Indian revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status

On 5 August 2019, the Government of India revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir—a state in India, located in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, and a part of the larger region of Kashmir, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947[1][2]—under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution through a series of far-reaching measures. The Kashmir Valley was placed under a virtual lockdown with all communication lines cut and political leaders placed under house arrest. Indian President Ram Nath Kovind issued an order under the power of Article 370, overriding the prevailing 1954 Presidential Order and nullifying all the provisions of autonomy granted to the state. The Home Minister Amit Shah introduced a Reorganisation Bill in the Indian Parliament, seeking to divide the state into two union territories to be governed by a lieutenant governor and a unicameral legislature.[3]

The resolution seeking the revocation of the special status under Article 370 and the bill for the state's reorganisation was debated and passed by the Rajya Sabha – India's upper house of parliament – on August 5, 2019 with 125 (67%) votes in its favour and 61 (33%) against it.[4] On August 6, the bill for the reorganisation was debated and passed by the Lok Sabha – India's lower house of parliament – with 370 (86%) votes in its favour and 70 (14%) against it, and the resolution recommending the revocation was passed by 351 votes in favour and 72 against.[5][6] BBC reported that "According to the constitution, Article 370 could only be modified with the agreement of the 'state government'. But there hasn't been much of a state government in Jammu and Kashmir for over a year now". The constitutional expert opinion is divided on whether the revocation is legally sound.[7]

International human rights groups condemned the revocation resolution.[3] In contrast, Hindu nationalists celebrated, stating that this "could bring peace and investment" to this region.[3] The move was also supported by many major regional parties, who typically opposed Hindu nationalism and the BJP.[8] The Buddhist community in Ladakh – the eastern region of Jammu and Kashmir – also cheered the decision, stating that they have been long ignored and now they can be "owners of our own destiny".[9][10]


Background

Map of Jammu and Kashmir, with blue showing the areas controlled by India, green by Pakistan and yellow by China

The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India on 26–27 October 1947, while facing a tribal invasion from Pakistan. The Instrument of the Accession signed by the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh transferred to the Indian government control over defence, foreign affairs and communications but retained autonomy in all other matters. While this was no different from the instruments of accession signed by other princely rulers, after joining the Constituent Assembly of India, those rulers executed additional agreements accepting the Indian constitution as their own constitution. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, its representatives to the Constituent Assembly requested that the state be allowed to form its own constitution for its internal administration. The Indian government agreed to the demand, and added the Article 370 to the constitution, specifying that the President of India would declare in due course the subjects of the Indian constitution that would apply to the state. The state of Jammu and Kashmir thus acquired a 'special status' in the Indian constitution, signifying its autonomy.

The Hindu-dominated Praja Parishad party in the Jammu Division of the state was opposed to the autonomy granted to the state. Fearing Muslim domination from the Kashmir Valley, the party argued for "full integration" of the state with India. Between 1949–1953, it launched several agitations, receiving support from the Hindu right wing parties of India, including Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the ancestor of the present day Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Praja Parishad merged with the latter in 1963, essentially forming the Jammu wing of the present day BJP. The full integration of Jammu and Kashmir has always been a key political plank of the BJP.

In subsequent years, a considerable portion of the Indian constitution was applied to the state through Presidential Orders under Article 370. As of 2019, the main features of the 'special status' that remained were the state's separate constitution, its state flag, and the restrictions on Indian citizenship provisions which prohibited outsiders from purchasing land in the Valley or availing of state benefits. (See Article 35A of the Constitution of India.)

Since 1989, the Kashmir Valley has undergone a separatist insurgency, with militants trained across the border in Pakistan resorting to armed battles with the security forces as well as killing civilians opposed to their goals. As of 2009, the insurgency claimed 47,000 lives in Kashmir including those of 7,000 security personnel. The Bharatiya Janata Party as well as several elements of the Indian security establishment have long held that the autonomy granted under Article 370 was responsible for the state's weakness in the face of the insurgency and that the Article should be abrogated.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Governor Narinder Nath Vohra and Prime Minister Narendra Modi

In 2014 elections for the state assembly, the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the majority of seats in the Kashmir Valley and the BJP won the majority in the Jammu Division. The two parties agreed to form a coalition government, described as a "coming together of the north pole and south pole".[11] After four years of an uneasy alliance, the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew from the coalition on 19 June 2018, causing the government to fall. The reasons cited for the withdrawal were differences in how to deal with militancy: whereas the PDP wanted to extend the ceasefire with militants granted for Ramadan whereas the BJP wanted a hot pursuit of the militants. The killing of the prominent Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari by the militants the previous week is said to have provided the tipping point.[11][12]

With the resignation of the coalition government, the state came under Governor's Rule as per the state constitution. On 23 August, the BJP-led central government appointed Satya Pal Malik as the new governor for the state. In November 2018, just as the PDP acquired support from other parties popular in the Kashmir Valley (National Conference and Indian National Congress), the Governor dissolved the Legislative Assembly, citing "horse-trading" of legislators.[13] After six months of Governor's Rule, the state came under President's Rule on 19 December 2018, as per the Article 356 of the Indian constitution.[14] Under the President's Rule, the Union Parliament acts as the state's legislature and the Union government as the de facto council of ministers advising the Governor.

