2019–2021 Jammu and Kashmir lockdown
|2019–2021 Jammu and Kashmir lockdown|
|Part of the Kashmir conflict|
Map of India with the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir highlighted red (lighter shade indicates claimed but not controlled territories)
|Date||5 August 2019 – present|
(1 year, 10 months and 9 days)
|Caused by||Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status|
|Methods||Curfew, communications and media blackout, increased military presence|
|Status||Ongoing; partial restoration of communications services|
|Casualties and losses|
The 2019–2021 Jammu and Kashmir lockdown refers to a security lockdown and communications blackout that has been imposed throughout the Indian-administered union territory of Jammu and Kashmir following the revocation of Article 370, with the goal of preemptively curbing unrest, violence and protests. Thousands of civilians, mostly young men, have been detained in the crackdown. The Indian government has stated that the tough lockdown measures and substantially increased deployment of security forces has been aimed at curbing terrorism.
Timeline[edit source | edit]
The lockdown officially started on 5 August 2019, following the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir via the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian constitution and subsequent introduction of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. Since the lockdown was brought into effect, no foreign journalist has been allowed by the Indian government to report from the new union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to a 6 September 2019 report by the Indian government, nearly 4,000 people have been arrested in the disputed region. Among those arrested were more than 200 local Kashmiri politicians, including two former chief ministers of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, along with more than 100 leaders and activists from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
On 1 October 2019, a three-judge bench consisting of justices N. V. Ramana, Ramayyagari Subhash Reddy and Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai of the Supreme Court of India, heard the appeal of seven petitions on the lockdown.
On 4 October 2019, the Indian government denied United States Senator Chris Van Hollen's request to travel to Jammu and Kashmir. Meanwhile, Sandeep Pandey, an education reformer, and other activists who were on an informal fact-finding mission were also barred from leaving the airport in Srinagar. On the same day, protests were held by the local Kashmiri people, where they chanted pro-Pakistan slogans and demanded an end to what they described as the "Indian occupation of their territory".
On 24 October 2019, village council elections were held across Jammu and Kashmir, despite a boycott by most political parties and the detention of many mainstream local politicians; political scientist Noor Ahmed Baba called it "more like an artificial exercise".
Mobile phone services were barred for the 85th consecutive day on 28 October, for at least 2.5 million prepaid cell phone users in Jammu and Kashmir. In January 2020, a 2G internet connection was established in Jammu & Kashmir, albeit only for limited whitelisted sites approved by the Indian government.
A new curfew was imposed a day ahead of the first anniversary of India's decision to revoke the disputed region's semi-autonomy, on 4 August 2020. Officials announced a two-day "full curfew" citing intelligence reports of looming protests in the Muslim-majority region, where locals have called for the anniversary to be marked as a "black day".
On 16 August 2020, 4G LTE mobile services were restored in two districts of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on a trial basis, after the Supreme Court of India ruled that an indefinite shutdown was effectively illegal.
In December, the Indian government arrested at least 75 Kashmiri leaders and activists to forestall political unrest after an alliance of Kashmir's opposition political parties won elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Re-introduction of tourism[edit source | edit]
The Indian government planned to re-introduce tourism in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and lift security restrictions for all foreigners visiting the region, although they would still be prevented from using mobile internet or cellphones.
International reactions[edit source | edit]
- United States – Alice Wells, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said in a statement that the U.S. hoped "to see rapid action – the lifting of the restrictions and the release of those who have been detained". She added that the U.S. was "concerned by widespread detentions, including those of politicians and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir". U.S. lawmakers Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have also called for an end to the communications blockade. President Donald Trump volunteered to serve as a mediator for the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, but only if both countries accepted his offer.
- Pakistan – Pakistan reacted with extreme alarm to the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status and subsequent lockdown, in what it viewed as the unilateral annexation of an internationally disputed region, and a further example of "Indian aggression" in what it considered to be "illegally occupied Pakistani territory". Pakistani officials said that the country would "downgrade" diplomatic ties with India, dismiss the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, and halt bilateral trade with New Delhi. Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, warned that the lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the presence of close to 1,000,000 Indian troops there was laying the groundwork for the alteration of Kashmir's Muslim-majority demographic via genocide. The Indian government's actions were met with outrage by the Pakistani people, who held nationwide protests against the "illegal Indian military occupation" and in solidarity with the Kashmiri people, with the Government of Pakistan subsequently designating 5 August to be observed as the Youm-e-Istehsal (transl. 'Day of Exploitation') annually.
- China – China said it was very troubled about the unfolding state of affairs in the newly-organized Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Chinese politician Hua Chunying urged both countries to show restraint and act sensibly. She stated that India and Pakistan should abstain from further escalatory measures that could radically alter the existing state of affairs in the region. She called on both countries to settle the dispute through dialogue in order to preserve peace and stability in the war-torn region.
- Turkey – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the abolition of Kashmir's Autonomy has worsened the everyday situation for Kashmiris. He also stated that the issue of Kashmir is as important to Turkey as it is to Pakistan, openly supporting the latter's position on the dispute with India over Kashmir.
- United Arab Emirates – the UAE ambassador to India, Dr. Al Banna said that his country had acknowledged the latest events in Jammu and Kashmir. He stated that this restructuring was not an unprecedented occurrence in the history of India and that the decision was intended to decrease regional inequality and enhance operational efficiency for the Indian government. He labelled India's latest decision in Jammu and Kashmir to be its internal issue.
- Template:Country data Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen reaffirmed the OIC's pledge to peacefully settling the Kashmir issue. At the same time, he asked the international community to increase its efforts to aid the Kashmiri people in their struggle for human rights and peace. The organization called on the United Nations to pressure India to abide by all relevant UN resolutions and encouraged India to employ dialogue with Pakistan to calm the tensions. Lastly, the organization requested India to rollback on security raids, honour human rights, abstain from altering the Muslim-majority demographics of Kashmir and settle the conflict with the help of the United Nations.
- Amnesty International – The NGO for human rights started an online petition titled Let Kashmir Speak, which demanded a lifting of "the blackout of communications in Jammu and Kashmir" while "letting the voices of the people of Kashmir be heard" and allowing "unconditional and unconstrained access to news and information from the valley".
- United Nations – The United Nations' special rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, said in a statement that "there's something about this shutdown that is draconian in a way other shutdowns usually are not". Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised concern over the new limitations placed on Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, adding that the latest events "could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region." He urged Pakistan and India to exercise restraint with each other and to engage in bilateral dialogue to de-escalate the already-sensitive situation.
- Iran – The Iranian government expressed concern over the situation in Kashmir following the lockdown, urging both India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue as regional partners and resolve the situation peacefully rather than through military force. On 21 August 2019, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted: “We have good relations with India, but we expect the Indian government to adopt a just policy towards the noble people of Kashmir and prevent the oppression & bullying of Muslims in this region.”
See also[edit source | edit]
- State of emergency in India
- Human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir
- India-Pakistan relations
References[edit source | edit]
- "India Says It Will Ease Restrictions in Kashmir". The New York Times. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
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- Sidiq, Nusrat (31 December 2019). "69 deaths in Kashmir since Aug. 5, rights group says". Anadolu Agency. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
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- "Kashmir: India's 'draconian' blackout sets worrying precedent, warns UN". The Guardian. 8 August 2019.
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