Muslim women's fertility rate in Indian Occupied Kashmir has sharply declined to just 1.4, far below the replacement level of 2.1, according to India's latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5). Is this the result of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's oppression in Kashmir? Is it because of fewer Muslim young men in the occupied territory? Is it part of the Hindu Nationalist policy to change the demographics of Kashmir? Is it slow genocide?
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Just over a week ago, India’s health ministry revealed that the country’s total fertility rate (TFR)—the average number of children that an Indian woman can expect to give birth to in her lifetime—has fallen below 2.1, which is to say below the “replacement” level at which births equal deaths. Muslim majority territory of Kashmir under Indian military occupation saw the biggest decline to just 1.4, the lowest TFR reported by NFS-5. Hindu Nationalist politicians, including Prime Minister Modi, have rallied their Hindu voters by claiming that Muslims have too many babies. Legislation aimed at Muslims is being proposed to limit the size of families in the state of Uttar Pradesh led by Hindu priest Yogi Adityanath.
The birth rates in Mr. Modi's BJP party's power base in the Hindi heartland continue to be much higher than those in the southern states. What this means is that the bulk of India's future voters and its workforce will continue to come mainly from the poor, less educated northern states. In 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi froze the allocation of seats among India's states. As a result of this freeze, a member of parliament from Kerala now represents some 1.8 million voters while one from Uttar Pradesh represents nearly 3 million, according to a report in The Economist magazine
. When the freeze on redistricting is lifted some time in the next decade, these disparities will mean that the northern states will have far more political power in the Union than they do now.
The Indian military has kept Occupied Kashmir under extended and inhumane lockdown to prevent protests against New Delhi's reckless decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The lockdown is being enforced by over 700,000 Indian troops
deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. People have been kept imprisoned in their homes for months. They were deprived of Internet, telephone or television for extended periods. Delhi rules the region under Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the same law that was created and used by the British colonial power to try and crush Gandhi's Quit India movement. Thousands have died and more than 6,221 people received pellet gun injuries in the seven months following the July 2016 killing of Burhan Wani, according to the Jammu and Kashmir government as reported by The New Humanitarian
. Mr. Modi's actions are not only an affront to the people of Jammu and Kashmir but also in clear violation of India's international and bilateral obligations under United Nations charter and the Simla Accord. It is time for all sane Indians and the rest of the world to wake up to the serious threats posed to peace in South Asia region and the wider world by Mr. Modi's fascist Hindutva project
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