Fighting over Kashmir
Soon kyota. I'm alex ashton in today on the detail kashmir. The war-torn region is divided amongst its neighbors. India pakistan and china india's prime minister narendra modi won the country's election by a landslide promising to bring the autonomous state night of kashmir into the country's fold last month. He did that in kashmir with dot the last time i spoke to my family was on <hes> the four stuff august and <hes> my mother says something is happening and something big is coming and they've rumors that they will cut phone lines and i haven't been able to talk to her everson. Sit often akash is a kashmiri new zealander living and palmerston north who final donald phone call to her family was a month ago. People were saying the indian government is going to do something and they were rumors at the time that something thing is happening. Something sinister is happening because they government has taken all the non-kashmiri non-locals out. They have been asked to leave immediately. They're giving buffers and transport and and also extra troops there bolton and i remember my mother saying that people are saying stock up might get some supplies and <hes> i think they would have done that probably to be honest with you had sleepless nights. I dream about her every overnight whenever they left this communication blockade. I'm like i might have something wrong. I have this field. You know because i have no idea what's happening. There haven't spoken to my sister and my dad. I don't know what's happening this. It was a stepping stepping at a scottish media. They have make a prison discussion meters whole cash music and the econ- is is a kashmiri reporter moving in and out of the region covering what's happening on the ground for media organizations including the guardian and the new york times. He told our associate producer k. k. muscle nominee the local people are rejecting india's attempts to take over there have been several for best across cushman rally in which more than one hundred twenty people have been injured in clashes with the government forces. The anger is growing and it's only a matter of time when the massive buddhist break on the streets of cushman and what are they hoping to achieve by cutting all communication for the people no catch me in there <hes> a mind thing that they will prevent people from coming out of their homes in best <hes> and the thing that <hes> by <hes> distorting internet services they would organize protests across the kashmir valley and <hes> you know raise much more correctness in the international community but that's not the case because people are going in and out especially at the border journalists. They're going in and out and report about extremely. I look for new york times and it's really hard times for us. English me we have goofy before for three months straightened when he's sixteen but this time it's been more severe because latins was having got off as well so we have no clue about the family and friends for last twenty days now. It's really hard for us to get in touch with family and offense imagine. We aren't even going back. The ones who live under <hes> begun cornered our family windy who actually live across the street because they had no landline communications there no mobile services. I have had dozens of messages on my social media when it came back daily i i it was primely because <hes> i i get a border from cushman and people started texting me saying that the amer- will get can we talk talk to you can get to know about our family fans. So it was really i mean i don. I didn't know what to tell them because i don't know about their family and friends again just consoled them and and you know give them all is well. All is not well at government has projected that sense of normalcy in kashmir but that's not the case. There's no normalcy in kashmir to understand why there's so much conflict over kashmir. You need to understand its history. Jeffrey gentlemen is the new york times south asia bureau roce f- this has been in the works for a long time the hindu nationalist government that controls india and has very popular. That's something we can't forget. Even though there's been some criticism about the way this handled in kashmir government of india remains incredibly popular most people in the country support what is happening in kashmir. They're not upset by it. Tens of thousands of people gathered at delhi's red fort millions listened at home and watch just television all waiting to hear the words of narendra modi on independence day and for indian nationalists. Hey did not disappoint. He said his decision to strip indian-administered. Admist kashmir of special stages was a major achievement and it would restore the region twits past glory the government of india as a hindu nationalist government it has this image of india's a strong indignation india's about eighty percent hindu fifteen percent muslim a mix of christians and other religions making up the difference but this hindu ideology is very strong right now and for several years. This government has been talking about doing this very thing in kashmir or radical in its statehood food. Take it away any autonomy in making it a federal territory. That's been unknown desire of the government so in the weeks leading up to this action action we were hearing that bit more troops were coming into the valley at something was afoot and it made sense because prime minister narendra modi the leader meter of india had just wore on a sweeping re election victory in may his party stunned the country and anybody who was paying attention outside right of india by winning more parliaments more more seats in parliament than any party had one in decades and it was just a landslide victory for the hindu nationalist cause so many people believe that coming off election victory in using that momentum in that popularity that mandate that ah move on kashmir was one of the first things