Previously dismissed as exaggerated or unfounded, the concerns of Indian government’s manipulation of the demographic and special status of Indian-administered Kashmir have now proven to be justified, amplifying the distress among Kashmiris. On August 5, 2019, the Indian government abolished Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which conferred special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and exempted it from various constitutional provisions.
Additionally, Article 35A, which safeguarded certain residency rights and protections for the local population, was completely scrapped. These articles ensured that the acquisition of land, government employment, and business investments were exclusively reserved for those with permanent residency based on inheritance. They safeguarded the rights and autonomy of Kashmiris, providing a degree of political and economic independence. India is on Israel’s path towards diminishing Kashmiris self-determination rights by force, and international community is unable to respond.
Furthermore, in October 2019, Jammu and Kashmir was dissolved as a state, disempowering its state assembly from passing legislation and dividing it into two union territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Prior to this reorganization, J&K stood as the only Muslim-majority state in India. The abrogation of Article 370 and the alteration of its statehood led to complete integration of the region, stripping its population of the special privileges and entitlements they had enjoyed due to the unique historical nature of the state’s accession to India. The implementation of these changes occurred stealthily and deceptively, without fulfilling the constitutional requirement of involving the state legislature. The hearings on petitions challenging these moves in the Supreme Court of India have been repeatedly postponed, cementing the fait accompli nature of the abrogation of Article 370 and the demotion of the erstwhile state.
The announcement of a new domicile rule for Jammu and Kashmir on March 31, 2020, shed further light on the government’s intentions and the future implications. The timing of this notification, just one week after a nationwide lockdown was imposed to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, raised eyebrows. While the lockdown in other parts of the country served as a safety measure, in Kashmir, it took on a different connotation. It became a lockdown within a lockdown, which had already been partially in effect since August 5, 2019. The stringent clampdown enforced by the military occupation allowed the Indian government to surreptitiously strip away the special status of J&K and divide it into more manageable units. The prolonged lockdown in Kashmir effectively stifled public dissent and ensured that information about the region remained inaccessible, rendering the entire population invisible and their grievances unheard. The 2019 lockdown was unconstitutional, undemocratic, and morally flawed. However, it has now become an integral part of India’s strategy in Kashmir, devoid of any pretense.
If the abrogation of Article 370 laid the foundation for the Indian government’s agenda in Jammu and Kashmir, the subsequent actions that have followed are calculated building blocks designed to serve that agenda. The new domicile rule, announced in a late-night move, sparked anxieties among the youth of J&K, irrespective of their ethnic, communal, or political affiliations. They realized that they would now face competition from outsiders for government jobs, which they previously held a monopoly over. The government is one of the largest employers of fresh graduates in the region, and the suspension of recruitment processes raised suspicions that this was deliberately done to allow outsiders who qualified for domicile under the new rule to apply as well. For instance, the recruitment process for over 1,450 posts in J&K Bank was abruptly scrapped in February 2023, jeopardizing the career prospects of thousands of aspirants who had already cleared their preliminary exams. Later, the bank advertised for 1,350 posts, with the eligibility criteria subtly modified to allow non-locals to apply. This move caused further outrage and disillusionment among the youth, who saw it as a systematic attempt to dispossess them of their rightful opportunities.
The repercussions of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent actions by the Indian government in Jammu and Kashmir have been far-reaching and multidimensional. Beyond the political and legal ramifications, the psychological impact on the Kashmiri population cannot be underestimated. Kashmiris have been subjected to prolonged trauma, anxiety, and a deep sense of betrayal. The constant uncertainty, loss of identity, and erasure of their political voice have created an atmosphere of hopelessness and despair. The Indian government’s insistence on projecting a sense of normalcy in the region, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, only exacerbates the collective trauma experienced by the Kashmiris.
The revocation of Article 370 and the changes in Jammu and Kashmir have also intensified the security situation in the region. The heavy presence of security forces and the implementation of a severe crackdown on dissent have led to increased tensions and a cycle of violence. The internet shutdowns, communication blockades, and stringent curfews have hindered access to information, hampered the economy, and impeded the education system, disproportionately affecting the lives of ordinary Kashmiris. The situation has prompted widespread international concern and condemnation, with human rights organizations highlighting the systematic violations of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, torture, and excessive use of force. The international community’s response to the Kashmir issue has been varied. While some nations have called for dialogue and a peaceful resolution, others have chosen to remain silent or cautiously avoid any criticism of the Indian government’s actions.
New Delhi has awarded contract of mining in two sites Nichahama and Hangnikot areas in Kupwara district located along the Line of Control on 99 years lease to an Israeli company. The handover of these sites will take place in the presence of the Indian Ministry of Mines, Directorate of Geology and Mining J&K and officials of the Arava Mines including its CEO on 24 July 2023. It is to be noted that these areas in Kupwara districts have huge deposits of ignite and have huge potential of thermal power generation. Both the areas are close to LOC. Number of international studies has concluded that on of the main objective settler colonialism is to loot and plunder the wealth and natural resources of occupied territory. India illegal and unilateral abrogation of article 370 and 35 A was also aimed to squander the natural resources of occupied territory depriving the indigenous Kashmiri people. India and Israel are considered the world’s two most pronounced and internationally acknowledged nations involved in human rights violations. Pertinent to mention India and Israel have stark similarities in human rights abuses pattern. Both countries have forced their neighboring states into conventional wars and are equally known to defy UN resolutions and international responsibilities.
The involvement of Israel in IIOJK is certainly going to worsen the already appalling human rights conditions in IIOJK. India is certainly following a strategy to involve a number of nations/ stakeholders in the IIOJK and use multinational economic forums like G-20 to legitimize its claims. Pakistan must highlight the Indian nefarious designs contributing towards complications in the final settlement of the Kashmir issue. Kashmir and Palestine are the worst examples of Hindu and Jewish settlements in modern history, joining hands of two confirmed enemies of humanity demands immediate attention from international stakeholders.
Shaimin Raja is a student of Peace and Conflict Studies at National University of Modern Languages
Disclaimer: Different But Similar: India Follows Israel Model In Kashmir – OpEd By Shaimin Raja - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view