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‘Modi Undid Nearly Seven Decades Of History’: Here’s What The Foreign Press Is Saying About Kashmir And Article 370

NYT reported that many Kashmiris were "shocked and demoralised" by the news that "their autonomy had been instantly erased".

The Bharatiya Janata Party government’s bid to amend Article 370 — to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status — and the “reorganisation” of the state in two Union Territories has received substantial foreign press. Even as the subjects of Jammu and Kashmir are amid a communications blackout, the rest of the world is not blind to what has been going on in the “crown” of India.

The Intercept, on August 5, reported, “The decision to revoke the statute, Article 370, comes amid an unexpected crackdown by the Indian government on the Indian-controlled half of the province, over which neighbouring Pakistan also lays claim. Over the last several days, prominent Kashmiri political leaders and activists — including many seen as supportive of Indian government rule — have been detained or placed under house arrest. Thousands of Indian soldiers and paramilitaries have been deployed to the region, adding to the whopping 600,000 already stationed in a place widely referred to as the most militarised region on earth.”

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The Intercept further observed that “the revocation of Article 370” was an expected result of the recent crackdown. “Modi has repeatedly promised to take such a step despite the likely backlash from Kashmiris.”

Al Jazeera has been consistent in reporting the ongoings in the region. In its latest dispatch on August 9, Al Jazeera reported that Indian security forces fired tear gas and shot live rounds in the air to disperse mass protests in Srinagar against the bid to amend Article 370. The protests, the report said, erupted afternoon prayers on Friday, with thousands marching towards the centre of Srinagar ignoring the imposed curfew.

Reuters too reported on August 9 that a large group of people gathered in Srinagar’s Soura area in violation of orders that prohibit the assembly of more than four people. The crowd was reportedly pushed back by police at Aiwa bridge, where a witness said tear gas and pellets were used against them.

“Some women and children even jumped into the water,” a witness told Reuters at Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, where pellet victims were admitted. Another witness said that “They (police) attacked us from two sides.”

Reuters also reported that over 500 people had been arrested since Sunday, including former chief ministers, ministers, lawmakers and leaders and workers from political parties and separatist groups.

On August 8, The Washington Post reported that “Modi’s radical move on Kashmir takes India into uncharted territory”. The report said that in a single day, Modi undid nearly seven decades of history, adding that he altered “India’s relationship with its only majority-Muslim region”, revoking a measure of autonomy that had been in place since the 1950s and stripping Kashmir of its status as a state.

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WashPo also reported that finding out what Kashmiris feel has been complicated by a near-complete communication shutdown. “For four days, Kashmiris have not been able to access the Internet or make telephone calls. Movement is severely restricted, public meetings are banned, and mainstream political leaders have been taken from their homes and detained incommunicado.”

On August 9, the New York Times published a photo essay titled, “Photos From Kashmir, a Rebellious Land Locked Down by India”. The piece noted that “India’s Hindu nationalist government jolted the region by erasing the autonomy of the one Muslim-majority state in India”. NYT reported that despite the crackdown, protests had erupted and that on Friday, the unrest continued, gunshots rang out and foreign journalists continued to be barred from entering Kashmir without permission.

The piece also noted: “Clamping down on millions of people is an extraordinary step for the world’s largest democracy. Even on Friday, five days after a curfew was imposed, many people were still marooned in their homes. Some have said they are running out of food. A few cautiously emerged to pray at their neighbourhood mosques. Soldiers stared at them from behind metal face masks.”

The report also mentions that many Kashmiris were “shocked and demoralised” by the news that “their autonomy had been instantly erased”.

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