Indian security forces are again waging pitched battles with violent Islamists on the streets of the Muslim-majority province of Kashmir. Mobs began congregating in towns on July 9, after the customary Friday prayers, to protest the killing the previous day by Indian security forces of a prominent Islamic terrorist, Burhan Wani. The protestors waved black ISIS flags and pelted stones at riot police. The riots have so far claimed 49 lives, including 2 policemen.
The mainstream media in the West have been quick to point the finger of blame on India for using -- as BBC puts it -- "excessive force." "Allegations that the forces are trigger happy in the region have been a common criticism for years," the BBC said. The mainstream media, however, did not take into account that more than 1,500 members of the Indian police and army were injured by the mobs.
Germany's state-run Deutsche Welle featured a Pakistan-based social media campaign that criticised the use of BB guns by Indian riot police against stone-throwing mobs of Islamists.
The New York Times criticised the Indian Army for "escalating" the situation by confronting the armed Islamic terrorists in the first place:
"A dozen boys with a few guns -- they were no threat to the Indian army, one of the largest in the world. There is no record of Burhan and his crew waging any attack. Their rebellion was symbolic, a war of images against India's continuing occupation of Kashmir, where about half a million of its soldiers, paramilitary and armed police are still stationed."
What New York Times did not say is that these "boys with guns" are members of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, a group designated as a terrorist organisation by both the European Union and the United States.
India is not "occupying" Kashmir, which is already part of India. They are waging a war against Islamic terrorism which has claimed the lives of more than 4,800 Indian civilians and more than 2,400 Indian security personnel.
The New York Times styled the dead terrorist, Burhan Wani, as if he were an affable gun-rights activist with a large Facebook following: "He built up a following on social media, posting pictures of himself and his associates in combat fatigues, often carrying arms." After being at the forefront of gun control campaigns in U.S. for decades, the New York Times finally supports "open carry" -- but only for terrorists waging jihad against "infidels."
With reverence, the New York Times describes Wani, the "internet sensation" who had put "together a small band of Kashmiri militants. Barely out of their teens, they had taken to the forest and social media." Elsewhere they called him a "22-year-old separatist who wanted an independent Kashmir and had built up a following on social media among disaffected Indian Kashmiri youth."
Undoubtedly, Burhan Wani created a "social media sensation" among Muslim youth in Kashmir, as do all those gruesome ISIS beheading videos among Muslim youth in Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
The mainstream media, quick to blame India for the ongoing unrest, will not tell its readers how the province of Kashmir became the Islamist hellhole that it is today.
The minarets of the mosques, reserved in times of peace for prayer calls, proclaimed armed jihad against Hindus in towns and cities across the province. Kashmiri Hindus were given three options: either to convert to Islam, leave their ancestral homes, or face certain death.
"Eviction notices" were handed out to the leader of Hindu and Sikh community. The notices read:
"We order you to leave Kashmir immediately, otherwise your children will be harmed -- we are not scaring you, but this land is only for Muslims, and is the land of Allah. Sikhs and Hindus cannot stay here".
The notice ended with a threat; "If you do not obey, we will start with your children." In an ultimate act of humiliation, Hindu men were told to move out of Kashmir without taking their property or women.
Hamas-style marches took place in towns and cities across Kashmir. Jihadis brandishing Kalashnikov assault rifles marched in military formations, targeting Hindu men, women and children.
Members of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the same terrorist group that the New York Times affectionately calls the "crew" of "boys with guns," have been at the forefront of killing, raping and pillaging Hindus.
The campaign to purge Kashmir of its native Hindu and Sikh population has been one of the most effective ethnic cleansing campaign of recent times. An estimated 95% of Kashmir's Hindus were forced to leave -- a cleansing that made Kashmir more than 90% Muslim. Some 400,000 Kashmiri Hindu Pandits were forced to live as internally displaced refugees inside India. Hindu temples were desecrated and destroyed, wiping out the signs of Hinduism from its ancient land.
Jihadis, trained and armed by Pakistan, after purging Kashmir of its native Hindu and Sikh populations, are now waging a terrorist campaign to carve out a separate Islamic country in that part of India.
Certainly, the Indian state also carries responsibility for the current state of affairs in Kashmir. Successive Indian governments have failed to intervene or provide safety to Hindus and Sikhs during the ethnic cleansing of 1990s. After more than 25 years, no Indian government has made any serious effort to help displaced help Hindus and Sikhs return back to their homes in Kashmir.
Left: Indian soldiers carry the coffin of Indian Army Colonel M N Rai, who was killed in January 2015 by terrorists in Kashmir. Right: Masked Islamist radicals in Kashmir display a version of the black flag of jihad.
If Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs cannot go back to their original homes due to security risks, it would only be fair to allocate them enclosed and fortified housing at other locations in Kashmir. If Indian authorities, in their characteristic incompetence, cannot guarantee security to returning Hindus and Sikhs, they could at least supply them arms to defend themselves.
Only reversing the tide of ethnic cleansing can put an end to this Islamist takeover. Arming the police with BB guns -- regardless to how dangerous the BBC or the New York Times editorial staff might consider them -- is not going to put an end to the Islamist aspiration of turning Kashmir into another "Islamic State".
Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian current affairs analyst based in Europe.