Indian administered Kashmir has been torn apart by conflict for more than 70 years now. Kashmir has become a hotbed of strife between India and Pakistan, who each control a portion of it since 1947 and have fought multiple wars over it since then. While war brings to mind the images of uniformed men fighting for what seems to be a bigger cause, it inflicts violence on the multiple lives that don’t play any direct role in the war. Violence in conflict-ridden places is not limited to the life and death of armed men claiming to be the guarding army or the rebel heroes fighting against them.
The most underrated form of violence in any conflict and war is perhaps the violence that is gendered in nature. Given the horror of violent shaming and social boycott that surrounds all forms of gendered violence it also remains grossly under-reported. Gendered violence doesn’t come as a by-product of the political violence of conflict and war but is in fact a tool of war used strategically to instill fear and reach convoluted political goals in a war. Gendered violence is always manifested in some form of sexual violence. As Inger Skjelsbaek, a gender studies scholar argues sexual violence is used as “part of a systematic political campaign which has strategic military purposes weapon of war”, therefore it is a weapon of war”.
As is the case in all types and forms of political conflicts and wars, there is a horrifying aspect of gendered violence in Kashmir. For the longest time, Kashmiri women have been the biggest victims of the ruthless violence in Kashmir. The wounds of sexual violence were recently torn open and social media reverberated by the helpless voices of Kashmiris remembering and seeking justice on the death anniversary of Asiya and Nilofar, raped and killed on 29th May 2009.
13 Years Since the Shopian Double Murder and Gangrape of Asiya and Nilofar
The names Asiya and Nilofar still resonate in the slogans of war-torn Kashmiris to date: “Asiya wali Azadi (Asiya’s Freedom), Nilofar wali Azadi (Nilofar’s freedom)”. 12 years ago, on May 29, 22-year-old Nilofar Jan and her 17-year-old sister-in-law Asiya Jan, were kidnapped, gang-raped, and murdered by the Indian Armed forces in the Shopian district of India administered Kashmir. Their bodies were later disposed of in the same ankle-deep stream which the Indian army later claimed to have been the cause of their drowning and eventual death. Nilofar’s husband, Shakeel Ahmad Ahanger, was distraught when he returned home and discovered that his wife and sister had been missing. He went to the police station and several policemen went on to search for his wife and sister along the route of the Rambi River’s shallow bank until the police recommended the search be postponed until the next day. “Look there’s your wife,” the local police chief stated on the next day pointing to a patch they had already searched the night before. Ahanger claimed that their clothes had been torn and their bodies were in extremely bad shape with horrific injuries and visible marks of assault.
As of May 30th the next day, according to the police reports, the “post-mortem done revealed no signs on the bodies, including private parts,”. The incident was then investigated by Justice Muzzafar Jan, who was nominated by the then-Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference. According to Jan’s Commission report “The ladies were brutally gang-raped before being murdered by “men in uniform,” .While the army men denied all accusations and claimed that the women died of drowning the family of Asiya and Nilofer maintain that the two “could not have perished in ankle-deep water.”
Culture Of Impunity: AFSPA And Other Forms of Abuse by CBI and The Indian State
In an interview, Shakeel Ahanger described how Indian army men broke into the hospital where the initial post-mortem was being performed and attacked him and his family members while firing at the crowd in the hospital. The family and neighbors were then compelled to transfer the dead bodies of Asiya and Nilofer to Pulwama District Hospital in another district, where the rape and murder were confirmed by a report published by the Forensic Science Lab Srinagar in June 2009. During this time, the Indian government destroyed crucial evidence, and the Central Bureau of Investigation of the Indian government (CBI) declared that their deaths were caused by “accidental drowning” in the ankle-deep stream where their bodies were discovered. This incident stirred multiple protests across the valley seeking justice for Asiya and Nilofar and demanding punishment for the perpetrators. However, owing to draconian laws like AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) that provide the Indian army with absolute impunity to kill any local on the mere basis of suspicion, 2 people were killed and hundreds were injured during those protests.
Also read: The Rise of Hybrid Militants in Kashmir
Where’s the Justice?
