Early Monday morning, the Indian government announced a change to its constitution, revoking the autonomy of the disputed northern state of Jammu and Kashmir and potentially setting the stage for a major new conflict. The change opens the door to a situation similar to Chinese policy in Tibet and Xinjiang and Israeli policy in the West Bank, allowing the Indian government to move huge numbers of settlers into Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority region, thereby forcibly transforming its demographics.
The decision to revoke the statute, Article 370, comes amid an unexpected crackdown by the Indian government on the Indian-controlled half of the province, over which neighboring Pakistan also lays claim. Over the last several days, prominent Kashmiri political leaders and activists — including many seen as supportive of Indian government rule — have been detained or placed under house arrest. Thousands of Indian soldiers and paramilitaries have been deployed to the region, adding to the whopping 600,000 already stationed in a place widely referred to as the most militarized region on earth.
The abrupt escalation caused widespread alarm. In addition to the military deployments and arrests, a curfew has been imposed on civilian movements. Internet and mobile phone access for Kashmiris has been completely cut off. Tourists have been ordered out of the state, and the Indian government has alleged the existence of terror threats against religious pilgrims, who are in the province to visit the famous Amarnath shrine complex. Taken together, the moves seem to be a clear preparation for possible violence.
“The government would not have taken all these steps if they didn’t have a big plan in the works.”
“The recent deployments of troops and security measures have sown a lot of fear and panic among people in Kashmir,” said Mohamad Junaid, an assistant professor of anthropology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and an expert on political movements in Kashmir. “The government would not have taken all these steps if they didn’t have a big plan in the works.”
Our IP Address: