Since August 5, when the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status, downgraded its position as a state, and gave New Delhi a more direct role in its governance, the anxiety, has gripped the Kashmir valley which ever since under an official lockdown.
The reason the Indian government, which is run by the Bhartiya Janata Party, believes the main reason for rebellion in the valley is due to Article 370. This position has broad support in the rest of India but the people in the valley have opposed the move, The Hindu, a respected Indian newspaper, reported 140 incidents of stone-throwing in the first eight of the clampdown. The valley is witnessing a gloomy era of bloodshed, resistance, killings, and curfew for the past 30 years after 1987, which is popularly termed as uprising. The roots of the conflict are anchored in the history since independence when British India was bifurcated into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu-majority, but officially secular, India. Kashmir, which at the time was a Muslim-majority princely state ruled by a Hindu king, ultimately opted to join India with conditions. In return, it was offered special status that, among other things, barred Indians from the rest of the country from buying land or property in what became the Jammu and Kashmir state. Over successive decades after J&K had the first chief minister in 1965, it is only for nine terms to witness an elected government and was mostly been either under governor or president’s rule.
The government maintains that the provision’s removal will allow investment to pour into Kashmir and integrate it more fully with the rest of India. The rest of Indian’s celebrated the move as the moment of triumph, an achievement much-awaited, praising the duo of Prime Minister Modi and his union Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah even more. Contrary to this the people in the valley are barricaded in their homes, deprived of their basic essentials of life, security forces besiege and patrol the length and breadth of the bifurcated state. The Internet and telephone lines continue to remain suspended; more than 200 newspapers published from the state are in a freeze and even hospitals shut.
Indian media particularly Indian Television channels towed on the official lines, not only supporting the move but even endorsed and celebrated slamming any voice that criticizes the government for the abrogation of the special status of the region. The national media has been insisting that all is well in the valley depicting a picture of calm and normalcy in the valley. They term the move as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s legal masterstroke and the political ramifications with presumably BJP supporters, distributing sweetmeats, feeding barfis and laddoos to portraits of Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi across the country.
However some news organizations like Hindu, Telegraph, and NDTV have sought to provide a more accurate picture of what is happening on the ground.
At the same time, International media like the Washington Post slammed the scrapping of Article 370, calling it a “disturbing turn” in India’s “settler-colonial project”. Another international media organization, The Independent wrote, that’s claims that they have finally solved the long-disputed Kashmir conundrum; they have only made matters much worse. While some international media platforms such as BBC and RT News presented a neutral version, CNN highlighted that revoking Article 370 is just one step of the BJP’s “long-held agenda” to make India a Hindu state.
The reports of a disturbance, uprisings, and protests were first reported by international media like BBC, which national media continuously refused to acknowledge. What followed afterward is the tussle of authenticity between the international media and national media. Although, the national media days after the reports being leaked by international media admitted disturbances and protests but not to the extent as being reported by international media.
After August 5, not only did the tension between India and Pakistan spiked but Pakistan left no stone unturned to discuss the Kashmir issue on international forums. India, however, has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.
To strengthen their stance Pakistan asked China to raise the Kashmir issue in the UN, of which China is a permanent member. The United Nations Security Council on a rare occasion held a closed-door meeting to discuss Kashmir’s status. The last time there was a full Security Council meeting on the Himalayan region was in 1965. The UN meeting on August 16, 2019, ended without a consensus or resolution to the disputed territory. Although the meeting at the UN internationalized the ongoing conflict of Kashmir, India managed to convince most of the countries to accept their move as their sovereign decision and internal matter.
Interesting enough when Kashmir is under siege, cut off from the rest of the world, Pakistan’s close aide China is facing the same situation. The much-debated issue of the ongoing territory of Hong Kong which enjoys a Special Administrative Region controlled by The People’s Republic of China and enjoys its own limited autonomy as defined by the Basic Law, somewhat similar to that of Kashmir. Hong Kongers are currently protesting an extradition bill that would allow residents to be sent to China. The bill has been suspended but not withdrawn, and if the bill is passed it will extend the power of mainland authorities of China to Honk kong.
However, the protestors in Honk Kong are allowed to express themselves, through peaceful processions, allowed to express their views to media are given full media coverage. While as Jammu & Kashmir is no more a state, scrapped of special status, bifurcated and demoted from a status of state to union territory. Geographically Ladakh will be administered directly by New Delhi. Curfew is imposed all across the valley. In fact all Kashmiris, including to those loyalists to India, nationalist, secessionist, independents, apolitical are branded as the enemy. Those who oppose the scrapping of article 370 will be dealt with dire consequences. The burning questions remain if in a country two systems coexist of socialism and capitalism in one country which is mainland china, why cannot democratic country India, allow J&K retain its special status bestowed by the founding fathers of the country, as a promise at the time of accession?
The Article is written by Dr. Iram Rizvi who has a Ph.D. in Media and Journalism.
Opinions expressed in the article are of his personal and not of The Policy Times. For facts and credibility, viewers are requested to reach to the author.