Why Massive Influx Of Paramilitary Troops Remains A Major Concern In Jammu & Kashmir
The abrogation of Article 370 had also been a rumor until the special status was scraped.
There is speculation that the ruling government is planning to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two separate regions. It has also been alleged that Jammu will be merged with South Kashmir while North Kashmir will be incorporated with Ladakh.
The massive deployment of troops in Jammu and Kashmir, mainly the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), has recently given rise to rumors, speculating the partition of the conflicted union territory. It is the first time that the Union Territory (UT) has experienced such immense troop build-up since August 2019.
The deployment of thousands of additional troops in the region has once again created a climate of panic in the Kashmir Valley.
Rumors from the Valley
It is being speculated that the ruling government plans to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two separate regions. It has also been alleged that Jammu will be merged with South Kashmir to form the state of Jammu, while North Kashmir will be incorporated with Ladakh to form the state of Ladakh.
In the wake of such rumors, the probability of being rearrested has also been a topic of discussion among several mainstream leaders. Following the abrogation of Article 370, approximately two dozen politicians were arrested and detained in the MLA hostel in Srinagar, which was converted for sub-jail for them. These politicians were later released after almost a year.
Tanveer Sadiq, leader of the National Conference, had earlier tweeted hinting at the probable arrest.
While rumours are flying thick and fast – should we be ready for second semester?
MLA’s hostel 2.0? 😬
— Tanvir Sadiq (@tanvirsadiq) June 6, 2021
Are rumors in Kashmir actually decisions in disguise?
The recent deployment of troops draws stark similarity to the situation of Kashmir when troops were deployed in large numbers in 2019. The abrogation of Article 370 had also been a rumor until the special status was scraped.
“Haan aisa rumor sunne me toh aaya hai. 370 ke time bhi aisa hi hua tha. Sabko 10 din pehle hi pata tha ki kuch gadbad hone waala hai.” [Yes, I have come to hear about such a rumor. The same thing happened at the time of 370. Everyone knew 10 days ago that something fishy was going to happen], Ayesha (name changed), a resident of Kashmir told Core Middle East.
The citizens also mentioned the credibility of the rumors with respect to the situation in Kashmir.
One Twitter user also stated, “We want to believe even in rumors rumored to be rumors. We love rumors, don’t we? Last few days have been all about rumors and conspiracies. They say don’t believe a rumor to be true until the government actually denies it.”
“I heard Jammu would even include Pulwama and such outskirts of Kashmir. You know like redefining boundaries,” added Ayesha.
Demand for separate statehood
The J&K Congress along with other Jammu-centric parties have also demanded the statehood of Jammu to be restored with constitutional guarantees.
Restore Statehood with constitutional gurantees :- Congress tells Centre. pic.twitter.com/ISdZvHwgB0
— J&K Congress (@INCJammuKashmir) June 8, 2021
“The only way to take abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A to their logical conclusion is reorganizing the state once again by dividing Kashmir into two UTs and granting full statehood to Jammu,” said Ankur Sharma, president of the IkkJutt Jammu.
“Conducting delimitation of constituencies on the basis of fudged Census 2011 is the surest way to once again sell out Jammu and keep it hostage to fundamentalist Kashmiri Islamic hegemony” he added.
Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier claimed at Lok Sabha in February this year, that Jammu and Kashmir will be granted statehood at an appropriate time, hence solidifying the rumors.
“This legislation has nothing to do with statehood, and Jammu and Kashmir will be accorded the status at an appropriate time,” Shah said.
J&K’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s visit to the national capital, along with police and civil officers for a security review meeting with the Home Minister on Monday, June 6, hints at the possible grant of statehood.
Although the citizens of the UT believe that there lies a greater clause in the possible partition.
“Yeh kya hai ek ko state ek ko UT. (What is this, one becomes state one becomes UT). Separating Jammu from Kashmir is a political card that they are playing. Separating Jammu and Kashmir is not the final part but maybe the first step for a larger plan to be executed. They have three years, kuch bhi kar sakte hai (they can do anything),” An official told Core Middle East on the condition of anonymity.
The indifference of the Kashmiris
Contradicting the expectations, the residents of the UT are devoid of any emotion over the issue. This stable emotional state of the residents is contrasting to the environment of fear and helplessness which was evident during the abrogation.
“I have seen Kashmir being scared only when there was a rumor like Geelani will be hanged, and even during abrogation. Only that time I have seen Kashmir totally under fear,” said Hamza (name changed), a resident of Kashmir.
According to the sources, the residents of the UT have completely surrendered themselves to the government, which is being compared to the authoritarian government of China.
“Now Kashmir is like, do whatever you want with us. If you’re in Kashmir, you can expect anything from the government. Here out there, you can see the type of government that is currently in China. The same thing is going out in here,” added Hamza.
“I’ll say Kashmiris are tired of everything happening for the past several years.
It seems the government wants to keep the spice up always and hence takes Kashmir as a tool, that too irresponsibly,” said Ayesha.