the government would do and that's exactly what happened. Can you help me out a little bit with the history of kashmir. Why is it so conflict-ridden ridden. What's the relationship between pakistan and india has well. How much time do complicated in many different from ways a religiously politically historically <hes> it goes back to the formation of india in nineteen kim forty seven kashmir decided not to join either india or pakistan so when india and pakistan were were were set free from british colonials in nineteen forty seven the trouble began in early august double disturbances in kashmir and the full ses of both sides ignored the ceasefire he's fine line and crossed into each other's tetter drink. Neither side has really wanted to fight. The war has seen just how bitterly divided ended the two countries i over kashmir and how deep the divisions between muslims and hindus india was formed as a secular nation but with a strong hindu population a predominant hindu population pakistan was created for muslims in the subcontinent to have their own country cashmere humira sits geographically right between and the prince of kashmir at the time did not want to join either india or pakistan. What makes it even more complicated complicated. The prince of kashmir was a hindu prints and the population of cashmere is majority muslim that created some tensions between the population relation their leadership and then you had these two huge countries being born at the same time. It didn't seem sustainable and in october nineteen forty seven militants from pakistan came flooding across the border into kashmir to take over and make it part pakistan. The people resisted. There's a lot of brutality killings of civilians raping looting real mayhem mayhem and so the the prince of kashmir than ran to india and said i need help. I need yours military support to drive these people out and india said fine but there's a condition that condition is you join india and the prince of kashmir said fine. I'll join india but but only under certain restrictions. We need to have our own prime. Minister are on parliament our own laws. We need to be treated a little differently than the rest of india. Both sides agreed indian military came in a push those militants our of most of the area and today about two thirds of kashmir is controlled by india and one third is controlled by pakistan pakistan eventually absorbed the parts that those no attention taken. That's always been a sore subject should should should kashmir be part of initiative. Part of pakistan should be independent again. This has been discussed over the decades but the reality is india controls most of it and it's complicated by the fact that india is eighty percent hindu. The kashmir valley is about ninety percent or more muslim. Them and it's always had this independent identity. It feels different up there. I've spent some time in kashmir. It's absolutely absolutely beautiful this alpine landscape of these beautiful green meadows filled with wild flowers and these towering white peaks behind them of the himalayas malaya's apple trees pear trees and beautiful clear lakes and the people look different than the clothes they wear and their facial features it it conveys a different story a different ethnicity a different history and the kashmiris felt very strongly about that. There's been some mediation shen. There's been conflicts between india and pakistan several times. They fought border wars over who controls kashmir came back to a standstill what's scarier. Today is both countries have nuclear weapons so any tension between those two along that border of mmediately raises the alarm around the world world because nobody wants to see any escalation between india and pakistan over kashmir fast forward to last month once all sources of communications since were cut for the region. There were reports of another move by the indian government. A bbc investigation has uncovered allegations of brutal beatings and torture shut by soldiers in indian-administered kashmir. It's been twenty five days. Since the indian government withdrew the region semi autonomous status leading to a clampdown on descent in thousands of arrests from the early hours of august fifth. We started hearing reports from different sources that we have in kashmir outside a kashmira mirror that political leaders being arrested the receiving messages put out on social media by some of these political leaders ended put under house arrest others were saying that they were being detained and as the days passed we started to learn of this enormous operation that netted thousands of people business is leaders scholars teachers students elected politicians who had no criminal history all of these people were being rounded up and that it was <hes> one of the most alarming aspects of what happened because it seemed to go against the democratic principles and india's own laws to do something like this. Do you have any idea of where they're being held. Do their families have access to them. The families do not have access to them. Lawyers do not have access to them which is against the law of india. <hes> there is something called the public safety eight the act in which the indian authorities are allowed to hold any suspect who is considered detrimental to the security of the state for up to two years years without charges. We don't even know if that's what they're doing at that law that they're using because the indian government has refused to comment on these detentions as protests break out across kashmir indian officials repeat what has become a well one sound byte that have been no major law and order situation for how across the valley ninety noma but what we do know from different reports that we've gathered from people who've talked with unofficially officially who are in the government and the family members of those rest is at least two thousand people have been arrested. Some are being kept in