By: Lubaba Mahmud, Staff Writer
The Kashmir valley is a highly contested region which is shared by India, Pakistan, and China. The Indian-administered part, collectively called the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), is a Muslim majority state with a special partly-independent status.
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution previously gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir almost complete freedom by allowing it to have a separate state constitution as well as decision-making rights in a local context. The article also made it illegal for Indians outside J&K from holding economic or political interests within the separate state. However on August 5, India’s government revoked Article 370 with a presidential order. This is a clear portrayal of India’s recent aggressive nationalism — one the international community should not tolerate.
The current Indian ruling party, The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is known for its Hindu nationalist movement. Many Kashmiris believe that the BJP’s motive behind this order is to encourage Hindus to settle in the region and change the Muslim-majority demographic. At a time when democracy and diversity are celebrated in most developed countries, systematically displacing people from a different religion is unacceptable.
In order to prevent protests and violent uprisings in response to the change, Kashmir has been under a security lockdown for over 40 days, with more than 8 million people under curfew. All means of communication, including cell service and internet, have been cut off. There have been reports of violent actions, including midnight raids and torture. Furthermore, thousands of Kashmiris, including politicians and activists, have been arrested for detention.
According to the constitution, changes in Article 370 must be approved by the state assembly. However, the Indian government, having previously dissolved the assembly to install a governor in its place, has taken advantage of the absence to pass its order. This has been deemed a fraudulent act by some critics.
It is enraging that such inhuman acts still occur in this day and age. This is no less than imperialist violence. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had said that Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiri people and it is not the property of India. India has grossly betrayed Kashmir by dishonouring its promise to respect Kashmir’s right to autonomy.
Under the forceful Indian occupation, Kashmir is burning and bleeding. As part of an international community, it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with Kashmiris under oppression and raise our voices to demand their freedom.