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Kashmiris have not forgotten UN promises

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Kashmir is a natural paradise, surrounded by India, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, and with a narrow Wakhan stripe, separating it from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Compared to existing 193 countries in the world taken individually, Kashmir is larger than103 and more populous than 129. It is also more than three times the size of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg combined. The people of Jammu & Kashmir have not forgotten that it was on April 21, 1948, that the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution # 47 which states that the future of Kashmir shall be decided by its inhabitants.

There have been successive United Nations security Council resolutions that pledged to the people of Kashmir their right to self-determination. The Indian Government has barred the exercise of this right and has waged a campaign of terror against the people of Kashmir. The Kashmiris have become victims of systematic and extreme brutalities, and nothing has been done by the world powers or any organ of the United Nations including the Secretary General to permit them any relief or redress.

Each time the people of Kashmir have demanded the right to self-determination, Indian authorities have responded with extreme repression. India is a signatory to the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’ which guarantees that ‘everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person,’ that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,’ and that ‘no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.’

These rights are being violated by the Indian army and its paramilitary forces, day in, day out. Since 1989, the Indian Government has embarked upon a campaign of mass slaughter, rape and robbery against the people of Kashmir. It is estimated that since January 1990, more than 100,000 people have been killed in Kashmir at the hands of the Indian forces of occupation. More than 10,000 persons have involuntarily disappeared. Their wives are called “Half-widows” because no one knows whether they are dead or alive.

Further, it is estimated that hundreds of Kashmiris are held as political prisoners by the government of India. Very recently, on November 15, 2021, the killing of three innocent Kashmiris, Dr. Mudasir Gul, Altaf Butt and Mohammad Amir in Hyderpora, Srinagar, Kashmir in a fake encounter has once again shaken the conscience of the global civil society. This act of barbarism by occupation army signifies the death of so-called Indian democracy.

This latest killing of innocent civilians needs a transparent investigation by a neutral outside agency, like the United Nations. And, now the Arrest of World-renowned Human Rights Activist Khurram Parvez by NIA of India on November 21, 2021 is obviously travesty of justice. Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defender tweeted: Khurram Parvez is not a terrorist. He is a Human Rights Defender.  India has legalized torture, arbitrary arrest, wanton destruction of property and has given its soldiers the right to kill at sight, and to conduct searches without warrant. 

Here are few black laws authorized by the Government of India which clearly violate international standards. The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA). This law enables the Indian armed forces in Kashmir to detain civilians for up to one year without trial or due process for a wide variety of reasons, including the exercise of free speech. Under this law, an individual who prints pamphlets and newsletters that advocate the implementation of the United Nations resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir can also be arrested and detailed without formal charge or due process. 

That is why the Amnesty International calls the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, ‘Lawless Law. In 2011, Amnesty International’s ‘Lawless Law’ report revealed that, given the political context in J&K, the PSA was used to detain, among others, political leaders, lawyers, and individuals who challenged the state through political action or peaceful dissent. The report found that the PSA provides for arbitrary detention, which violates the right to liberty under human rights law binding on India.

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Furthermore, the report found that state authorities also used the PSA to facilitate other human rights violations, including incommunicado detentions, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (other ill-treatment) in custody, and detention on vague grounds. Based on these findings, the report called on the Government of J&K to repeal the PSA, abolish the administrative detention system, either release those held under the PSA or charge them with a recognised criminal offence, and to try them in a regular court in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness.  The Terrorist and Disruptive Act (TADA).

This act allows Indian forces to round up and detain citizens for up to one year without formal charges, due process of law or formal trial. When and if court hearings are held, they are held in secret. Victims are not allowed to confront their accusers, and witnesses can keep their identities secret. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 (UAPA). Under UAPA a person can be incarcerated up to 180 days without a charge sheet being filed. It does not allow right to dissent. The Amnesty International Executive Director has said that UAPA has been used to “target journalists and human rights defenders who criticize government policies.” 

The National Security Act. Under this law, the Indian armed forces can detain individuals for up to one year without charges or trial to prevent them from ‘acting in a manner prejudicial to state security.’ Under his law, an individual does not even have to take a specific action to be detained. If the Indian authorities believe that he is about to do something, they can detain him without charge to prevent him from acting/. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) [Jammu and Kashmir].

