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What has India gained after August 5, 2019 draconian step?

National

August 11, 2020

One year has passed since India revoked Article 370 on August 5, 2019, a step that was used to further suppress the already-oppressed Kashmiris. The revocation of Article 370 that had maintained the status quo in Occupied Kashmir put the region into turmoil. The Indian decision was in violation of Article 1.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” And one must remember that Kashmir is a disputed territory on the UNSC agenda.

So what has India gained by taking the draconian step of revoking Article 370 in the last one year. The answer clearly is failure to implement its proposed roadmap, international shame and domestic opposition to name a few.

The unparalleled restrictions on movement and communications in held Valley since August 5 last year are in still in place. Fundamental freedoms and liberties have been seized and human rights defenders are being targeted. The political leadership of Kashmir has been placed under house arrest or imprisoned. Over 10,000 Kashmiris have been arrested without due process of law and sent to prisons in India. There has been a systematic and serial violations of fundamental freedoms in held Kashmir.

The held Valley has been transformed by India into the largest prison on Earth where basic amenities and means of communication are not accessible. The use of pellet guns, bloodshed, curfews, clampdown and communications blackout continue.

After August 5, 2019, the issue of Kashmir has been internationalized not seen in the last 50 years. Even the West does not believe in the Indian government’s claims that it was “responsive to safety and well-being of people in Jammu and Kashmir”. The international community started showing interest in the dispute; the international media, civil society and human rights organisations spoke for the cause. Many European leaders and American Congressmen and senators also questioned the Indian account and brutal suppression of the people of the Valley.

Similarly, visits of occupied Kashmir by foreign envoys to New Delhi and gloating afterwards by the Indian media did not change anything on the ground or the international perception about the dispute.

It was not a first-hand assessment of the situation six months after the scrapping of Article 370; it was a controlled farce with envoys being taken on a Shikhara ride on the famous Dal Lake. The Dominican Republic envoy Frank Hans Dannerberg Castellanos summed up the mood: “Kashmir is a beautiful place. We are just here as tourists.”

On the other hand, the Indian politicians continue to live in a self-created bubble. Indian minister of state for home affairs, G. Kishan Reddy, claimed in Indian parliament that Kashmiris, after the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019, were increasingly participating in ordinary life, children had returned to schools, security was under control and communications had largely been restored. One Indian publication wrote about the held Valley: “In Kashmir, schools and colleges were open for months after the dilution of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, but nobody attended them. Is that also now normal? Every now and then, U.S. President Donald Trump reminds India that he is ready to mediate between India and Pakistan, even though New Delhi insists that Kashmir is an internal matter. For the American President to repeatedly make that offer was the norm in the worst of times in Kashmir; now it has become a routine in the best of times as well. Is this too the new normal?”

Besides held Kashmir, protests over the CAA continue to hurt India’s image and economy. It was reported in the media that WisdomTree Investments, with $64 billion under management, now does not call India a “haven” for investment. It says while it hasn’t lost faith in the country’s growth story, but it’s concerned rising political and social tensions will delay an economic recovery from the slowest pace of growth in six years. “Modi’s latest initiatives are creating divisions over religion and national identity,” said Aneeka Gupta, a research director at fund manager. “Communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims are at risk of dragging on for years. Recovery is likely to be slow and protracted in 2020.”

India's unilateral decision to revoke the Article 370 on August 5 was illegal under international law and now India’s presence is, by its own benchmark, naked foreign occupation. The assertions that these actions are its internal affair are patently false and a lie.