The recent announcement by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to honor the ‘Bucher of Gujrat’ and the ‘Hitler of the East’, Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi has shocked international human rights activists, lawyers and politicians.
The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation will award Modi for the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ project, an initiative aimed at providing sanitation and toilet access to millions lacking these basic facilities in India.
While there is no doubt that the initiative is worthwhile, it is the timing of the award that has really exasperated the international community.
At present the Modi led Bharatya Janat Party (BJP) has imposed one of the worst forms of curfew situation in the occupied Kashmir region, blocking out all access to communication, imprisoning its leaders and holding back all media from reporting the secretive atrocities that it is being perpetrated in the valley following the August 5 decision to illegally annex the disputed territory into India, leaving all Kashmiris without any declared set of rights and liberties.
As per the reports that are emerging from the valley, the situation is frightening, one that calls for international intervention rather than an award of appreciation.
Thousands of Kashmiris, including human rights advocates, elected officials and even young students, have been arrested in raids. Local prisons are full and many detainees have been flown out of the region. Family members wait in anguish, fearing that their loved ones may have been either killed or forcibly disappeared. Reports of torture are rampant. Patients are thwarted from accessing hospital facilities, medicine and life-saving treatment.
As if this is not enough, Modi administration is following a similar strategy in the province of Assam, targeting its Muslim population, which constitutes 35% of the overall population of Assam. Since August 31, the government has abrogated all citizenship rights of 1.9 million of its population, many of whome are Muslim women and children from low-income and impoverished backgrounds. They have been given 120 days to appeal and prove their citizenship, and if they fail, could be detained or deported.
The flagrant violation of human rights in both Kashmir and Assam are a telling account of Modi’s high handedness, fascist nature and are consistent with his announced annihilation of Muslims from India during his election campaigns.
Keeping all these facts in mind it is quite understandable why human rights activists, international policy experts, and politicians have taken up to twitter venting out their frustration and disappointment.
Kavita N. Ramdas, a globally-recognized gender equity and justice expert, also commented on Twitter:
International human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar wrote on Twitter:
Pakistani politician Ali Haider Zaidi labelled Modi as the “Hitler of the East”.
Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and activist who serves on the board of the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington DC, tweeted: