Jammu and Kashmir - A Future of Uncertainty

On the street along Srinagar's Dal Lake, there is emptiness. Notwithstanding the horns and shrieks of a couple of vehicles that are out and about with extraordinary authorization, there's void. Vacationers, both Indian and remote, have withdrawn. Houseboats are empty. The boatmen are dozing or sitting inertly on their shikaras. Since August after the Indian government decided to make Jammu and Kashmir along with Ladakh as two union territories a security crackdown has been imposed on the region due to which their movement has been restricted. This curfew was lifted when Kashmir finally rejoined India on 31st October 2019.

A brief history of Jammu and Kashmir
Kashmir has always been one of the controversial states in the Indian subcontinent. The Kashmir issue began in 1947 with the segment of the British Indian Empire. The new-framed India and Pakistan were going after predominance over the state on account of strict issues. This turned into a significant reason for the Indian-Pakistani clash with proactive activities from the two nations to turn into Kashmir's domains. India and Pakistan have had numerous clashes. But till date, the Kashmir issue remains the most serious one. In 1957, Kashmir was formally incorporated into the Indian Union. It was granted special status under Article 370 of India's constitution. This led to a number of wars between these two nations:
  • First Kashmir war
  • Second Kashmir war
  • Siachen conflict
  • Kargil conflict

The present situation of Jammu and Kashmir 

On 5th August the union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the government has decided to abolish Article 370 in the Rajya Sabha and impose Section 144 in several districts of the state. As per the Bill, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will be separate Union Territory. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti along with mainstream leaders have been under house arrest in view of the restrictions. Famous tourist spots like Dal Lake which used to get around 50 crores per year from the government for its maintenance has been devoid due to the restrictions imposed. The deployment of additional troops in the state, an atmosphere of fear and confusion has been created. Under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) imposed in the valley:
  • All educational institutions will remain closed
  • There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during this period
  • Restrictions and night curfews have been imposed in several districts as the Valley 
  • Movement of the public has been suspended 

How daily life has been affected
As the emergency in the Kashmir region drags into its 12th week. The decision of India to scrap Kashmir autonomy has given rise to more number of militants who are conducting their own terror threatening or even attacking civilian beleaguered Kashmiris are now getting hit from two sides, caught between the militants and security forces who, residents say, continue to abuse and torture them.
There has been a communication blackout in the state for about 3 months although mobile phone connections were restored there’s no sign of the internet for the Valley’s 8 million people. Education institutions have been shut down and people are paying 100 rupees per season to watch television shows from internet shops. All businesses have been reduced to ashes and people are using the letter a source for communication. Rahman, a shikara owner lamented, “I used to make at least ₹3,000 a day during the season. My income this week is just ₹500".

The reaction of the international community
The recent visit of 23 European Delegates has cut all critics questioning Delhi’s intentions since it abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two union territories on August 5. The delegates were driven through heavily guarded Srinagar which included four detention centres where dozens of politicians are detained. They had an interaction with police Chief Dilbag Singh who explained the whole situation. The visit ended with a trip to Dal Lake, Srinagar's most prominent tourist draw, where the MPs were seen taking a boat ride. During the entire trip, the delegates were assisted by army personal and not local residents which triggered many questions whether the trip was rigged and why Indian MPs were not allowed inside. The involvement of Madi Sharma, a self-professed “international business broker”, in organising the visit also came to light creating another stir.
 The entire nation along with the world is watching Jammu and Kashmir. The main question which comes to our mind is how will they react when the curfew is lifted will they accept India? Or will it be a 'Bloodbath' as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said in the UN general assembly?

- Written by Ayan Lahiri

- Edited by Maitreyi Mehndiratta

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