India announced on Monday that it will remove Article 370 from the Indian constitution. This gives the disputed region of Kashmir special status and autonomy over all governance except foreign and defence policies.
Its removal is a result of racism. India’s ruling class has roots in Hindu nationalism.
The governing hard right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s manifesto promised to remove the special status from Kashmir—a predominantly Muslim region.
The BJP, led by Narendra Modi, was re-elected by a landslide in May.
The crisis in Kashmir is also rooted in imperialism. The British Empire fought to divide Muslims and Hindus in order to maintain control.
When Britain pulled out of India in 1947 it partitioned it between Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. There was no definite plan for what would happen to the semi-independent state of Jammu and Kashmir.
India and Pakistan have fought over Kashmir ever since, with ordinary Kashmiris suffering as a result. Kashmiris should have self-determination.
The move to remove Kashmir’s autonomy caused panic. In the run-up to the announcement, authorities cut off internet access and evacuated tourists.
India sent thousands more troops to Kashmir, which is already one of the most militarised places in the world. Public meetings and rallies were banned.
Top politicians in Kashmir have been placed under house arrest to try and prevent any opposition from parliament.
Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said the announcement “marks the darkest day in Indian democracy”.
Many people started to hoard food, fuel and other supplies.
Groups that have campaigned for independence from India could now escalate their struggle.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated recently. A car bomb attack in Kashmir six months ago led to new threats of war from both states.
On 26 February, just weeks after the bombing, India launched air raids on Pakistan. Any war between Pakistan and India could be fought with nuclear weapons.
India’s latest attack on Kashmiri rights sows further division between Hindus and Muslims.
The BJP whips up such divisions to win support.
Its supporters say Muslims in India are the “enemy within” and accuse them of molesting Hindu women and eating cow’s meat—an animal Hindus treat as sacred.
Those in the region should unite against the threat of nuclear war.
Kashmiris should have the right to determine whether their state belongs in Pakistan, India or should be an independent nation.
Ordinary people should not be pawns for Indian and Pakistani war games.