This response is predicted to have stemmed from the psychological and economic impact due to the abolishment of the special status of J&K.
“I will tell you the truth, since the abrogation of article 370, people here have been neutral. They don’t want any kind of freedom or anything that they were demanding before, because psychologically and economically, they’re crushed out here,” stated Hamza.
The economy takes a hit
Although the Union Territory has maintained its stability in its emotional response, the decline in the economy has severely affected the residents.
“As before abrogation also there was a curfew, and after covid also, it is same. The economic condition here is totally crushed,” said Hamza.
The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah on Monday, June 7 discussed the increase in unemployment leading to increased incidents of suicide among youth.
“The economy of J&K, it goes without saying, is at the brink of collapse. There is no sector of its economy – be it tourism, horticulture, transport, or trade – that hasn’t suffered losses in the past two years,” Abdullah said.
“The situation has become much worse as the industrial sector, which is supposed to absorb the unemployed youths, continues to struggle,” he said.
Curfew imposed to curb the rise in COVID cases in the UT has increased the suffering of the residents, with soaring suicide rates observed among the youth accompanied by plummeting mental health.
“Har Kisi ka financial status kharab hai. (Everyone’s financial status is bad) Recent suicide happened because that boy’s friends told him he was depressed and did not come out of his room for almost a year. Earlier his friends used to persuade him to take help. The family is completely denying depression. Toh kisi ko agar help mangna hai bhi toh nahi maang paa rahe because stereotype (So even if someone wants to ask for help, they are not able to ask because of stereotype.),” Ayesha exclaimed.
Post the abrogation, the Central government had promised jobs to the youth. Many other leaders have also voiced their opinion against the abrogation.
“Article 35-A, which was scrapped by the BJP government along with Article 370 unconstitutionally, was there to protect the land and job rights of residents of all three regions of the erstwhile state. The decision harmed the interests of people of Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh equally,” he said in a statement issued by the CPI (M) leader Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami.
“The successive clampdown and Covid-induced lockdowns have further compounded the woes of J&K youth by choking the already constrained job sector. There are thousands of unemployed medics, paramedics, engineers, graduates, and postgraduates waiting for job openings.” Omar Abdullah added.
The initiative to issue domicile certificates, instead of the previous state subject certificate, that allows people from any part of the country to apply for jobs and own land in J&K by fulfilling certain criteria, was criticized by leaders for pushing the local population towards the brink of unemployment.
“Instead of 15 years, the minimum requirement for granting domicile should be 25. Only people of J&K should be allowed to buy land in the state. There can be exceptions for the industry but that land should not grant domicile status”, said Altaf Bukhari in February this year.
Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, the spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, alleged that India has issued fake domicile certificates and was fabricating Kashmir’s demographics for their own gain, which is assumed to be a major cause of unemployment.
“India has already issued over 3.4 million fake domicile certificates,” said Chaudhri during his weekly press briefing, on Thursday.
The citizens also claim that the Non- Kashmiris are favored over Kashmiris, after the removal of the special status.
“They removed article 370 for the purpose of land. They want corporates to come here,” claimed Ayesha.
“If you’re from Kashmir and you’re traveling anyplace, they will ask you more about COVID test and these things, but from the foreigners and other state people, they are not asking that much,” said Hamza.
Increase in security restrictions
Since the UT is of high strategic importance to India, security has been tightened in the Kashmir Valley after the abrogation of Article 370. The Internet had also been suspended in the UT and was restored only after 18 months, on February 2021.
“It is very hard to even buy a sim card over here. By this, you can understand the security issues out here. Because we have to give a lot of information of ours because they are like, sim buyers can use them for anti-national activity,” said Hamza.
The increase in militant activities in the UT in recent years is the major cause of stringent security and monitoring of the citizens.
“Violence sabse last kahin hoga toh woh hain city. City mein violence matlab Kashmir Ki halat kharab hain. (City is the last place where violence can happen. Violence in the city means that condition of Kashmir is bad.) Killings take place in Pulwama and Shopian. Wahan toh unfortunately roz ka ho gaya hain (There it has become an everyday thing, unfortunately),” said Ayesha.
But unfortunately, sources claim that innocent civilians are also targeted without any trial or proof.
“Over out here, there are many cases like, there was no connection of any guy who was picked up by the army and later on he was charged with terrorism. His father, his mother, and all his family members are saying that just make the inquiry of this issue, if the government official found that our kid was in the same thing, we will let them execute our child, but if it’s not that, just release him. Like this is the scene over here, they are picking anybody,” said Hamza.
The influx of troops has always been symbolic of significant political changes in Jammu and Kashmir. The recent military deployment is being linked to the repetition of the aftermath of the abrogation. Although no official statement has been issued by the Central government or administration, the deployment of the troops has been described as the re-induction of personnel who were dispatched for poll duties.
However, the probability of bifurcation can still be on the cards.