India’s BJP govt. revokes Kashmir’s autonomy

Women protesters held a protest rally at Srinagar displaying placards to highlight their demands for safeguarding their political and civil rights at Srinagar. Speakers emphasized on human rights violations being committed by the Indian forces and demanded to end killings of innocent people in Kashmir.On the occasion slogans were raised against human rights violations. [Photo: Internet (undated)]

Keith Jones
THE Muslim-majority state Kashmir in India has had autonomous rule for the last seven decades, thanks to a provision in India’s constitution known as Article 370. India’s home affairs minister told parliament that the country’s President had revoked Kashmir’s constitutionally guaranteed special status. The BJP government also said it supports a measure to turn the state of Kashmir and Jammu into a union territory, which would give New Delhi a direct say in its affairs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had campaigned on revoking Kashmir’s special status.
The BJP government in Indian-administered Kashmir sent in tens of thousands of additional troops placed large parts of the disputed region under lockdown early on Aug 5. The Himalayan region has surged back into the spotlight in the past few days. As stated by the order, there shall be no movement of public and all educational institutions shall also remain closed,” the state government ordered for Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.
Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state and government opponents fear the move is part of a plan to flood the region with Hindu immigrants. Thousands of extra troops have been rushed in and curfew-like conditions imposed.
New Delhi deploys 80 thousand troops
The latest tensions started in the last 10 days after New Delhi deployed at least 10,000 troops. A security source told a international news agency a further 70,000 had been deployed in what is believed to be an unprecedented level.
In Srinagar town government forces threw “chili bombs” that affect respiratory systems onto the deserted streets, a local resident said, while a senior official told AFP that nearly 300 administrative officials and top security officials had been issued with satellite phones. Tourists and students have scrambled to leave the picturesque region since the government said they should depart “immediately”.
Complete bar on public meetings or rallies
There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order. Universities, schools and colleges in Jammu were ordered to be shut, and one district in that region was placed under lockdown. Several other major districts of the Muslim-majority state were also placed under restrictions, local media reported.
The government has introduced other security measures over terror threat claims—including a call to stock up food and fuel.The measures have sparked growing panic among residents, who formed long queues outside petrol stations, food stores and cash machines.A heavy presence of troops was seen in Srinagar as gunshots sounded, although the streets remained empty, local residents told the news agency.

Protesting against killings of Kashmiri civilians, a woman holds a placard as she attends a rally in New Delhi, India, July 13, 2016. Indian soldiers fired on a stone-throwing crowd defying a curfew in the Kashmir region. Authorities imposed curfew in Muslim-majority Kashmir for 11 days, blocked mobile phones. Photo: Internet

