New Delhi’s intolerance of criticism — domestic and foreign — of its decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy in August through a questionable and undemocratic process, and its subsequent oppressive policies, is far from ebbing, as three recent high-profile examples show.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s criticism of India over Kashmir, while addressing the Pakistan Parliament, was dubious. His criticism is undercut by the fact that he heads an Islamist party. Mr Erdogan also foolishly compared Pakistan’s so-called resistance on Kashmir to the Battle of Gallipoli in the First World War where Turkey’s heroic resistance threw up Kemal Ataturk as a young military hero, whose mantle and heritage of secularism in an Islamic society the Erdogan regime has tried to destroy. And yet two Indian statements within three days on Mr Erdogan point to a paranoia.
British Labour MP Deborah Abrahams was deported from Delhi airport on Monday on shallow technical grounds only as she is a known critic of India on Kashmir. Her Kashmir stance is not always well-founded, but to deny her entry shows a streak of meanness and highlights the desire to look strong by being rough with critics. This does not behove a democracy.
At last week’s Munich Security Conference, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar was acerbic with US Senator Lindsey Graham, a strong ally of President Trump who Mr Narendra Modi woos, for merely expressing the hope that as a democracy India would deal with the Kashmir issue differently from how the Russians or Chinese might. Earlier, the minister used sharp language against India-origin US Congresswoman Premila Jaipal for criticising the government’s actions on Kashmir.
While individual Western legislators have been sought to be punished, the government has gone all out to gain the approval of foreign parliaments and governments for its actions on Kashmir, which have faced sharp domestic criticism. These the government has sought to quell and disregard.