What is happening in Indian Occupied Kashmir?
Syed Kashif Ali
AUGUST 5, 2019
A flurry of developments in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) during the past week has not just triggered panic and rumours among the locals but brought the historic dispute of Kashmir into lime-light. None else but Modi 2.0 is responsible for bringing the issue of Kashmir to lime-light that had gone to back-burner.
Pro-India politicians like Omer Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Bilal Loan have been put under house arrest. Jammu & Kashmir government have put a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies in the valley. Internet and mobile phone services have been suspended in the valley. Former cricketer Irfan Pathan along with hundred other cricketers have been asked to leave Jammu & Kashmir as soon as possible. Amarnath Yatris arrived in IOK for the religious festivals have been advised by the Indian Home Ministry to leave the valley immediately. Hostels have been closed down and students from outside IOK studying in the valley have been asked to leave. Door to door search and strike operations have become a norm with countless security check-points. IOK has been turned into a garrison- a prison for locals where they can’t live a free life. Modi government has deployed thirty-eight thousand additional troops in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) during the past week. During past two days, ten innocent Kashmiris have been killed by Indian security forces.
Opposition parties and Kashmiri leaders like Mahbooba Mufti and Omer Abdullah believe BJP is acting on it political agenda to abrogate the articles 370 and 35A from the Indian constitution to revoke special status of IOK. BJP has met with strong opposition from Kashmiri leadership over the repealing of article 370 and 35A. Kashmiris believe BJP wants to change demography of the state. National Conference (NC) president Dr. Farooq Abdullah chaired an all-party meeting in Srinagar and demanded not to revoke J&K’s special status. Farooq Abdullah after the meeting said that It was unanimously decided that all the parties will be united in their resolve to protect & defend identity, autonomy & special status of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, against all attacks, whatsoever.
Indian National Congress (INC) and other opposition parties have strongly criticized BJP for pressing the panic button. After an emergency meeting on IOK prevailing situation, INC termed Modi’s government steps to deploy additional troops and issuing of IOK travel advisory unnecessary. The meeting presided over by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concerns over the action taken by the Center and IOK government. INC blamed Modi government for creating an atmosphere of fear and asked to refrain from actions that could further complicate the situation. Renowned Indian journalist Barkha Dutt also strongly criticized Modi government. She raised questions over the logic of closing down educational institutions and vacating hostels. Modi government says that the recent actions have been taken in Kashmir to counter a serious threat from militants. Home Minister Amit Shah met with Indian National Security Advisor AjitDoval and spy chiefs to discuss the prevailing situation of J&K.
BJP wants to revoke the special status of J&K to deny Kashmiris their right to self-determination. But strong reaction from the J&K leadership shows that BJP stubbornness would further alienate Kashmiris
Senior Kashmiri leader Syed Ali GeelaniSyed Ali Geelani has cautioned New Delhi that any change in special status of Jammu and Kashmir will be resisted to maximum. He asked people to be ready for a “long and tough” struggle. Pakistani Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi have written a letter to Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). He asked OIC to take action on the sufferings of innocent Kashmiris. Earlier Qureshi also wrote to the UN Secretary General highlighting Indian gross human rights violations in IOK. He also expressed his concerns over the reports to change the special status of IOK by India. Pakistani Foreign Minister also highlighted the Indian violations of cease fire and LOC.OIC has expressed its solidarity with the Kashmiris and has asked India to end atrocities. The UN has asked both Pakistan and India to deescalate the situation.
An emergency meeting at Pakistan’s Foreign Office presided over by the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has just been concluded. The prevailing situation in IOK was discussed. Addressing the meeting Shah Mahmood Qureshi has asked the international community and human rights groups to take action on Indian escalation and gross human rights violation in IOK. Qureshi said that India deliberately wants to destabilize regional peace; the world is concerned over the IOK situation. Pakistan has decided to highlight the Indian brutalities and gross human rights violations in IOK to all forums; it was decided in the meeting at the FO.
BJP used article 370 and 35A as election stunt during the recent Lok Sabha elections and promised to revoke it after the re-election. Indian Home Minister Amit Shah – the second-in-command of BJP and the right hand of Prime Minister Modi categorically said that the special status given to the state of Kashmir is temporary and BJP would amend constitution to revoke article 370 and 35A. What is article 370 and 35A and why BJP want to end the special status granted to Indian held Kashmir?
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution grants special autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. According to this article, except for defense, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. As per Article 35A, only permanent residents: have right to vote; could purchase property and have right over the job and scholarships.
Revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir would allow India to change the demographic balance by converting Muslim majority into minority. BJP want to revoke the special status of J&K to deny Kashmiris their right to self-determination. But strong reaction from the J&K leadership shows that BJP stubbornness would further alienate Kashmiris.
The writer is a journalist & analyst working at the International Desk of a news channel