In the 2019 Indian general election, the Bharatiya Janata Party included the integration of Jammu and Kashmir among its campaign promises, and won a majority in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament.[15] Its alliance controlled close to two-thirds of the Lok Sabha membership. In the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, the alliance controlled close to a majority of members (116 out of 245). The party was thus well-equipped to take forward its agenda of the integration of Jammu and Kashmir.

Legal aspects

Article 370 of the Constitution of India is a 'temporary provision' inserted on October 17, 1949 which gave special powers to the state of Jammu and Kashmir allowing it to have its own constitution.[16] Accordingly, the provisions of only Article 1 and Article 370 of the Indian Constitution applied to the state. So, for the Central government to extent the coverage of a central law to the state on subjects included in the Instrument of Accession (IoA), it needed "consultation" while for extending the coverage of laws on other subjects, it needed "concurrence" of the state government.[17] Similarly, Article 35A of the Constitution of India, introduced through a constitutional order in 1954, allowed the state legislature to define 'permanent residents'. Those defined as permanent residents were entitled to property rights, employment, scholarships and other social benefits in the state.[16]

Legal path taken by the government

In April 2018, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Article 370 had attained permanency since the state constituent assembly has ceased to exist.[18] To overcome this legal challenge, the Indian government instead rendered Article 370 as 'inoperative' even though it still exists in the constitution.[16]

On August 5, a presidential order was issued-the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, which superseded the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954.[19] The order stated that all the provisions of the Indian Constitution applied to Jammu and Kashmir. Whereas the 1954 order specified that only some articles of the Indian constitution to apply to the state, the new order removed all such restrictions. This in effect meant that the separate Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir stood abrogated. The President issued the order with the "concurrence of the Government of State of Jammu and Kashmir". This in effect meant the concurrence of the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir since President's rule was imposed at that time in the state.[20] The order was issued using the third clause of Article 370, which authorised the President of India to declare the article inoperative with exceptions and modifications, if recommended by the (non-existent) state constituent assembly to do so.[16] To circumvent the legal issue of the non-existent state constituent assembly, the President used the Clause (I) of Article 370, which allows him to modify the Indian Constitution on subjects related to Jammu and Kashmir. So he first added a new clause to Article 367, which deals with interpretation of the Constitution. He replaced the phrase 'Constituent Assembly of the State' with 'Legislative Assembly of the State'.[21][22] Since the state legislative assembly has been suspended, the order says that any reference to the legislative assembly will be construed as a reference to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.[21][16] The governor is an appointee of the Central government. Therefore, the Indian Parliament now functions for the state legislative assembly.[16]

Hence, the Indian Home Minister moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to give the President the necessary recommendation he needs to declare Article 370 as inoperative.[16] Subsequently, the statutory resolution seeking the revocation of the special status under Article 370 and the bill for the state's reorganisation was debated and passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 5, 2019 with 125 (67%) votes in its favour and 61 (33%) against it.[4] On August 6, the bill for the reorganisation was debated and passed by the Lok Sabha with 370 (86%) votes in its favour and 70 (14%) against it, and the resolution recommending the revocation was passed by 351 votes in favour and 72 against.[5][6]

Government clampdown

Police in Kashmir confronting violent protestors in December 2018

Prior to the revocation of the status, the Ministry of Home Affairs granted approval for the mobilization of thousands of paramilitary security troops into Jammu and Kashmir, citing reason to maintain law and order in the area.[23] On August 2, Indian Army said that the Pakistan Army and terrorists are "planning to upscale violence" and tried to "target the Yatra recently."[23] The Government of India notified students and tourists, both local and foreign, to leave Jammu and Kashmir.[24] These actions sparked fears that India would soon be revoking Jammu and Kashmir's special status.[24] However on August 3, Omar Abdullah said that Governor Satya Pal Malik "assured him there was no initiative in progress to dilute Article 35A of the Constitution, start delimitation or trifurcate."[23]

On 4 August, satellite phones were distributed in central, north and south Kashmir among the security forces.[23] The government thereafter ordered a total communication blackout, shutting down cable TV, landlines, cellphones and the internet.[25] Many news sources reported an effective curfew[26][27] (although The Telegraph of Kolkata reports that the government didn't officially announce a curfew[26]). Doctors and district administrators were advised to remain on standby.[28]

Prior to the August 5th revocation announcement, Section 144 curfew was imposed in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, the Hindu-majority Jammu region and the Buddhist-majority Ladakh region.[29][30][31] The current lockdown was far more intense in the Srinagar (Kashmir) region, where "people are used to curfews and living under a heavy security presence", according to The Guardian newspaper.[32][33] Concrete barricades blocked roads every few hundred meters.[26] Shops and clinics were closed,[25] as were all educational institutions[28] and a red alert was sounded across Jammu and Kashmir.[23] The government lifted Section 144 curfew and reopened schools in some Jammu region districts effective August 10, 2019.[30]

