More than a week after several attacks and cases of intimidation were reported on Kashmiris around India in the wake of the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally spoke up against the violence. “What happened to Kashmiri students in the last few days, such things should not happen in this country,” he said at a rally in Rajasthan. “Our fight is against terrorism and the enemies of humanity. Our fight is for Kashmir, not against Kashmir, not against Kashmiris.”
Since the Feburary 14 attack, violence on Kashmiris was reported from 10 states, prompting the Supreme Court to ask states to ensure their safety.
To add to this break down of law and order, several senior members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Modi administration either spoke up in favour of the violence or dismissed it altogether. On Tuesday, the Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy called for an economic boycott of Kashmir and Kashmiris as well as mass violence in the state. A day later, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar flatly denied that Kashmiris had been harassed atl all. On Sunday, the governor of Jammu and Kashmir blamed the media for “exaggerated reporting” of the attacks on Kashmiris.
As is his wont, Modi kept silent as the violence spread, speaking up far too late for his words to have any real impact. To add to this, even his delayed words are not backed up by a plan for action against the perpetrators and those who supported them. Not only is Tathagata Roy still in office, his tweet calling for the boycott of and violence against Indian citizens is still to be deleted.
This is not the first time Prime Minister Modi is looking away in the face of a breakdown of law and order. As a spate of grizzly lynchings related to cow protection have occurred across a numbers of states in North and West India, Modi was been slow to condemn violence while simultaneously allowing his party to fan fires.
There are few things more destabilising for a country than mass violence. A situation where the ruling party itself is seen as supporting the mob is doubly hazardous. In its pursuit of the Hindutva ideology and electoral gain, Modi and the BJP allowing the rule of law to be taken over by the mob is doing incalculable harm to India.