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Modi ushers in a new intolerant India and revokes multicultural democracy

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THE Hindu Nationalist government of Narendra Modi, with unexpected suddenness, has abolished the special constitutional status of the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

On Aug. 8, Prime Minister Modi, in a speech to the nation, described the new era that has dawned. He said with the abolition of special status, all citizens of India were now equal. He said the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir could now see enhanced economic and social development, previously hampered by its special status. A new era, he said — a “New India” — has been ushered in.

But this is an era of ethnic majoritarianism that erases differences, dissent and the rights of minorities. Uniformity has become the defining feature of the Indian state, replacing the carefully constructed federal asymmetry and multicultural democracy.

Modi introduced his presidential order to Indian Parliament, where his Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has an overwhelming majority. The two resolutions passed.

The first revoked Article 370 and the second demoted the state by splitting it into two union territories: Jammu and Kashmir (with a legislature) and Ladakh (without a legislature). All this was done without any prior consultation, either with the elected representatives of the Indian Parliament or the people of Jammu and Kashmir. More than 35,000 additional central forces personnel were deployed in the Kashmir Valley.

SEE ALSO: Kashmir conflict is not just a border dispute between India and Pakistan

Hindu pilgrims, tourists and non-Kashmiri students were asked to return home. All educational institutions have been closed. Some 300 local leaders and all major political figures (including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti) have been either put under house arrest or held in government jails. The valley remains under a drastic curfew and with no internet connectivity.

In correcting what it considers the mistakes of Indian post-partition history, Modi’s government has undermined India’s democracy. It has erased the innovative........

© Asian Correspondent