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Did the Modi government’s Kashmir policy go awry?

Protesters throw stones at Indian police during a protest rally in Srinagar

August 5, 2019. The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi repealed Article 370 of the country’s constitution. With this, the status and limited autonomy of the special state of Jammu and Kashmir was unilaterally abolished. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is divided into two parts. Ladakh was made a separate Union Territory. Jammu and Kashmir was also declared as a Union Territory.

The Modi government at the time claimed that the move would eradicate the decades-long ‘armed insurgency’ in Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, the door of peace and prosperity will open in this region.

Almost three years later, the so-called peace in the disputed Himalayan valley has not been restored. Almost every day, Kashmiri freedom fighters, members of the Indian security forces and civilians are killed in gun battles and targeted attacks.

Did the Modi government’s Kashmir policy go awry?

The political analyst told Al Jazeera about the successes and failures of the Modi government’s policy on Kashmir. “If Article 370 is withdrawn, terrorism will be eradicated in Kashmir, development will take place and huge investments will be made there,” he said. I do not think that the solution to the Kashmir crisis lies in security alone.

So far this year alone, hundreds of suspected freedom fighters have been killed in attacks by Indian army and police in Jammu and Kashmir; Most of them are young. They are 18 to 26 years old. This information is from the police chief Vijay Kumar. In contrast, freedom fighters have been accused of killing at least 16 people this year. Seven of the dead were members of the minority Kashmiri Hindu community.

As mentioned earlier, the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir was taken away in August 2019. At least 196 members of the Indian security forces have since been killed in violence across the valley. Eighty-five suspected Kashmiri freedom fighters were killed. Besides 131 common people.

There are at least 23 of these people who are in the minority, especially in the Hindu community. Even non-resident Muslim migrant workers in Kashmir, who come from other parts of India, have not been exempted.

The spiraling wave of violence has left critics wondering and questioning whether the Modi government’s “muscle power policy” has failed in India’s only Muslim-majority region.

Narendra Modi’s BJP came to power in 2014 after winning a landslide victory in the Indian elections. After winning the election, the party said Article 370 of the Indian Constitution should be repealed. It is a special citizenship law that protects the rights of local residents of Indian-administered Kashmir to employment and land. However, the hardline Hindutva party BJP has been opposing the law for decades.

Top BJP leaders were congratulating themselves on this ‘historic’ move. It seemed that they had solved the long standing Kashmir crisis. But the reality is completely different. Their claim is proved false.

After the withdrawal of the limited autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, unprecedented army rallies were held there. Although (surrounding the dispute with Pakistan) it was already one of the most militarized regions in the world.

Former chief ministers, activists, lawyers and students have been arrested as part of the Modi government’s policy of using “muscle power” in Jammu and Kashmir. Security is tightening month after month.

After repealing Section 370, the Government of India introduced a new Housing Act in Jammu and Kashmir. According to the law, people from outside Jammu and Kashmir can also settle permanently. Due to the law, the population in the region is expected to change. There are also allegations that a ‘colonial project’ has been undertaken in Jammu and Kashmir through settlement.

Denying all allegations, the BJP claims that the government is trying to restore “normalcy” in Kashmir. Ashok Kaul, a spokesman for the party, told Al Jazeera: “Some selfish groups want to disrupt the peace and the government has launched a major crackdown on them. Only the opposition parties are making a fuss about this. The situation in Kashmir has returned to normal.

But no matter how much the BJP dismisses the allegations, US educationist Mohammad Junaid says, “The Modi government wants there to be no political communication in Kashmir, only continued repression.” He added, “And the people of Kashmir will definitely not accept it. For them, this policy is just an extension of India’s long-standing policy of political repression.

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