Many Indian media reported that they had no information coming from the Kashmir Valley and could not even ascertain if their correspondents were safe or not.[34] Journalist were not issued curfew passes.[26] The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that Qazi Shibli – a local journalist and editor of news website The Kashmiriyat Walla, was arrested by Jammu and Kashmir Police on July 28, 2019 on unspecified charges, but it was unclear on August 5, 2019 if he is still under arrest.[35] Many journalists reported being stopped by soldiers and others stated they had to send photos out of the state via USB drives.[36] A local journalist told CPJ that "I fear that they will arrest journalists, especially those who will report what is happening".[37][38] CPJ later reported that at least 2 journalists were detained amid tensions in Jammu and Kashmir.[39]

In addition to local Kashmir journalists, editors of several Indian newspapers and television stations complained that their teams haven't been able to send in their reports from most of the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, except for a few blocks in Srinagar capital. However, the managing editor of the Indian Times Now English news channel, Navika Kumar said, "her channel had not faced much restriction broadcasting from Kashmir and reporters were sending feeds through satellite-linked outside broadcasting vans", according to Reuters.[34] The Times Now and other media groups of India have been criticized as "conformist" and alleged to "look like they are afraid of the government" by H. K. Dua – a former media advisor of two former Indian prime ministers.[34]

More than 4,000 Kashmiri protesters were reported to be arrested by 18th August, including several Kashmiri leaders to prevent any protest or outbreak of violence.[40][41] This figure was about 500 by 9th August.[42][43] Jammu and Kashmir's former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah,[44] and MLAs Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami and Engineer Rashid were among those placed under "preventive detention"[44] by the security forces.[23]

Efforts to restore services

On August 16, B. V. R. Subrahmanyam – the chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir, announced that the government will lift lockdown and remove some restrictions in a phased manner in the Kashmir Valley.[45] According to Reuters, phone services resumed in parts of Srinagar on August 16 2019.[46] Landline phone services, indicated Subrahmanyam, would be restored in most of Srinagar by August 18, 2019.[45] Schools in the valley will reopen in the week of August 19, 2019.[46] However, when some schools were opened in the Valley, several media reported that children did not go to schools at all.[47][48] According to Subrahmanyam, "12 of 22 [Jammu and Kashmir] districts were already functioning normally, and measures have been put in place to ensure zero loss of lives on any side or serious injuries to anyone. Telecom connectivity will be eased and restored in a phased manner keeping in mind the constant threat by terror organizations".[45]

As of 25 August 2019, landline services have been restored in most places in the Kashmir Valley.[49]

Reactions from the affected areas

Opposition

The most recent Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti called it the "blackest day of Indian democracy". She felt that the Indian Parliament snatched away everything from the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In a tweet on 4 August 2019, she said that the decision of Jammu and Kashmir leadership to reject two-nation theory in 1947 and align with India had backfired.[3][50]

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah called the government's move on the Article 370 "unilateral and shocking". He deemed it a "total betrayal of the trust that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had reposed in India when the state acceded to it in 1947".[51]

Asgar Ali Karbalai, former Chief Executive Councillor of Kargil's Hill Development Council, said people in Kargil considered any division of the state on the grounds of "religion, language or region" as undemocratic. Certain religious and political organisations in Kargil, including the Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust, condemned the Indian government for acting "without the consent from the people" and called for a general strike in the Kargil district.[52]

Kashmiri politician Shah Faesal denounced the move, saying that "This is being seen as the biggest betrayal by the Indian state in last 70 years. It was not possible to reach Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajjad Gani Lone or send a message to them. In other districts, curfew is all the more strict. You can say that the entire eight-million population has been incarcerated like never before," and in an interview with The Guardian, described that the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status was "an insult to the dignity of the people. My belief is that it will have immediate and long-term consequences. We will see ground mobilisation in the coming days and in the long run you will have sentiment of alienation going further and [it will] erupt. The common refrain is that everything has finished. Everything has been snatched from us. These are the common lines on every Kashmiri's lips these days. We have no choice left but to resist."[53][54][55] Faesal was apparently detained by Indian security forces on August 14, 2019, leading to a statement by over 100 people associated with Harvard University (his alma mater) condemning the detention and calling for the release of Faesal and other Kashmiri leaders.[56]

Support

The member of the Lok Sabha for Ladakh constituency, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, praised the abrogation of Article 370 and the proposed formation of a separate Ladakh union territory, hoping the move will encourage jobs and development. He added "Under Kashmir, our development, our political aspiration, our identity, our language, if all of this got lost, it is because of Article 370—and the Congress party is responsible for that".[57] Namgyal also said that the move had support from all regions of Ladakh, including Kargil.[58][59]

