Hinduphobia, Paracetamol, Kashmir and Changed Labour Policy

Dr Syed Nazir Gilani

Source

Change is inevitable. The harbinger of change has to be smart, timely and on the lookout. This time around in the United Kingdom, there has been a change in Labour leadership and Sir Keir Rodney Starmer KCB PC QC, has replaced Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. He identifies himself as a socialist and defender of human rights everywhere. He has claimed in his letter to Hindu Forum Britain (HFB), “I have fought all my life against injustices and to defend human rights”. Be it so.

Muslims in general and Kashmiri community living in Britain in particular have a cause to force a correction on the new Labour leader in regard to his failure to understand and appreciate the Kashmir Question correctly and address the Human Rights situation in Indian occupied Kashmir, at least in the manner, as addressed in the three report of the United Nations.

Hindu Forum Britain has remained on the look out and has squeezed a shift in labours policy on Kashmir and a rare admission of ‘Hinduphobia’ and racism suffered by a ‘peaceful and loyal’ Hindu community of millions living in the United Kingdom. HFB leadership has been able to further wrench a drop of gratitude from the Labour leader, to India for selling the much needed “PARACETAMOL during this difficult time”. It is for the first time that ‘Hinduphobia’ has been introduced in the British political vocabulary.

There is a lesson for Pakistani and Kashmiri Muslim community living in Britain, that the new Labour Leader initiated a contact with the leadership of Hindu Forum Britain (HFB), which has a claim of “representing more than 320 member organizations giving voice to the million strong Hindu community in the UK”. HFB has an impressive representative face. It is headed by Mrs. Trupti Patel FCIHT, MSc, BEng CE, MISTD. Who would not pay a respectful heed to this Patel, when we have another Patel in the British Cabinet and many more Hindus holding the key positions.

It is interesting to find that HFB did not rush into a meeting but decided to set out a 3 point agenda in their letter of 8 April 2020. The letter cautioned the Labour leader, “There are many issues of concern to the Hindu/Indian community, for the purpose of this letter, suffice to say, the following three I believe give us a good starting point for our proactive engagement, and a test of whether you and the Labour Party are serious about such engagement”. The three concerns have been identified as (1) Caste legislation, (2) Anti-India stance and (3) Hinduphobia in the party.

What a smart way to charge on new Labour Leader and squeeze concessions and gratitude from him. There could be merit in the issues raised but HFB has been very mischievous to hide its real motive in agenda item 2, and have squeezed a statement of their choice on Kashmir from Keir Starmer. There is an uproar in British Kashmiri and Pakistani community on the major shift in labour party. Pakistanis and Kashmiris in Britain are a numerical force and could offer any electoral challenge to any political party. Unfortunately this number has not been translated into a quality representation, to keep the merits of their case, in particular ‘Islamophobia’, ‘Human Rights Situation’ in Indian occupied Kashmir and the delay in UN supervised Plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. We have a very poor and mediocre leadership, which has been ill handling the Kashmir case.

Labour Leader is no cousin of HFB or a cousin of Pakistani-Kashmiri community either. We should not be irked by his understanding on Kashmir. We should not interfere in his understanding of Caste legislation and Hinduphobia. However, we have a right to challenge his understanding of Kashmir case and convince him to fix it.

Keir Starmer, although a QC, seems to be sitting on the wrong table to understand Kashmir. Even majority or may be all the 320 Hindu organizations, may not have the right understanding of Kashmir case. Starmer’s statement on Kashmir, that it was a “Constitutional Matter for Indian Parliament” and a “Bilateral Issue for India and Pakistan”, is incorrect at core. One has to be fair to one’s opponent. I would say even 80% Pakistanis and Kashmiris also do not have a reliable knowledge of Kashmir case and an understanding of the UN Resolutions on Kashmir. We have also sinned against the people of Kashmir as Keir Starmer has sinned at this point.

JKCHR has done a report titled, “Indian Actions of 5 August and 31 October 2019 – Our Options”. It answers all these questions and answers Keir Starmer as well. India and Pakistan have both admitted on 31 December 1947 and 15 January 1948 that they have tried under article 33 of UN Charter a bilateral engagement on Kashmir and have failed. As a consequence both petitioned the UN Security Council under article 35 of UN Charter. Labour Prime Minister in his telegram on 22 November 1947, has proposed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, if the latter would consider taking the matter to ICJ.

Labour Leader should be open to a counter argument from Kashmiris and Pakistanis on the issue of Kashmir. Two citations would be enough, to force Keir Starmer to correct his position. Firstly United Kingdom has argued at the 284th meeting of UN Security Council held on 17 April 1948 that Kashmir was “the greatest and gravest single issue in international affairs”.  Secondly, India has conceded at the 533rd meeting of the UN SC held on 01 March 1951, that “The people of Kashmir are not mere chattels to be disposed of according to a rigid formula; their future must be decided in their own interests and in accordance with their own desires”. A UN supervised Plebiscite has been agreed.

This is an age of engagement and argument. Kashmiris have a better case to argue. All available evidence of Indian non-compliance, aggression against the people and re-occupying the habitat from 5 August need to be placed before the Labour Leader. He is no cousin of HFB to award them a favour. Merits of Kashmir case would prevail.

(The author is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.)

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