Modi, ministers follow trolls against Kashmiri women

Zeeshan Baz

Zeeshan Baz has collected the information that:

NEW DELHI: “What are the benefits of removing Article 370?” According to an online report of an Indian media outlet based in the Indian capital, three men lined up against a shop in Delhi smile broadly into the camera. “The tricolour will be waved in Kashmir, bhai your turn,” Ankit Jatav tells his friend. The friend, a young man in a black tee, thumps his chest and says, “Doosra, Jammu Kashmir ki lugai milegi humein” [Second, we will get a wife from Jammu Kashmir].” The third man declares Kashmir will now be called Kashi, and all three shout ‘Vande Mataram’ in unison.

The video, posted on various social media platforms with hearts and flexed bicep emojis, was uploaded shortly after the Indian government invoked the Article 370 to scrap Kashmir’s special status. Jatav, who has over 12,000 followers on a social media platform has posted 10 more videos on Article 370 since then. In another video, one of his friends, a young man with coiffed hair, said, “Main toh chala Kashmir, mujhe Delhi main ladki nahin mil rahi hai (I am going to Kashmir, I am not getting women in Delhi).”

While a total communications blackout in Kashmir has made it impossible to ascertain the repercussions of the Modi government’s decision to abrogate Kashmir’s special status, social media platforms in mainland India are inundated with videos asserting Hindu supremacy. A popular video platform in particular is full of slightly desperate Hindu men asserting “victory” by claiming they can now “get girls” from Kashmir. Similar content has started surfacing on other social media. Prior to the government’s decision on Monday, there was no bar on marrying Kashmiri men or women. However, the children of women who married non-Kashmiris would not inherit property in Kashmir under its old laws.

In India, men have long used so-called “muscular nationalism” to channel a deep misogyny directed at women who dared to critique a dominant political narrative. Women who have criticised the majoritarian politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have faced rape threats, obscene messages and even fake porn videos.

Senior BJP ministers, including the Prime Minister, have followed these trolls online, and invited them for social media summits while insisting the government should not be held responsible for encouraging hate directed at women online. However, in the case of Kashmir and Article 370, the rush of misogynistic content seems oddly in line with the government’s own approach to Kashmir’s people. Like the government treated Kashmir as a people whose opinion wasn’t worth considering, young men on are celebrating the idea of ‘getting’ a Kashmiri woman like she is an object with no agency. Ironically, a bunch of these videos end with men chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ or Vande Mataram, completely dismissive of absurdity of looking at Kashmiri women as subjects of their ‘patriotic’ project. “The mockery made out of Kashmiri women is a reiteration of the fact that the human race has always made women the battle ground of their fragile brittle egos,” human rights lawyer Tahmina Lashkar told HuffPost India.

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