The move to abrogate Article 370 and establish a union territory in Ladakh was welcomed by the Ladakh Buddhist Association[60] who then organised a thanksgiving celebration in Leh to on 8 August 2019, which was attended by political and religious leaders.[61] The Buddhist community in Leh and Ladakh stated they have been long ignored, the revocation and reorganisation will help them steer their own destiny.[9][10]

It was reported that celebrations had taken place in Jammu with people distributing sweets, dancing and playing drums.[62][63][64]

Representatives of the Kashmiri Hindu community, who were displaced[65] from the Kashmir Valley as a result of ongoing violence[66][67] welcomed the move and hoped that members of their community, numbering between 300,000 and 400,000 people[68] will be able to return.[69]

The day of 15 August was marked by Ladakh as its 'first independence day'. Banners were put up thanking the prime minister Narendra Modi and commemorating the four youth activists who died while agitating for union territory status.[70][71] Similar celebrations were also noticed in Jammu among the Gujjar Bakarwals, Sikhs, Valmikis and West Pakistan refugees, who were all victims of Srinagar's discriminatory laws. The residents of Jammu felt that Jammu was always ignored for funds and resources, and they hoped the reorganisation would bring in development. Kashmiri Pandit refugees in Jammu hoped for rehabilitation.[72]

Indian reactions

Opposition

The historian Ramachandra Guha said that the President of India had apparently acted in "haste" and the revocation is an "arbitrary misuse of state power".[73][note 1] The constitutional scholar A. G. Noorani said that the Indian government's decision to abrogate Article 370 through controversial means was "utterly and palpably unconstitutional",[74] even fraudulent. It is headed for a "showdown in India's Supreme Court".[3]

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen criticized the government and said that he was "not proud as an Indian".[75] He regarded the detention of Kashmiri political leaders as "a classical colonial excuse" to prevent backlash against the Indian government's decision and called for a democratic solution that would involve Kashmiri people.[76]

Indian novelist Arundhati Roy criticized the Indian government in her opinion piece in The New York Times.[77]

The leaders of the Indian National Congress – India's main opposition party – was divided on the revocation of Article 370.[78][79] Some Congress leaders such as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot, a congress leader condemned the government's arrest of Kashmiri leaders Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.[80] Other leaders of Rajasthan Congress and Gehlot's cabinet welcomed the revocation.[81] Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, a congress leader also termed the revocation of Article 370 as "totally unconstitutional" and said "this will set a bad precedent as it would mean that the Centre could reorganise any state in the country by simply imposing President's rule."[82] The Punjab chief minister also banned any form of celebrations or protests in his state in matters relating to Article 370, ordering increased security to some 8,000 Kashmiri students studying in Punjab.[83]

Rahul Gandhi criticized Indian government for arresting the Kashmiri political leaders and called the detentions "unconstitutional & undemocratic."[84]

Hundreds of people protested in New Delhi to protest against the Indian government decision and called it a "death of Indian democracy". The protestors asked Indian government to reconsider its decision. D. Raja, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India, called the Indian government move "an assault on Indian constitution".[85] The Tamil Nadu-based regional Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party leader M. K. Stalin, along with West Bengal-based All India Trinamool Congress party leader Derek O'Brien opposed the revocation. Stalin called the move as "murder of democracy", while O'Brien called it a "procedural harakiri".[8]

The Indian National Congress party members filed two petitions in the Supreme Court of India, requesting an urgent hearing.[86] One challenged the revocation, while the other challenged the communications blackout and curfew in Kashmir region in which approximately 500 people were arrested, including several Kashmiri leaders.[87][88] The Supreme Court rejected the "urgent hearing" request, placing the petitions to its normal proceedings.[86]

Support

The constitutional expert Subhash C. Kashyap, according to BBC News, states that the revocation was "constitutionally sound" and that "no legal and constitutional fault can be found in it".

The revocation of Article 370 was passed by an "overwhelming majority" of support in the Indian parliament.[3] It has attracted not only the support of the Hindu nationalist parties such as the BJP, but many other Indian political parties that typically oppose the BJP.[89][8]

Some senior Congress leaders openly came out in support of the action. Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Chief Minister of Haryana, supported the government's decision saying that the Congress party has "lost its way".[90] Deputy Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, also supported the government's action to remove article 370. He wrote on Twitter, "I support the move on #JammuAndKashmir & #Ladakh and its full integration into union of India."[91] Similarly, the Congress party's whip in the parliament, Deepender Singh Hooda contended that the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir "is in the interest of national integrity".[91] Congress Rajya Sabha chief whip, Bhubaneswar Kalita resigned over Congress's stand on revoking special status of Jammu and Kashmir and stated that, "The ideology of Congress today looks like it is committing suicide and I do not want to be a part of it."[92] Congress politician Janardan Dwivedi welcomed the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, saying even though it came late, a "historical mistake" had been corrected.[91]

