Indian Kashmir locked down

This item appears on page 18 of the October 2019 issue.

On Aug. 5, the Indian government removed the constitutional amendment that granted the district of Kashmir, in the country’s northwest, a degree of autonomy.

In order to quell any violence, India stationed more soldiers in the area, instituted a curfew and shut down the Internet and mobile networks in the region. Tourists were advised to leave immediately. At press time, protests and violence had been reported in the region, but only one death, an Indian police officer, had been confirmed.

As part of the plan to remove Kashmir’s autonomy, the Indian government also introduced a bill that would reorganize the region into two “union territories”: Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Under Indian law, union territories have far less autonomy than states. At press time, the Indian government was acting as if the bill had been confirmed; however, on Aug. 28 India’s constitutional court agreed to hear a challenge to the bill.

Kashmir is a Muslim-majority region that borders Pakistan. At the time of the Partition of India in 1947, other Muslim-majority states were granted to Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). However, in a deal worked out with England and the Indian government, Kashmir was given to India but guaranteed more autonomy than other regions.

Kashmir remains a source of contention between Pakistan and India, and multiple wars have been fought over it. Pakistan has asked the International Court of Justice to look into the legality of revoking Kashmir’s special status.