India’s Goodwill Erodes as Global Leaders Highlight Kashmir Issue

Once hailed as the most successful liberal democratic experiment in the developing world, India is now facing global rebuke after stripping away Kashmir’s special status.

The sudden move came on August 6 when India’s parliament abrogated Articles 370 and 35A taking away the region’s special status. Under these articles, Kashmiris were given partial autonomy and barred non-residents from buying property in the region.

Shortly before and immediately after changing Kashmir’s status, India despatched thousands of troops to the valley. Already, around half a million Indian Army soldiers are stationed in the region.

The revocation promptly followed division of geography – carving the region into, internet shutdown, arrests of political leaders and rounding up of teenage boys. The extra troops helped quell any resistance.

India argued the move was necessary to contain separatism movement and develop the region. But the deployment of extra troops told a different story. Despite total communication blackout, reports of late-night raids, curbs on movement, rape and torture were sporadically reported in the international media.

In October, US House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Human Rights in South Asia-Panel II, Ami Bera called upon the world’s largest democracy to “allow journalists back in [Jammu and Kashmir] to have accurate reporting to see what’s going in the ground.” In the same hearing, University of Westminster Professor Ms. Natasha Kaul lambasted India’s BJP leadership over its fascist outlook towards the region.

Highlighting deaths of protestors in the Jammu and Kashmir valley, Kaul called upon India to acknowledge the atrocities committed against thousands of non-violent protestors.

She said: “The question here is not so much about the Article 370. The fundamental question is here about the consent of the people.”

“If something is being carried out for [Kashmiri] peoples’ welfare or development, then why does it need tens and thousands of troops … why does it have to happen overnight without consulting the people [locals] while placing even the pro-India politicians in prison and then depriving the population the right to say anything.”

She said India’s actions in the valley are egregious human rights violations and against the consent of the people and fundamental principles of dissent in a democracy.

The issue was also raised behind a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council in December 2019.

In a note to the Security Council members, China’s UN Mission said “in view of the seriousness of the situation and the risk of further escalation, China would like to request a briefing of the Council … on the situation of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Although the contents of the meeting were not released, Pakistan’s PM office said “the participants condemned India’s inhuman lockdown of eight million Kashmiris for over 165 days, the egregious human rights violations of Kashmiris by over 900,000 Indian occupation forces.”

India during the meeting claimed the Kashmir issue was an “internal matter” and will be resolved bilaterally between Islamabad and New Delhi.

US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also criticized India over its treatment of Kashmiris. “I am deeply concerned about this situation in Kashmir where the Indian government has revoked Kashmiri autonomy, cracked on dissent and instituted a communications blackout. The crackdown in the name of ‘security’ is also denying the Kashmiri people access to medical care,” Sanders said.

He added that “even many respected doctors in India have acknowledged that the Indian government-imposed restrictions on travel are threatening the life-saving care that patients need.”

In England, Jeremy Corbyn tweeted “The situation in Kashmir is deeply disturbing. Human rights abuses taking place are unacceptable. The rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected and UN resolutions implemented.”

India has gone on offense against these leaders. They have called out these global leaders for what they see as interference in their domestic issues.

Malaysia has suffered the worse of India’s bullying tactics after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad criticized PM Modi’s Kashmir policy.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Mahathir said India has “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir despite UN resolutions.

“There may be reasons for this action but it is still wrong. The problem must be solved by peaceful means…Ignoring the UN would lead to other forms of disregard for the UN and the Rule of Law,” said Mahathir.

India responded with threats to cut off trade ties with Kuala Lumpur. It announced it will stop importing oil from Malaysia – the world’s second-largest palm oil exporter.

The blatant violations of human rights, and bullying global leaders for their criticism against its policies, India is slowly but surely losing its global goodwill. Under Modi, India has received harsh criticism for some of anti-Muslim policies be it the treatment of Muslims in Kashmir or the Citizen Amendment Act that seeks to disfranchise immigrant from the country.