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A4K supports Indian Farmers, Journalists and Activists Facing Repressive Tactics Honed in Kashmir

Americans for Kashmir expresses solidarity with farmers across India who are protesting policies that threaten their basic economic welfare. We also stand in solidarity with the courageous journalists who continue to cover the protests despite extraordinarily heavy-handed and anti-democratic actions by the Indian government to criminalize free speech. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government is using its stranglehold on Indian media to misrepresent basic facts on the ground and demonize predominately peaceful protestors. These authoritarian measures are not working despite Indian authorities having even stooped to ludicrous actions like filing a complaint against teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg for tweets regarding the current situation.

As Kashmiri-Americans, we are not strangers to these tactics of the Modi government. When Article 370 of the Indian constitution was abrogated in August 2019, the Modi government insisted that the move would allow social and economic developments in India to spread in Kashmir. This narrative was always false, and in fact, the last two years of BJP rule have seen a Kashmirization of India rather than the restive region becoming more like mainland India.

Nearly every repressive tactic on display in Delhi and Punjab today have been pilot-tested by Modi’s government in Kashmir. The deployment of Indian forces to attack protesters, the arrest and harassment of journalists and activists, the shutting down of internet access, restricting access to journalists and opposition politicians, supplying direct talking points to online disinformation actors and state-backed media - these tactics are sadly all too familiar to Kashmiris. In just the past two years, Kashmiris have endured the world’s longest internet shutdown imposed by a supposed democracy, torture, the persecution of journalists, and much more. All meaningful opposition to the government has been effectively silenced in Kashmir, resulting in a palpable climate of fear on the ground. We worry what the escalating use of tactics previously only deployed against Kashmiris will mean for human rights and democracy in India.

We unequivocally support the rights of India’s protesting farmers and of those covering their stories, and urge the US government to demand that India put an end to its brazenly anti-democratic actions. India’s continued criminalization of dissent, after imposing highly unpopular policies that fundamentally reshape the lives of entire populations, is not a sustainable path. These moves continue to undermine basic freedoms fundamental to any democracy. While the Biden administration seeks to restore our own nation’s credibility as a model democracy on the world stage, we as Americans must hold our supposed democratic partners to the same higher standard.

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