August 5 – A watershed event in the history of Kashmir

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The right-wing Hindu forces including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had a long-standing desire of complete integration of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian Union and revival of the Hindu civilisation in the territory.

Kashmir re-mained one of their main focuses following the formation of Narendra Modi-led fascist government in New Delhi in 2014.

However, they found a golden opportunity to give practical shape to their nefarious designs after the BJP won a landslide victory in 2019 Indian general elections.

They in-tensified their efforts to implement their Hindutva agenda in the territory and as a first step made the announcement of repealing the special status of occupied Kashmir on August 05, 2019. As such, this date became a turning point in the history of IIOJK.

Revocation of Article 370
The move came via presidential orders, which re-voked Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian constitution.

Article 370 had accorded special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir and all the provisions of the Indian Constitution, which were applicable to the Indian states did not apply to the territory.

Due to this Article, Jammu and Kash-mir was a region, which (despite being a part of Indian Union under the so-called Instrument of Ac-cession) enjoyed separate constitution, flag and official language.

It was only because of this Article that except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Indian Parliament needed the con-currence of the so-called government of Jammu and Kashmir.

Though most of the special privileges that Jammu and Kashmir was entitled to under the Arti-cle 370 had long been eroded with the passage of time yet Article 35A debarred non-Kashmiris from acquiring property and jobs in government institu-tions in the territory

Through the so-called Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act (2019), the Indian government also divided the occupied territory into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature and Ladakh without a legislature.

Military siege and other restrictions
The Modi-led rightwing Indian government created an environment of fear and terror in IIOJK by adopting a multi-pronged military approach to quell the Kashmiris’ resistance to its unilateral and illegal actions of 5th August 2019.

It imposed curfew in the main cities and towns of IIOJK and suspended all internet, cellular as well as landline phone and television services.

Indian forces personnel were deployed in every nook and corner of the occupied territory while the army and air forces’ were also put on high alert.

Fear and anxiety had already gripped occupied Kashmir as India had deployed 38,000 additional troops few days before enacting the illegal move.

It had also cancelled a major Hindu pilgrimage, Amarnath Yatra, ordered closure of schools and colleges and asked tourists to leave the territory. The authorities also imposed strict restrictions on the media. Local newspapers even failed to update their online editions.

Majority of the newspapers also could not be printed for months due to curfew and other restrictions. No reports of the territory could reach the news outlets in India and the world. The IIOJK virtually remained cut off from the rest of the world.

The abrogation of the special status of Kashmir was accompanied by arrest of around 15,000 inno-cent Kashmiris including Hurriyat leaders, political activists, lawyers, human rights defenders and lead-ers of religious, trade and social organisations.

All resistance leaders, including Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, were placed under house arrest or detained in jails.

Even former chief minis-ters, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Me-hbooba Mufti, were placed under house detention.

During this military crackdown, over 8 million Kashmiris were locked down in their homes in-communicado.

The continued military siege for months created a humanitarian crisis as people faced acute shortage of essential commodities and life-saving drugs.

At the same time, Indian troops under the cover of draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Pow-ers Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), in-tensified violent operations and since 5th August 2019 till June 30, this year, the occupational troops have martyred 384 Kashmiris and injured at least 3,903 others by using brute force on peaceful dem-onstrators. The troops have damaged over 1,022 houses and structures and molested 118 women.

After the outburst of Covid-19, the Kashmiris remained in a double lockdown as they were already in lockdown, braving restrictions much before the Covid-related curbs were imposed.

After the out-break of Covid-19, India exploited the situation to further intensify its brutal actions against the people of Kashmir.

Since the pandemic outbreak in March 2020 to June 2021, 297 people have been killed, 1062 tortured and 3201 arrested by the Indian forces’ personnel in the occupied territory. Even, a Kashmiri leader, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai was systematically killed in custody.

India launches lawfare against Kashmiris After the 5th of August 2019, the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by India can well be defined as a case of prolonged Indian illegal occupation of the territory. India annexed with it an internationally recognized disputed territory and changed its status.

India, in brazen violation of international norms, abrogated laws that upheld the separate identity of the occupied land.

After the 5th August illegal and unilateral ac-tions, India launched a lawfare against the people of Jammu and Kashmir, changing laws and imposing new colonial laws.

Besides extending several fed-eral laws, India introduced new domicile and land ownership laws to occupied Kashmir.

Recently, New Delhi-installed administration in IIOJK added a clause to the J&K Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020, allowing the spouse of a native woman married outside the territory to apply for a domicile certificate.

Even after the August 5, 2019 abrogation of Article 370, the spouse of a native woman married outside IIOJK was not issued a domicile certificate as the gazette notification issued by the Indian government on August 4, 2020 provided for the issuance of a domicile certificate only to those who have resided in J&K for 15 years, or have studied for 7 years in the territory.

He was entitled to a domicile certificate only subject to the fulfilment of above conditions. The new clause has removed even these conditions.

The new legal framework provides the occupa-tion authorities a full license of changing the de-mography of the territory while converting the lo-cals’ majority into a minority by opening gate for an influx of non-Kashmiris.

In gross violation of the UN resolutions and the international law, Modi government has granted domicile status to over 32 lac people, majority of them non-Kashmiri Hindus.

Apprehensions are ripe that more than 800,000 In-dian soldiers and over 600,000 migrant labourers present in the territory might also be granted the domicile status in the coming days and months.

This article has been compiled by Muhammad Raza Malik who is Senior Editor of the Kashmir Media Service.

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