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India launches a systematic crackdown on religious scholars in Kashmir

The Indian government’s ongoing crackdown on religious scholars in Kashmir reflects how Islamophobia is a central feature of India’s military occupation in Kashmir. On 15th September, three prominent Kashmiri Muslim religious scholars and community leaders were arrested by the Indian authorities and booked under the Public Safety Act. The three scholars include Moulana Abdul Rasheed Dawoodi, Moulana Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri, and Moulana Abdul Majeed Dar Al-Madni. The detainees have been shifted to Jammu, miles away from their homes.

On 17th September, two days after detaining many prominent religious scholars and community leaders in Kashmir, the Indian government arrested another renowned religious preacher, Sarjan Barkati. Barkati has a small daughter who has been forced to see her father in prison. India has detained around seven religious activists or scholars, including Advocate Zahid Ali, in the past two days under the draconian Public Safety Act, hinting at a systematic crackdown on religious groups in Kashmir. Notably, the detainees belong to different Islamic schools of thought or religious groups, reflecting how India’s violence against Kashmiri Muslims is not limited to one sect but engulfs the entirety of the Muslim community. 

One of the detainees, known as Nazir Ahmed Raina, suffers from partial paralysis. Other detainees include Faheem Mohammad Ramzan and Gazi Moin-ul-Islam Nadvi. The family members of the detainees have maintained that they were not informed of the grounds for detention. Kashmiri political analysts assert that by detaining the Muslim scholars and clerics, the Indian government seeks to obfuscate all influential voices that may express dissent against India’s unfolding settler-colonial policies. Kashmiri Muslims are being doubly persecuted for their religious identity as well as their demand for political self-determination.

 Justice for All condemns the detention of these scholars, the violation of the religious rights of Kashmiri Muslims, and calls for the urgent release of all the illegal detainees. The arrest of Kashmiri religious scholars violates the freedom of religion guaranteed by article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. 

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