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Rising tensions: A lookback on the Kashmir crisis of 2019

By in Opinions
Nathan Hughes Hamilton | Flickr

When I think back to this year, I think about all the hor­rendous atrocities that people all over the world have faced. From the Sudan revolution to the Uyghur Muslims being put in Chinese detention camps, to the annexation of Kashmir and the recent Citizenship Amend­ment Act in India.

I think of all the people that have suffered in 2019. It has been a horrible year for human rights, and what astonishes me even more is the silence and in­action on the part of the global community regarding these atrocities.

Over this past year, the news of Kashmir has been at the forefront of international me­dia and the situation has only been getting worse.

The Kashmir conflict emerged from the 1947 parti­tion of India when the colony gained independence from Britain and formed two dis­tinct countries. At the time, it could not be decided whether Kashmir should join India or Pakistan because Kashmir was a Muslim-majority state gov­erned by a Hindu prince. The prince eventually sided with India because India promised Kashmir independence.

Since the partition, Kash­mir has been caught in a battle between India and Pakistan, driven by the desire to win its resources. In August, India annexed Kashmir by revok­ing Article 370, which gave Kashmir its semi-autonomous status. It has been five months since the annexation and Kash­mir has been under an internet shutdown and has now become the most militarized state in the world.

Kashmir, also called “heaven on Earth,” has revealed India’s growing greed, proving how far India is willing to go over the past several years just to get Kashmir’s resources. Three years ago, India created the world’s first mass blinding trag­edy by using metal pellet guns on crowds of civilians, leaving hundreds blinded.

Before August 2019, the death toll in Kashmir crept up to 301, but there has been no official updated death toll since the annexation. Unlike the Uyghur genocide, Kashmir is not a hidden atrocity. What is happening in Kashmir is often highlighted in the news and on social media. Specific details are lacking due to the internet shutdown, yet videos are often found unveiling the violence.

Adding to the Kashmir cri­sis, the current Indian prime minister and leader of a right-wing Hindu nationalist par­ty, Narendra Modi, recently passed a bill named the Citi­zenship Amendment Act. This bill gives amnesty to millions of immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. However, this amnesty is only for non-Muslim immigrants.

This bill clearly contradicts India’s secular state policy and constitution. Both the annex­ation of Kashmir and the CAA expose Modi’s government’s anti-Muslim agenda. With the passing of the bill, introduc­tion of faith as a citizenship criterion and the repression of Kashmir with violence, the In­dian government has achieved its Hindu nationalist political agenda.

Indian people have been rig­orously resisting these moves, especially the citizenship act. Since the bill’s passing, Indian people of all faiths have been on the streets protesting for their fellow Muslim citizens.

Famous Indian writer Arundhati Roy expressed hope regarding the protests happen­ing in India right now.

“I am hopeful because this movement intellectually un­derstands and emotionally and passionately understands the horror of this Hindutva programme… And suddenly young people are saying ‘Sor­ry, we are not buying this.’ And that’s why I’m hopeful,” she said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

With 2020 beginning to unfold, the Kashmir crisis remains unresolved and the Citizenship Amendment Act continues to threaten human rights.

When you think back on 2019, remember the victims of the atrocities that have hap­pened over the past year — re­member their stories. The New Year is not only about cherish­ing the good memories that we have had but also learning from the mistakes we have made.

I hope to see the world rec­ognize not only Kashmir but also the many other acts of po­litical violence that have been taking place around the world and to act upon these atroci­ties.

And as we make New Year’s resolutions to better ourselves, let’s make a resolution to be better defenders and promot­ers of human rights, too.

Wardah Anwar

Photo: Nathan Hughes Hamilton | Flickr

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