This law was passed on September 10, 1990. It allows the Governor of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to unilaterally ‘declare the whole or any part f the state to be a disturbed area.’ By identifying Kashmir as a disturbed area, this act empowers the armed forces to search homes without warrant, arrest Kashmiri people without warrant, destroy entire home and villages and shoot innocent civilians in the streets with intent to kill. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in her report issued on July8, 2019 states, “The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA) remains a key obstacle to accountability. As described in the June 2018 OHCHR report, this Act grants broad powers to the security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir and effectively bestows immunity on security forces from prosecution in civilian courts for their conduct, by requiring the Central Government to sanction all prospective prosecutions against such personnel.” 

Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, during an event organized by ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties’ on May 7, 2016, urged all to unite to pressurise the government to repeal sedition laws and Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani, President, Jammu Kashmir Council for Human Rights submitted a written statement to the UN Human Rights Council on August 30, 2019.

He elaborated that there was a war going on between the people of Kashmir and the Indian Security forces. The June 2018 and July 2019 reports by OHCHR have detailed the situation. According to these reports “The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) grants broad powers to the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and effectively bestows immunity on security forces from prosecution in civilian courts for their conduct, by requiring the Central Government to sanction all prospective prosecutions against such personnel”. 

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 For any of the above actions, article 7 of the act, titled ‘protection of persons acting in good faith under this act’ holds that ‘no prosecutions, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted…against any person in respect to anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this act. This means that any member of the armed forces who conducts the above-described human rights violations – torture, summary executions of civilians, burning down homes and villages, and arbitrary arrest – can do so with total immunity from prosecution. These draconian laws violate articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR). 

Currently, two dangerous misunderstandings exist about the Kashmir issue.  If allowed to continue, they can destroy the potential of peace making in the subcontinent:  These are:  (a)  Kashmiris have been battered into submission by Indian forces through these draconian laws. (b)  India is unbendingly opposed to giving up her occupation of Kashmir; so it is futile to bring any pressure on her. 

As regards the first, one need only to recall what happened to a nation as great as France under the 5-year Nazi occupation.  That so many prominent Frenchmen and sections of French society refused to offer any resistance to German forces; that men of standing like Petain and Laval collaborated with the Nazis are undeniable facts.  Did they betoken even a limited popularity of the Nazis?  Certainly not.  All they brought out was the opportunism of a few individuals or groups and the weakness inherent in human nature when confronted with life’s necessities.  The thinking runs along these lines: life is to be lived; if an overarching issue is remaining undecided, one has still to face relatively minor but pressing day-to-day matters and one has to try to tackle them. 

If this happened in France in four or five years of alien occupation, is it any wonder that it should happen in Kashmir after seventy-four years of unremittingly suppressive alien rule. The second misunderstanding arises from a superficial reading of realities.  It is true that successive governments in India have persistently presented a completely intransigent front on the Kashmir issue.  But if no cracks are visible in that front, it is because no pressure whatsoever has been applied which would expose the realities under the surface.  During the last two years or so, particularly since August 5, 2019, when Article 370 and 35A were abrogated, several articles have appeared in the international press and even in mainstream India press written by thoughtful Indians opposed to the official policy on the issue. 

They take their stand not on morality but realistically on India’ own long-term interest.  That an unresolved Kashmir issue, the occupation of Kashmir in defiance of the people’s wishes, has damaged India’s democratic credentials and hence her standing and aspiration for an enhanced status in the United Nations is a point of emphasis in their pleadings.  Only shallow thinking will regard this current of Indian opinion as inconsequential. 

If world powers want to help bring about a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute, it must demand from India as a first step, the immediate repeal of these black laws. The world powers and particularly, the United Nations Human Rights Council is in a position to arrest the course of brutalities by examining and exposing the situation and persuading both India and Pakistan that the way to bring peace and stability to the region of South Asia is by resolving the Kashmir dispute to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. 

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India

Kashmiri political prisoners need to be released unconditionally:

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Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. May 3, 2024. An impressive and meaningful meeting of the leadership of all religious, social and political parties of Azad Kashmir took place at Jeddah to discuss the latest situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The guest of honor of the event was Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, the chief guest was Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum, and the event was presided over by Sardar Waqas Inayat, President, Jammu Kashmir Oversees Community, Jeddah.


 Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, who was in town to attend the annual meeting of the Muslim World League (MWL), as a member of the Supreme Council of MWL said that the Kashmir dispute was primarily the issue of self-determination which is a basic principle of the United Nations Charter. The applicability of the principle of self-determination to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized not only by the United Nations but also equally by both India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council in 1948. The Kashmir issue, Sardar Attique added involves the life and future of the 23 million people of the State of Jammu & Kashmir that existed on August 13, 1947. Because of its impact on relations between India and Pakistan, however, it directly affects the peace and stability of the South-Asian subcontinent. The denial of this right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir has brought India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.
 