It has been over 13 years since the Shopian double rape and murder case, and justice is yet to be served. Not only is there no justice, but the strict digital and social media vigilance by the government of India has made sure to censor not only anything about the remembrance of the crime and the absence of justice but also any other reporting that highlights the gendered aspect of the armed violence in Kashmir. The number of cases of violence against women in Jammu and Kashmir grew by 11% in 2020, from 3,069 in 2019 to 3,414 the following year, according to data from India’s National Crime Records Bureau. There has been little mobilization to win justice for women who have been wronged in conflict zones such as Kashmir, where everything is viewed through the lens of terrorism and security. Gendered violence remains underreported due to social stigma and security threats, and the cases that do come out in the public eye don’t receive any justice, rather the victims and their supporters are forcefully silenced and slammed with even more violence.
Is anti-Semitism essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood?
Unlike any other state around the world, Israel is constantly whining about its international image being tarnished and unfairly sullied. The apartheid entity routinely blames “anti-Semites” for ” seeking constantly to lynch the Jewish state’s image.” Israeli Hasbara (propaganda) doctors would voice all sorts of unreasonable and preposterous “rationales” to explain the utter lack of love for the pariah state among the peoples of the world.
Israel, which the late American evangelist Jerry Falwell referred to as “the nation-state of the Lord” has effectively been transformed in the eyes of the bulk of humanity into the nation-state of the devil. Well, but even the devil itself is probably learning “useful” lessons from Israel.
While insisting that Israel’s ugly image suffers due to anti-Semitism, not Israel’s abominable behaviour in occupied Palestine, the professional twisters of truth would eventually invoke the mantra that “boys will always be boys and goys will always be goys”! (goys or goyem is a derogatory Jewish term for non-Jews)
Israel firsters, whose Chutzpah often transcends reality, would never attribute the sullied image of the apartheid entity to its unceasing and unmitigated crimes against the helpless Palestinians. We all know that not a single day passes without a Palestinian boy, child, woman, worker, farmer, doctor, student or journalist getting murdered or maimed by the Gestapo-like Israeli army or the even more murderous paramilitary Jewish settlers all over the Occupied West Bank.
We kill them knowingly
Israeli officials and spokespersons are well aware of the utmost gravity of these crimes. However, they would argue that these crimes, however nefarious and barbarian, should not lead to tarnishing Israel’s image.
Moreover, the Zionists would argue that international critics of Israel’s “actions” are guilty of singling Israel out for their scathing criticisms, while conveniently ignoring other villains on the world’s arena, such as Russia, the Syrian regime, and even the U.S. and its allies who killed and maimed thousands of innocent people in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Being hated is essential to being Zionist
Yes, the Zionists do admit, though begrudgingly, that they indulge in all sorts of heinous crimes, including crimes against humanity, against the Palestinians.
Generally speaking, the Zionists don’t claim that these crimes are correct and ethical, although religious Talmudic settlers thugs, such as Ben Gvir and Smotrich, who won recent Israeli elections, would cite numerous quotations from the Torah and Talmud “proving” the utter morality and perfect legitimacy of these crimes, including burning Palestinian kids alive.!
None the less, the Zionists would insist that Israel has the right to defend itself as if self-defence justified an evil military occupation, dehumanizing repression and humiliating apartheid for over half a century. One settler leader from the settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron had the audacity to say “if Joshua did exterminate the Canaanites, why can’t we do the same to the Palestinians”?
A little story that speaks volumes
Exposed and demoralized before the entire world, Zionist spokespersons would reveal, often inadvertently, one of the most outrageous aspects of their collective evil mindset. A few days ago, an Israeli right-wing activist wrote in Ynet that Jews can survive only if they are hated by Goyem, but in order to be hated, Jews must indulge in every evil act in order to draw hateful reactions from non-Jews.”
I really had thought that perhaps only a small esoteric Jewish cult did indulge in this strange behaviour. But then a friend intimated to me a little secret. He told me a story he said he had heard from his father who died many years ago. According to the friend, when Arab kids in a given Palestinian town were playing near the small local Jewish neighbourhood, the mother of the only Jewish kid who was playing with them, gave the Arab kids some sweets and a few piasters , asking them to hit and curse her own kid!. I remembered this little story when a Zionist settler activist told me during an internet chat recently that “we need to be hated in order to survive as Jews.”
