WorldModi’s Kashmir move proves his fiercest critics right

11:21  08 august  2019
11:21  08 august  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Anxious tourists flee Indian Kashmir after 'terror' warning

Anxious tourists flee Indian Kashmir after 'terror' warning Thousands of tourists and students scrambled to get places on planes and buses leaving Kashmir on Saturday after the Indian government warned of the threat of "terror" attacks. Hundreds of Indian students from outside Kashmir were evacuated in buses. "All the non-local students have left the campus for their respective states," an administrative official at the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar told AFP. Kashmiri residents formed long lines outside petrol stations, food stores and bank cash machines on Friday night after the alert was announced. But the queues eased Saturday.

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi first came to power in 2014, many worried about the effect a Hindu nationalist leading the world’s largest democracy could have. The Economist pointedly dubbed him “a man of some of the people,” while a New York Times op-ed warned he could not lead India if he “inspires fear and antipathy among many of its people.”

Modi’s Kashmir move proves his fiercest critics right© Pavel Golovkin/AP

Modi had risen through the ranks of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a controversial Hindu nationalist paramilitary volunteer organization, as he went on to become the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). During the George W. Bush administration, he was denied a U.S. visa on grounds pertaining to religious freedom over allegations that he tacitly supported Hindu extremists during anti-Muslim riots in 2002 in his home state of Gujarat.

India Revokes Kashmir’s Special Status, Raising Fears of Unrest

India Revokes Kashmir’s Special Status, Raising Fears of Unrest NEW DELHI — The Indian government said on Monday that it was revoking a constitutional provision that had for decades given a unique degree of autonomy to Kashmir, a disputed mountainous region along the India-Pakistan border. In anticipation of the announcement, which many analysts predicted could set off rioting and unrest, India had flooded Kashmir with thousands of extra troops. The Indian authorities also evacuated tourists, closed schools and cut off internet service.

Modi played down these worries after he won in 2014, focusing on economic redevelopment rather than sectarian division. “India’s social differences will come together and make a flag, just like different threads come together to weave a cloth,” he said after winning his first term. He soon become known better for his awkward handshakes than his Hindu nationalism.

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This week, however, many of Modi’s critics seemed to get some vindication. Months after his unprecedented reelection, Modi’s government announced that it would strip statehood from the Indian-administered portion of Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority state known officially as Jammu and Kashmir. The move prompted an immediate backlash from Pakistan, which has long viewed itself as the protector of the region’s Muslims.

Armed soldiers patrol silent streets after Kashmir curfew

Armed soldiers patrol silent streets after Kashmir curfew Armed soldiers stand in front of coils of barbed wire in Indian Kashmir's summer capital of Srinagar as a massive security lockdown imposed on the restive region by the Hindu nationalist government takes hold. 

The stakes are incredibly high: Pakistan and India have fought several wars over Kashmir, and the region remains restive at the best of times. On Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan suggested war was still a possibility. “They may strike us again, and we will strike back,” Khan said. “Who will win that war? No one will win it, and it will have grievous consequences for the entire world.”

Modi’s Kashmir move proves his fiercest critics right Paramilitary soldiers stand guard during curfew Aug. 7 in Indian-controlled Kashmir. (Farooq Khan/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

An estimated 12 million people live in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Their reaction to the news is hard to gauge, as the Indian government has shut off the majority of communication, including Internet, cellphone and landline networks. Although Modi’s government justified the move by suggesting it wanted to focus on development in a state that has long lagged behind the rest of India, it’s clear officials are worried about unrest.

Pakistan Hits Back at India Over Kashmir Move, Targeting Bilateral Trade

Pakistan Hits Back at India Over Kashmir Move, Targeting Bilateral Trade Pakistan announced plans on Wednesday to punish India for unilaterally wiping out the autonomy of Kashmir by ending bilateral trade, downgrading diplomatic ties and expelling India’s high commissioner to the country. © Rakesh Bakshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Security forces at a checkpoint in Jammu, Kashmir, on Wednesday. A statement from a national security committee headed by the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, said the changes would be put in place because of “illegal actions” by the Indian government regarding Kashmir. Mr.

Thousands of additional troops have been deployed to the region, bolstering an already large military presence. There have been protests against Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989, and there are already reports of violence. Agence France-Presse reported Wednesday that a protester died and more than 100 people were arrested for being out after curfew in Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city.

Things could get worse, especially as the practical effects of Modi’s reforms — specifically, the scrapping of Article 35-A — go into effect, allowing nonresidents to move to Kashmir and buy land. Such a move would allow outsiders to change the demographics of India’s only Muslim-majority state, an idea that has been compared to Israeli settlers in the West Bank or the Han Chinese moving to Xinjiang.

“This is going to be an extremely unpopular decision in Kashmir, not just among those whose sympathies lie toward a more independent Kashmir but also among those who see themselves as fully part of the Indian union but for whom the special status of Kashmir is an important political principle,” Irfan Nooruddin, a professor of Indian politics at Georgetown University, told Foreign Policy this week.

As Modi Addresses India, Protests Flare in Kashmir

As Modi Addresses India, Protests Flare in Kashmir India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, addressed the nation Thursday night for the first time about unilaterally revoking Kashmir’s autonomy, speaking against a backdrop of rising protests, mass arrests and escalating tension with Pakistan. Mr. Modi defended his decision, arguing that it would make the restive territory more secure. “A new era has begun,” he said. But in Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, protests were exploding as Indian security forces, which had already cut off internet service, mobile phone calls and even land lines, clamped down harder.

Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir who worked in coalition with the BJP, wrote on Twitter that the move shows that the Indian government had “chosen territory” over the interests of its people.

Why did Modi make this risky move? It’s true that in some ways, he’s just doing what he said he would. The BJP ran on a platform of revoking Kashmir’s special status, portraying it as an administrative move rather than a change to the country’s basic fabric. Modi’s landslide win in May suggests that the idea had the backing of many Indians. Indeed, it wasn’t just BJP supporters who backed the move.

The timing of the decision may have been influenced by other factors, too. President Trump’s curious claim that Modi had asked him to “mediate” on Kashmir, announced during a White House visit by Khan last month, provoked a furious response in India. The United States on Wednesday issued its own denial that it had been forewarned of Modi’s plans.

But perhaps one of the simplest reasons for Modi’s shift on Kashmir may be the most cynical: It’s a political distraction. Modi’s bold plans for economic redevelopment across India have largely failed to come to fruition. Major policy moves such as abruptly invalidating the two most popular bank notes in circulation in 2016 were carried out in a chaotic, disruptive way with little obvious economic benefit.

These economic concerns haven’t gone away. Aarefa Johari of the online publication Scroll.in found that among stock traders on Mumbai’s Dalal Street, although many supported Modi’s decision on Kashmir, they still worried about the economy. “But why should we care what they have done in Kashmir? How does it affect us?” one said. “What matters is that we are facing a recession, and that this government is trying to kill the middle-class.”

Modi once cloaked his Hindu nationalist views with ideas of economic reform and revitalization. But as the latter has stalled, he’s fallen back on an easier option. It’s a short-term gamble for political popularity, but the effects will last a while.

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Pakistan PM accuses India of planning military action in Kashmir.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan used an address celebrating Independence Day on Wednesday to accuse India of planning military action in the disputed Kashmir region that has long been a flashpoint between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. © AP Photo/Channi Anand In this Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 file photo, India's Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol near the India Pakistan border fencing at Garkhal in Akhnoor, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) west of Jammu, India. India revoked the special status of its portion of Himalayan Kashmir, known as Jammu and Kashmir, on Aug.

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