Rare restrictions
“I believe I’m being placed under house arrest from midnight tonight & the process has already started for other mainstream leaders,” Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted before communications were cut.
The last time similar restrictions were imposed in the territory was in 2016 after the killing of a popular rebel leader, which sparked months of street protests that left nearly 100 dead.
The restrictions came as India and Pakistan traded tit-for-tat accusations of attacks across the Line of Control, the de facto border dividing Kashmir.
While the Indian military and the state government have highlighted the security risk, Kashmiri and opposition politicians in New Delhi are concerned the extra troops were deployed for other reasons.
UN Secretary General António Guterres warned on 6 August the world against rising tensions between India and Pakistan, as a powerful American newspaper pointed out that tensions in Kashmir were more menacing now than ever before as both India and Pakistan possessed weapons of mass destruction.
“Today, we are sadly witnessing a worsening international security environment,” said the UN Secretary General in his message on the 74th anniversary of the 1945 nuclear attacks on Japan. “Tensions between the nuclear-armed States are rising. The disarmament and arms-control institutions, that have made the world a more secure place for decades, are being called into question,” Mr Guterres warned. The New York Times, in its main editorial piece on Tuesday, directly addressed the threat of a nuclear conflict in South Asia.
“Rival claims to Kashmir have led to two wars and frequent eruptions of violence and terrorism over the past seven decades, made all the more menacing by the nuclear arsenals of India and Pakistan,” it warned.“The Indian government’s decision to revoke the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir, accompanied by a huge security clampdown, is dangerous and wrong. Bloodshed is all but certain, and tension with Pakistan will soar.”
Indo-Pakistan military-strategic rivalry
Control over the territories that comprised the former British Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir has been at the center of the reactionary military-strategic rivalry between New Delhi and Islamabad since the 1947 communal partition of South Asia, into an expressly Muslim Pakistan and a predominantly Hindu India.
As a result of the 1947-48 Indo-Pakistani war, Jammu and Kashmir was itself partitioned, splitting South Asia’s Kashmiri-speaking population between Indian-administered J&K and Pakistani-held Azad (“Free”) Kashmir. Ever since, both countries have vowed to “reclaim” the part of Jammu and Kashmir held by the other.
Pakistan has condemned India’s tightened control over J&K, saying no “unilateral” step by New Delhi can alter its “disputed status, as enshrined in United Nations Security Council resolutions,” and is vowing to push back. As “party to this international dispute,” declared a tersely worded Foreign Ministry statement, Pakistan “will exercise all possible options to counter [India’s] illegal steps.”
Subsequently, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary summoned the Indian High Commissioner and handed him what Islamabad characterized as a strong démarche, that “conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of these illegal actions as they are in breach of international law and several UN Security Council resolutions.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, meanwhile, urged all parties to “exercise restraint,” according to his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric. Dujarric added that a UN Military Observer Group “has observed and reported an increase in military activity” along the Line of Control that separates Indian and Pakistani-held Kashmir.
Kashmir stripped of its special status
J&K was stripped of its special status, dismembered and transformed into two Union territories through a presidential order, that illegally excised some sections of the constitution and rewrote others, and through two motions rammed through parliament in a matter of hours.
Prior to this, the constitution stated that Article 370 could only be abrogated with the “concurrence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.” But by executive fiat, India’s BJP government, which suspended the state’s elected legislature in June 2018 and since then has been ruling J&K via the central government-appointed governor, changed this to read with the “concurrence” of the governor—that is with the “concurrence” of its own local satrap. So much for the democratic will of the people of Jammu-Kashmir!
Not only were the people of the state not consulted. Up until the very moment Monday that the BJP launched its constitutional coup, the government was publicly insisting no moves to change J&K’s constitutional status were imminent. It claimed that the deployment of thousands of additional troops to the state and cancellation of the annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine were in response to threats from Pakistan-backed insurgents.
Govt’s illegal act gets opposition’s backing
The government’s illegal powerplay also won the support of broad sections of the ostensible opposition, underscoring the strong support within Indian ruling circles for a drive, no matter how reckless, to assert Indian hegemony in South Asia. Those supporting Modi’s “surgical strike” on the constitution included the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Biju Janata Dal, (BJD) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Abrogation of J&K’s autonomy and its fuIl “integration” into the Indian Union are longstanding demands of the Hindu right wing and an integral part of its push to transform the officially secular Indian Republic into a “Hindu Rashtra” (state).
A further motivation for the BJP government’s constitutional coup against Jammu and Kashmir is to whip up communal reaction and bellicose Indian nationalism under conditions where India’s economy is beset by multiple crises—including falling consumer demand, widespread agrarian distress, and a banking sector weighed down by bad corporate loans—and where social opposition, especially within the working class, is growing.
As intended, ultranationalist and outright fascist forces like the RSS and Shiv Sena took to the streets to hail the BJP’s stripping of special status and statehood from what hitherto has been India’s only Muslim-majority state.
Actions will only fuel separatist sentiment
The leaders of the two pro-Indian parties of Kashmir’s Muslim elite issued statements warning that the actions will only fuel separatist sentiment. Mehbooba Mufti, whose PDP headed a BJP-supported coalition government in J&K until the spring of 2018, tweeted, “Unilateral decision of GoI (Government of India) to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional, which will make India an occupational force in J&K. It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent.”
Omar Abdullah, the head of the National Conference and like Mufti a former J&K chief minister, said the BJP’s actions were “a total betrayal of the trust that that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had reposed in India … and will have far-reaching and dangerous consequences.”
The Modi government responded to the comments of Mufti and Abdullah by ordering their arrest.
The Congress Party, which has its own long history of violating the rights of and brutally suppressing the Kashmiri people, denounced the BJP’s rewriting of the constitution as “illegal,” and joined the West Bengal-based Trinamool Congress in charging that the central government was arrogating the right to change the powers and borders of India’s states at will.
“We anticipated a misadventure,” said senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, “but did not think in our wildest dreams that they will take such a catastrophic step. Today is a black day in the constitutional history of India.”
BJP’s actions condemned by communist parties
The Stalinists parliamentary parties—the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India—similarly denounced the BJP’s actions as an attack on the constitution and the rights of the states, without issuing any warning that the promotion of communal reaction and assault on democratic rights is above all directed against India’s workers and toilers. An integral part of the Indian establishment for decades, the Stalinist CPM and CPI have aided and abetted the growth of the Hindu right by suppressing the class struggle and harnessing the working class to the Congress and other rightwing parties, committed to neoliberal reform and a “strategic partnership” with Washington.
The Congress speaks for those sections of the ruling class that fear the BJP’s stoking of communalism and increasing open break with legal-constitutional norms could reap a whirlwind at home, while doing damage to India’s stature and legal claim to Kashmir abroad.
– WSWS and agency reports

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