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The Crackdown on Kashmir

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From the new york times i'm michael barr. This is a today since nineteen forty seven in the his granted the pupil of cash a set of protections that guaranteed their autonomy geoffrey garin on why india just erased that autonomy. It's friday august jeffrey. Tell me how you came seem to understand what was going on in kashmir so over the weekend i have been talking closely with a a local journalist who works for us named samir yasser. I've worked with a lot. I've traveled across kashmir with him. He had told me that the house of indian army troops had flooded in to the valley in the last few days and there were barriers being erected people were being called up for extra duty who worked for the government satellite phones were being passed out police officers and and it's samir was just describing this anxiety and confusion and sense of doom hanging over the valley. He gave me the impression that there was a big preparation for some type of clamp down and he and i had a plan that we were gonna talk on monday. We're going to put together a story on monday and he said you know what let me send it to you. Sunday just in case something happens at he sent over a story about all these tensions in worries on sunday afternoon and that was the last i heard from urban. You couldn't reach him after that now. I tried calling him many times. I sent him messages. I sent in emails and what we learned was that the indian government had shut down all communication from the valley early on sunday night shortly after i had last communicated with our with our colleague so what did you do so so we had no way of communicating with people in the entire kashmir region so we waited knowing that something big was going to happen happen and on monday morning there was an announcement that a speech was going to be made by india's home minister in parliament and and that this would likely explain what was happening to catch mirror so i came into the office early along with some other colleagues. We turned on the t._v. Hello and welcome to register television. You're watching the big picture with me. Frank clubs and parole announcement with massive repercussions genuine tishman bowman. We waiting to hear what what was foot. Jemele and kushtia made a historic a massive day pretty quickly. It was clear that the the government had a very ambitious plan to change the status of kashmir and erase its autonomy that has existed for the decades demoted matron case abuse and the home minister took the floor of the upper house of parliament and began making this presentation about what the government was going to do how it was going to change this constitutional provision and what this means for for india mmediately provoked an hour or on on the floor of the parliament opposition politicians handed going but he just kept going the news landed like a bombshell in india because this is one of the biggest decisions the country has made a vow ruin kashmir or any other state says india was four hundred forty seven <music> <music> from what i can tell out of my window because our house is a little fortified. We have a lot of security like i said there's a deadly calm. The uh-huh actually beautiful. It's a nice sunny bombing morning here. It's about twelve in the afternoon so i wasn't able to reach samir but i was able to find a activists. The daughter of a prominent kashmiri politician who somehow was able to make a foist recording and send it to me to give me an update of what was happening and there's absolutely no movement no hongs a no sounds of cars nothing at all her name is ill to job and a contact of mine had given me her number and i i did some checking to see who was and her mother is a prominent kashmiri politician who had been put on house arrest so from yesterday. They've been a couple of developments. My mother was previously under house arrest but she's been detained now. I don't know if she was detained when i spoke correspondent and yesterday but they've taken her away job was really concerned frightened about what was happening all around for at the moment nonetheless qatar allowed to even step out of the house here. I don't know how much longer are they going to snap internet services and not allow us to make calls or have any sort of access to communication. She felt like this was an assault. On the dignity of cash mary's there's an absolute curtailment of civil lib- civil liberties we have no rights and it feels like kushner has been reduced to an open prison. That's the in theory that people are having a sense of powerlessness that they don't like at all what the government has done but they can't do anything about him. <music> jeffrey orient me a little bit here. What is the story of kashmir. This story is long complicated occurred. In august the fifteenth nine hundred forty seven independence day for india talk to when india was granted independence from great britain from the forty-seven continent of europe becomes to self governing being dominion within the british commonwealth of nations. There was a division and the indian subcontinent between india and pakistan india was the country that was created did for hindus in this part of the world and pakistan was created for muslims them beyond the snow capped himalayas forming a badge wall invaders as kashmir mia kashmir is this absolutely exquisitely beautiful mountain valley between india and pakistan and it has been contested bitterly interlude between those two countries and kashmir at the time was the princely state run by a hindu maharajah to make things even more complicated located. It was majority muslim. Kashmir's population is muslim by the ruling class is hindu and the decision that she made was to not join in india or pakistan and to remain independent but that didn't last very long because just within a couple months of independence in nineteen forty seven militants from pakistan invaded kashmir and the maharaja went running to india for help and india said basically okay we will help you drive these invaders out but part of the deal. Is you have to agree to join the state of india win. The maharaja greeted the indian premier. It became clear to all observers that the proposed plebiscite was as good as and the kashmira would vote to remain within the indian dominion so the