The Bahujan Samaj Party and its leader Mayawati, as well as Aam Aadmi Party leader (and Chief Minister of Delhi) Arvind Kejriwal supported the revocation of Article 370.[89] Explaining her decision to support the revocation, Mayawati stated that Article 370 and 35A had caused social, economic and political injustice in Jammu and Kashmir, and the people – including the Buddhists – will now get the long-pending benefits that was denied to them. She stated, "the Buddhist followers of Ambedkar were feeling happy".[93][94]

The Telangana and Andhra Pradesh-based YSR Congress Party's parliamentary party leader V. Vijayasai Reddy supported the scrapping of Article 370 and termed the step as a "courageous and daring" step by Amit Shah.[95] Member of Parliament from Telugu Desam Party, Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar said, "I must congratulate the Home Minister and PM as by strong implementation of this, the people of J&K must be relieved from all this tension and live happily and become a part of the country" and welcomed the move.[96] The Odisha-based Biju Janata Dal and Tamil Nadu-based All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party also supported the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir special status.[8]

Pakistan's response

Immediately after India revoked Article 370 of its constitution that gives special rights to the Kashmir, the Foreign Office issued a statement stating, "As a party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps." It called the revocation a "unilateral step" and said it violated the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.[97]

After a meeting of the army commanders on 06 August 2019, Pakistan's army chief said that Pakistan Army stood by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end and that the army would "go to any extent" to support the people of Kashmir.[98]

President of Pakistan Arif Alvi summoned an emergency joint parliamentary sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate to discuss the situation.[99] On 7 August, the joint parliamentary sitting passed a resolution to condemn India's move and called it "illegal, unilateral, reckless and coercive attempt to alter the disputed status of Indian occupied Kashmir as enshrined in the UNSC resolutions".[100]

On 7 August, a meeting of the National Security Committee decided to downgrade Pakistan's diplomatic relations with India. Pakistan's ambassador from India was recalled and the Indian ambassador to Pakistan was expelled.[101] The next day, Pakistan's Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad suspended the Samjhauta Express train service[102] and the Thar Express.[103] The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting decided to ban all cultural exchanges with India, including banning the screening of Indian films and dramas inside Pakistan.[104]

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a press conference announced that Pakistan will remain committed to open the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikhs despite the tensions and said that "We are ready to welcome our Sikh brothers and sisters for Baba Guru Nanak's 550th (birth) anniversary".[105]

On 9 August 2019, Pakistan formally suspended its trade relations with India and banned all exports and import to/from India.[106]

On 11 August 2019, prime minister Imran Khan compared the Indian government to "Nazis", warning that global inaction over Kashmir would be same as "appeasing Hitler".[107][108][109] He accused that India was attempting to change the demography of the Muslim majority Kashmir through ethnic cleansing.[107][108][109] He questioned whether the world would watch and appease as they did for Hitler.[107][108][109]

Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi issued a statement on Tuesday 13 August 2019 that he had written a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council with a request to convene an emergency meeting of the council to discuss India's "illegal actions that violate UN resolutions on Kashmir".[110] The foreign minister also called for circulation of the letter among members of the Security Council.[110]

On 20 August, 2019, Pakistan announced that it will take the dispute to the International Court of Justice, adding that it's case would centre on alleged human rights violations by India.[111]

International reactions

United Nations Security Council meeting

UNSC in 2005

On 16 August 2019, the United Nations Security Council held a closed-door consultation meeting on Kashmir, at the request of China. Pakistan and India made presentations, but did not attend the meeting. The Security Council told India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally, and refrained from calling an emergency meeting. It is 'back to square one' in Indian perception. The Chinese ambassador claimed that the members were concerned about the 'unilateral action' of India that might aggravate tensions. However, other diplomats said that the permanent members of the Security Council other than China maintained that it was a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan, with the US even saying that it was an internal matter of India.[112][113]

