Sharp UN criticism
In June 2018, the UN Human Rights Council published its first report on violence in Kashmir. The report spans the period January 2016 to April 2018 and directs particularly sharp criticism at India, including for “chronic impunityfor violence perpetrated by the security forces ”. The Council criticizes the Indian Law (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) of 1990 which states that soldiers in Kashmir cannot be prosecuted without the consent of the central government. According to the report, Indian forces committed 145 cases of extrajudicial killings during the period in question, while the resistance groups carried out 20. The report also states that “a variety of human rights violations” were committed in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, but that they were “of a other caliber or magnitude and of a more structural nature ”. Examples include a lack of freedom of expression and assembly, which makes it difficult to obtain information on what is happening in Pakistan – controlled Kashmir.
At the time of publication, the head of the Council, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, advocated an independent international inquiry into the allegations of human rights abuses committed in Kashmir by both India and Pakistan. The Indian Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as “misleading and tendentious”. The Pakistani government welcomed such an inquiry and stressed that Islamabad has advocated an inquiry since 2016.
Suicide outside Srinagar
On February 14, 2019, the worst attack on the Indian military in Kashmir since the 1980s was carried out. More than 40 government soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber drove a car with explosives into a military column a couple of miles outside Srinagar.
When Jaish-e-Mohammad took on the act, India placed the responsibility on Pakistan, where the militant group is considered to have its stronghold (in the Bahawalpur area of the Punjab province). The Indian government said it would take “every possible diplomatic step” to “completely isolate” its neighbor internationally. At the same time, India abolished the special trade privileges enjoyed by Pakistan since 1996 and imposed high tariffs on Pakistani goods. Tensions rose sharply as Indian fighter jets attacked Jaish-e-Mohammad inside Pakistani territory in order to ward off a new terrorist attack, according to the Indian government. Pakistan also made flights over Indian-controlled territory.
According to best-medical-schools, India has on several occasions called for international sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammad and wanted the UN Security Council to label the group’s leader Masood Azhar as a terrorist. The initiative has been stopped by China, which has good relations with Pakistan. As an organization, Jaish-e-Mohammad has been branded a terrorist by India, Britain, the United States, the United Nations and Pakistan. In May 2019, the UN branded terrorist Masood Azhar after China abandoned its opposition to this.
In 2018, more than 500 people were killed in violence related to the Kashmir conflict (civilians, military, police and resistance fighters included). It was the highest figure in a decade.
Self-government is abolished
In August 2019, the BJP government repealed Article 370 of the Indian Constitution via a decree . Since May 1954, Article 370 has given the state of Jammu and Kashmir “special privileges”, which meant that the area had the right to its own constitution, its own flag and to far-reaching autonomy.
At the same time, a bill was presented by the BJP government according to which the state is dissolved and instead becomes two union territories: the Buddhist Ladakh and the Muslim / Hindu Jammu and Kashmir. This means that the federal government gets the executive and legislative power. The changes formally entered into force on October 31, 2019.
Prior to the announcement of this change, some local leaders in Kashmir were placed under house arrest, a troop reinforcement of about 35,000 men was carried out and tourists were asked to leave the area. Public meetings were banned and the internet and mobile networks were blocked.
Repealing Article 370 was one of the BJP’s election promises in the spring of 2019. The party believes that the measure is necessary to integrate the area with the rest of India. The area will now have the same constitution and the same laws as the rest of the country.
A sensitive aspect is that Jammu and Kashmir have so far had control over who buys land in the state, who is allowed to settle there and who receives government services and scholarships for studies. That power will now go to New Delhi. Many Muslim residents in the mountain area fear that the BJP wants to get more Hindus to move there and thus change the composition of the population.
According to the constitution, Article 370 can only be amended by agreement with the state government, but the area has in practice been governed by New Delhi since June 2018 when the BJP government introduced direct government, which means that New Delhi only needs the governor’s approval, not the state government. New Delhi is also given the responsibility of law and order. Experts on India’s constitution are divided on whether the decision is constitutional or not.
In October 2019, the government of New Delhi began easing restrictions in Kashmir. Tourists were allowed to visit the area again, some of the local politicians who were detained were released and mobile traffic was released again. However, the Internet was still blocked.
In the spring of 2020, tensions between India and China increased along the control line between the new Union territory of Ladakh and the Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin. The escalation culminated in a confrontation with rocks and iron pipes in June, which led to the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers. So many had not been killed in violent clashes in the disputed area since the 1960s (read more here ).