maharashtra russia betas decision to do that. The indian army would clear all invaders from this oil home in the western part of the province. Tribesmen are now in full retreat. He put special conditions on his joining india and some of those conditions were granted kashmir special degree of autonomy the area you would still have its own constitution its own prime minister rights to pass its own laws and that was the compromise between the the two sides so kashmir would have its own separate identity but in the late eighties early nineties huge conflict erupted from the people in kashmir ron independence from india they they didn't want to be part indie anymore. Some of it had to do with religion because india's majority hindu kashmir's majority muslim some wanted to join pakistan vistan and pakistan took advantage of this. They sent thousands of militants across the border from pakistan indicators mirror to fight against the indian army army and it turned the place into a bloodbath. Thousands of civilians were killed. Militants fighting soldiers bombs going off all over the place civilians were being dragged into the battle against their will to fight for either the government or for the militancy and the place was just is cast into chaos and bloodshed in turmoil grinding the economy to a halt taking thousands of lives and changing the character of it so it sounds like by not choosing to fully be a part of india or pakistan kashmir becomes a kind of tortured place in between the two. That's tugged at by books. Yeah in kashmir is really express that frustration that they feel like they've been used by both that pakistan was using the kashmiri youth the fight against india and india has turned kashmir into a buffer zone against pakistan stan and the result is this to stagnation and depression villages really run down. You don't see many stores. You see a lot <music> old cars. I've been in places where the moment you drive in your just kind of swarmed by a bunch of curious young wingmen who aren't working you don't hear explosions or gunfire <hes> but but you see just just tons of soldiers careers and paramilitary officers you see lots of sandbags and barbed wire and checkpoints. It feels like an occupied territory and that's another piece of it <hes> these protests. There's there's often protests against the indian rule <hes> in in the towns and the villages. There's it's just a lotta anger there and part of that angers people feel like they're marginalized that they're not taken seriously in india. They don't have any of their own rights. They don't enjoy their own freedoms and that's bread this the small but stubborn militancy that the indian military is able to kind kind of take out these militants one by one but then there's more young guys that wanna join and it just goes on and on so young man in kashgar have become radicalized and militant because of their frustration with being in this position mm-hmm and that fuels the narrative that kashmir is a place that needs to be clamped down on exactly and it's been stuck in that cycle for <music> <music> do <music> and i'm mike norton host of the new podcast talking green. I'm also social psychologist at harvard business school. In this first season of talking green we're going to look at how psychological forces drive attitudes and decisions around money and investing and every episode. I'll be joined by alison schrager an economist and journalist from family to phone addiction. Each episode looks at a topic effect that affects the relationship between our daily lives and our money. This is talking green original podcast from t._d. Ameritrade t- studio at the new york times subscribed talking green now so you don't miss a single episode hi. I'm caitlyn dickerson. I cover immigration for the new york. Times and one person i remember interviewing was a mother named cindy twenty five years years old from honduras and her eight year old son justin when i interviewed her. She was still in federal detention center but she burst into the room with a big smile l. on her face i remember she looked even a little younger than she is. She wore glasses. It's getting jeans on. She and her son were about to be released but when i asked her about what they had been through over the last several months wants her face completely changed. She started to explain to me how they had been separated for fifty days win. Border patrol agents took her away from justin. It was almost almost as if they took his voice he went from being young and bubbly loud kid to someone who rarely ever spoke above a whisper. She's one of several moms who i profiled and you can find a lot of this kind of journalism in the new york times so if you'd like to support it you can go to our website it's n._y. Times dot com slash subscribe jeffrey the situation in kashmir has been deeply unstable now for decades so what changed what finally tipped dipped that brought us to this point. A big piece of this is the rise of narendra modi india's prime minister. He is a hindu nationalist and s. Pushing a a strong nationalist agenda that prioritizes the hindu religion and moti has been talking for years about about reorganizing kashmir and ending this problem once and for all of the militancy and the troubles inside kashmir and now we're trying to bring the majority of stews into the mainstream who have been inspired by phone propaganda under attacking their own nation on he was just reelected few months ago go by an enormous margin that gave them a lot of momentum. There's no alternative to peace and cooperation my advice to youngsters who have chosen a different path off to rejoin the mainstream typified by their own family and parents. Their participation is required in the development of genuine. Catch me so motives. Government came up with this plan dividing kashmir into to federal territories the state of jammu in kashmir it would basically annexed kashmir smear and make it a part of india much more than it's ever been and it would make it easier for indians outside of kashmir to move into the area and changed the demography and that's that's the big fear. This is the first step it's a it's a legal administrative step and the next will be an influx influx of indians that will come cruising into kashmir vineland setting up businesses and soon kashmiris will be minorities and their own homeland the fear and the reality it seems is that india is deliberately