India’s political space is shrinking, muzzling voices of dissent

Editor’s Note: Reference is made in Dr. Nyla’s essay to “détenu”. This word categorizes political prisoners, particularly in the context of India. 

Rational people cannot gloss over the arbitrary exercise of authority in Kashmir, nor can they legitimize the lack of accountability in the union territory.

Subsequent to the revocation of the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir [J&K], the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party of India] made several tall claims to legitimize its decision.

One of those claims was that the integration of J & K into mainland India would expedite the growth of democracy and development in the union territory.

Contrary to its claims, the BJP-led federal government has extended detentions of several détenu under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

Just yesterday, Shah Faesal, former Civil Services officer and budding politician, has been booked under the stringent Act. Like the other political figures being held under PSA, Shah Faesal’s incarceration has been extended without valid reason.

An amendment made to the Public Safety Act in 1990 made it non-obligatory for the federal government to provide the detainee with reasons for his/her arrest.

In their quest to portray Kashmir as a religious issue and not a political one, Prime Minister Modi’s government is shrinking the political space for those who chose the route of electoral politics to make their voices heard.

The brazen muzzling of those political voices that are antithetical to the BJP is absolutely ridiculous.

Amidst the pandemonium, I need to remind myself that the BJP is not India, and every Indian is not a Modi-devotee.

NOTE: A native of Kashmir, Dr. Nyla Ali Khan is a professor at Rose State College in Midwest City and visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Her essays and analyses have appeared in publications around the world, including in The City Sentinel newspaper and on the website. This essay is adapted from a recent online post.