Other countries

  •  Afghanistan – Indian sources claimed that the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday said his country hopes that Indian government's "new measures" will lead to the betterment of people in Jammu and Kashmir, and asked Pakistan to stop using extremist violence as an instrument of policy in the region.[114] However, no direct or independent sources confirmed this. Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, said that Pakistan might move troops from its border with Afghanistan to its border with India, citing the situation in Kashmir.[115] Dismissing the Pakistani envoy's statement as "misleading", Afghanistan's ambassador to the US Roya Rahmani said that such statements that link the situation in Kashmir to the Afghan peace efforts are "reckless, unwarranted and irresponsible."[116][117]
  •  Bangladesh – According to All India Radio, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said that "Revocation of Art 370 for Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter of India" and that other states "have no right to say anything about other's domestic affair".[118] On 21 August 2019, Bangladesh officially clarified its position on the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian Government, saying that this is an internal issue of India.[119][120]
  •  Canada – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland stated that "Canada is concerned about the risk of escalation, infringements on civil rights and reports of detentions."[121]
  •  China – Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying opposed the integration of the Ladakh Union Territory into India's administrative jurisdiction, saying "it undermined China's territorial sovereignty" she went on to say: "India's action is unacceptable and would not have any legal effect," regarding disputed territory on the China–India border. Regarding Kashmir in general, Hua affirmed that "the Kashmir issue is an issue left from the past between India and Pakistan".[122] On 9 August, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi after meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that China is "seriously concerned about the turbulence and escalating tensions" in Kashmir, and that "China will continue to firmly support the Pakistan side in safeguarding its legitimate rights."[123]
  •  France – French President Emmanuel Macron said that France believes that the issue of Kashmir should be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan, adding that no other party should be involved, after meeting with Indian Prime Minister Modi on 22 August 2019.[124] He also said that France will remain attentive towards ensuring that the "interests and rights" of civilians are duly taken into account on both sides of the Line of Control.[125]
  •  Germany – Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr said Germany was closely following developments in the region. "We believe that all further steps of the government must comply with India's Constitution," she said, and urged the government to respect civil rights secured by the law. "We are calling on the Indian government to hold dialogue with the population concerned about its plans, its intentions," Adebahr added.[126] On 24 August 2019, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan conversed with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the situation in Kashmir, emphasising his concerns about “peace and security” and called on the international community to act “urgently”.[127]
  •  Iran – Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Iran "is closely monitoring the Indian government's recent decisions on Jammu and Kashmir, and is carefully listening to the explanations provided by the Indian and Pakistani officials for the recent developments". "Iran expects India and Pakistan, as its regional friends and partners, to take effective steps to serve the interests of people of the region by adopting peaceful approaches and dialogue," he said in statements cited by Iran's Tasnim News Agency.[128] A large number of Iranian students held protest demonstrations outside Indian embassy in Tehran on 8 August 2019 to denounce the Indian decision to scrap the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir.[129][130]
  •  Malaysia – Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad expressed concern over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir over a telephone call with Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.[131] The Foreign Ministry in a statement said "Malaysia is monitoring the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Malaysia has close and friendly relations with both India and Pakistan. Malaysia encourages the two close neighbors to re-engage in dialogue and negotiations with a view to de-escalate the on-going situation and finding an amicable solution."[132]
  •  Maldives – An official statement issued by the Government of the Maldives read "The decision taken by the Government of India regarding Article 370 of the Indian Constitution as an internal matter". We believe that it is the right of every sovereign nation to amend their laws as required".[133] Maldives also conveyed their opinion to Pakistan.[134][135]
  •  Poland – Poland, which currently holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council, has said that India and Pakistan should find a solution to the burning Kashmir issue "bilaterally". Speaking to The Indian Express on Monday, Poland's ambassador to India Adam Burakowski said, "Poland hopes that both countries can work out a mutually beneficial solution bilaterally."[136]
  •  Russia – Russia has called upon both India and Pakistan to save the situation in Kashmir from spiralling out of control and carry out the changes in the region within the constitutional parameters, the change in the status of the state of J&K and its division into two union territories are carried out within framework of the Constitution of the Republic of India. […] We hope that the differences between them will be resolved by political and diplomatic means on a bilateral basis in accordance with the provisions of the Simla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.[137][138]
  •  Sri Lanka – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe welcomed the abrogation of Article 370 and the formation of the Ladakh union territory adding that "I understand Ladakh will finally become a Union Territory. With over 70% Buddhist it will be the first Indian state with a Buddhist majority".[139]
  •  Thailand – Ambassador of Thailand to India Chutintorn Sam Gongsakdi said that the annulment of special status to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 is an "internal affair" of India. During an interview with ETV Bharat, Gongsakdi said, "Thailand does not interfere in the internal affairs of our friendly countries. Our stand has always been that we hope that the parties concerned would be able to resolve any issues between them in an amicable and peaceful manner. We do respect the internal affairs of India". "I have explained in the best possible way to my capital so that they understand the context of India in terms of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs," he said.[140]
  •  Turkey – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his concerns over the situation mounting in the region and said he had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and that he would get in touch with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in hopes to reduce tensions.[141][142]
  •  United Arab Emirates – The UAE Ambassador to India, Ahmed al-Banna, backed the Indian government[143] and said "We expect that the changes would improve social justice and security and confidence of the people in the local governance and will encourage further stability and peace."[144]
  •  United Kingdom – The Foreign and Commonwealth Office called for calm in the region and issued the following statement "We are following developments closely and support calls for the situation to remain calm".[145] Over 45 UK MPs co-signed a letter and demanded UN Secretary-General António Guterres to intervene and to take notice of Indian government's decision to revoke Article 370.[146] The Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted, "The rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected and UN resolutions implemented."[147] British Prime Minister Boris Johnson conversed with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 20 August 2019, conveying his regrets about vandalism at the Indian High Commission in London.[148][149]
  •  United StatesMorgan Ortagus, a US State Department spokesperson stated there had been no change in the US position with Kashmir continuing to be regarded as a disputed region despite India's characterization of it as an "internal matter" and stressed the need for bilateral talks between India and Pakistan, and further stated "We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities."[150] When asked by reporters if there had been any change in America's policy on Kashmir, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus replied "No. And if there was, I certainly wouldn't be announcing it here, but no, there's not". The US policy has been that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and it is up to the two countries to decide on the pace and scope of the talks on the issue.[151][152] During prime minister Imran Khan's visit to the United States in July 2019, President Donald Trump offered to mediate Kashmir conflict between Pakistan and India.[153] The Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the US State Department in a statement said "the Indian government did not consult or inform the US Government before moving to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special constitutional status".[154] US President Donald Trump spoke to both Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers. He emphasised the need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric while speaking to the Pakistani PM, after speaking to the Indian PM on 19 August 2019.[155][156][157] On 21 August 2019, US President Trump offered to mediate the "explosive" situation in Kashmir, adding that he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G7 summit, which will be held from 24–26 August 2019.[158] Many Indian American communities welcomed the Indian decision.[159]

