The Kashmir Chronicles

Coverage around the World

Kashmiri women protesting against the abrogation of Article 370

Nearly two months and counting, Kashmir has been on lockdown after the revocation of the special status granted to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Simon Tisdall writes in The Guardian how the move threatens Indian democracy, while Kapil Kommireddi opines this is all part of Narendra Modi’s plan to remake India. The Observer editorial warns of Pakistan’s tendencies to hit out in the face of international isolation.

Protests on the streets of Srinagar

Across the Atlantic, The New York Times reports on how the conflict continues to intensify on the streets on Kashmir. Sameer Yasir and Jeffrey Gentleman write about how journalists are braving the crackdown and reporting news the old way, while Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s op-ed points out why the world cannot afford to ignore Kashmir any longer.

Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly

Closer to home, a Dawn editorial welcomes Trump’s offer of mediation over Kashmir but suggests keeping expectations low. On the other hand, the South China Morning Post underlines the struggles of Kashmir’s transgender community for survival. Danish Siddiqui of Reuters covers a restive neighbourhood in Srinagar.

The Right Side

With 59 days into the repeal of article 370, the pro-abrogation commentariat, largely under the centre-right umbrella, have been vocal in their opinion pieces and administrative mechanisms. 

Jay Panda, a recent inductee into the BJP, went as far as to make the point that the move will bring the state at par with the mainland in terms of LGBT and gender rights

Panel Discussion on NDTV (Panda on left, Tharoor on right)

Firstpost’s Sreemoy Talukdar made the argument that the western coverage of Kashmir has been through the eyes of Hinduphobia, an attempt at addressing the largely negative reception of the Modi government’s step. 

Mutual Understanding? All eyes on the CJI.

Swarajya Magazine in full endorsement of the move also termed its pending legal challenge a test for the apex court, wherein the test of reasonableness would have to be balanced with that of pragmatism of executive policy already in place. 

Public intellectuals on this side of the spectrum have been vocal on twitter, with the sentiment being summed up by Anand Ranganathan’s tweet.

Towards the incumbent right-leaning government’s moves, plans for delimitation and conduct of block elections are underway, in a means to restore the ‘desired’ demography of the state.

Shangri-La divided

The demand for a separate union territory of Ladakh had existed for years. As the government’s decision to nullify Article 370 and 35 A of the Constitution stood firm, the two towns of Kargil and Leh stood divided in their response about the future of the Himalayan region. Citizens were celebrating in Leh by dancing to Ladakhi songs and waving their scarfs printed with a lotus symbol in full fervor.

 

Celebrations rife in Leh supporting the Centre’s Abrogation decision

In Kargil market, there was no sign of celebration with shopkeepers going about their daily business after a strike protesting the government’s decision was called off. The denizens of two towns had their own reasons.

Many in Leh believed that the dominance of the Kashmir valley resulted in discrimination of funds which were funneled to the development of Kashmir region. The Shiah population of Kashmir have echoed feelings of resentment stemming from the Centre’s decision to separate Kargil from Kashmir.

Protests in Kargil post-abrogation

Meanwhile in Kargil, one of the residents Rizvi said, “Since we have been separated from Kashmir, every day has been Ashura. The people in Kargil don’t want UT with Leh. We have always supported India but having said that, we can’t leave Kashmir. Kashmir is like a part of our body. Half of our families are settled in Kashmir. Some of our families have been living Gilgit Baluchistan. We are already dealing with separation, not again. Mujhe bahut afsoos ke saath kehna pad raha hai, lekin Modi ke hukumut ne bahut mushikalat paida kiye hai hamare liye (I say this with regret, but Modi’s rule has created a lot of trouble for us.)”

Left Hand Drive 

A soldier stands guard on the streets of Srinagar

In the now-Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes how the attempt to win Kashmir over has led to losing India. In the anticipation of the outrage, the Indian government placed the Kashmir Valley—where most of the state’s Muslim-majority population lives—under lockdown, arresting local politicians, cutting off communications, limiting movement, and flooding Kashmir with troops.

The Hindu‘s Srinagar correspondent Peerzada Ashiq writes in “A wedding and a funeral” of the travails that Kashmiris are facing while organising any social gatherings in the Valley.

Women going past a road closed with concertina wires in Srinagar

Lack of phone connection does not constitute a human rights violation, said Home Minister Amit Shah. According to him, there are no restrictions, only misinformation about them.

Scroll reported on the quiet crackdown on mosques and clerics in Kashmir, where for the first time in more than 600 years, Eid and Friday prayers were not allowed at the Khanqah-e-Moula. “Even when guns were blazing on all sides, my father used to wake up before dawn every day, we didn’t stop praying here,” said Peer Haji Bilal Ahad Hamdani. He is deputy imam at the Khanqah-e-Moula, a 14th-century shrine located on the banks of the Jhelum river in Srinagar’s old town. 

A poster of Kashmiri youth Usiab Ahmad, who died from drowning on August 5 after an alleged encounter with forces.

The Quint reports on the ‘normalcy’ that prevails on the streets on Kashmir a month after the decision of abrogation.