Sardar Attique explained that all international conflicts ultimately were resolved on the negotiating table. If that is true, then the world powers should become deeply engaged in order to make sure that the peace process between India and Pakistan once initiated does not get derailed.  “His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman can also play a bridge building to bring parties together so that the animosity is done away with, and the dawn of dialogue and engagement is sustained,” Sardar Attique highlighted.

Sardar Attique reiterated that it must be the first and foremost objective of our strategy to seek the immediate release of Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Masarat Aalam, Aasia Andrabi, Khurram Parvez and others. There are no laws and there is no due process for political and human rights victims and prisoners in Kashmir

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai said that Kashmir conflict is not about Modi’s so-called development or jobs or even money; it’s about freedom and respect for the sovereign right of a people to choose their own way of life, their own leaders, and their own politics without interference from outsiders. The people of Jammu & Kashmir, irrespective of their religious background and cultural affiliations, were given the right by the United Nations to decide the future status of Kashmir. That is a principle that was agreed by both India and Pakistan and endorsed by the world community.  Perhaps India may pretend that it can preempt that option unilaterally, but the people of Kashmir have not forgotten it at all.

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Fai warned that cost of inaction by the international community is enormous – for the global community, for the region of South Asia and especially for the people of Kashmir. If the global initiative is taken, it will not only end the bloodshed and suffering in Kashmir, but also will have a direct positive effect on international security by eliminating regional fighting and risk of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. It is in everyone’s interests to settle the Kashmir dispute peacefully without further delay.

Dr. Fai cautioned that gimmickry and maneuvers, no matter by whom encouraged and approved, cannot be a response to a demand for which tens of thousands have shed their blood in Kashmir. To ignore this principle is to plan for failure, he added.
 
Mr. Farooq Rehmani, former Convener, All Parties Hurriyat Conference said that the repression of Kashmir’s soul has not diminished the pain or the need for India to meet those face to face who have had nothing but a boot to the belly and a cane to the back.  The voice of Kashmir not only remains as vibrant and shrill as in the very beginning, it is yet even stronger. It is time that India showed some honesty and forthrightness in its dealings with Kashmir.
 
Farooq Rehmani added that it’s time to end the violence.  It’s time to end the charade.  It’s time for the world community to intervene and let Kashmiris sort out their own affairs and determine their own future
 
Consul General, Khalid Majeed Sahib said that our brothers and sisters in Occupied Kashmir have suffered for over seven decades. They look towards us to raise their voice against the oppression at the international forums. It is our moral, legal and religious duty to come forward and be the voice of the people who feel muzzled by the draconian laws which have given total immunity to over 900,000 Indian occupation forces in Kashmir. The whole nation of Pakistan is standing with the oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir and will keep exposing the atrocities and brutalities of PM Narender Modi at all international forums.
 
Mr. Khalid Majeed warned that since August 5, 2019 India is pursuing the policy to alter the demographics of the territory. Hundreds of thousands Hindus and army personnel have been provided domicile certificates and allotted land that has been grabbed from local Muslim population.
 
Mr. Masud Ahmed Puri, Chairman, Kashmir Committee, Jeddah said the sovereignty and right to self-determination is being ignored. But the people of Kashmir will not rest unless they achieve their ultimate objective which is freedom from Indian occupation. The leadership of various political parties in Azad Kashmir has played a role for decades in internationalizing the issue of Kashmir. The people of Azad Kashmir will never let the sacrifices of the people of Kashmir go in vain, Mr. Puri added.
 
Sardar Waqas Inayat, President JKCO and the host of the event said that the leadership of the Kashmiri political resistance movement and human right activists in occupied Kashmir are incarcerated on frivolous charges and lodged in notorious prisons under sub-human conditions. The goal is to convert Indian Occupied Kashmir into a Hindu majority state with a long turn plan to achieve favorable outcome in case plebiscite is held in the future.  Sardar Waqas expressed his dissatisfaction about the apathy and passivity of the world powers towards the longest issue that is pending on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council – Kashmir.

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Sardar Muhammad Ashfaq, Vice Chairman, JKCO and Emcee of the event said that to the horrors of repression for which the people of Kashmir suffer are added two other circumstances, each cruelly adverse. One is the apathy of the world at large, including governments and organizations that otherwise are justly proud of their championship of democracy and human rights. The second is the fog of myths and evasive arguments currently surrounding India’s wrongful occupation of Kashmir. Sardar Ashfaq urged the people of the world to stand up and speak up for the freedom of Kashmir.
 
