In Kashmir, Conflict Strikes Again

Reem Abouchleih, Scarlet Staff

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Kashmir is no stranger to conflict. The territory is sandwiched between India and Pakistan. In the past seventy years, the region has been a battleground between the two countries. Initially, problems began with the enactment of the Partition of India in 1947; its purpose was to separate India (predominantly Hindu) and Pakistan (predominantly Muslim) from any racial or religious differences. Despite the document’s efforts, violence ensued and is still a major problem for South Asia today.

The current conflict itself directly involves three countries: India, Pakistan, and China. According to a Huffington Post article, “What is Happening in Kashmir?”, “The part within Indian borders is the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan administers Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and China has Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.”

Kashmir resurfaced in the news once again in the past month. According to The Washington Post article “India’s clampdown on Kashmir continues. Here’s what you need to know.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir of its special status Article 370 of the Constitution which allows it to govern itself. Residents are allowed to buy property and hold government jobs. Most notably, no other country may buy property there. Kashmir residents now fear that the territory will turn from a Muslim-majority to Hindu-majority.

With many distraught due to the ensuing actions, Kashmiris were looking for answers. Interior Minister of India Amit Shah cited security concerns when the protection was stripped from Kashmir, saying that the central government was “keeping in view the prevailing internal security fueled by cross-border terrorism”. However, Modi gave a different response than Shah, citing economic reasons. Modi stated that changes to Kashmir’s current status would bring more economic development and infrastructure to the area.

Anticipating the future attacks because of the territory’s conflict-filled past, the Indian government deployed ten thousand extra troops to Kashmir, which is already a highly militarized area. Thousands of Hindus were ordered to leave the territory. Residents’ access to the outside world through the Internet, television, phones, etc was cut off. Government officials are enforcing a strict curfew after dusk. Eyewitnesses told the Washington Post that police fired tear gas and pellets at thousands of protestors on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Pakistan’s government is displeased with the increasingly violent and militarized frontier on their border. Many Pakistanis and Kashmiris have torched Indian flags in retaliation to Modi’s repealed protection. Pakistan’s Prime Minister fears that Kashmiris will attack Indian militia, saying “If India attacks us, we will respond. We will fight until the last drop of blood.”

According to the Washington Post, “hundreds of local politicians and party workers are still being held in detention centers — sometimes without contact with their families — or under house arrest.”

Many Kasmirians think that the process of removing protections for their territory has been ongoing for months. According to the Hindu Business Line, Modi promised “paradise” in Jammu and Kashmir. During elections in May, Modi’s nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party exceeded expectations. For Kashmiris, this “paradise” isn’t happening anytime soon.