Some audacious rabbis would privately explain such bizarre behaviour by arguing that if Jews found absolute love and acceptance by non-Jews, they would eventually assimilate and perish as a people.
In other words, anti-Semitism is essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood! One Israeli rabbi reportedly argued that if there were no anti-Semitism, it would be the moral and religious duty of the Jews to create “some” anti-Semitism to make Jews feel that they are different”!
Startling Open Secret
This startling open-secret should explain the fact that numerous trumped-up anti-Semitic incidents, including torching synagogues, scrawling anti-Jewish graffiti, and vandalizing Jewish grave headstones are often committed by Jews, not anti-Semites! Just ask Law-enforcement authorities in the U.S. and UK, and they would tell you some shocking stories in this regard.
And, yes, there are numerous rabbis and Talmudic sages who would argue that Jews will not survive and prosper if they were readily accepted and loved by goyem, since such cordiality and friendliness would lead to slackness, integration assimilation and ultimate extinction of Jews . Jews in America are often cited as a classical example. Due to their complete integration into the American society, most American Jews blended completely and thoroughly, melting away into the general fabric of American life, leaving themselves, their children and their grandchildren only nominally Jewish.
In light, Jews must accordingly show off their brutal ugliness and evilness to Goyem in order to generate a certain amount of anti-Semitism which would be highly beneficial, useful and even vital for Jewish survival and growth.
There is absolutely no doubt that Israel’s 75-year-old ongoing holocaust against the Palestinians can be explained, at least in part, in light of this criminal mentality, which actually constitutes a creed and ideology for millions of Zionist Jews.
Some readers, stunned by the utter shamelessness and diabolic oddity of this mentality might be prompted to think that the author of this article is perhaps exaggerating and blowing things out of proportion.
But there is no exaggeration here. I remember the late American Jewish author Alfred Lilienthal quoting a Zionist rabbi in his masterpiece-book, the Zionist Connection, as saying that “a little anti-Semitism is always useful since it reminds us of who we are.”!
Chasing the Mirage of the desert
Today, Israel and its tails, mouthpieces and allies in the U.S. and some European countries are fighting an anti-Semitism that doesn’t really exist except in the sick mindsets of Zionist leaders. Thus, every legitimate criticism of the brutal Israeli occupation, including the apartheid regime in the West Bank, is twisted to imply hated for Jews.
The Zionists would argue cunningly and tendentiously that opposing Israel is opposing Jewish self-determination. They conveniently ignore the fact that Israel’s right to exist is inextricably entwined with Palestine’s right to exist and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. And. Yes, Israel has no right to exist as a criminal entity, practising open-ended occupation and apartheid and indulging in all forms of repression and savagery against a people whose only “crime” is nothing other than being non-members in the “chosen-tribe club” So, let the Zionists chase the mirage of the desert for as long as they wish.
In the final analysis, humanity is under no legal or moral obligation to accept, condone or tolerate Jewish apartheid in Palestine than it was to accept the apartheid of the former White supremacist regime in South Africa. Meanwhile the Zionists may seek to vent their endless frustration at humanity by threatening to unleash their stale scarecrow of anti-Semitism in the face of critics. It is too late for them. The peoples of the world have already wakened up. The magic has been annulled! and we will continue to tell the truth about the evil entity even if telling the truth is perceived as anti-Semitic
What Does Shraddha Walker’s Murder Mean for Love in India?
Earlier this month, India was shocked by the news of the murder of 28-year-old Shraddha Walker by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawalla. Aftab had killed Shraddha merely three days after they moved into their new home in Delhi in May this year. Aftab had cut the body of Shraddha into 35 pieces and stored them in a fridge. He was gradually disposing of the body parts in a nearby forest area.
Interfaith Couple and Sensational Murder Trial
After the news of Shraddha’s murder broke in mid-November following the arrest of Aftab Poonawalla, it became a sensational murder trial. The murder was debated on prime-time debates on TV.
While the murder was chilling and one could expect it to cause a sensation, it became a sensational murder trial for very wrong reasons in India. The fact that Shraddha and Aftab were an interfaith couple made it a sensational murder.
