While many of us are facing woes about lockdowns and inability to meet loved ones, it is painful to think that much more drastic militarized and blacked-out lockdowns are not uncommon for Kashmiri citizens.
This piece is dedicated to the Kashmiri citizens who bear the brunt of the conflict, who are the most powerless yet the most impacted. The song ‘Aaj Ke Naam’ is adapted from Faiz’s poetry (Intesaab) and translates to “A Dedication”. The part that I have chosen to perform to is dedicated to the widowed women, the motherless children, and the ruined streets.
The full poem and its translation can be found here.
A brief timeline about the Kashmir conflict is linked here, and a more in-depth analysis of the global consequences one year on is linked here.
Kashmir is located in the Northeast region of India and has been subject of dispute between India, Pakistan and China since the subcontinent’s partition in 1947. On 5th August 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370, which previously gave the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir, “special status” for the past seven decades. Article 370 gave Kashmir the right to make its own laws. It is a clause in the Indian constitution that had given Kashmir levels of autonomy that included a sovereign constitution, an independent flag, and liberty on all state matters excluding foreign affairs, defense, and communications.
The revocation of the article by the Indian government has heightened concerns of increased armed conflicts as a result of political and religious tensions between India and Pakistan. measures between the mentioned nations. Human rights organizations around the world have labeled the region as one of the most militarized zones in the world, which is evident today with persistent and frequent clashes along the border.
The decision to revoke the article was made by the governing party, the BJP which has long opposed the article and has called for its abolishment repeatedly including via their 2019 election manifesto. They have cited security concerns, economic rationale, and legislative reasons as motives behind their action. One of the most consequential effects of the Indian government’s recent actions is that it effectively removed the ability of Kashmiri legislatures to form residency rules as well. This means that non-residents are able to purchase property in the region.
Currently, Jammu and Kashmir is the only Indian state with a Muslim majority. Allowing non-residents to own property in the region essentially clears the path for Hindu settlers to create a foothold in the area, which could weigh down on regional demographics and worsen religious tensions. Considering the Hindu nationalism aspects of the BJP, critics of the party are inclined to believe that the party does have religious motives behind their actions.
There are thoughts on whether Kashmir would receive independence, whether war will break out, and ultimately how the citizens of Kashmir will react once the lockdown is eventually lifted. It is important for India and Pakistan to work collaboratively in order to protect the interest and livelihood of the region. Furthermore, international organizations must play a more pressing and firmer role in aiding India and Pakistan to eradicate this violation of human rights. There is no clear answer to what the “right” consensus should be, primarily because there is an abundance of information missing regarding India’s motives, both nation’s intentions and capacity of war, and the reasons behind the sheer lack of obvious communication that needs to occur between all stakeholders involved in the issue.