More trouble in Kashmir?

India has revoked the autonomy of their holdings in the region

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Is there more trouble to come in Kashmir?

By Joe Harker

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has spiked tensions in the dispute over Kashmir after revoking the special autonomy afforded to the Indian held part of the region.

Although the policy had been in his manifesto for the past two elections few thought he would take such a measure, with the future of Kashmir's predominantly Muslim population considered to be at risk.

The regions leaders have been arrested and the state that has been semi-autonomous from India will now be swallowed up by it. Schools have been closed and public gatherings banned as 10,000 troops have been deployed to the area.

Pakistan has condemned the decision and the two countries have been in conflict over Kashmir since 1947, with several wars and confrontations the result of both countries claiming ownership over the region.

The Claim:

Pakistan has promised to fight India's "illegal" decision by all means necessary.

Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan voiced concerns that ethnic cleansing would take place as locals were moved on and replaced by others, changing the demographics of the region which is currently a Muslim majority area.

Their army chief said troops were ready to stand by Kashmiri people in their "struggle", leading to worries that a new war could begin over the region.

Modi has been criticised for the move, with the New York Times and The Guardian accusing him of trying to remake India into a Hindu nation.

They believe he is trying to make India more Hindu and more authoritarian, dealing harshly with predominantly Muslim areas.

The Counter Claim:

No internet and almost no ability for people in Kashmir to communicate with the outside world as they've lost their autonomy and could be faced with an influx of people to displace them?

That's a recipe for conflict and disaster, one best headed off before it gets any larger and passes the point where negotiations can de-escalate the crisis.

This is where US president Donald Trump comes in. He's hardly the first person you'd want sorting out the crisis but he made the offer recently to Khan and it's something the Pakistani prime minister might call on.

Khan wants outside mediation on the conflict, while India believes the Kashmir crisis is a bilateral issue between themselves and Pakistan. The international community is unlikely to want to let tensions get out of hand and could decide to step in.

There probably is more trouble for Kashmir but other countries can't just sit back and watch it happen. They need to find a solution that protects the people of the region.

The Facts:

Ownership of Kashmir has been a contentious issue since the Partition of India in 1947, when each of the princely states that had been under British colonial rule were given the choice to join India or Pakistan, or become independent.

Kashmir chose independence, but a Pakistan backed rebellion later in the year convinced the Maharaja to join India in exchange for military assistance. Both countries have claimed the region as solely theirs.

India controls around 55 per cent of the region, but around 70 per cent of the population. Pakistan has around 30 per cent of the territory, while a further 15 per cent is held by China, who is another party in the dispute.

Article 370 was the law that guaranteed special status for Kashmir residents, allowing the area more autonomy, the ability to have its own constitution and make its own laws. Foreign affairs and defence were still part of the Indian government's remit.

Kashmir had rules on permanent residency, preventing Indians from outside the region buying property or settling for fear that the demographics and communities of Kashmir would be overridden. That is the concern now, that the area's majority Muslim population will be superseded by Hindus from other areas of India.

There is a wider concern that Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party are attempting to establish one-party rule in India, employing repression against political opponent and regions that don't fit into the prime minister's vision of a Hindu nation. His critics fear Modi wants to change what it means to be Indian, to narrow the description and reduce all others to second class citizens.

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