Even though Aftab has claimed that he killed Shraddha in a fit of rage while they were fighting, the police are yet to establish the motive for the murder. The media trial, however, has given a religious colour to the murder. Some people, including those on TV debates, have dressed the murder in the language of religion.
The religious colour given to the Shraddha murder and the transcending of the murder beyond its context is a result of the Love Jihad discourse adopted by the ruling right-wing party BJP. BJP used Loved Jihad as an electoral issue in many state elections.
At present, eleven states where BJP is in power have passed legislation against Love Jihad. The argument by the Hindu nationalists is that Muslim men intentionally fall in love with Hindu women and then these men force the women to convert from Hinduism to Islam.
There are also attempts to demonize Muslims after the murder of Shraddha. A man from the UP state recently went on TV to support the actions of Aftab. He claimed to be a Muslim, named Rashid Khan and justified the cutting of Shraddha into 35 pieces.
When the police arrested the said man, it was found that he is a Hindu, named Vikas Gupta.
Vikas Gupta’s statement went viral on social media and Muslims were called out and demonized for his statement.
A Setback to the Freedom to Love in India?
Shraddha’s sensational murder trial has raised questions about love in India. It will hurt the hard-won right of freedom to love.
There are two aspects to be considered. First is the freedom of young people to love or live in live-in relationships. Since the news of the murder reached almost every home in India, it will scare people from getting into live-in relationships. Further, society will also be suspicious of these relationships. Live-in couples already face difficulty in negotiating the conservative society in India and the case will only exacerbate it. For instance, live-in couples in India find it difficult to find a house or rented accommodation. Aftab and Shraddha also lived in rented accommodation. More people than ever before will now hesitate to rent their accommodations to live-in couples.
Second, as discussed above Shraddha’s murder will make it worse for interfaith couples to negotiate everyday life in India. Even though India was never a safe place for interfaith couples, the case is going to make society hostile to interfaith love. Those who were already against interfaith love will use this case to further cement their position on Love Jihad.
Further, society in general parents of young people in particular will turn hostile against love.
A Difficult Task Ahead
The sensational murder trial and the media trial of Shraddha’s murder by Aftab have raised questions about love in India. Further, the discourse of Love Jihad is also back. Hindu nationalists will make sure that the case is exploited to its full to make a case for Love Jihad.
For those in India, who want to preserve the hard-won right of freedom to love, the task ahead is very difficult. Even though the case has already become sensational, they must make sure that it is restricted to its immediate context. If the case transcends its immediate context, hate will win against love. Love must triumph!
The Scope of inter-religious pluralism within Islam
Even though pluralism is a loaded term, its generic meaning suggests a phenomenon of peaceful coexistence between entities of diverse cultural, religious, and political inclinations. It is important to remember that pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, nor does the word “tolerance” do justice to its intended purpose. Pluralism is not merely tolerating the other but engaging with the beliefs of others with peaceful dialogue and action. The scope of inter-religious puralism within Islam proposes this kind of pluralism.
What does Pluralism mean in Islam?
Looking at the subjective meaning of pluralism within the ambit of Islam, the proponents of various Islamic discourses have proposed that pluralism is a pronounced feature of Islam. Many Muslim intellectuals claim that pluralism is central to the fundamental essence of Islam. A convincing case can be made for the presence of a compelling pluralistic ethos within the Islamic scriptures.
In his essay, Reformist Islam in Comparative Perspective, Mehran Kamrava claims that the rise in the level of religiosity amongst Muslims has given rise to other forms of Islam. One of which according to him is “likely to have the most resonating consequences for Islamic jurisprudence in both the near and the distant future” and calls it “intellectual Islam”. He claims that it is through this form of Islam that a Muslim reformist discourse is introduced. Which has produced significant work to locate the place of inter-religious pluralism in Islam. He further derives some themes out of the reformist discourse, very important with their reference to pluralism in Islam:
“First is a deep and abiding conviction in Islam as faith and a system of belief. In its current manifestation, the discourse of reformist Muslim intellectuals does not seek to instrumentalize Islam for purposes of achieving modernity in a manner palatable to the masses at large. Islam is not a means to an end; it is an end in itself. It simply needs to be re-thought and reformulated. The reformists’ reliance on and endless references to the Qur’an bespeaks of the text’s cultural centrality to them.”.
