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Kashmir’s armed rebellion against Indian rule began in 1989. There have been many attempts at peace, but the goal of Kashmir has always been either complete independence from both Pakistan and India or a merge with Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state. Human rights groups speculate that the quantity of official deaths related to this separatist issue and Indian crackdown amount to more than twice the recorded account of 42,000. According to the New York Times, India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir since both countries claim the region for their own.
The region has been further destabilized by a series of events that have followed the end of a 30-day ceasefire during Ramadan. The New York Times states that this cease-fire was the first Ramadan truce in 18 years. India and Pakistan brokered the new truce while promising to restore a 2003 truce agreement that has since faltered in 2013. However, 2017 has been marked as the most violent year since 2003.
According to Reuters, this past Thursday a Prominent Kashmiri journalist/editor Syed Shujaat Bukhari was shot at close range by unknown gunmen on motorbikes and there has been speculation of his death being the result of a terror attack despite militant groups such as Lashkar-e Taiba and Unite Jehad Council condemned the killing and blaming Indian agencies. But Mr. Bukhari is not the only victim of this enduring conflict. Only this year, more than 130 people have been killed and more are expected to perish.
India’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party has pulled out of a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of national elections in May 2019. BJP’s general secretary Ram Madhav said, “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, in order to bring control over the situation prevailing in the state, we have decided that it is time the reins of power in the state be handed over to the governor.” The reason for BJP’s move according to the Times of India is that both the PDP and the BJP were looking to take the political high ground due to unresolved disagreements regarding national security. The Hindu-nationalist BJP has governed with the Muslim-backed People’s Democratic Party in the state since 2015. This precarious arrangement however had not achieved much in the way of staying the violence.
Especially since a Kashmiri militant, Burhan Wani had died in 2016 and sparked new surges of violence that has claimed more than 90 civilian lives and thousands more wounded. BJP’s tough on terror stance will be headed by the government’s rule until fresh elections are called.
A law that exempts Indian military personnel from criminal prosecution has been under fire in a UN report and Rajiv K Chander who is the permanent representative of India has slammed the report referring to its report of “self-determination” as a call for “dismemberment of India.” According to the Washington Post, this UN report was released Thursday and has called for a “comprehensive independent international investigation” into human rights abuses. The UN report centers on the idea that Indian security forces have been known to use excessive force that result in unlawful killings and high numbers of injuries. For example, to stop protests that occurred after Wani’s death Indian security forces fired pellets from shotguns which killed 17 and injured more than six thousand of which many of the injured were partially or fully blinded.
Kashmir’s border is one of the most heavily militarized in the world. Indian security forces have, according to this report, “almost total impunity” since the beginning of the conflict, carrying out enforced and involuntary disappearances. There has been little investigation to the allegations of mass graves. The sexual violence, killings, kidnappings, and other alleged abuses have all been committed by all militant groups and Indian military police have been subject to much scrutiny or consequences.