The Kashmir conflict, referred to as a “territorial dispute,” has been central to tense relations in Asia for more than 70 years, particularly between the two nuclear powers of India and Pakistan.
Tensions have escalated between the countries many times in the past and have sometimes resulted in military confrontation.
Kashmiris are an Indigenous people living under colonial occupation who have been fighting for their right to practise sovereignty through self-determination and self-government. Multiple colonial borders run through the Kashmiri peoples’ territories (Indian, Pakistani and Chinese), separating families and friends.
Kashmir is the most militarized region in the world, with more than half a million armed Indian troops deployed in the Indian-administered Kashmir over the past 30 years.
They are occupying Kashmir through use of colonial war measures acts, including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Public Safety Act and martial laws that have given Indian troops complete impunity.
Gross human rights violations have occurred under their watch, according to a 2018 United Nations report. They include gang rapes by military and mass disappearances of approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people. As many as 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed and several thousand wounded, blinded and maimed, including through torture tactics in custody.
As a result of the war, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri (Muslims, as well as Sikhs and Pandits) have left Kashmir, and become internationally displaced and dispossessed following the 72-year Indian occupation.
India’s latest invasion
On Aug. 4, India ordered all tourists and outside students to leave Kashmir effective immediately. They simultaneously implemented emergency measures to protect tourists and Indian Hindu yathris doing an annual Hindu pilgrimage. It also airlifted almost 10,000 more soldiers into Kashmir within a matter of two days. Approximately 28,000 additional armed troops then invaded Kashmir Valley in trucks and tanks.
On Aug. 5, the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah told parliament that the president had signed a decree abolishing Section 35a and Article 370 of the Indian constitution.
Read more: India revokes Kashmir’s autonomy, risking yet another war with Pakistan
The Indian government eliminated Kashmir’s special status in an effort to assimilate the Kashmiri people, extinguish their unique Indigenous title to land and claim their land as federal territory. This obliterated any last set of rights Kashmiris enjoyed as a semi-autonomous people in the Indian union of states.
Jammu and Kashmir State has been bifurcated into an Indian federal union territory.
[if gte vml 1]><v:shapetype id="_x0000_t75" coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75" o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" filled="f" stroked="f"> <v:stroke joinstyle="miter"></v:stroke> <v:formulas> <v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"></v:f> </v:formulas> <v:path o:extrusionok="f" gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect"></v:path> <o:lock v:ext="edit" aspectratio="t"></o:lock> </v:shapetype><v:shape id="Picture_x0020_3" o:spid="_x0000_i1025" type="#_x0000_t75" style='width:468pt;height:228pt;visibility:visible;mso-wrap-style:square'> <v:imagedata src="file:////Users/genocidewatch/Library/Group%20Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/TemporaryItems/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.jpg" o:href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/287132/original/file-20190807-84195-1p82og5.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&fit=clip"></v:imagedata> </v:shape><![endif][if !vml][endif]These unilateral moves by the Indian state obliterate the rights Kashmiris had as citizens of India as well as their Indigenous rights. Under the United Nations Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), India is obligated to ensure decisions pertaining to Kashmiri are made with them, using the principle of Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) that recognizes Kashmiris as a sovereign Indigenous people.
The UNDRIP was adopted and signed by India, China and Pakistan in 2007.
Millions under house arrest
Since Aug. 4, India has eliminated all access to and communication with Kashmir. The internet, mobile and landlines have been severed, and 14.7 million people have no access to essentials like food and medical support while Indian advances to take full control of their land using military power.
Aside from extremely rare media, Kashmiris have not been able to communicate with each other or with the outside world. The entire Jammu and Kashmir region is essentially imprisoned under house arrest.
Since 1949, Article 370 has granted the state of Jammu and Kashmir semi-autonomous constitutional status. Under its provisions, the region has its own legislative assembly, constitution, flag and independence in all matters except communications, foreign affairs and defence.
Revoking this status is the latest attempt to annihilate the Kashmiri people, extinguish their rights and eliminate their linguistic, social, cultural, economic and political existence as Indigenous people. The legality of dissolving the special status is being challenged by India’s legal and constitutional experts, and goes against the country’s Supreme Court rulings of recent years.
With these recent changes to Article 370 and Section 35a, India permits the permanent settlement of non-Kashm