Organisations

  •  European Union – The European Union is closely monitoring the situation in the region. At a press conference EU spokesperson for foreign affairs, Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela, stated "Our main message here is that it is very important to avoid any escalation of tension in Kashmir and in the region".[160]
  •  Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – The OIC's Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir expressed "deep concern" over the developments in the region and condemned the India's move calling it "illegal and unilateral".[161]
  •  United NationsAntónio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, expressed his concern over "restrictions" in Jammu and Kashmir saying that the curbs "could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region".[162] The secretary-general called on all parties to "refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir" and recalled the 1972 Simla Agreement asked for the final status to be settled by peaceful means.[163][164] Stéphane Dujarric, the UN spokesperson, expressed concern over India's move to revoke the special status of Kashmir and said that "the United Nations Secretary-General all along maintained that Pakistan and India should resolve all outstanding disputes between the two countries through dialogue including Kashmir." He urged both India and Pakistan to exercise restraint.[165] David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression described the communication blackout imposed by India as "unprecedented" and "draconian".[166]
  • Amnesty International responded that the Indian government's action would "likely to inflame tensions in the area and increase the risk of further human rights violations".[167] It also mentioned that "use of pellet guns and other weapons are in defiance of international human rights standards", after the Indian Supreme Court refused to lift restrictions on Jammu and Kashmir.[168]
  • Taliban – According to The New York Times, the Taliban has warned Pakistan against any meddling and coupling the American–Afghanistan talks to the Kashmir developments. The Taliban states, "Linking the issue of Kashmir with that of Afghanistan by some parties will not aid in improving the crisis at hand because the issue of Afghanistan is not related nor should Afghanistan be turned into the theatre of competition between other countries."[169] The Taliban statement released by Zabiullah Mujahid for the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" also expressed "deep sadness in this [revocation of the autonomous status of Kashmir] regard and urges both India and Pakistan to refrain from taking steps that could pave a way for violence and complications in the region and usurp the rights of Kashmiris".[170]

Demonstrations

Kashmir Valley

On 9 August, according to a Reuters report, over 10,000 people protested in Srinagar against Indian government's decision to revoke Article 370. In response, Indian police used tear gas and pellets against the protesters to disperse them.[42] According to Al Jazeera, it has been receiving information from Srinagar residents via satellite phones and Wi-Fi available in the Kashmir region. They have reported protests on Friday. Clashes were occurring between the protesters and Indian forces, accompanied with pellet gun attack and the firing of tear gas shells by the Indian army. Some report that the pellet gun attacks have severely wounded and lacerated civilians.[171]

The Indian government called the Reuters report "completely fabricated and incorrect", but acknowledged that after the Friday mosque prayers, there were "a few stray protests in Srinagar/Baramulla and none involved a crowd of more than 20 people".[172] The Wire said that the visuals published by BBC belie the Government reports.[173]

According to the BBC, it witnessed the police opening gunfire and using tear gas to disperse a crowd in Srinagar after Friday prayers on August 9, 2019. This witness report contradicts the Indian government statement that the "protest never took place".[174] On August 11, the Jammu and Kashmir director general of police, Dilbag Singh told Reuters, "between 1,000 and 1,500 people were returning from praying at mosques on Friday when 'some miscreants' started pelting stones at security officials", and in a reaction to the stone-pelting, rounds of pump-action gun was fired that caused injuries to a few people.[175] According to Reuters, hundreds of people protested in Srinagar on August 11, after authorities had eased restrictions in the city over the weekend to allow people to buy groceries, medicines and prepare for the Islamic festival of Eid Al-Adha.[176]

Jammu, Ladakh region

According to the India Today, in the Hindu majority Jammu region, people held widespread "massive celebratory" demonstrations over several days with the distribution of sweets, bursting of firecrackers and dancing.[177] In Ladakh, the Buddhist organizations celebrated the removal of Article 370 provisions and making the Ladakh region a separate Union Territory.[178] The people in Leh and Matho celebrated August 15 as a day of "independence from Kashmir" and welcomed their Union Territory status.[179]

In the Kargil region with a Muslim majority, there were protests against the Indian government's move to make it a union territory.[180][181][182]