jails in kashmir some have been put on airplanes and sent to prisons around india and they are being held incommunicado with no contact with family members for lawyers this who was rounding these people off from everything we heard these roundups were being done by the federal security forces with a little little help from from low kashmiri police kashmir has has hundreds of thousands of security forces in a relatively small area and most most of those are the indian army and federal police officers and then there's also state police officers but the state police officers are kind of the the people people in the middle because they're from the state they have families that are affected by everything often the very sympathetic to the kashmiri 'cause they worked for the government and they go after protesters and separatists militants <hes> along with federal forces so from what we gathered these roundups were being done by a combination but this state officers were sort of in a you know were marginalized and it was the federal authorities that were really enforcing these these arrests and i spoke to the family of one businessman <hes> will beam shaw who who was carpet trader he had a curio business used to be the head of the chamber of commerce and his wife told me that they were woken up very early on august the fifth by the sound of barking dogs and lots of movement in the garden and they looked outside and they saw dozens of federal police officers and then they were told that the husband was under arrest and when asked for warrant officers said no. We don't have a warrant. We have orders. You have to come with us. Family has not seen him since and that's not a unique situation. I'm guessing from what we revere in. This scene was plain plain out at the exact same time hundreds of other homes all across the kashmir valley homes of business leaders politicians teachers students since the canucks anybody that was at all associated with a position of authority. Somebody who could generate the following somebody who might speak out but but from all the information we have none of these people have been charged with crimes and they weren't under any suspicion before the the government made this move on kashmir we at a standstill or does it feel like india is going to win the fight. I think it is going to win the fight so it just is what what will that do the country india's in very strong position right now keough politically. It's got a big economy. It's considered an ally to the west to to check the rise of china also considered an ally of russia and it's done a good job of sort of the plane a a neutral role or playing both sides in this guy increasingly divided world. That's had a foreign policy like pips longtime and now more than ever. It's really exerting net so. I don't think there's going to be a large outcry outside of india or even within india idea about essentially annexing kashmir so they will control it. The question is will read more militancy and make it more ungovernable bowl. Make it more dangerous and paralyzed the economy. Even further will some of that militancy spread outside of cashmere and would we see tax and other parts of india. That's also something that could happen that some people are scared of and what will it do to the democracy of india if if you can take millions of people and just cut off all communication <hes> that they have and if you can take political leaders who were elected by <hes> populations relations and totally legitimately representatives of the people and put them in jail with no charges. What does that mean for india's democracy. Those are the questions people are asking right you mentioned that you'd been to kashmir and and that it was this idyllic place. What is it like at the moment. I think at the moment it's a very tense unschooled stressed out fearful demoralized place. I think the people in kashmir are stunned that the government in has just rolled through and dumbness and there's been little opposition to it. I don't think anybody imagined even though we knew this was a desire the government that they would actually do it this way in this completely shutting off the internet shutting down landlines shutting off mobile phone service flooding in federal troops arresting all leaders. Nobody predicted that and that's left. The population feeling very frustrated helpless sad fearful of what comes next. There's lots of checkpoints military convoys his barbed wire shops closed schools at the people just inside their homes looking their windows scared of what's going to happen next in palmerston. North softener cash is still waiting to hear from loved up to one in kashmir. Are you proud of being a kashmiri. Yes i am i. I identify kashmiri. I do not identify as an indian and i don't think i should be killed for that. I don't think i have a bullet for that. It makes me proud to have a have a different culture have a distinct culture of my own <hes> like everybody. He also breaks they come out and you know one thing about living in new zealand in festival of culture here in the north. I was able to have my own style of fishmeal and they looked up online. They found the flag she when i went there in the morning and they have put this sign up cashmere and <hes> flag i was fairly emotional moment for other countries are free to present their own <hes> culture. I was given the freedom as well. Nobody's offended. I wasn't put in jail but that that's what it means. Range from me means a lot for me loving the free country like that. That's the detail today. I'm alex ashton signing off. The report by katersky must alami. The detail is brought to you by newsroom. Dot co dot indeed made possible by the r._n. Zied insead on the innovation fund hit the subscribe button to stay across the detail every day and if you're on apple plays labor writing as it helps other listeners find us. This episode was engineered by donnie poet and produced by alexia russell cocky donald.