World-renowned scholar, author, and activist Noam Chomsky has said that Islamophobia has taken a “most lethal form” in India, turning some 250 million Indian Muslims into a “persecuted minority.”
“The pathology of Islamophobia is growing throughout the West — [but] it is taking its most lethal form in India,” Chomsky, who is also Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said in a video message to a webinar organized on Thursday by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), a Washington-based advocacy organization.
Apart from Chomsky, several other academics and activists took part in the webinar on “Worsening Hate Speech and Violence in India.”
Chomsky was of the view that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist regime has sharply escalated crimes in Indian Illegally-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK).
‘Kashmir is now a brutally occupied territory’
“The crimes in Kashmir have a long history,” he said, adding that the state is now a “brutally occupied territory and its military control in some ways is similar to occupied Palestine.”
The situation in South Asia, Chomsky said, is painful in particular not because of what is happening but because of what is not happening. There is, however, hope and opportunities to solve South Asian torment but not for long, he added.
Focus should be on status of press freedom in India
Annapurna Menon, an Indian author and lecturer at the University of Westminster, urged the international community to focus on the status of press freedom in India as, under the BJP government, the situation has become a cause of concern.
“The situation on the ground is extremely alarming as four journalists have already been killed in 2022, simply for doing their job,” Menon said, adding that journalists — especially women — have been exposed to all kinds of reprisals including harassment, illegal detention, police violence and sedition charges.
“The situation in IOJK is even direr, where journalists routinely face police questioning, ban on reporting, suspension of internet services and financial constraints in line with BJP’s recent ‘media policy’. The family of award-winning Srinagar-based photojournalist Masrat Zahra was subjected to harassment and intimidation by Indian police as the crackdown on the press in Indian-occupied Kashmir continues to escalate,” she said.