World

A number of demonstrations and rallies have been organised in London, United Kingdom after India scrapped autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir. A large number of protesters demonstrated outside the Indian embassy in London on Saturday 10 August 2019 to express anger over Indian action.[183][184] There was another demonstration outside the Palace of Westminster on 14 August 2019[185] and another demonstration outside Indian High Commission in London on 15 August 2019 against bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and the revocation of Article 370.[186][187] Thousands of people participated in rally in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and against the severe lock down there.[186][187]

There were protest demonstrations outside the Indian consulate in Birmingham on 9 August 2019 to denounce the Indian revocation of autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.[188][189] One of the speakers addressing the rally alleged that hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris were killed by the war waged the Hindutva forces to quell their legitimate right of self determination.[188] Former member of the British parliament George Galloway was also part of the protest gathering and demanded a plebiscite in Kashmir.[188]

A large number of protesters took to streets in Toronto, Canada on 11 August 2019 in support of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.[190] Demonstrators chanted protest slogans and carried placards.[190] The event description read "Kashmiris do not accept the illegal occupation or unilateral colonial impositions by India. Kashmiris are sovereign Indigenous people who have the right of self-determination and government".[190]

People in Calgary, Canada held demonstration outside the Calgary City Hall on 8 August 2019 against the clampdown and to support the people of Jammu and Kashmir.[191] The demonstrators said that 800,000 military personnel were deployed in Kashmir and the Internet and communications were blacked out and they did not know what was happening to their families.[191]

A number of protest demonstrations were held in the United States in the cities of Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle against India's removal of autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.[192] Protesters also gathered outside the White House on 10 August 2019 and urged Washington to do more to help defuse the situation.[192] One of the protesters from Virginia originally hailing from Srinagar stressed that now was the time to mediate.[192] He feared that Indian removal of autonomous status of Kashmir was the first step to change its demography.[192]

Many protest demonstrations have been reported in Bangladesh against the change of autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.[193][194][195] Pakistan's Abb Takk News channel reported that hundreds protested in Dhaka on 6 August 2019 against the Indian move.[193] Again on 7 August 2019, there was another demonstration in the city of Dhaka where the protesters criticized Narendra Modi and his scrapping of autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir.[195] There was another demonstration on Thursday 8 August 2019 at the University of Dhaka by several Kashmiri students from different educational institutions.[194] There were more protests on 9 August 2019 after Friday prayers which were lead by the Kashmir Solidarity Council Bangladesh.[196]

Protests were held in Paris, France on 9 August 2019 to denounce Indian step of abrogation of autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.[197] The protesters alleged that India was conspiring to change the demography of Kashmir by expelling Kashmiris from their homes and bringing in Hindu settlers from other parts of India.[197]

People gathered at the historic Pariser Platz of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on 11 August 2019 carrying flags of Kashmir while chanting "We want freedom" and "Indian Army, go back!".[198]

On 25 August 2019, the Kashmiri Pandit community in the US held a rally supporting the decision, saying that Article 370 was “discriminatory” towards minorities in the Kashmir region.[199]

Social media, activism and misinformation

Several human rights activists and world leaders also commented on their social media accounts about the Kashmir situation. On Twitter, the hashtags such as #KashmirBleeds became top trends.

According to India Today and other Indian media sources, several fabricated images and videos have appeared on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.[200][201][202][203] A closer examination of these photos and videos established that these are fabricated propaganda that utilized old photos or videos and the posters misrepresent them to be "current situation in Kashmir".[201]

According to Dawn, a Pakistan-based newspaper, the Kashmir blackout has led to an "online misinformation war".[204] The Nation, in its editorial said, "The lack of coverage in Kashmir has increased the likelihood of misinformation and panic being spread, all of which puts the lives of Kashmiris in danger and uncertainty."[205]

The Indian Home Ministry alleged that "several Pakistani handles are spreading fake news", and asked Twitter to block a list of accounts.[206] Separately, the Jammu and Kashmir superintendent of police has demanded Twitter to block an account that allegedly is spreading rumors. The demand letter states that such rumors harm the law and order situation and is a "threat to lives".[206] They allege that the platform is posting "objectionable and malicious" content.[207] Twitter has blocked four of these accounts, and its officials stated that they are reviewing some others.[208] This included the twitter account of Syed Ali Shah Geelani who is a Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat leader.[209]

India accused BBC and Reuters of lying and fabricating news about large scale protests in Kashmir even though they were recorded on video.[210] According to India Today, the authenticity of the BBC video about the protest has been questioned because it is an edited combination of a series of clips and it shows an absence of police and security personnel almost everywhere the edited video, even though Kashmir was under a lockdown with heavy security deployment on August 9, 2019 – the day the video was recorded and posted by BBC.[211] According to India Today, a portion of the video is authentically from Dullbagh Road in Srinagar, but it is unclear if it is a fresh video or an old video clip inserted in. Some Indians allege that parts of this video are from Pakistan-adminstered Kashmir.[211]

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