Others who spoke included: Engineer Arif Mughal, senior vice chairman, JKCO; Choudhary Khurshid Ahmed, former Chairman, JKCO; Raja Shamroz, Additional Secretary General, JKCO.
 
The event concluded with the du’a for the martyrs of Kashmir and Gaza.
 
Dr. Fai is also Chairman, World Forum for Peace & Justice.
He can be reached at: WhatsApp: 1-202-607-6435.  Or.  [email protected]
www.kashmirawareness.org

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India

Kashmir and the Administration of Justice-III

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Professor Zafar Khan, Head of the Diplomatic Department of JKLF and a well-known leader of Kashmiri global diaspora has said, “Kashmiris are denied their collective and individual rights by India. The political, judicial and security establishment in India has orchestrated an environment of fear and impunity across Jammu Kashmir

With thousands of civilian deaths and politically motivated trials of Kashmiri leaders, India shows scant respect for domestic and international law. Yasin Malik’s trial to convert his deeply flawed life sentence to death is a glaring example of this impunity. It has to be said that recourse to justice for Kashmiris after annexation of disputed Jammu Kashmir, is no longer a basic right for them.”


Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2023 (India) writes, “Allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings persisted, with the National Human Rights Commission registering 147 deaths in police custody, 1,882 deaths in judicial custody, and 119 alleged extrajudicial killings in the first nine months in 2022.
Amnesty International says, “Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in police custody remain widespread.” According to Amnesty International, these broadly defined powers facilitate the shooting of the suspects in custody. Amnesty International calls PSA as ‘Lawless Law.’

Many members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, International Commission of Jurists, and other international NGOs have expressed concern that these provisions contravene the right to life provided in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Dr. Farhan Mujahid Chak, a Canadian-Kashmiri scholar and widely respected expert on the subject of Kashmir has said, ‘The justice system in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir is as artificial as its current governance structure. No bearing with the reality on the ground and as illegitimate as any settler-colonial power would be anywhere in the world.’ The laws weaponized in the disputed territory are not meant to protect the powerless against the powerful or establish justice.  They operate to perpetuate the illegal stranglehold India has over society.

The 43- page report on the ‘Situation in Kashmir’ by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) issued on June 14, 2018, noted that, “Special laws in force in the state, such as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA) , have created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.  AFSPA grants broad powers to the security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir and effectively bestows immunity from prosecution in civilian courts for their conduct by requiring the central government to sanction all prospective prosecutions against such personnel before being launched.”

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An incarcerated but eminent and internationally known human rights activist, Khurram Parvez echoes those sentiments in 549-page report on, ’Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir’ on page 104, “In the context of unprecedented militarization in the state of Jammu and Kashmir post 1989, the army is omnipresent in all the villages and towns of the Kashmir Valley. Following the Doctrine of Sub-Conventional warfare (breaking the will of the people), the armed forces have perpetrated inter alia massive torture in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, they are equipped with legal, political, and moral impunity. Despite possessing some powers, the judiciary is avoiding confronting the executive, resulting in an overall state of judicial impunity.”

United States, Department of State Country Report 2022 states that “The Public Safety Act (PSA), which applies only in Jammu and Kashmir, permits authorities to detain persons without charge or judicial review for up to two years without visitation from family members.  In April, the press reported that more than 500 persons remained in detention under the PSA in Jammu and Kashmir.”
The country report further adds, “There were reports that police beatings of prisoners resulted in custodial deaths (see section 1.a.).  There were reports of abuse in prisons by guards and inmates, as well as reports of rape of detainees by police. According to human rights NGOs, police used torture, other mistreatment, and arbitrary detention to obtain forced or false confessions.  In some cases, police reportedly held suspects without registering their arrests and denied detainees sufficient food and water.”

Advocate Jalil Andrabi has said that “the laws conferring unrestricted and arbitrary powers on the armed forces continue to remain in operation in Jammu & Kashmir, with full impunity to the perpetrators or crimes against the humanity and violations of fundamental human rights, threatening the very existence of the people of Kashmir. Indictments and appeals from the United Nations Rapporteurs on Torture; Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution; freedom of opinion and expression; the situation of human rights defenders; Independence of judges and lawyers; Freedom of religion and belief; Violence against women; International Commission of Jurists; Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch have failed to make India withdraw these laws.”

