Monday, August 05, 2019

The Kashmir Conflict

India has escalated the situation in Kashmir by effectively annexing the disputed region. About 50,000 people have been killed in the conflict in the last three decades and so it doesn't look like there will be any resolution in the near future.

The Hindu nationalist government have abolished with immediate effect Article 370 of the constitution that gave special autonomy to the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. The law, Article 370 of the Constitution, forbid Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs and securing education scholarships. Critics of such a measure say that in doing away with Article 370, the government hopes to change India-administered Kashmir's Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu residents. Last month, Ram Madhav, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party national general secretary suggested that the government create segregated Hindu settlements in the region. A blueprint unveiled by the state government in 2015 had proposed self-contained, heavily guarded colonies for returning Pandits, complete with schools, shopping malls, hospitals and playgrounds with many observers likening it to Israeli settlements within Palestinian territories.

The Kashmir situation is a hangover from the age of colonialism and the days of the British Empire when India was ruled on behalf of Britain by the repressive Hindu Dogras dynasty. The British invaders of India did not create Moslem-Hindu rivalry but they certainly made use of where they found it. A divided India was a weak India. In 1947 Hari Singh, Kashmir’s maharajah, was given the choice either to join India or Pakistan or of remaining independent. Although over 90% of the people of Kashmir are Moslem, he chose to surrender the territory to India. The initial intention of Lord Mountbatten – the British governor-general – was that a plebiscite of the Kashmiri people be held. This has never happened, in spite of numerous UN resolutions on the issue. Pakistan insists Kashmir should belong to it.
Kashmir has been called paradise on the earth, in terms of its scenic beauty. But Kashmiri protests and demonstrations against the occupation of the Indian army. Thousands of more troops have been deployed to the region. In full expectation of opposition to the proposals the Indian government has imposed an evening curfew, closed schools and colleges, and shut down internet facilities. Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers were advised to leave over the weekend.

Violence on all sides has to be ended. Opportunity for expressing any ideas freely offered. Dialogue initiated. These ideas may seem utopian under the prevailing capitalist rivalries. However, if the ultimate peace is to be the goal, then the need is to put socialism into practice. There is no better opportunity than the present time to do that.

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