpha bait

The string of incidents involving communal hatred and physical violence against Kashmiris, particularly the university students in other Indian states, has shown that the madness has a method to it. While a group of Kashmiri students were beaten up in Rajasthan's Mewar University after being called "stone-pelters" who are harming the Indian Army personnel, even BJP ministers, or a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal, are not exempt from echoing the reprehensible sentiment.

Hence, the bigotry that's out-of-control and being spewed by those who have turned xenophobia into a profitable publicity drive, must be seen in context.

Bhartiya sena par pathar maarne wale Kashmiryon ka bahishkar. Kashmiriyo Uttar Pradesh chodo warna... (Boycott those Kashmiris who pelt stones at Indian Army. Kashmiris leave UP or....)", warn the Meerut hoardings.

It's really not very different from what a Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, Dr Subramanian Swamy tweeted sometime back, or a (now deleted) tweet from the Armed Forces Tribunal member that said stone-pelters should be shot in response to the hunan shield incident that has come to fore.

While Union home minister Rajnath Singh has tweeted assurance to all Kashmiri students and has said it's the duty of the state to protect them, the situation on the ground is fast spiralling out of control.

Already, Kashmir valley is witnessing another bout of internet shutdowns ever since the human shield and other videos were posted on social media that showed the inhumane side of the decades-long conflict. All over India, and egged on by a jingoistic TV media, Kashmiris are being demonised for their political disenchantment and resistance to living in the world's largest and densest militarised zone.

Islamophobia beyond control

Moreover, the conflation of the Kashmiri civilian and the militant - as evident in the human shield video - is having ripple effects in other parts of India, where Muslims en masse are being demonised everyday and are being asked to prove their patriotism. Of late, a spate of video clips has surfaced on social media, that depict Muslims being targeted, flogged, held by the throat and abused in unparliamentary language, asking them to chant "Bharat Mata ki jai" and "Jai Shree Ram" or else be ready to face the consequence.

[Note: For the sake of propriety, DailyO will not be publishing those videos, but they are still available online for anyone who wishes to look them up. Please exercise discretion and do not spread the communal poison any further by sharing the posts, unless accompanied by scathing condemnation of the incidents.]

However, the Meerut hoardings also point to what's happening on the ground: a stage of fascism on the loose, wherein though there's no overt centralised coordination or ownership thereof, the chain of events that has led to the current situation could be established, despite plausible deniability.

Unless it's checked now, politics of religious polarisation and using Kashmir as the alpha bait to stir up ultranationalist sentiments for petty electoral gains could very well lead to unpardonable communal violence in near future.

Also read: On Kashmir, I felt like an 'anti national' speaking for Jewish rights in Hitler's Germany

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