The arbitrary powers conferred upon the armed forces with virtual impunity from any legal action are a part of deliberate Indian State policy wherein, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, extra-judicial killing, and killings of civilians and unarmed and peaceful demonstrators have been used as a weapon of war. The motive behind these crimes against humanity is to force the Kashmiri people to abandon their struggle for fundamental human rights of self-determination.

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The problems associated with attempting to curtail human rights abuses in Kashmir are further complicated by India’s steadfast refusal to allow non-governmental organizations, the United Nations Thematic Special Rapporteurs, Amnesty International and other NGO’s to investigate allegations in Kashmir.

UNHCHR has recommended to the Government of India in its report on page # 48 that “In line with its standing invitation to the Special Procedures, accept the invitation requests of the almost 20 mandates that have made such requests; in particular, accept the request of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and facilitate its visit to India, including to Jammu and Kashmir.” It has also recommended to the UN Human rights Council to, “Consider the findings of this report, including the possible establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.”

In reality, as Advocate Jalil Andrabi has said the people of Kashmir are prisoners – prisoners of their conscience. They have been deprived of their non-derogable human rights including their right to life and liberty, and access to justice only because they are demanding to exercise their fundamental inalienable and non-derogable right to self-determination. To restore the basic human rights of the detainee, India must be compelled to concede the right of the people to exercise their self-determination and stop its crimes against humanity in Kashmir.

With these words I have shown the merest tip of the iceberg of the pandemic violations of human rights with which the people of Kashmir must live on a day-to-day basis. Such events are not rare and occasional, but most decidedly part of a systematic policy of repression, victimization, suppression, and colonization. By extension, one has to ask what extremely deleterious effects this activity must have on the psychological health of even the occupying forces, and the families and neighbours of all those affected by such violence.

By our shared humanity, we are obliged not to sit idly by, but to act swiftly and surely to repair the disastrous human chaos that daily threatens human life and the human dignity of the people of Kashmir. The question arises: what should be the point of departure for determining a just and lasting basis? The answer is (a) the Charter of the United Nations and (b) the international agreements between India and Pakistan

(……Concluded….)

Dr. Fai is the Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace & Justice’.He can be reached at: [email protected] www.kashmirawareness.org

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Elections 2024

Indian General Elections 2024: Implications and Prospects

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As the Indian general elections of 2024 draw closer, the political landscape of the country is witnessing a flurry of activity, with political parties and leaders gearing up for the electoral battle that lies ahead. The elections are expected to be closely contested, with various speculations and conjectures doing the rounds about the possible outcomes. The implications of the election results are far-reaching and will have a significant impact on the country’s future, including its economic policies, international relations, social welfare schemes, and more. The 2024 elections are crucial for India’s growth and development, and the citizens of the country are eagerly awaiting the outcome with bated breath.

The Political Landscape

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been in power since 2014, and the party’s popularity has only grown since then. The BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strongman leadership have appealed to the majority of the country’s Hindu population. The opposition Indian National Congress party, on the other hand, has been struggling to maintain its relevance and has been plagued by infighting and hierarchical issues. The recently formed coalition of all major opposition parties, which goes by the acronym INDIA, has yet to unite on crucial issues, though it has vowed to fight the BJP collectively.

The Prospects

The BJP’s victory in the 2024 general election seems almost inevitable at this stage, given the party’s popularity and the lack of a strong opposition. The BJP’s nationwide pre-election push, titled Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, will see thousands of government officers deployed to towns and villages across the country over the next two months, tasked with speaking about the BJP’s successes over the past nine years. Concerns have been raised over what a third term for Narendra Modi would mean for the country amid rising Hindu-Muslim tension.

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The Implications

A win for the BJP and Modi would consolidate the party’s position at the center, but a fragmented mandate could lead to an era of coalition politics. The role of regional parties could be pivotal in such a scenario. The potential outcomes of the 2024 elections are difficult to predict given the volatility of the Indian political scenario. However, the BJP’s victory would likely result in the continuation of its Hindu nationalist agenda, which has been criticized for its persecution of Muslims and erosion of democratic institutions.

Conclusion

The Indian general elections of 2024 are poised to be a turning point in the country’s history. The BJP’s victory seems almost inevitable, but the implications of the election results are far-reaching and will have a significant impact on the country’s future. The BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda and Modi’s strongman leadership have appealed to the majority of the country’s Hindu population, but concerns have been raised over the party’s persecution of Muslims and erosion of democratic institutions. The role of regional parties could be pivotal in shaping the outcome of the elections, and a fragmented mandate could lead to an era of coalition politics. Only time will tell what the future holds for India.

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