What is Happening in Kashmir?


Nadira Tasnim


Soon after the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, Kashmir joined India, subsequently leading to disputes between India and Pakistan, both of whom claimed Kashmir as theirs. Despite frequent violence faced by the people of Kashmir, they enjoyed autonomy due to Article 370 which established Kashmir as a separate constitution with a separate flag, denying India the right to make laws in the matters of finance, defense, foreign affairs, and communications. On 5 August 2019, however, this article was revoked, stripping Kashmir of what little autonomy they had.

 

What is Article 370?

Article 370, which was the basis of the complicated relationship between India and Kashmir for seven decades, came into effect in 1949. It allowed Kashmir to make its own rules relating to permanent residency, ownership of property, and fundamental rights. As a result, they could bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there.

Article 35A, which is a part of Article 370, forbids outsiders from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs, or winning education scholarships in the region.

Kashmiris were not given an opportunity to vote for or against the new law, and local parties say the central government did not consult them over amendments.

 

Why was it scrapped?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory on the election of May 2019 with their anti-Muslim campaign, ostensibly opposing both Articles 370 and 35A, dubbing the latter as discriminatory.

The government argued that this decision would bring development to Kashmir, putting it on the same footing as India. Many Kashmiris believe that the BJP ultimately wants to change the demographic character of the Muslim-majority region by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there.

This is a straightforward pandering to the Hindu-majority electorate in India,” said Ajai Shukla, a defense analyst in New Delhi.

 

What changes did it lead to?

In the days leading to this monumental decision, India had already started to impose itself on Kashmiris. Tens of thousands of Indian troops were deployed, a major Hindu pilgrimage was cancelled, schools and colleges were shut, tourists were ordered to leave, telephone and internet services were suspended, and regional political leaders were placed under house arrest.

TOPSHOT – Indian security personnel stand guard overlooking the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Nagrota near Jammu on August 14, 2019. (Photo Credit: Rakesh BAKSHI / AFP/Getty Images)

After the revoking of the articles, Kashmir no longer had the freedom to make their own laws, and all Indian laws automatically applied to the residents of Kashmir. Outsiders were allowed to buy property there. 

 

What has happened since then?

Since the new laws have been passed last year, Kashmir has been under constant lockdown. The Indian army occupied large areas of Kashmiri lands and still continues to do so. India has done everything necessary to repress Kashmir and to take away the basic rights of its residents, including mass torture, unlawful detentions, burning of homes, killings, stealing of land, intensified militarisation, banning of internet, brutal intimidation, unimaginable censorship, and economic destruction.

With over 7,00,000 Indian forces, Kashmir is already the most militarised region in the world. Houses and shelters are frequently ransacked by armed forces and people are beaten up or killed. The Indian media airs the incidents in a way that portrays the victims as the culprits. One such incident is the murder of 65-year-old Bashir Ahmad Khan. He was dragged out of his car on 1 July 2020 and shot to death in front of his 3-year-old grandson by militants in Sopore, Kashmir. The Indian media aired the news that showed Indian police rescuing the child from crossfire.

The region faces severe environmental damage as large acres of land are being occupied by India to be converted to industrial estates. 271 hectares of forest land were diverted for developmental projects, and mining rights were given to Indians as Kashmiris were unable to participate in the online mining auction due to internet blockade. Similarly, non-local companies won rights for the extraction of minerals from Kashmir’s water bodies.

Despite the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian government did not ease the lockdown in Kashmir, leading to an increasing number of deaths by the virus. Hospitals are overflowing and due to the shockingly low doctor:patient ratio (1:3866), the region is unable to tackle the virus. Doctors and healthcare professionals are facing assault from Indian militants. India shows no sign of abating its military operations and continues its assault against the civilians—looting and destruction of property, increased surveillance, use of human shields, enhanced road blockades, and physical restrictions.

 

What can you do to help?

Inform yourself. Research heavily on the history of Kashmir and read about the experiences of Kashmir residents. Follow daily updates on social media platforms and share them with friends and family to raise awareness of the brutality imposed on Kashmir.

Read books and articles and watch movies documenting the events in Kashmir. In the following links, you can find a list of such reading materials and movies you can read and watch in your free time:

https://www.standwithkashmir.org/the-kashmir-syllabus

https://www.standwithkashmir.org/films-to-watch-on-kashmir

Following is a list of documentaries that depict the realities of Kashmir through different perspectives:

My Kashmir Love Story | What Does Kashmir Want?

https://youtu.be/uD0FqiPEmWA

Kashmir- Inside A Friday Protest

https://youtu.be/6Q1rd6jaIRY

Reporting from Kashmir, 1989 to 1994 (Part 1,2 & 3)

https://youtu.be/vb34Ap2muJI

Kashmir The Story | Full Documentary On The History & Timelines Of Kashmir Valley

https://youtu.be/6SuNPI6Y6K8

Jashn-e-Azadi: How We Celebrate Freedom

https://youtu.be/j74IKRnPR7Y

If possible, donate to organisations that are working to help Kashmiris. Do some research to ensure that they are authentic and trustworthy. You can donate to the following platforms:

https://hhrd.org/new/kashmir

https://u4h.org.uk/muslim-charity-appeals/charity-work-in-kashmir

Most importantly, talk about what is going on in Kashmir, whether it is with family, friends, colleagues, or neighbours. Make sure that everyone around you is aware of the genocide and massive human rights violation going on in Kashmir.

 


The writer, a Harry Potter obsessed math-nerd, is a part of the TDA Editorial Team.

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