Article 370 from India’s constitution was nixed by India’s Hindu nationalist president, Ram Nath Kovind, on August 5, 2019. It enshrined autonomy of the formerly princely state of Jammu and Kashmir with limited India control of the region. Before its revocation announcement, India sent in tens of thousands of troops and on August 4, they cut off Kashmir’s internet and phones. Shortly after, they arrested the state’s politicians. A curfew was instated and the gathering of four people or more prohibited.
Reuters reported that a protest in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, involved at least 10,000 people and the BBC and other international outlets captured some footage
India media backed the government’s lie and called for BBC journalists to be jailed. The video at the bottom of this article features a clip of an Indian newscast asserting Boris Johnson needs to crackdown on BBC’s conspiracy to undermine Indian national stability.
India has also claimed there is “peace and calm” in Kashmir, but ongoing protest footage and interviews appear more like a war zone as protesters throw rocks (stone-pelting) to keep troops with tear gas and pellet guns at bay. There are five confirmed civilian deaths, as of Sept. 4th. According to official records, Reuters reported almost 4,000 people have been arrested, including more than 200 politicians, primarily from opposition parties. Today, Al Jazeera reported that there have been 722 protests in Kashmir since August 5th.
Indian-administered Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state and Kovind ran on the promise that he would integrate it into the nation. Non-Kashmiris were unable to buy property there due to a clause of Article 370 (Article 35A) which keeps the Kashmiri demography a Muslim-majority. Article 370’s revocation opens the door to India’s large Hindu population moving in and shifting the region to a Muslim-minority state, who some argue is the primary goal of action. It’s part of the Hindu nationalist government manifesto, however, benefits of development to India’s economy and reduction of terrorism is how the move is currently being justified by the government. Critics argue that the takeover could increase terrorism as it may ignite violent extremism that is percolating just below the surface.
Kashmir is a contentious region since although both India and Pakistan administer a portion of the area, both claim the entire region. Conflicts have escalated to wars and armed skirmishes between the two nations, resulting in over 50,000 deaths in the past 30 years.
Genocide Watch issued a Genocide Alert for Kashmir on August 15.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told Al Jazeera:
“Eight million Muslims in Kashmir are under siege for almost now six weeks. And why this can become a flashpoint between India and Pakistan is because what we already know India is trying to do is divert attention from their illegal annexation and their impending genocide on Kashmir.”
“When two nuclear-armed countries fight, if they fight a conventional war, there is every possibility that it is going to end up into nuclear war. The unthinkable. If say Pakistan, God forbid, we are fighting a conventional war, we are losing, and if a country is stuck between the choice: either you surrender or you fight ’til death for your freedom, I know Pakistanis will fight to death for their freedom. So when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, to the death, it has consequences.”
But Khan states he is a pacifist and would never start a war. He also explained that the consequences of a nuclear war would go well beyond the conflict border and that is why Pakistan is urging international organizations, including the UN, to intervene.
For more information and updates, please visit Al Jazeera’s Kashmir under lockdown.