Written by 12:56 pm India

Open Letter to New York Times’ Editorial Team on their Kashmir Op Ed

New York Times Editorial

Dear New York Times’ Editorial Team,

I have been a subscriber of your paper’s online edition for the last 2 years, which I canceled recently. For the last 20 years, perhaps the only news channel I ever watched was CNN. I found MSNBC too insipid and Fox outrageously insane. Like your publication, I have been a subscriber of NPR for many years and have contributed to their campaigns regularly. I have also donated to the political campaigns for democrats for last over 5 years now.

New York Times' Editorial team @nytopinion has been running a constant campaign against all established progressive norms and values as it bats for the Pakistani bigoted despot, Imran Khan. Click To Tweet

My skepticism, an understatement, for Donald Trump and admiration Barack Obama is amply visible on my personal blog.

Now, having clarified where I come from, in terms of socially relevant issues, I want to look at your recent Op-ed and articles which have been shoddy, ideologically extremist, propagandist and frankly just plain — fake reporting that has no basis on the ground.

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I just find it ironical that I am stating something that someone I have detested — Trump — has accused you of as well. But when your ideological fanaticism makes you scurry down a slope where you not just run far away from facts but also progressive basics, such strange situations are to be expected.

“Liberal’ Double Standards and Endorse of Selective Supremacy

In August 2017, I had argued “When is Supremacism Acceptable?”, as I lamented the events of Charlottesville.

Just as I fully understood and empathized with the victims of White Supremacist groups, I had asked the obvious question that the “American Liberals” were cleverly by-passing — what about the Islamic Supremacy?

The fact that White Supremacists had taken up the fight against Islamic Supremacy was obvious from the Trump campaign as well as his executive orders and work during his presidency. But what no one has really talked about was that this had happened simply because while the so-called “liberals” took up the fight against White Supremacy, they inexplicably endorsed and backed the Islamic Supremacists! Their fight against Supremacy was selective and Machiavellian at best.

So, that strange place where I find myself saying what Trump says of you is because fundamentally, your ideological make-up is no different from that of Trump. You are as sorry apologists for Islamic Supremacists as Trump is of the White Supremacists.

Let me explain.

Endorsing and Gushing over a bigoted despot

A week before your “man on a mission”, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, came to make the speech in the UN, which presumable endeared him to you and others, his country was witnessing one of the worst violence against the Hindus by Muslims on the false pretext of ‘Blasphemy’.

It was a false charge. But even if it was real, mob lynching and targeted violence and killing for blasphemy are as outrageous in the modern polity as burning women for ‘being witches’ is. Similar subjective random-ness and similar thirst for the subjugation of another belief.

Khan is also the man who justified the anti-Ahmadi laws in his country and fired world-renowned economist for only one reason — him being an Ahmadi while he endorsed calls for ethnic cleansing of Ahmadis by his presence and implied acquiescence.

Ahmadis are targeted in Pakistan even when they simply greet another person with “Aa salaam alai kum” — a normal Muslim greeting.

The ‘man on a mission’, you see, is a man on an extremist Sunni Islamic Supremacist mission!

Your concern for Kashmiri Muslims — yes, hardly any Hindus are left in Kashmir, for they were driven out, a fact you forgot to elaborate — is matched by your complete lack of concern for the genocides of Ahmadi and Shia Muslims in Pakistan, stemming from Islamophobic hate blessed by the ‘man on a mission’ Imran Khan!

Irony indeed is the order of the day, dear editors, isn’t it?

“Siege of Kashmir” — the falsehoods and the facts

By September 9th, two weeks before the infamous call for jihad and violence against India, from the august hall of the UN General Assembly by Imran Khan, the following had already happened in Kashmir.

  • All, 100%, landlines had been restored in the entire Jammy and Kashmir. Mobiles had also been restored in most of the regions and the rest of the restoration was proceeding progressively
  • Over 400,000 OPD visits, 35,000 admissions and 11,000 surgeries had been done within a month since August 5th, 2019
  • All schools till 10th standard were open and students are being facilitated for various scheduled examinations
  • 167,000 metric tonnes or 10,281 trucks of apples had been transported out of the state for the farmers
  • Over Rs 980 million (USD 14 million) had been disbursed via Jammu and Kashmir banks

That’s quite a siege, isn’t it?

