National sentiments have been exploited many times throughout history by fascists leaders looking to further their political agenda. Hitler emphasised that Germany should adhere to Hellenic values and culture, Mussolini cited gain in territorial size as the key to countering his nation’s poverty, and in more recent times Kim Jong Un modeled a state on ideas of xenophobia and ethno-centralism basing on the narrative of self-reliance. Though in literary terms, fascism is defined as a form of radical authoritarianism, characterised by dictatorial power, however it can and should be viewed as a method of politics. It’s a rhetoric, a technique to gain, and perpetuate power. Many may argue that India is the world’s largest democracy, growing into an economic powerhouse while embodying the values of secularism, yet the policies adopted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government in New Delhi seem to usher a resurgence of all things Hindu. The party led by Prime Miniter (PM) Narendra Modi has transmuted into an ethno-nationalist party thriving on hatred and jingoism. The reaction to the Pulwama attack lends credence to this very fact. What happened in Pulwama is as condemnable as any other act of terrorism, anywhere in the world. Such an unfortunate happening requires looking into how it happened, but also why. Muslims residing in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have for years been subjected to human rights violations, which includes but is not limited to enforced disappearances, torture, rape, and even mass killings. For years, these repressive techniques have been employed by the country’s very own security forces to subdue freedom of speech and punish local communities. The most recent outbreak of violence began in 2016, when Burhan Wani, a popular rebel leader, was killed by the Indian army. What ensued was a bloody summer of civilian uprising, followed by the Indian state’s response of singular ruthlessness. Most shocking was the use of “non-lethal” pellet ammunition, which blinded scores of Kashmiri civilians – children, women, and the elderly alike. It is ironic to note that what propelled Wani on his path to militancy were the events of a similar bloody summer, back in 2010, when the Indian army mercilessly killed 120 protestors. Muslims residing in the Indian-occupied Kashmir have for years been subjected to human rights violations, which includes but is not limited to enforced disappearances, torture, rape, and even mass killings It is reported that Wani had once been the subject of humiliation and abuse by Indian soldiers, a similarity that he holds with the Pulwama bomber – Adil Ahmed Dar. Though the bombing at Pulwama is unjustifiable in every sense of the word, a short trip down memory lane helps one grasp as to why young Kashmiris resort to violence against their very own state. Dar did not go onto become a militant commander like Wani, but found a different avenue to channel his grief and anger over the oppression that he had witnessed. The seed of resentment sown, time and again, by the Indian authorities themselves is what fuels homegrown militants in Kashmir. There now exists an entire generation whose only interaction with India has been through the prism of security forces. Both Wani, and Dar grew up in Indian Kashmir, belonged to regular families, and did not harbour any pre-existing relationship with either militant groups or Pakistan. Yet, rather than looking inwards and addressing the very crux of the issue, India has always resorted to their decades’ old tactics of laying the blame squarely on Pakistan. This time again, in light of the Pulwama attack, the Modi administration’s immediate response was to hold Pakistan accountable without any evidence. Notably, the war of words that follows tends to ignore the brutal oppression of protests that happen every single day in Kashmir. The anti-Pakistan hysteria feeds into an anti-Muslim frenzy, rallying the entire country behind divisive rhetoric, stirring up the politics of hate. It comes as no surprise that this time again, Kashmiri Muslims have been the target of excessive harassment all over India from the instant the attack happened. It is baffling as to why Modi would not alter his policy on Kashmir, on Muslims, and on Pakistan. The answer may very well be in the legacy that he wishes to carve. Far from being a model of pluralism and tolerance, Modi’s India has seen the lynching of Muslims and the recasting of its founding principles at breakneck speed. With the upcoming elections in sight, almost every day a leader from Modi’s BJP makes a provocative statement targeting Muslims and those who express dissent. A nation needs a unifying factor and Modi’s agenda to unify India echoes the bloody divisiveness of the partition of 1947, alienating the Muslims and arranging a new tryst with destiny by turning secular India into a majoritarian Hindu state. The very existence of Pakistan happens to give Modi the perfect pretext to forward his agenda and build such a narrative with complete impunity. As many political scientists point out, no foreign policy issue rallies the Indian electorate like that of anger towards Pakistan. Modi’s unwillingness to accept and address the root cause of unrest in Kashmir will only worsen this tragic and brutal conflict. Pulwama is not a failure of India’s security forces to prevent infiltration of foreign elements, but is a failure of Indian policy on Indian administered Kashmir, which has only resulted in the deepening of anger and resentment among the Kashmiris. Shifting the blame on Pakistan will scuttle any attempt at meaningful discourse. It may well allow Modi to ride this wave of ultra-nationalism going into the election cycle, but will have tragic consequences for the people of Kashmir, and if further fueled, for the people of both Pakistan and India. The writer is a post-grad dual degree student at the London School of Economics (LSE), and Columbia University, studying Economic and Political Development. He has worked as an Advisor for the United Nations Development Programme and currently consults for the the World Bank Group Published in Daily Times, February 22nd 2019.