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Kashmir Stands on the edge of Conflict Again; Necessary or Forced?

Last updated on August 8th, 2019

India—where acceptance and respect to every religion is often spoken with much pride—stands on a chaotic edge of nationalism today. The Kashmir region of India is once again caught amidst political unrest after the government scrapped Article 370.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Monday, unilaterally erased autonomy of the Kashmir region. While the government made this historical move, thousands of army troops were deployed in the lush valley, to deal with potential threats from across the border, especially Pakistan.

The bill was passed with an overwhelming majority, to divide the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate federal territories, which will be governed by state legislature, and Ladakh will be ruled from New Delhi.

The Government authorities also completely cut the Internet connections, mobile phone lines and even land lines, sending the region into complete isolation from the rest of the country.

Since coming into power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for India has revolved around two major schemes. At helm is the due importance that he lays on developing ties with the world leaders, and secondly around making India a Hindu-dominated land, often billed as ‘Hindustan’ by supporters of the party.

On Monday, India’s home minister Amit Shah, cited in his speech that the central government was finally ousting the special status that Kashmir had preserved for more than 70 years.

The United Nations once recommended holding a referendum to let Kashmiris decide their fortune, but the proposal never really went forward. In the seven decades beginning from the end of British-era, Kashmir has seen multiple outrages from both sides of the border. Kashmiri militants, allegedly supported by Pakistan, have often retaliated by striking at Indian army stationed in Kashmir.

In this eruptive stalemate, India’s latest actions have apparently provoked instant vows of resistance. However, Kashmiris could not gulp the news of scrapping the legislation completely. “The Fifth of August is the blackest day of Indian democracy when its Parliament, like thieves, snatched away everything from the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Kashmir said, shortly before she was taken into custody.

Abolishing Article 370 has been a move long-sought by the government supporters. However, activists believe that revoking the article is only first of few changes on BJP’s agenda. Presently, the changes made by the Modi government also mean that even a non-Kashmiri resident can buy property in the region, which was earlier prohibited.

The stalemate might have caused an insurgency-like situation in the region, but if the Modi government really wants to ensure peace, it is vital to gain the confidence of Kashmiris at the moment. Their insecurities towards ethnic cleansing must be cautiously addressed to avoid any long-term damage.

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