After revoking the special autonomous status of occupied Kashmir on August 5, India has now split the state into two federal union territories. The movement was expected as the Indian government erodes the identity and demography of the restive region.
The decision of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tighten the government grip has stoked anger and resentment in the region still under a lockdown since the past ninety days. The state as we know it has now formally ceased to exist and has been taken under federal control. It has been split into the territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh; a massive assault has been inflicted on the identity of the state.
The state’s constitution, penal code, and flag have also been nullified and the region is subject to same laws as all other Indian territories. India rushed up legislation to end Article 370 of the constitution followed by a swift annexation of Kashmir. World reaction has been muted including from states claiming to be the flag bearer of democratic freedoms and human rights as they remain oblivious to the humanitarian crisis.
Pakistan has rejected the bifurcation of Indian-held Kashmir, calling it an internationally recognised dispute. No step by the government of India can change this, said a strongly-worded statement from the Foreign Office, calling these changes illegal and in violation of UN resolutions and bilateral agreements. India remains under the delusion that these changes are for the development of the region and the welfare of the Kashmiri people. The move in fact aims to alter the demography in pursuance of the racist Hindutva ideology.
The Indian government took several like-minded far-right European parliamentarians on an excursion to the region to give the false projection of normalcy in the region. The European Union was not involved and even several embassies were unaware of the visit. India has barred local and foreign journalists and politicians from unfettered access to the region and this publicity stunt was ill-advised.
India has refused to acknowledge that the Kashmir dispute should be resolved, calling it an internal matter. There are similar decades-long separatist movements in the country currently taking shape. Dissident political leaders from the Indian state of Manipur have unilaterally declared independence from India and formed an exiled government in Britain.
India should realise that despite the brutal repression the truth will finally emerge. The draconian laws and restrictions will not integrate Kashmiris but further isolate them. India should see the writing on the wall instead and move towards a political resolution.