At the beginning of August, Narendra Modi’s government abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, removing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Four SOAS academics share their response.
“From a strategic standpoint, the move is calculated and shrewd”
Dr Avinash Paliwal and Professor Edward Simpson
SOAS South Asia Institute
India recently abrogated Article 370 of its Constitution, removed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divided the state into two Union Territories governed directly by New Delhi. The move is accompanied by a sharp increase of security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir and a clampdown on communications and movement of people.
Being hailed as a masterstroke by many in India, the move has also stoked tensions with Pakistan, and further alienated the people of Kashmir valley from the Indian Union. Done with the promise of integrating Kashmir with India and bringing development to the region, the move was timed with the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan and to nullify U.S.’ recent offers to mediate between India and Pakistan.
From a strategic standpoint, the move is calculated and shrewd. It exposes the limits of Pakistan’s ability to mobilise world opinion against India, and also segregates India’s boundary disputes with Pakistan and China. Nonetheless, the surprise move, undertaken without political consultation with the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as opposition parties, also raises questions about accountability and respect for human rights.
The SOAS South Asia Institute continues to watch the situation carefully and plans a series of events in the coming academic year to explore the issues raised in greater depth.
“Modi’s BJP government is intent on completing the ‘unfinished business’ of the partition of 1947”
Professor in Political Sociology and Development Studies
The use of force in the manipulation of constitutional measures to maintain Indian nationalism’s stranglehold over its territorial claims is nothing new. However, the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution shows that the Hindu Rashtra being promoted by Modi’s BJP government is intent on completing the ‘unfinished business’ of the partition of 1947 by sealing internal and external boundaries and any ambiguities that challenge the idea of a majoritarian India.
Border regions, minorities, and any ‘ambiguous others’ are being one-by-one targeted by the centralising forces of the Indian state which seeks to bring anything and everything into its fold at any cost.
“The situation in Kashmir is a textbook case of how women’s rights are being weaponised by nationalist and populist parties to justify state violence”
Dr Alessandra Mezzadri
Senior Lecturer in Development Studies
The situation in Kashmir is a textbook case of how women’s rights are being weaponised by nationalist and populist parties to justify state violence. This can be seen in the horrific recent comments by BJP MLAs on Hindu men now being able to marry ‘fair’ Kashmiri girls, and the ways in which the ban on triple talaq (arguably a potentially good thing for women) has instead been turned into a weapon for the potential criminalisation of all muslim men.
What’s your take on the actions of Narendra Modi’s government? Continue the conversation in the comments below.