The Kashmir conflict has again come into the global spotlight recently, as India has been accused of employing increasingly militaristic tactics in an attempt to silence the peaceful freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people. India has been widely condemned for creating the world’s largest ‘open jail’ with its heavy deployment of security forces in IIOJK. As if this wasn’t enough, the recent introduction of VDGs, ‘Village Defence Groups’, has led to further concerns being raised about the Indian government’s actions in the region. These paramilitary forces, comprising of Indian citizens chosen and trained by the government, are being widely seen as a thinly-veiled attempt to suppress the right to self-determination the people of Kashmir are fighting so hard for. This blog post will explore the implications of India’s controversial VDG policy and what it means for the future of the Kashmir conflict.
JK is one of the most militarized regions on the planet, looming large as the world’s largest open prison. India has failed to enforce law and order, instead employing its security forces to violently suppress the peaceful freedom struggle of the people of Kashmir. The Kashmiri people believe the Indian government has lost confidence in its security agencies in IOJK, as they have been deeply corrupted and become ineffectual due to state patronage. To mitigate this failure, India has resorted to the rhetoric of Pakistan-backed armed resistance. In the most recent development, India has begun arming civilians in Jammu to combat terrorists, forming VDGs as a cover-up. The VDGs – civilian networks selected and trained by the Indian government – are being used to harass, track and kill Kashmiri Muslims and snuff out the freedom movement.
For over three months now, the Indian government has been using a covert military strategy to violate human rights laws and enforce a nationwide lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). This has included the arrest and detainment of thousands of people and the imposition of communications and internet connectivity restrictions that have heavily impacted all civilians living in the region.
Unfortunately, the situation in IIOJK has taken a turn for the worse in the past few weeks. Specifically, the Indian government has deployed paramilitary forces known as ‘Vishwa Dharma Gaurav (VDG)’ to the region to establish a heightened level of surveillance and control. These VDGs are primarily composed of Hindu extremist ideologues who are intent on forcing an expansion of Hindu nationalism across the region. Reportedly, these forces have been given weapons and impunity to commit heinous acts such as property grabs, sexual violence, and even murder against local Muslims and tribal groups.
This has led to an exponential increase in fear and consternation among locals who fear the consequences of such a strategy. The fear is that as more Indian settlers move into the region, they will also be provided with arms in order to consolidate their settler colonization. Worse yet, given that the VDGs are government-backed, they will also be given complete impunity to terrorize local Muslims and tribal groups. The existence of these groups will also exacerbate tensions between Hindus and Muslims living in these areas, especially as Hindu populations are provided with weapons and emboldened to commit war crimes and human rights violations against Muslims.
The troubling aspect of this situation is that the United Nations and the international community have yet to take strong action against this strategy. The consequences of this strategy are far-reaching and deeply detrimental to the entire region. It is imperative that the international community takes stock of the Indian neo-Nazi machinations being employed in IIOJK and ensures the safeguarding of Muslims from the evolving existential threat in IIOJK. We must not allow this strategy to continue unchecked as the ripple effects of such policies are sure to present us with deeper and more pressing challenges in the days to come.
It is almost certain that this unchecked power in the hands of the Indian government has the potential to further destabilize the region and further inflame tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Therefore, the international community must act with urgency and hold the government of India accountable for its actions. It is the collective responsibility of all nations to ensure the safety and well-being of their citizens and the people of IIOJK are no different. We must make sure that their voice is heard, their rights are respected, and their lives are secure.
Tauqeer Riaz Utmanzia
Media Professional, Vlogger, Blogger,Writer,Analyst.