NEW YORK    -      An internationally acclaimed expert on genocide has grimly warned that Muslims in the Indian state of Assam and occupied Kashmir are just one step away from extermination, as he drew parallels between Narendra Modi’s government and Germany under the Nazis.

“All the conditions are in place for genocide of Muslims in Kashmir and Assam,” Dr Gregory Stanton, an American who is the founder of Genocide Watch, told an audience on the Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, according to a press release issued by the Indian-American Muslim Council (IAMC).

Stanton, who is the creator of ‘Ten Stages of Genocide’, said Muslims in the two places – were just one step away from extermination.

“Preparation for genocide is definitely underway in India,” Stanton noted, according to IAMC, which was among three organisations that received a briefing from the experts on the Hill.

“Kashmir has been under crippling lockdown since August 5 revocation of its autonomous status while enactment of Citizenship Act has alienated Muslims in Assam,” he said.

According to Dr Stanton, persecution of Muslims in Assam and Kashmir “is the stage just before genocide.”

“The next stage is extermination — that’s what we call genocide,” Dr Stanton told an audience of Congressional and government officials.

The Congressional briefing, “Ground Reports on Kashmir and NRC,” where Dr Stanton spoke, was organised by three US-based civil society organisations, namely, the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Emgage Action, and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR).

Assam is witnessing the “construction of a pretext for the expulsion (of Muslims),” Dr Stanton said, and added, “The perilous situation in both Kashmir and Assam is a “classic case” and follows the pattern of the “Ten Stages of Genocide.”

“The first stage is “classification” of “us versus them”; the second stage is “symbolization”: name the victims as “foreigners”, the third stage is “discrimination”; the fourth stage is dehumanization: This is when the genocidal spiral begins to go downwards. You classify the others as somehow worse than you. You give them names like ‘terrorists’, or even names of animals, start referring to them as a cancer in the body politic, you talk about them as a disease that must be somehow dealt with”; the fifth stage is creating an “organization” to commit the genocide: the role played by the “Indian Army in Kashmir and the census takers in Assam”; the sixth stage is “polarization”, which is achieved by propaganda; the seventh stage is “preparation”, and the eighth “persecution”, where Assam and Kashmir currently are. After the ninth stage of “extermination”, comes the tenth stage of “denial”, Dr Stanton explained.

“(Prime Minister) Modi’s regime has all the hallmarks of an incipient Nazi regime,” he said.

“Nationalism taken to its extreme is fascism and Nazism,” the expert added. Also participating in the briefing via video link Dr Angana Chatterji, a scholar with the University of California, Berkeley, slammed India’s crackdown in Kashmir, according to the press release.

“Reports have documented the “inhumane treatment and torture of children, the elderly, and women; illegal detentions, including mass detentions; the denial of the basic needs of life, the curtailment of freedom of speech and movement, the falsification of social facts and their amplification by the state, and the closure of sacred places,” she said.

“Cries of pain” of a torture victim were broadcast via a mosque’s speaker system. “State forces have raided homes, destroyed properties and mixed food with kerosene.”

She criticised India’s home minister Amit Shah for reportedly saying that “Western” human rights standards cannot be “blindly” applied to India. “Today, 129 days into the siege, the continuance of preventive detention and illegal, warrantless detention; custodial torture; the reported violation of the right to information, health, education, food and shelter, restrictions on freedom of speech and civil and political rights; and the near-complete denial of political space remain urgent, critical issues.”

Dr Chatterji said, “Kashmiris that I have spoken with ask that civil society in Kashmir be given the opportunity to publicly articulate their experiences and express their anguish, rage, fear, helplessness and dissent. The international community’s outrage has not been impactful thus far. When a state fails to uphold its mandate to govern within the parameters of international law, the international community must act.”

Raqib Hameed Naik, a journalist from Jammu and Kashmir, said the ongoing lockdown in Kashmir was “one of the worst sieges in the last decade… Officially there are no restrictions, but unofficially the government has imposed an undeclared emergency.”

Naik also disputed the Indian Government’s claim that Indian troops had not killed any Kashmiri since August 5 when the state’s special status was withdrawn.

“Let me put it on record that, so far, we have been able to document five killings by security forces. The number could be higher, but due to communication blockade and severe restrictions on the movement of the press, we have not been able to get exact figures from the different parts of the valley,” Naik said, and added he had met with “many minors” who were imprisoned “without charges.”

One of them, Muzamil Feroz Rah, 17, of Srinagar was arrested by the police in a “midnight raid from his home.

“[Rah] told us that he was kicked and punched by the cops and when his mother tried to stop the cops from taking him away. The cops told her to remain silent or they will kill him. He was kept inside a small, dark cell with 15 other minors. He was traded like a commodity between different police stations. Even his father was detained for two days when he went to meet Muzamil at the police station.”

Naik said the courts in Kashmir were not functional as most lawyers were on strike against the incarceration of Bar Association’s president at a jail outside Kashmir. In any case, “many family members are reluctant to seek judicial remedy as they fear that state might charge their kin if they approach the courts for bails.”

“The communication blockade is also affecting “every sector”, including healthcare, IT, hospitality, banking, and education,” Naik said, and added, “The e-commerce sector dependent on the internet has seen 10,000 people lost their jobs. Thousands of children couldn’t submit forms for engineering and medical entrance examinations due to the Internet shutdown. Patients needing dialysis, chemotherapy, and emergency surgeries, and pregnant women are unable to reach tertiary health care centers due to the transport shutdown. Communication had broken down between pharmacies and drug suppliers.”

“Dr Farida Ghoghawala, who runs infertility clinics in Kashmir, hasn’t been able to follow up on even a single patient in last five months due to the internet shutdown,” Naik said.