Despite your ‘coverage with falsehoods’ of Kashmir, there have been no deaths, schools are functioning (with adjustment they have learned over years), hospitals are treating patients and doing surgeries, and food is available plenty as markets are full of fruit and vegetable vendors functioning normally.

Shop owners and large stores are wary of the terrorists and so are careful in how they function — but the latest report from Abhijit Iyer-Mitra shows that they are opening the stores and increasing the operational hours cautiously but steadily.

Given that Pakistan’s establishment has openly given statements that are dog-whistle for the sleeper terror cells within the region, violence and terror is an expected risk. Specifically, when this whistle is activated at UN General Assembly no less, with full endorsement and backing of publications like the New York Times!

In any sane society, if the lives of citizens are on one end of the scale and reasonable restrictions on the other, the decision by everyone, from a 2nd grader to an 80-year-old, would be the same. Something your editorial team, astonishingly, finds hard to grapple with.

When you are not producing your own narratives based on things that just aren’t, please check out the experiences of people like Steve Ballentine, one of the close to 1000 tourists who have arrived in the valley — despite your propaganda — and have roamed around freely.

Other than reports based on unsubstantiated and anonymous sources by media houses that are openly antagonistic of PM Modi’s policies and person, you have precious little to back up your alarming claims of detentions.

Some political and terror sympathizers have been detained and should have been in any situation. That such proxies like Yasin Malik (accused of killing Air Force personnel admitted on BBC’s show no less) and Hurriyat leaders who were taking orders from Pakistani establishment for spreading terror, were functioning with total freedom and impunity is one reason why Kashmir is where it has come to today.

Progressive Laws and Article 370

Between 2000 and 2016, 10% of all Central Government funds were given to the state of Jammu and Kashmir despite having 1% of the population. Those funds did not trickle down to the poor and needy and rarely made their way to vast regions and populations of Ladakh and Jammu.

They were used by the rich and powerful to siphon them off for their own purposes.

The detention of such parasitical politicians who fed off of poverty of their people is not the problem, but part of the solution for the people of Kashmir.

Over the years, they have ensured that all the laws passed in India for a progressive society were not applicable to the region. This kept the region in the throes of extremism and fanaticism. The laws which covered Children’s right to education, women’s right to property, abortion and safety from arbitrary instant divorce, LGBTQ rights and prevention of corruption as well as the right to information from any public authority; were not applicable to the region’s citizenry.

Here is a list of just 10 laws that were deliberately not allowed to be applicable in Jammu and Kashmir by the very politicians who are now protesting the abrogation of Article 370. A fact which allowed such a travesty to occur. Let the readers decide whether your Editorial team is really for Progressive laws or against it? For, your editors evidently don’t seem to care anymore.

  1. The Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: This law seeks to implement free and compulsory education for children between the age of 6 and 14
  2. Political Reservation of Scheduled Tribes: The lowest castes and underprivileged groups in the erstwhile state did not have any political reservation. Something that is applicable in the rest of India.
  3. Amendment to add Secular in the Preamble: The 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in India added the word Secular to the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, but was rejected by the State politicians.
  4. Women’s Right to Property: Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act gives women in India equal rights to property as men. However, in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, women were systematically barred from property rights after marriage when their spouse was not from the state. When a woman with a permanent resident certificate married a man without a PR would lose her certificate, right to transfer her parental property to her heirs and would be thrown out of state government job, if she was employed and never get one by law. However, if a non-PR woman married a man with the PR certificate, she would be able to get all the PR benefits that were bestowed on the man!
  5. Right to Information Act, 2005: The law gave any citizen of India the right to request information from a “public authority’ and the law also required the government to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.
  6. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971: The law allows women to abort a fetus in case there is a risk to the mother’s health if the child is likely to develop physical or medical handicaps, for socio-economic reasons and if there is a pregnancy resulting from a rape
  7. LGBTQ Rights: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, had been introduced by the British in 1861 — modeled on Buggery Act of 1533 making homosexuality illegal. The Supreme Court of India overturned this law in a major judgment on September 6, 2018. While this judgment was applicable throughout India, it was not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, where LGBTQs could be punished even after that. The abrogation of Article 370 now extends the Supreme Court of India ruling to the region as well.
  8. Triple Talaq or Instant Divorce by Muslim men: The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 passed by the current government enshrined the judgment by the 22 August 2017 Supreme Court of India which deemed Triple Talaq unconstitutional and illegal.
  9. Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988: Provisions covered corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India and trial and punishment against the errant officials
  10. The Religious Institution Act of 1988: This law prohibits religious institutions from allowing their premises for the promotion of political activity and storing of Arm and Ammunition

