India's blackout and extreme crackdown in Kashmir could ignite a violent uprising
Adnan Abidi / REUTERS
Kashmiri men shout slogans during clashes with Indian security forces, after scrapping of the special constitutional status for
- An extreme crackdown in the Indian territory of Kashmir has kept Kashmiri citizens under virtual house arrest and without a lifeline to the outside world for nearly a month.
- Extreme military and police brutality could lead to major uprisings, including violence and bloodshed, experts warn.
- While the Indian government and military forces have engaged in mass arrests, forced "disappearances," and other human rights violations before in Kashmir, the scale of militarization and civilian suppression is unprecedented, making it ripe for a full-scale insurgency.
- "Never before have Kashmiri Muslims felt so threatened by Hindu Nationalists' attempts to forcibly assimilate them with the Indian Union," a Kashmir expert told Insider.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
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The Indian government and military forces have for decades engaged in mass arrests, forced "disappearances," and other human rights violations in Kashmir, but the scale of militarization and civilian suppression is unprecedented, making it ripe for a full-scale insurgency.
"Kashmir has turned into an internment camp," Angana Chatterji, the co-chair of the Political Conflict, Gender, & People's Rights Initiative at the University of California at Berkeley and an expert on human rights in Kashmir, told Insider.
"They want to make sure that people stay indoors, that people don't mobilize and protest," Hafsa Kanjwal, a professor at Lafayette University and an expert on Kashmir, told Insider.
Read more: Trump's casual offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute reveals a disastrous misunderstanding of the powder-keg region
No voice for KashmirisBut India's actions - arresting thousands of Kashmiris, putting political leaders under lockdown, and disarming the Kashmir police force - reaveal different motivations.
Decisions about Kashmir's future - and any negotiation thereof - have always been between Pakistan, which controls some parts of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and India, according to the 1972 Simla agreement. Now, with the Indian government seizing power, Kashmiris are out of options.
"Potential for a full-blown insurgency remains strong," Ahmad, a Kashmiri researcher who asked to use a pseudonym to prevent retaliation by the Indian government, told Insider. "With no room for dissent," he said, the people of Kashmir have "no choice but to engage in armed struggle."
There is precedent for armed insurrection - in the late 1980s, for example, militant Kashmiri groups headed to Pakistan for arms training and led an insurrection against the Indian administration in Kashmir in 1990. According to Human Rights Watch, the Indian National Congress party had rigged elections in Kashmir to benefit Indian rule and arrested opposition leaders. That conflict led to around 100,000 Hindus leaving Kashmir, and countless human rights abuses by Indian forces there. Uprisings in 2009, 2011, and 2016 resulted in injuries, restrictions, and human rights abuses against Kashmiris, as well.
An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard near a temporary checkpoint during lockdown in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. The latest crackdown began just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and its statehood, creating two federal territories. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
'Only one solution'The current situation seems to be different. For one, there wasn't really a precipitating event that brought on India's state-wide blackout and blatant political power grab.
"The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offense," according to a United Nations Human Rights Council statement on Kashmir.
"The information blackout is clearly unprecedented," Ahmad said. "So is the increase in military deployment at a time when insurgency in Kashmir is residual."
"Never before have Kashmiri Muslims felt so threatened by Hindu Nationalists' attempts to forcibly assimilate them with the Indian Union," Ahmad said.
"So there is an overarching consensus in the Kashmiri society that they need to right for the protection of their identity. And surely it will generate massive resistance."
"Only one solution," protesters shout. "Gun solution!"
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