Such display of absolute faith by Muslim reformists whilst having reformist inclinations bespeak of their balanced position. A flexible modern vision can develop interfaith dialogue. The abiding conviction to Islam earns a sense of authenticity for their thought process in the eyes of fellow Muslims.
Read here, Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women
What is Democratic Pluralism?
The next theme of the reformist discourse is “democratic pluralism”: “Pluralism, the reformist discourse’s proponents maintain, is a salient feature of the spirit of the Qur’an and the hadith.” (Kamrava )
To support his claim he cites another Muslim intellectual Abdulaziz Sachedina who quotes:
The challenge for Muslims today, as ever, is to tap the tradition of Koranic pluralism to develop a culture of restoration, of just intrareligious and interreligious relationships in a world of cultural and religious diversity. Without restoring the principle of coexistence, Muslims will not be able to recapture the spirit of early civil society under the Prophet.
In the globalized world, the facets of modernity like its political model of the nation-state have become a governing principle for all ethnic, cultural, and religious pluralism. This means the only larger identity governing the religious identity of the people is that of the nation-state. In the religiously pluralistic society of today, people may have different identities, but the model of the nation-state promises all of them the same status. People might identify with different religious inclinations, but the state identifies them as either citizens or residents of the state. This is exactly the kind of challenge that Sachedina talks about when he implores Muslims to revive the tradition of pluralism that is central to the Islamic texts for peaceful coexistence in the globalized world.
The Case of Muslims living as a minority
If Muslims live in a minority in a nation-state that runs on one of the political models of modernity like democracy or secularism, then for the sake of the welfare of Muslims they need to fulfill the duties that the nation-state demands from them. Andrew March talks about the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities also called Fiqh al-aqalliyyat al-muslima in Arabic:
Fiqh alaqalliyyat tends to be a discourse where departures from traditional Islamic commitments are not seen as desirable, and certainly not goals in and of themselves, but where creative rethinking often occurs in subtle and pragmatic guises. It is thus an important object of study for those interested in the ideal moral encounter between a public religion like Islam and modern/post-modern secularism. (March 6).
Important questions of interest toward non-Islamic institutions have been addressed from within internal Islamic discourses that advocate for a positive Muslim attitude concerning the issue of pluralism.
Islam’s relation with other Faiths
The third theme within the reformist Islamic discourse is “Islam’s relations with other great faiths”. An important aspect central to the Muslim understanding of pluralism is the conception that god’s message in the Quran is universal and that the revelation was made through more than just one prophet, which means that the revelations had multiple manifestations. The basic underpinning for this idea can be seen in the Quran which mentions the monotheistic traditions of Judaism and Christianity. Far from denying the Quran in fact validates that Torah and Bible were predecessor scriptures affirming that their message has come from the same god. Many Quranic verses echo the sentiments which envisage a world where diversified people are united by their pious intentions and mutual devotion to God.
Also, read Islam in 2075: World’s Largest Religion!?
Some Important Milestones in the Islamic History
Apart from the theoretical contributions to promote Islamic pluralism, efficient action has also been taken within the Muslim discourse on a practical level to perpetuate inter-faith harmony.
One such historic step was the “1981 adoption of the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, whose article XIII states: Every person has the right to freedom of conscience and worship in accordance with his religious beliefs.”.
Apart from this, another significant step was taken in 1990 when the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam was adopted, Article 1(a) of which states:
“All human beings form one family whose members are united by submission to God and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, color, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human perfection.”
Islamic Tradition of Peaceful Coexistence
The Quran recognizes fundamental rights for all humankind whether Muslims or non-Muslims and explicitly forbids compulsion in faith. The Islamic texts also provide a practical model of implementing pluralistic ideals which have greatly affected the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim lands. Contrary to the Islamophobic stereotypes, Islam not only acknowledges pluralism, but it also goes beyond the reductive concepts of tolerance and intolerance to endorse and encourages a tradition of peaceful coexistence.
Also, read Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women
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