Voices from Kashmir: Inside India’s year-long crackdown

August 06, 2020

NEW DELHI: In Kashmir, they speak of feeling humiliated and silenced, of crippled businesses and shuttered schools — and the fear of never knowing when deadly violence may strike again,...

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NEW DELHI: In Kashmir, they speak of feeling humiliated and silenced, of crippled businesses and shuttered schools — and the fear of never knowing when deadly violence may strike again, Foreign media reported.

A year ago, Kashmiris watched as India’s leaders unilaterally changed the constitutional status of their strife-torn territory.

India revoked a provision granting a degree of autonomy to Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority region, and took away its statehood.

The government pledged that the move would bring a “new dawn” of peace and prosperity by jettisoning decades of what it described as failed policies toward Kashmir and bringing it politically closer to the rest of India.Instead, it’s been a year of upheaval and repression.

Kashmir is no stranger to strife. India and Pakistan both claim the territory and have fought two wars and a smaller conflict over its borders. An armed insurgency against Indian rule has continued for more than three decades.

Last August, the Indian government launched a massive crackdown. It restricted all movement, detained thousands of people — including Kashmir’s political leaders — and cut off all communications.

The steps were necessary, it said, to prevent violent protests and avert possible attacks by militant groups it accuses Pakistan of supporting. Pakistan denies the allegations.

The Internet ban lasted more than 200 days, the longest such shutdown by a democracy. Even now, high-speed Internet has not been restored in the Kashmir Valley, home to more than 8 million people.

Hundreds of Kashmiris have been imprisoned under a draconian public safety law or face legally murky forms of house arrest. Schools in Kashmir have barely functioned since last August. They were ordered shut as part of India’s crackdown and then again during the pandemic.

Business losses through June are estimated at more than $5 billion, according to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Attacks by anti-India militants continue, as does cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan.

The impact of India’s policies has been “disastrous,” a group of retired Indian judges and civil servants wrote in a recent report. They alleged “systematic violations of human rights” in the region since Aug. 5, 2019.

Three Kashmiris described their experiences over the past year in interviews with The Washington Post. Their accounts have been condensed and edited for clarity.



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