SANA’A – India’s main opposition figure, Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress (INC), has been barred from entering the militarily-occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir by order of the Hindutva nationalist government of Narendra Modi.
On Saturday, the INC reported that a delegation of the party’s leadership, headed by former party chief Rahul Gandhi, had flown from New Delhi to the Kashmiri regional capital of Srinagar. However, according to INC spokesperson Pranav Jha, upon arrival the delegates were barred from leaving the airport and denied entry into the province.
The Congress party condemned, stating: “If the situation in Jammu & Kashmir is “normal” as the govt claims, why has the delegation of Opposition leaders led by Shri @RahulGandhi been sent back from Srinagar airport? What is the Modi govt trying to hide?”
Jammu and Kashmir has been under total lockdown since the beginning of August, when the government of Modi revoked the autonomous status of the state and declared the Muslim-majority area to be under the direct rule of the central government. The Modi regime is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an extremely Hindu nationalist and anti-Islamic party that is closely related to the right-wing paramilitary organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Several members of the BJP and RSS have been accused of participating in anti-Muslim and anti-Christian riots and murders, as well as cases of rape, arson, torture and intimidation against non-Hindu Indians.
The Modi government has claimed that the military occupation of Kashmir, which counts over half a million troops, is necessary to fight “terrorists”, and that the situation is under control. This claim has been questioned by several other Indian political parties and international organisations.
Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. In 1947, the majority of the area was forcefully incorporated into India after the Hindu Maharaja (king) Hari Singh signed the so-called Instrument of Accession. However, contrary to most territories that joined either of the newly created states of India or Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir were never given the chance to vote in a referendum. This has led to severe discontent amongst many in the Muslim-majorty region.
Since 1989, an armed revolution has been ongoing in Indian-occupied Kashmir. While several movements are active in the region, ranging from secular to Islamist and from pro-Pakistani to pro-indepencence, New Delhi has often accused Pakistan of arming and aiding the revolutionary movement.