The foundations of ‘Naya Kashmir’ rest upon the reckless application of abusive power, the intimidation of journalists, fear amongst the general public on social media and complete control over channels of communication.
On August 5, 2019, the Narendra Modi government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and statehood, dividing it into two union territories. In this series – ‘One Year in a Disappeared State’ – The Wire will look at what the last year has meant and what the region looks like now.
Srinagar: Last week, amid the rising coronavirus scare, I travelled to Sopore in north Kashmir using public transport. Despite prohibitions on inter-district travel and official instructions against ferrying more than 5 passengers, the taxi operators – left distraught and impoverished by a lockdown-ridden life – never miss a chance to flout these rules. “We have hungry children back home,” said the driver when I asked him if he was scared of police action. “Unlike the rest of India, we haven’t been under lockdown since March. Our lockdown precedes theirs and has lasted much longer.”
A year into the abrogation of Article 370 which guaranteed semi-autonomous status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and on whose original terms – eroded significantly since 1947 – its accession to India was hinged, the Union Territory finds itself pulled deeper into a quagmire of economic collapse, anxiety over demographic changes, heightened political repression, an emasculated press, declining civil liberties and intensifying militarization