Kashmir Bleeds Again

Kashmir is a major source of contention between India and Pakistan since 1947.At the time of partition, the formula that was agreed upon was that the Hindu-majority areas would remain part of India whereas the Muslim-majority areas would be part of Pakistan. The princely state of Kashmir was inhabited by 80% Muslim population but the ruler was a Hindu Maharaja. The maharaja acceded to India while ignoring the fact that the Muslim population desires to remain with Pakistan. Since then Kashmir has been a stinging point in Indo-Pak relations and it has led to three wars fought between them.

Article 370 gave Kashmir a special status where the local population had special privileges pertaining to property rights, education and employment. Similarly Article 35A defined “permanent residents” of Kashmir and denied outsiders of settling in Kashmir. On Monday, the Indian government announced that they would be scrapping away Article 370 and 35A.Moreover, Kashmir is reduced to a union territory to be governed by New Delhi. This move violates international agreements as India cannot alter the status of the disputed territory unilaterally.

With the abolishment of Article 350 and 35A, the Modi government has signaled how much they are committed to target the Muslim population of India. In order to convey the message to President Trump that India does not want any third party mediation in Kashmir and at the same time appease RSS and other Hindu-extremist factions, Narendra Modi has snatched the only limited authority that the Kashmiri population had. PM Modi is on a revisionist pathway and seeking to turn India into a Hindu state.

This move indicates that India does not want the Kashmir issue to be resolved since they are not willing to commence the bilateral dialogue with Pakistan on the issue. Moreover, they won’t let any third party intervene. This indicates the accepted Indian defeat which they as they dread the situation of Kashmir cruising away from India.

This comes with a massive troop deployment, complete lockdown and arresting the people of various parties of Kashmir. Life is completely stalled in the Indian occupied Kashmir as the Kashmir witnesses one of the darkest days in the already bleeding valley. Today, Kashmir has entered the 5th day of complete blackout.

This strategy by Narendra Modi demonstrates what a war-loving nation India is becoming. The so-called claims of India being a secular state is burnt into ashes as the incumbent government is desperate to turn the only Muslim majority province of India into a Hindu-majority one by settling Hindus into Kashmir. Modi is in full swings to alter the demographics of Kashmir by abrogating the respective articles.

The abrogation of Article 370 was long overdue as it was apparent in the election manifesto of the Modi government yet executing it without no consultation with the Kashmiri leadership has sent a wave of resentment across the Kashmiris. Even before it was announced in the parliament that the government would be doing away with this article, internet and communication channels were shut down and the state was alienated with respect to what was happening to it. This move indeed turned the people of Kashmir from “citizens to subjects”. The efforts is galvanized to wipe away the Kashmiri identity and play the Hindu-card for appeasing the like-minded.

This is one of the major foreign policy challenge that the new government in Pakistan has to tackle with. In the wake of India abrogating article 370, Prime Minister Imran called his Turkish and Malaysian counterparts to gain their support. Moreover, the foreign ministry is also raising the issue at international forums to highlight the sufferings of the innocent and unarmed Kashmiri population. China also showed its discontent of India unilaterally changing the status quo. Thereby, Pakistan must play a crucial role in bringing the atrocities of the Indian government into the eyes of the international community.

India has a long history of blaming Pakistan for every unpleasant activity in India. On the other hand, it is India’s own policies towards Kashmir that sow the seeds of hatred and resentment against the Indian government in young minds of those residing in Indian occupied Kashmir. In the light of the recent move, once the lockdown will come to an end, the Kashmiris will take it to the streets and the Indian government will be involved in the massacre of the Kashmiri population.

The Kashmiri freedom struggle cannot be stopped by such aggressive moves. India has been attempting for seven decades to cap the Kashmiri struggle yet it failed miserably and won’t be able to do so as the Kashmiri population has suffered the deadliest assaults by the Indian government yet still are one of the most resilient people in the world.  In fact this lockdown is bottling up a towering amount of disdain for the Indian government and once they will get an opportunity the Kashmiri freedom struggle will reignite with a new momentum.

Modi has recently won an overwhelming majority in the recent elections which is the basis for exercising such risky decisions. Modi might be in the delusion that abrogating the article and degrading the status of IOK might mute the Kashmiri voices. However, this illusion will be brief as Modi had messed with those people among whom an anti-Indian stance is already brewing due to the harsh policies. Consequently, this move will further intensify the sentiments of Kashmiri people against the government.

India is playing a very lethal game in the region. This move will not only alienate Kashmiri population but will also be a source of regional instability. India is on the verge of sabotaging the regional security conditions, which will steer along grave implications.

Furthermore, relations between India and Pakistan will to decorate in the light of this move by India. This conflict has the potential to escalate to a full fledge war between both states. Both of the states are nuclear powers and a war will be apocalyptic for the whole region. However, war-loving Modi seems that he can get away with all of this.

In the short run, India might be feeling relieved and claims that everything is stable. However, if stability was intact then there wouldn’t be a need to create a war-like situation in Kashmir which is flooded with armed troops. The government is aware that there will be a massive protest once the military deployment is reduced. Even if the international community does not responds to India’s aggressive attitude and remains silent, the fact remains that India won’t be able to win the minds and hearts of Kashmiri people. The Kashmiri people might lose everything but they will never lose the will to fight back and they will.

Shaza Arif
Shaza Arif
Shaza Arif is a Researcher at the Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS). She can be reached at cass.thinkers[at]gmail.com