By Sean Jackson
On Monday, August 5th, the Indian government stated that it is revoking the constitutional provision that has granted Kashmir regional autonomy. Kashmir, a mountainous region along the India-Pakistan border has been long disputed by both countries since the 1947 partitioning of British India. The partitioning resulted in the borders of India and Pakistan as recognized by the international community today. The region has a history of previous military interventions, terror attacks, and police crackdowns.
The announcement that the Indian government will be revoking parts of Article 370, a part of their constitution that provides Kashmir with their special status, raises expectations that civil unrest and rioting may follow. In preparation for potential unrest, India has deployed thousands of troops to the region, as well as evacuated tourists, closed schools, and cut off internet service.
Separatist groups have been operating in Kashmir for years, with many armed and directly linked to Pakistan. Analysts feel that the Indian government’s steps to revoke Kashmir’s special status could provoke a sudden outburst of violence.
The call for revoking Article 370 provisions comes following India’s current governing party – the staunchly Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., delivering on a key campaign promise that they would remove the special status from Kashmir, which is a predominately Muslim region.
One opposition leader from the Indian National Congress, Ghulam Nabi Azad denounced the call for the revocation of Article 370, saying, “Today the B.J.P. has murdered the Constitution of India.”
The president of Pakistan’s Muslim League-Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif stated that Pakistan must call an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting, stating, “The people of Kashmir cannot be left alone in this moment. We will go to every extent to defend the human rights and legal rights of Kashmiris. Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan, and anyone laying a hand on our jugular vein and honor will meet a frightful end.”
The escalated tensions in Kashmir have left many of the locals panicked, many of whom are gathering supplies which has led to a shortage of medicine and food in the region. Petrol stations are currently barren after thousands lined up to fill their vehicles and gas canisters with gasoline.
The call for the revocation of Article 370 also comes amid escalated tensions reaching a breaking point in February this year. A Kashmiri militant rammed a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device into an Indian paramilitary convoy, killing at least 40 soldiers. Jaishe-e-Muhammad, a Pakistan based terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the worst reported for close to three decades.
Most recently Pakistan has accused India of using illegal cluster bombs on civilians on Saturday, August 3rd in Kashmir. Pakistan states that the bombs killed two civilians, and wounded eleven. The situation caused thousands of tourists and visitors to flock to the regional airport, many of whom did not have tickets.
Reports indicate that both Pakistan and India have been building up their troop levels near the Line of Control, the disputed border between India and Pakistan.