For decades Kashmir and Jammu have been disputed and fought over by both India and Pakistan. The region has been subjected to political aggression and rivalry since August 1947, when both countries gained independence. However, the conflict has severely escalated in recent months.
The territory has endured three major wars since independence and remains victim to a constant power struggle between the two nations. Divided into the ‘Indian-administered areas’ and the ‘Pakistani-administered areas,’ Kashmir was granted special autonomy within the Indian constitution; a status that Kashmir has held since 1956.
Bill Clinton claimed that “Kashmir was the most dangerous place in the world” almost two decades ago and now the fears are exacerbating as India inches closer to war, and both nations exhibit their nuclear capabilities. In February 2019, airstrikes were launched by India onto the Pakistani-administered territory in response to the suicide attack carried out in Kashmir by a Pakistani extremist group.
On the 5th of August 2019, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, declared Article 370, which granted Kashmir’s own constitution would be revoked and stripped of its autonomy. Modi used a presidential decree to overrule the article and both Kashmir and Jammu have been under lockdown ever since. The region has experienced a complete communications and media clamp-down and its citizens have been robbed of their basic human rights. All actions and alleged abuses that have taken place in the Indian-administered region has been concealed by the government in its attempt to judicially gain complete control over the disputed region.
Modi has defended the motion, explaining that it is to “rid the state of terrorism,” and has denied any allegations of human rights abuses. While India are using claims of terrorism to impose executive control onto Kashmir, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has been campaigning for the Kashmiri’s right to self-determination and autonomy. The two leaders have been waging a political debate, with Kashmiri citizens caught in the crossfire. Khan has warned that India’s actions will lead to a bloodbath once the security restrictions are lifted.
Khan took the Kashmiri issue to the UN General Assembly which took place on the 27th September, and urged the international community to rise and fight injustice, whilst Modi made no mention of the Kashmir crisis in his speech. Following Khan’s speech, condemning the human rights violations and unjust arrests, thousands of Kashmiris flooded the streets chanting slogans of independence.
The impacts of the conflict have been most brutal on the Kashmiri civilians who have allegedly been victim to torture and abuse, as well as enduring shortages and blockages on both food and medical supplies. As a sign of retaliation to the draconian measures inflicted by the Indian government, the Kashmiri citizens have left their lucrative apples, a central part of their local economy, to rot.
As the situation looks today, Kashmir has been under a security and communications lockdown for almost two months now, and Pakistan has pledged to wage war if India doesn’t grant Kashmir its autonomy.