So, dear New York Times Editors, when you wax so eloquently against the abrogation of Article 370, please also state your stand on the denial of all these rights and laws — central to any progressive society — to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Remember, when you yearn and hope ‘in vain’ to reinstitute “autonomy”, you are also by implication hoping to ensure that LGBTQs are targeted as a matter of law, women are denied pro-choice legislation and safety from arbitrary instant divorce apart from right to property and inheritance and the children do not get the universal right to education.

You see, wise men and women, you cannot bring in the draconian Article 370 which legalized subjugation of the people without trashing all the progressive ideals that you feign to stand for.

Imran Khan’s UNGA speech a declaration of three wars

Never has a head of state ever asserted bigotry and justified violence as brazenly as Imran Khan did on September 27, 2019. In his speech, he actually declared wars on three entities — the Western Civilization, Moderate Muslims and India in general and Hindus specifically.

Western Civilization Vs Islam: Western world and the Islamic world come from the same origin. They are the religions of the book. Yet, the Western world, specifically post World War II has found a way to separate the state from the religion. Religion is the preserve of the individual and not mandated or orchestrated by the state. Which is different from the Islamic world. The Islamic world has not found in itself to do that. And, that is because in Islam state is the mandator of religion and no one can have another say. Private religion is taboo and no one can practice another religion to their fullest extent. That is why there are no Synagogues, Temples, Churches or Gurudwaras in Saudi Arabia and thousands of adherents of other religions go through a systematic purge in countries like Pakistan.

By positing the freedom to speech (and offend, a progressive right by the way!) in the West versus Islamic right to kill for offending their religion (asserted by the state in Islamic countries), Khan justified the killing of Charlie Hebdo and targeting of Salman Rushdie for their right to expression.

Moderate Muslims versus Radical Muslims: After 9–11, it was clear to the world that there was a major streak of civilizational battle underlying the Muslim populations in the West. However, it was neither correct nor civilized to target all Muslims for the crimes of a few. To make that distinction between those who use Islamic tenets and beliefs as a weapon versus those who merely use it as a personal faith while embracing the world at large, the commentators distinguished between Moderate and Radical Muslims. The latter were those who wanted to fight in the name of Islam, by their own pronouncements, not allegations by others.

When Khan pooh-poohed the whole concept of Radical Islam and challenged the differentiation between moderate and radical Muslim, he was taking away the only tool and nuance in the hands of law enforcement officials and social commentators to not criminalize the general population for the crimes of a few.

Do you see what this diabolical line of argument has the potential to do?

The distinction between the two has indeed been at the heart of the struggle in the West on how to fight Islamic terror while not targeting all Muslims. Imran Khan by using a mind-bogglingly insensitive argument has suddenly unleashed a social movement that has the potential of far serious ramifications than those we can fathom right now.

War against India justified by hatred for the Hindu: Using fake narratives around RSS and assassination of Gandhi (which the court concluded at that time did not involve RSS in any way), he spread lies and falsehoods about the Indian PM Modi. All to justify a war against India.

When you go along with Imran Khan’s bizarre logic by calling abrogation of Article 370 by the sovereign parliament of Indian legislators across all parties as “Mr. Modi’s power grab”, you seek to promote a fake narrative that emboldens despots like Khan who have personally justified ethnic cleansing of fellow Muslims in their own country simply because they belong to a different denomination!

Fake reporting, Fake Narrative and Faux Progressive narrative

While your faux progressiveness fashioned as an Op Ed in what was the bastion of progressive politics once notwithstanding, you have batted strongly for all that progressives find abominable. You have eloquently argued to bring back a legislative regime of archaic and extreme religious and conservative laws that your readers would shudder to even imagine applying to themselves.

That you are abandoning the rights of LGBTQ community or the pro-choice laws in India just to ensure that you inexplicably side by a despot whose government targets denominational and religious minorities, not by arbitrary actions by as a constitutional right is indeed astonishing.

If your editorial team had to murder the progressive movement by siding with the looney end of conservatism, they have done so spectacularly!

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