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Occupation of Kashmir

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The people of Jammu & Kashmir have long been facing violence from occupying forces of the Indian state. The BJP government continues the erasure of Kashmiri people and culture through genocide and military brutality.

The modern Kashmir issue can be traced back to the Treaty of Amritsar, when the British handed over both the state and the people of Kashmir as property and forced labourers to the Dogra regime in gratitude for their support during the Anglo-Sikh wars. The Dogras, who were Hindu rules, ruled over the indigenous Kashmiris, who were majority Muslim. When the time of Partition came, the Hindu Dogra ruler opted to join India when faced with the threat of tribal invaders sent as proxy-agents by Pakistan. Despite the fact that the population was overwhelmingly a Muslim majority, Kashmir was then acceded to India as a “special status” state in which Kashmir could retain several aspects of autonomy. The United Nations promised Kashmiris a referendum through which they could decide their own fate, but this referendum has never come.

Between 1948 and 1987, tensions between the central Indian government and the state government of Kashmir increased. Relations reached a boiling point when the central Indian state quite openly rigged the Kashmiri state election. It was at this point that Kashmiris felt the promise of an autonomous, democratic, and self-ruling state was not feasible under Indian rule. By 1989, a political movement for independence had gained traction.

Kashmir in Lockdown in 2019, Anadolu Agency

The Indian government responded by turning Kashmir into the most densely militarized region in the world, a status which it continues to hold today. Over the next thirty years, the Indian government has killed around 100,000 innocent Kashmiri civilians, forcibly “disappeared” around 10,000 men in both public and secret prisons throughout India, and blinded, maimed, and raped thousands of Kashmiris as collective punishment. The Indian government has used the “Armed Forces Special Powers Act” to provide complete immunity to Indian soldiers on the ground. The impact on women has been devastating; thousands live as “half-widows,” wives of men who were taken by the military and never seen again, and hundreds live as rape survivors. One of the most notable cases of mass rape occurred in Kunan Poshpora, when dozens of women, including a bride, were raped during a wedding. 

Since 1947, the central government of India has continued to violate the human rights of indigenous Kashmiris, as well as continued to chip away at what is left of the remaining autonomy of the Kashmiri state. On August 5th, 2019, the Indian government repealed Article 370—which protected indigenous Kashmiri land from being purchased by non-indigenous actors. For over a year after, and in an effort to prevent an uprising against the opening of Kashmiri land to colonization, the Indian government shut down internet and phone services through the entire valley. The Indian government would go on to impose the longest curfew to ever exist in a democracy.  Schools, medical facilities, businesses, agriculture—an entire society—remained under curfew for over a year. An estimated 13,000 men and children were “disappeared” and sent to prisons throughout India, much like the 10,000 were in the 1990s.

23 Years Later: A Recount of Kunan Poshpora, Kashmir Global

Moreover, while internet lines were shut, land that was previously protected as public land was privatized by the central state and auctioned online to non-indigenous buyers. Kashmiris themselves had no access to bid on the land of their own state.

Currently, the central Indian government is once again increasing military presence—which is often a predicator of a controversial political move. Nomadic Gujjars are being evicted from their properties, as well as Kashmiris from their homes in Srinagar, and an air of uncertainty and panic is yet again beginning to fill the valley.

Police and Military Brutality in Kashmir, Research Society of International Law

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