The longstanding and unresolved conflict of Kashmir has once again escalated greatly in the past few days with Indian troops moving into the region with an agenda in mind. The most significant recent development is the revoking of article 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution.
A special status was granted to the Indian-administered Kashmir under articles 370 and 35-A. In a move that many call the ‘death of democracy’, Kashmir is now stripped of its autonomy it had enjoyed for more than 70 years. The special status was given to the state in 1954 and they were given a flag, a separate constitution an autonomy over most matters. Revoking article 370 and 35A of the constitution is bound to have disastrous impacts on the lives of Kashmiris.
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution has always been relevant to Indian-administered Kashmir as it gave them autonomy in all areas except foreign policy, defense and Kashmir. However, many Hindu nationalists have argued that the special status of Kashmir should be removed and that Hindu-majority India should not lie down for the Muslim-majority Kashmir. Even though the Indian Constitution grants special status to 10 other states also, the primary focus has always been Kashmir, being a Muslim-majority state.
Article 35A is a part of Article 370 and allows the state to define their ‘permanent residents’ and what distinguishes them. The article also applies to all of Indian-administered Kashmir, including Ladakh and Jammu. Revoking the article meant that outsiders will now be able to buy property in Kashmir.
It is important to understand that the Kashmiris are being stripped of their identity and their homeland as we speak. Outsiders are now invading their state, taking over their homes while they are being shunned to the side. A large number of Indian army in their homeland threatens their peace, their family and their future.
1. No more protection for the demographics of the state
Kashmir has always been a Muslim-majority state and the people of the area wanted to affiliate with Pakistan. It has been a significant goal of Hindu nationalists to take over the area and form the majority, which they now will be able to do. Many have echoed the sentiment that this move will allow the Hindus to buy property in the area and become a majority, while the Muslims will be reduced to become second-class citizens in their home state. Revoking the articles will now allow Hindus to migrate to Kashmir and bring about a demographic shift.
2. No more employment opportunities for just the Kashmiris
Article 35A granted special employment opportunities to the locals and it was decreed that no outsider could be hired for a government job. The BJP wanted to ‘level the playing field’ and revoking the article will allow non-Kashmiris to get jobs in Kashmir. In March, Arjun Jaitley claimed that Article 35A was a hindrance to Jammu and Kashmir’s ability to raise financial resources, and many international chains were not willing to set up franchises there because of this decree. However, it can also be taken as an attack against the Muslims who had easy access to jobs in Kashmir while the Hindus watched from afar.
3. Stripping J&K of legislative powers
After the revoking of Article 370, the balance of power has now shifted to the favour of the union government as J&K assembly is no longer in a position to clear any significant bills within the state.
4. Dismantling the fate of Kashmiris
A significant development is that outsiders will now have the freedom to buy a residential property in Kashmir, as a result of revoking article 35A. This is seen as a step to dismantle the Kashmiris by making Kashmir a Hindu-majority state.
5. Curfew in Kashmir
Currently, there is a curfew imposed in the Indian-administered Kashmir as a result of tensions that arose due to the revocation of these articles. The Indian government has shut down the internet and there is a complete media blackout in the state.
The Kashmiris cannot voice their opinion or even take a stand for their state as they are being restricted in every way possible. This is done to ensure that the Kashmiris cannot protest this radical change. In the past few days, tens of thousands of Indian troops have been deployed in the region. Schools and colleges are shut down and the tourists have been rushed out of the area. Currently, there is no internet or phone service in the area, and a major Hindu pilgrimage was also cancelled.
There have been curfews in the past but the severity of this one is that thousands of troops have been deployed in the area. It’s been days now that the Kashmiris have no internet or phone connection. Their connection to the outside world is completely shut off and they have no means of contacting any outside help or information of their wellbeing. All the atrocities would be a secret as the Kashmiris have no platform to voice their opinions. They lack access to basic necessities and they cannot even protest for their rights. Their leaders are under house arrest while any hint of rebellion or protest is being quashed by the Indian army.
6. Kashmiri leaders under house arrest
As the fear of violence and protest grows, many Kashmiri leaders are now under house arrest. As unrest grew, the former chief ministers of Kashmir, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were swiftly placed under house arrest.
7. Forcefull takeover
The dispute of Kashmir has been a significant issue for the past seven decades with the two neighbours, Pakistan and India, fighting full-fledged war always over it. There have been skirmishes on the border from both sides and the Kashmir conflict has been a part of the United Nations Security Council debate for the past many years. It is a well-documented fact that the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir wanted to affiliate with Pakistan. The major hindrance is the Indian government that claims that Kashmir belongs to India. Many see the revocation as a way to the forceful takeover of the state. Now, the Hindus will be able to buy properties in Kashmir and the strengths of Muslim will be reduced.
The BJP has urged Hindus to migrate towards Kashmir and settle down there. As the special employment status has been revoked, the Hindus will now also get jobs. Furthermore, Kashmir is also stripped of its legislative powers.
8. Increased resentment against the Muslims
Since the BJP has gained power, the hatred against Muslims in India has significantly risen. The BJP, a Hindu nationalist party that prides itself on the only Hindu party, and their main agenda is to shift India from a secular state to a Hindu state. That has been their agenda and one of the reasons Narendra Modi was able to secure the top spot this time around.
The increased resentment against the Muslims can be seen in many cases that have seen the light of day in the past few days. Torture of Muslim youth and the rape of Muslim girls are getting very common in India now. Thanks to the BJP, the Indian hatred of Muslims has been lit of fire.
9. Increased resentment against the Hindus
However, with the revocation, the Muslim resentment against the Hindus and the Indian government will also rise, particularly in Kashmir. The Kashmiris feel threatened that they will lose access to their home and their jobs. They are being stripped of their power and their identity, which will increase escalation and hatred in the region.
10. Splitting Kashmir into two
As a final nail in the coffin, Kashmir will also be split into two parts. The Indian government has decided to divide Kashmir into two; Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Ladakh will be ruled directly by the central government without their legislature while J&K will have their legislature. This move will further strip Kashmir of its autonomous status reducing its legislative powers significantly as the decision making power will now be shifted to the union government.