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Anti-India, anti-Israeli propaganda and peddling of Pakistani narrative on Kashmir: Meet Shabana Mahmood, the Labour MP now in charge of ‘justice’ in UK

Shabana Mahmood doubled down on her anti-India activism after Prime Minister Modi-led-BJP government abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on 5th August 2019.

On Friday (5th July), the new Labour Party government in the United Kingdom (UK) appointed Shabana Mahmood, known for her anti-India and anti-Israel stance, as the Secretary of State for Justice.

She has also been given the additional charge of being Lord Chancellor. Shabana Mahmood, who has her origins in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), has been a Member of Parliament from Birmingham Ladywood since 2010.

True to her origins, the Labour Party MP has been spreading canards about the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir for over a decade.

She has been exploiting her position as the UK’s Parliamentarian to peddle Pakistan’s talking points on J&K since September 2014.

A year later, Shabana Mahmood and a handful of her colleagues fired off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his visit to the United Kingdom.

In the letter, she listed out 6 demands including the removal of the Indian army from Jammu and Kashmir, repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the release of prisoners, unrestricted travel to the region, investigation of ‘mass graves’ and ‘peaceful resolution’.

At the very outset, these outrageous demands could be thought of as external intervention by an erstwhile colonial power in India’s internal matters. However, there is more to it than what meets the eye.

Towards the end of the letter, Shabana Mahmood made her intentions clear by reiterating the need to conduct a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir by the United Nations resolution (which has outrightly been rejected by India in the past).

The reference to UN Resolutions on Kashmir is made by the Pakistani government and its army from time to time to bypass the bilateral pacts and exert external pressure on India. The letter by the Labour Party MP and her colleagues sought to achieve the same.

In January 2017, Shabana Mahmood was seen calling for global intervention in India’s internal affairs during a politically-motivated speech in the House of Commons.

This is a very long-standing dispute between two nuclear-armed powers in one of the world’s most heavily militarized regions. It does not receive enough attention anywhere outside of that region around the world and certainly not in our own country given the size of our British Kashmiri population. It certainly has a lot of attention from that population but not enough from those outside of that,” she claimed.

The PoK-origin Labour MP sought to exploit the opportunity to tarnish the image of India based on unfounded claims.

Shabana Mahmood brazened out, “The further push for a debate regarding Kashmir has come in particular as a result of the upsurge in violence and fighting that we’ve seen in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir from last summer. And what we see there, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is the unacceptable failure of the whole world and the denial to give effect to UN resolutions to respect the self-determination of the Kashmiri people playing out in the worst possible way because the people have lost hope.

Shabana Mahmood loses sleep after abrogation of Article 370

The Labour Party MP doubled down on her anti-India activism after Prime Minister Modi-led-BJP government abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on 5th August 2019.

“Deeply concerned about the Indian Government’s decision to abolish #Article370, removing #Jammu and #Kashmir’s existing level of autonomy. The escalation we have seen by the Indian Government in recent days is truly shocking and it simply must stop. Human rights must be upheld,” she whined soon after the landmark decision.

Shabana Mahmood and her coterie of Parliamentarians wrote to the Conservative Party leader and the then Prime Boris Johnson, pleading him to arm-twist India for abrogating Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

To further their argument, the vicious UK politicians resorted to peddling blatant lies about the Indian government.

We call on you to strongly condemn the actions of the Indian Government in revoking Article 370 and to consider the wider context of this act led by Prime Minster Modi, the leader of a far-right political wing of Hindu nationalism. This is a movement that is changing India for the worse and one that views India’s 195 million Muslims as second-class citizens – BBC reports have detailed how many are lynched by Hindu Nationalists in the name of ‘cow protection’. His recent re-election has given an electoral mandate to majoritarian nationalism at best and Hindu fascism at worst. It is emboldening the reactionary elements at work in India, unleashing them even further, and leading to even more violence against Muslims,” they alleged.”

Shabana Mahmood and her Labour Party colleagues had forgotten that India was no longer a colonial state of England. As such, none of their conjectures, surmises and suppositions had any bearing on the decision made by the Indian government.

During an interview with Sky News on 7th August 2019, she claimed, “I think that the move to strip Kashmir of its autonomy and its relative independence and special status by the Indian government is deeply provocative. It’s an aggressive act and I think it’s very dangerous because, you know, Kashmir and what’s happened with Kashmir after partition in 1947.

“(This) has led to many decades of violence on the Indian side of the line of control and what India has now decided to do in relation to the special status of Kashmir is, I think, an absolute betrayal of the people of Kashmir and I’m deeply concerned about the consequences that this is now going to have,” the PoK origin UK Parliamentarian was heard saying.

Later in August 2019, Shabana Mahmood was seen protesting alongside her radical Pakistani origin supporters over the abrogation of Article 370 in Birmingham (which boasts of 29.9% Muslim population). It was unprecedented for a sitting UK Parliamentarian to demonstrate against India, which happens to be a strong ally of the country.

In May 2020, she tweeted about briefing Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, who now happens to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, about the ‘ongoing situation’ in Kashmir via video conferencing.

Her last social media meltdown on the Indian Union territory was on 5th August 2020 i.e. on the 1st anniversary of abrogation of Article 370. Since then, she has not posted anything on Jammu and Kashmir.

“It’s been a year since lockdown was imposed in Kashmir by the Indian Government after they revoked the autonomy and special status of Kashmir. This was an unjust and unilateral action and with the double lockdown due to Covid, many are worried for friends and family,” she had tweeted then.

Activism against Israel, propaganda in support of Palestine

Since June 2010, Shabana Mahmood has been involved in pro-Palestine and anti-Israeli activism. As early as August 2014, the Labour Party MP was seen protesting on the streets in support of Gaza.

In one of the pictures, Shabana Mahmood was seen holding a poster that read, ‘Free Palestine, End Israeli Occupation.’

According to Fox News, the Labour Party MP had previously supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

As per a Daily Mail report from 2014, Shabana Mahmood was involved in encouraging mob rule and forcibly shutting down a supermarket in Birmingham for ‘stocking goods from illegal settlements’. Jewish leaders in the city had accused her of ‘stirring up tensions’, behaving inappropriately and promoting public disorder.

In an article, The Jerusalem Post pointed out how the MP from Birmingham Ladywood had been peddling anti-Israeli rhetoric.

Screengrab of the news report by The Jerusalem Post

“I have always supported a diplomatic process to stop the killing of innocent civilians, get humanitarian aid in and get the hostages out. But it is clear that diplomatic processes have not made sufficient progress. The conduct of this war has been intolerable, with a disproportionate level of attacks on innocent people that has rightly been the deliberations in international courts,” she had claimed.

It now remains to be seen how an anti-India and anti-Israeli propagandist within the Labour Party, in the form of Shabana Mahmood, fulfils her duty as the Secretary of State for Justice.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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