Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar on Wednesday shared an anti-CAA message on Twitter telling people why “these protests are important”. In the said message, the son of noted lyricist Javed Akhtar spread numerous canards about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Registrar of Citizens. It was retweeted over 16,000 times when this report was written. We have published a comprehensive piece debunking the claims here.
A much more problematic aspect has come to the fore regarding the message that was shared by Farhan Akhtar and indeed, it is a matter of great concern. Farhan Akhtar, unwittingly or otherwise, has helped peddle the insidious agenda of Kashmiri separatists. Here is a picture of the misinformation that was shared by the Bollywood actor.
When one looks at it closely, there’s a logo visible right below ‘Day 135’ written beside the Indian map which is itself distorted. The logo is that of a bird with only ‘Kashmir’ written beside it that can be observed clearly. After investigation, we discovered that the logo is that of an organization called ‘Stand With Kashmir’. Here is the logo that appears on the propaganda shared by Farhan Akhtar.
Now, the question arises, what is Stand With Kashmir? As per its website, it is a “Kashmiri diaspora-driven independent global citizen grassroots group committed to standing in solidarity with the people of Kashmir in ending the occupation and supporting their right to self-determination.” Calling India’s military presence in Kashmir an ‘occupation’ reveals amply the ideological orientation of the network. The organization further says, “We believe any proposed resolutions must foreground Kashmiri aspirations. We condemn the use of Islamophobia to undermine Kashmiri aspirations for freedom.”
There are even more problematic aspects of SWK’s ideology. In the ‘Origins of Conflict‘ segment of its website, it traces the roots of the Jihad in Kashmir to 1931, a decade after the Khilafat Movement that led to the creation of Pakistan, but never calls it as such. Instead, SWK paints it as ‘secular’. Furthermore, not once does it mention the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits.
Not once during the segment does SWK blame Pakistan for the roots of the mess. In the subsection on the plebiscite, the organization puts the entire blame on India for the fact that it has never occurred and conveniently ignored that plebiscite never occurred because Pakistan invaded Kashmir right after independence and since then, has refused to vacate the territories it occupied, in contravention of the UN norms.
It says, “India took the dispute to the United Nations, which called for a plebiscite in the region once hostilities had ceased. The plebiscite has never taken place, and this remains the root of the issue, even more than seventy years later. This is in direct contrast to the Indian state’s narrative of Kashmir being an “integral part” of India, and Kashmiris being “separatists.” SWK pays no heed to the fact that a plebiscite is impossible now because Pakistan has sold parts of the territory it occupied illegally to China and Kashmiri Jihadists have committed a genocide that has altered the demography of Kashmir irrevocably. But SWK does not mention any of it.
If all that wasn’t enough, SWK has labelled the Islamic terrorist organization Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) as ‘secular’ and ‘pro-independence’. It says, “From the late 1980s to the early 2000s, Kashmir was embroiled in a violent uprising, aided by foreign fighters, against the Indian state. The insurgency was supported by Pakistan. It was initially led by the secular, pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, but was, with the intervention of Pakistan, overtaken by the pro-Pakistan, Hizbul Mujahideen.”
In reality, Maqbool Bhat, the cofounder of JKLF was a terrorist who was sentenced to death for the murder of a constable. He also masterminded the hijacking of an Indian plane in 1971. It was the murder of the judge who first convicted Maqbool Bhat and awarded him the death sentence that marked the beginning of the cycle of violence that led to the genocide of the Kashmiri Hindus. It is this organization that is being called ‘secular’. Yasin Malik, another prominent face of the JKLF, is accused to have murdered 5 IAF personnel in early 1990. Such people are being called ‘secular’.
During the entire discourse, not once has SWK attempted to highlight the terrorism problem in Kashmir. It hasn’t even used the word ‘terrorist’ in its discourse. From their words, it is clear that SWK wants terrorists to cooperate with ‘pro-freedom voices’ for the objective of ‘liberating’ Kashmir. It says, “The Indian state managed to quash the movement through direct force, the introduction of counter-insurgency militant groups such as the Ikhwan, and a policy of divide and rule that contributed to infighting within the militant and pro-freedom ranks.”
Kashmiri Hindus find a mention in the section that talks about the continuation of the ‘Occupation‘. Even then, SWK labels it ‘forced migration’ and not the genocide that it was. The genocidal rage of the Jihadists is never mentioned and neither do the rapes and slaughter of the Kashmiri Hindus. Instead, the Indian State is accused of ‘communalizing relationships’ between the Kashmiri Muslim community and Kashmiri Hindus. One would imagine that genocide denial would harm communal harmony irreparably but according to SWK, the Indian State is to blame.
It states, “The late eighties uprising also led to the forced migration of a vast majority of Kashmir’s Hindu minority, the Pandits, many of who lived in camps in Jammu or other cities in India. Relations between Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits have been increasingly communalized in recent decades, as Indian statecraft has relied upon policies of divide and rule between various communities in Kashmir.” It’s pertinent to note that all the criticism has been reserved for the Indian State alone and Pakistan has been given a free pass in comparison. Furthermore, despite the presence of honest intentions, Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir does not find a mention at all in all of this. It’s almost as if SWK does really believe PoK is ‘Azad Kashmir’, as Pakistan likes calling it despite the brutal suppression of its people.
The message could not be clearer that SWK’s intentions are not pure. It should have been obvious from the distorted map of India itself. However, Farhan Akhtar shared the separatist propaganda without caring about the consequences. Furthermore, it’s safe to assume, given the conduct of the SWK, that their intentions are not pure and they are committed to fomenting chaos within India. Farhan Akhtar may have known all of this or he may have not but the fact remains that he spread Kashmiri Separatist propaganda, which may well be backed by Pakistan, on a highly sensitive issue at a time when sinister designs are afoot across the country.