Ten Facts about the Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir Since August 5, 2019

On August 5, 2019, through a Presidential order, the Indian government abolished two articles from the Indian constitution that ensured the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK).

  1. The first revoked article was Article 370, which allowed IIOJK to make laws in all matters except finance, defence, foreign affairs and communications.
  2. The second article was Article 35A which defined the region’s permanent residents and forbade outsiders from settling in the region, purchasing property, holding government jobs and winning regional scholarships.

Since the abrogation of A370 and 35A, ten significant changes that have taken place are discussed below.


  1. Illegally Changed the Indian Constitution

The BJP-led Indian government illegally changed the Indian Constitution. The delivery of the August 5th action through Presidential order exceeded the confined powers delegated to the President under the Indian Constitution Article 370 (1)(d). According to an Indian lawyer, as per the Basic Structure doctrine, the constitutional functionary cannot employ powers not given to them under the constitution to alter it. This indicates that the act was illegal as it was committed regardless of the limited powers of the President under the Constitution. As per the Indian Constitution, only the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir can order the abrogation of A370; however, the Assembly dissolved itself without making any such recommendation.


  1. Change of Indian Political Map

After August 5, 2019, the Indian Parliament approved the map that bifurcated the territory of IIOJK into two union territories: the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The union territories are also known as federal territories. The UK House of Commons established that while Jammu and Kashmir will have a state legislature to make its laws, Ladakh will be deprived of its state legislature and will be ruled directly from New Delhi. This split of the whole of IIOJK into two union territories changed the political map of India.


  1. Annexation of IIOJK

Under International Law, annexation is when a country forcibly asserts control and sovereignty over another country’s territory. The August 5th move was the annexation of IIOJK since the annexed territory was a disputed region between Pakistan and India. An annexation is a unilateral act by the occupying state, as evident in the unilateral move of August 5th by the Indian government. Parallels can be drawn in the annexation of IIOJK and Ukrainian provinces, as a military occupation, a prominent feature of annexation, followed both.


  1. Demographic Changes

The IIOJK was the only Muslim majority state in India. With the revocation of Article 35A, over 3.4 million fake domiciles have been issued in IIOJK under the new domicile law. This violated Article 49 of the Geneva Convention 4, which prevented demographic reengineering in disputed territory. The Harvard Law Review and the Washington Post reported that such a change in IIOJK would turn it into a ‘settler colony’ as the indigenous Muslim community would be overridden by foreigners recruited by the Indian government to dilute the majority of Muslims. This step was to potentially alter the outcome of the UN-sponsored referendum.


  1. G20 Meeting in Disputed Region

As the President of the Group of 20 Economies (G20), the Indian government hosted two meetings on the disputed territory between India, Pakistan and China. The Youth-20 meeting in Leh and the Tourist Working Group meeting in Srinagar attracted strong resentment from Pakistan, whereas several members of G20, including China, Saudia Arabia, Oman, Egypt and Turkiye, boycotted the meeting while other members sent lower embassy staff to mark attendance. India’s blatant move to host the G20 meeting was to portray normalcy in the region by giving the disputed region a facelift through paint and renovations that were rejected as authentic culture by the people of IIOJK. The Indian government deployed over 900,000 soldiers and closed the region for day-to-day business. This was a misuse of power that revealed the failure of the Indian government to conceal the sufferings of the people of IIOJK.


  1. Passports Suspended

On the instructions of the nationalist Indian government, the passports of several Kashmiris living within the IIOJK and abroad were suspended by the regional passport office in Srinagar under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act 1967. The Act claimed that these people were a threat to Indian security. The number of people affected is stated as 10, but another 70-90 people are on such a list who withdrew from speaking about it publicly due to fears of further reprisal by the Indian government. This act turned these people stateless as India denied them their citizenship rights.


  1. Preventive Detentions

Since the abrogation of A370 and 35A, the Indian security forces have unleashed havoc on the residents protesting against the Indian government’s illegal move. Children as young as 8 years of age are on the streets as schools are shut down. Under the Preventive Detention law, about 21,072 civilians have been arrested without charges, according to Kashmir News Agency. This includes thousands of political leaders, democratically elected representatives and justice human rights activists, to mention a few. According to the Islamabad Policy Research Institution (IPRI), since August 5, about 2,362 people have been tortured by the security forces. The New York Times reported that these detainees were hung upside down, hit with bamboo sticks, applied electric shocks and forced to drink toxic liquids by the Indian security forces.


  1. Press Freedom and Media Censorship

The Indian government has introduced draconian laws to suspend reporting from the IIOJK since August 5, 2019. Under the Unlawful Activities Preventive Act (UAPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA), the Indian government has arrested and harassed hundreds of journalists for posting so-called ‘anti-national content’ and spreading ‘disinformation.’ The International Press Institute has monitored the alarmingly deteriorating press freedom in the region, which has significantly worsened since the revocation of the special status of IIOJK. According to Surfshark, IIOJK experienced more internet shutdowns and restrictions than any other region in 2022. The report stated that over a fifth of the web blackouts occurred in IIOJK. These restrictions are an attack on freedom and democracy.


  1. Demolition of Homes and Livelihood

The people of IIOJK have been evicted from their houses and face homelessness as the Indian government began an anti-encroachment drive. The land that is said to be encroached on has been owned by the people through various government schemes (Roshni Scheme) that would be turned into commercial sites and given to international investors under new development policies. The people of IIOJK termed this move by the Indian government as ‘bulldozer politics’ as bulldozers reached their homes to marginalise them by demolishing their homes and their livelihoods. This fuels hatred against the Indian government which translates into a separatist insurgency that the Indian government has termed as terrorism.


  1. One Solution, Gun Solution

Since August 5, 2019, a prominent slogan chanted by the people of IIOJK is ‘One Solution, Gun Solution.’ The resistance movement in IIOJK has been galvanised to take up arms against the Indian occupying forces. More and more young people, after being abused by the Indian security forces, feel compelled to do so. The case of young Adil Ahmed Dar, who carried out the Pulwama Attack after being shot in the leg by the Indian security forces, presents a great case study of how young people of IIOJK translate their anger against the Indian troops through such violent acts. As recently as August 5, 2023, five Indian army soldiers were killed, and one was wounded by rebels in IIOJK. This is India’s own doing, and brutalities continue today. This indicates that India has systematically taken measures to turn the disputed land into a boiling bed of ferocity.


About Maheen Shafeeq 3 Articles
The author is a research analyst in emerging technologies and international security. She holds a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of Sheffield, UK. She tweets @MaheenShafeeq

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