” Rakhi ” is a bond of eternal love and a promise of protection between a brother sister in the Hindu tradition. However, historically, in the Indian Sub-continent it has been used for creating emotional political appeals transcending religious boundries. In 1535, the Rani Karnavati, a Hindu Queen of the deceased King Rana Sangha of Mewar, sent a Rakhi to the then Mughal Emperor Humayun when she realized that her state was facing an invasion from the Muslim ruler Bahadur Shah. Emperor Humayun touched by this gesture and understanding the significance of this “appeal for protection” swore to protect his “Hindu sister” and immediately set to Chittor with his army. However the Emperor´s army was delayed and realising that defeat was imminent, Rani Karnavati and the other Hindu noble ladies of the court immolated themselves in a ritualistic mass suicide by fire known as Jauhar on March 8, 1535 A.D to preserve their honour, while all brave men of Mewar donned saffron-clothes and went out to fight Bahadur Shah unto death, thus committing Saka.

Playing on the religious sentiment of Raksha Bandhan, Karima Baloch, a 32-year-old political activist, fighting against atrocities in Balochistan has a sent a video appeal on this Rakhi-day to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing him as Bhai (brother) and herself as “sisters in Balochistan”.

Two days earlier, from the sandstone walls of the 17th-century Red Fort in India’s capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a warning shot  to his counterparts in Islamabad and Beijing. This is a tectonic shift in India´s Kashmir policy and aimed at negating China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, CPEC (of which Balochistan and PoK will be a part) giving Beijing access to the Arabian Sea. The “political sentiment” on the issue is so high that the Congress spokesperson rushed to make a U-turn and supported the Modi Government and the idea of raising the issue of Balochistan, Pakistan occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. The mention of Balochistan from the Red Fort was a particularly provocative stance. Pakistan has long accused India of backing rebels in Baluchistan, a charge, governments in New Delhi had routinely denied even while they blamed Pakistan for backing militants in Kashmir. While Pakistan condemns Indian security forces in Kashmir, human rights groups have expressed concern about disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan by Pakistan’s military, intelligence and paramilitary forces. While in Baluchistan, still recovering from the recent Quetta blasts, the pro-Pakistan  Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri organised a counter-protest rally against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent statement to appease his political over-lords in Islamabad. The ripples of Modi´s aggressive re-posturing, it appears, has begun.

Ashok Malik, head of the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation’s Neighbourhood Regional Studies Initiative opines that when a PM of India declares something of this nature on Independence Day, he’s not floating a balloon and his remarks are the clearest signal of Indian concern over Pakistan-China economic co-operation. It means India will use its muscle, its propaganda muscle at least, to talk about Balochistan and brew trouble in Balochistan. Bangladesh came out in support of PM Narendra Modi’s stand on the Balochistan issue, saying Dhaka would soon make a policy declaration on Pakistan’s human rights abuses in Balochistan. India´s public rhetoric muscling comes a year after EU parliamentarian Marc Tarabella stated that the EU cannot stay silent over the plight of the Baloch people in its dealings with the Pakistani government. Out running the EU by 3 years, a resolution was moved by  US Congressmen in 2012, calling for right to self-determination of the Baloch people, driving the then Pakistani government into hysteria. India now, seems all set to re-write international alliances in the politics of South Asia – rife with sentiments of ethnic identity, religion and religio-political motifs, a few verbal gymnastics is all that it takes to make tectonic shifts in foreign policies.

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India´s women ministers tying Rakhi to Indian soldiers: Women and Welfara minister Maneka Gandhi at Indo-Nepal border, Textile minister Smriti Irani at Thoise base camp in Siachen and Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman at Indo-China border tying Rakhi to the Indian soldiers at these borders.

 

 

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