To mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote an op-ed in The New York Times where he said that Gandhi “envisioned a world where every citizen has dignity and prosperity”.
Modi said Gandhi “envisioned Indian nationalism as one that was never narrow or exclusive but one that worked for the service of humanity.” He also called upon the world to work shoulder to shoulder to end hate, violence and suffering.
“That is when we will fulfill Mahatma Gandhi’s dream, summed up in his favorite hymn, “Vaishnava Jana To,” which says that a true human is one who feels the pain of others, removes misery and is never arrogant.”
While it’s ironical that Modi was a long-time member of the RSS, an organisation that was banned after Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, what has riled people even more is the NYT’s decision to give space to Modi to talk about peace even as restrictions are still in place in Kashmir, mobile and internet services remain suspended and reports of human rights violations are being published almost every day.
Just a day ago, the NYT had published a front-page photo of people crying in Kashmir, captioning it “Misery Grows in Kashmir”.
The 1 October story by Jeffrey Gettleman (with photographs by Atul Loke) documents how the arrests and the lockdown in Kashmir have paralysed everyday life.
“Sporadic protests keep breaking out. Security officers blast shotguns and tear gas into crowds. Dozens of demonstrators have been seriously wounded. Many are scared to go to the hospital, fearing they will be arrested. Instead, they stumble into nearby mosques, their faces bloody, their bodies shaking, to be wiped down and bandaged by sympathetic volunteers.”
Others are calling Modi out for the divergence between his policies on Kashmir and his words in the op-ed on Gandhi. Reports say that thousands of people have been detained in Kashmir and HuffPost India’s Betwa Sharma wrote on Wednesday that many of these detentions are in violation of Jammu and Kashmir’s famously draconian laws of arrest and detention.
Safwat Zargar wrote for HuffPost India last month that the Jammu and Kashmir police has been quietly arresting children without a paper trail to hold anyone accountable. He was able to identify at least four such cases. On Tuesday, a J&K high court committee said in a report that 144 children, including a nine-year-old, have been detained since early August.