India administrated Kashmir marked one year since the abrogation of the states constitutional status on August 5th, 2019. Since then, the people of Kashmir underwent the longest internet shutdown, government-mandated curfews, heavy economic downfall, violent attacks between the army and the locals, and a halt on tourism. The repeal was received with severe international condemnation as well as by the residents of the state and country.
The country’s ruling Hindu-nationalist party – Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) – headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, stripping Jammu & Kashmir off of its semi-autonomy. In 2019, the BJP government split the State into two Union Territories as per the new Bill charged by Home Minister Amit Shah in the upper house of India’s Parliament.
Jammu and Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state. After the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan, special constitutional status of autonomy was granted to Jammu and Kashmir. Under Article 360, the state retains the right to autonomy in all matters except foreign policy, communication and defense. Meanwhile, 35A gave special privileges to right to property and state government jobs only to “permanent residents” of Kashmir.
BJP won the national elections with a landmark victory for two consecutive terms. The Hindu-nationalist group has been at bay to revoke the privileges of Kashmir. Going as far as to include the abrogation of its status during their election pleas in 2019, to bring peace into the region. They argue that the removal of Article 370 would lead to integration and development of Jammu and Kashmir.
“In the last five years, we have made all necessary efforts to ensure peace in Jammu and Kashmir through decisive actions and firm policy. We are committed to overcoming all obstacles that come in the way of development and providing adequate financial resources to all the regions of the state”, read the election manifesto.
Overnight, the people of Kashmir were pushed to the dark which persists till today. The state witnessed one of the longest shutdowns of the internet for 213 days, in any democratic country. The Indian authorities declared a telecom and media blackout two days before the announcement, which was partially restored this year in March. Prominent Kashmiri politicians such as Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and chairman of People’s Conference Sajjad Lone, and former chief minister in the state Omar Abdullah were detained. Journalists and activists who voiced their dissent were arrested immediately.
A harsh security clampdown was imposed for the locals, banning public movement, schools, gatherings etc. Ceasefires and attacks have killed hundreds of people, leaving many more injured. According to the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a local human rights organization, the year 2019 documented 165 deaths caused by 195 cordons or search operations, while 229 killings have already been reported in the first six months of 2020 due to 107 cordons.
The sustaining restrictions crippled the economy of Kashmir drastically. The tourism sector is in shambles and has incurred heavy losses. The unemployment rate of 18-to-29-year-old reached 24.6 per cent.
Criticizing the violation of Kashmiri’s in their homeland, Human Rights Watch said, “Indian authorities should take immediate steps to protect rights by releasing political detainees; upholding the right to free speech, including by withdrawing cases against journalists and activists; restoring full internet access; and holding to account officials responsible for rights violations.”
Feature Image Via DNA.