swallowing up kashmir not so that it can maintain what it is but so that it can completely turn it into the rest of india that's right and the worry is by swallowing cashmere. That's gonna raise tensions with pakistan. Uh jeffrey if you are indio why not just let kashmir go instead of absorbing it. If this is a majority muslim slim territory that is constantly creating conflict with india why not just kind of cut it loose the great question one reason why it doesn't i wanna do that is the refrain pakistan would move into kashmir and be even closer to new delhi the capital and they'd be able to strike the bean the heartland of india more easily. That's one another reason is that india's a federation of many different diverse territories this and if you've let one spinoff others might soon follow suit and there are independence movements and rebel movements in other parts of india and india's worried that if kashmir breaks off other parts of the country would break off in any tensions between india pakistan kinda hold this whole region intention attention because the two biggest players they fought wars against each other before the have nuclear weapons and they have this religious divide between them. That's very we used to stir up people on either side and so a messy kashmir. It's just a a problem for for a lot of people far away from kashmir so bring us back to monday and the way that things played out india had cut the phones in kashmir. It sounds like that was a way to suppress this militancy militancy and keep people from connecting with each other and organizing against india. What do we know about what's happened in kashmir in the time. Since since so once the announcement was made on the floor of the parliament that this dramatic change is being done to kashmir we realized while the troops have been bussed into the valley in the weeks before why the authorities had cut the internet and separate landline connections. They were worried that once the announcement was made the rabin outburst first violence of protests rioting. Maybe militant attacks and indian government was trying to get ahead of that and just put everything in place to clamp down really hard on kashmir so there could be no a unrest since then. The clampdown has remained really tight. I still can't get in touch with our journalists haven't spoken to him since sunday. The information we have is that kashmir is pretty a quiet. Most people are staying indoors inside. There's a curfew in place. Soldiers are everywhere and the <hes> people there are kind of stunned that this has happened but they're not able to do much because it's basically illegal to move around outside and and another thing that was surprising was how much support modi's decision has received across the political spectrum opposition parties that oppose modi's government on many fronts have backed him on this because kashmir is seen as that nationalistic nationalist stick issue one that stirs up feelings of patriotism. There's fears about pakistan so his decision has been incredibly popular. Just just about all of india has been behind it except kashmir. I'm struck that this popular in so much of india even though india is a democracy democracy and what was done in kashmir could not possibly be less democratic turning off people's phones literally depriving them of the ability to communicate communicate yeah suppressing dissent. It's not allowing any channel of criticism. It is eliminating the voice of kashmir when it's their faith that is being changed so they have no say and what's happened or even allowed to react to it. That bothers some people in india. There's been intellectuals that have been very disturbed and say this is a threat to democracy. It's a threat to india's a secular identity. There's been a legal challenge or in filed in there will probably be others saying that the modi government did not have the constitutional authority to to unilaterally change kashmir status but the majority of indians see kashmir as a trouble zone as a place for pakistan to a battle and they are happy that the government has taken a storm stead on what they could be a solution to the to the conflict jeffrey every as we've been talking so many global conflicts have come to mind china and hong kong china and the warriors as israel and the palestinians russia and crimea could kind of go on. I wonder where you think kashmir fits. Maybe it sounds like just another intractable conflict that people outside of the area just don't really need the care about <hes>. I think it's different in a couple of ways. I think it's an especially difficult conflict to solve because of the issue of religion in history and identity and just the years of bad blood but i also think that unlike these other ones you've mentioned not a lot of people were watching kashmir. It's it's kind of like the forgotten conflict and i think that's one reason why this has happened that india's taking this drastic step because nobody was really paying attention. They just kind of left this to fester. If the world had been so focused on kashmir and end its status you're saying it would have been harder and perhaps less likely for india to have done what it did. I think there would have been more consultation and pressure on india to respect the rights of the people in kashmir speak to them to see what they want and try to come up with a solution that was more consistent with india's democratic values instead this was like a military takeover and those usually don't win hearts and minds jeffrey. Thank you very much or my pleasure. In a speech on thursday india's prime minister narendra modi declared that ending kashmir's smears autonomy was a quote historic decision that would benefit india kashmir and the entire region by eliminating the islamic insurgency. There are your colorado beige book supper. Not a buddha jammu-kashmir mawkish made on la document egg niagara u._k. Should but the decision was met with fury in pakistan which retaliate tallied by halting trade with india and expelling india's top diplomat in a statement pakistan's prime minister accused used india of promoting quote an ideology that puts hindus above all other religions and seeks to establish a state <music> that represses all other religious groups. We'll be right back. Succession is back. The emmy nominated drama returns to h._b._o. 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