The future of Kashmir
Earlier this week kashmir kind of disappeared the special status kashmira had long enjoyed within india was revoked at the whim of indian prime prime minister narendra modi and cashmere was isolated behind an information blockade with telephone and internet services suspended and thousands of of additional indian troops deployed to already heavily militarized region as local political leaders were locked up public gatherings banned and curfews imposed. This is clearly narendra. Modi's attempt to force a resolution to the kashmir question which has defied straightforward answer since the end end of british rule in india in nineteen forty seven when pakistan split from india kashmir was stranded between the two countries it had and has has a muslim majority population but had a hindu maharajah who chose to join india war between india and pakistan followed and has recurred had twice since amidst uncountable other skirmishes and incidents abolishing cashmere special status was a promise of narendra modi in the lead lead up to this year's indian election an election decided weeks after another flare up with pakistan over kashmir modi has portrayed the removal evil of kashmir's special constitutional status as an act of me administrative loose end tying though it is unlikely that kashmiris or pakistan on we'll see it like that has narendra modi unleashed something he might struggle to control. This is the foreign desk. India is fragmenting admitting as never before long religious lines muslims who previously viewed themselves as indians and opposed kashmir's secession now see themselves as muslims who worry about this being a trailer for the feature film and that's about to follow when i was growing up he was part of your life you saw people killed on the streets you saw often off of massacres on the streets use often battles between insurgents and the armed forces who saw dead bodies and that leaves a lasting impression you marx taught life in many ways to my understanding opting for violence was the worst incident that cash we took but this has pushed schmear into into the cycle of violence again and in abe's that people do not see any other though society has been so divided because of the way military is imposed. It's politics on on the rest of society so narendra. Modi's single act has ignited a fire that will engulf salvation welcome to the foreign desk with me andrew miller kashmir's troubles have scattered a kashmiri diaspora across the world and this week's events have left them even more cut off from their homeland than usual. Our first guest is muzorewa. He'd a kashmiri author. Most recently of tell her everything and two previous novels the collaborator and the book of gold leaves both set in kashmir <music> eight is analogously last seeds cushman has seen. We have seen loss tech. Yes i grew up at the when the conflict started <unk> early nineties. I was a teenager and we used to have similar lockdowns. Indian armed forces saddam mcaliskey's could entire title eight years of the long fuse. I once lived through a curfew that lasted seventy days but this is even worse than that. I haven't been able to contact my fed. It's four days yeah but i say not being able to contact absolutely no contact whatsoever even good old fashioned landlines. The indian state has blocked dotes so there's no way absolutely not no way so every morning. We hope that today that might be something vaccination. I might a brother-in-law somewhere or other disabilities somewhere absolutely no contact attacked and it is unprecedented and people already that terrify journalists are out slowly now by the time magazine today and it this is about a on this i know of how he his back on the memory stick and then give it to various people who would then go to the airport and then find someone who's leaving me to the dick and take the work to delhi vans that i build those internationally conditions missions who would then run it and then the asked is doing pets. I keep an eye on <hes> a divorce <hes> wherever there and it's not new to catch me a crackdown unbinding sources but previous governments would have a fig-leaf process or at this they would sometimes send their own delegations from delhi to meet kush meetings were protesting and wait for things to conduct no such thing as happened. This time is absolute absolute calm down on the most basic human liberties the things we take for granted here for instance. You know you speak you talk you call. Someone and i have to say yes. There's a massive community despot in britain but i haven't haven't seen much movement on the government front. I haven't heard much from the discussion. There was so much about likely became bernard. It became an everyday reality we learned and i was thinking about my bed and my uncles and my aunts this today and i was reassuring myself and i was telling my wife as well. Who's not additionally that this is a ritual also practiced not decades because he's no stock meds. Definitely they start baby food. They start you know essentials. We're used to that but no one expected it to be. This survey one day two days before the lockdown. I spoke to my father who had a procedure done the previous week and i you know by the veterans get older and i asked him if he's got enough medicines at twelve you said yes he's got enough medicine and and when i was growing up it was part of your life you saw people killed on the streets. You saw off them off of massacres on the streets use optimal so battles between insurgents and armed forces you saw dead bodies and that leaves a lasting impression. You're marked mark light in many ways and those things begin to inform the sensibility as a writer of course right. You want to be more than just your lived experience but these are hard hard what experiences especially for a young mind when you are made to witness i remember one time. I was bothered a cordon and search operation where they ask you a school. Men fool ages about that intel to come out to your house's early morning and you're gathered in an open space where the cost informa in sitting inside a radical identifies hi sue parade and those also regular. Thanks in the ninety s. I was in one of those when i was sixteen or seventeen years old and i remember we've the made to walk fast three or four bodies lying on the grass on this in this open ground and you couldn't stop the you're expected to walk in a straight line and that image never left my head if i was asked to can define myself as no i i've never identify which means never see themselves as all talk is study that is what is lost in the in the noise that comes from increasingly nastiness media in india schmidt is felt to be boxed on it. Yes that is a a sympathy and there's a section within push me that always wanted to join the large majority will always wanted to independent but they never felt indian and pakistan funny but as i was growing up you increase in the mobile of those markers of identity. Who am i your variables in this because you see an imposition russian in front. If you'll you'll see soldiers walking outside your house you see them determining the course of your daily life and you don't like that person it's only later turn you begin to make sense of the politics behind it so you don't want to be a nationalist nationalist but it's one of those things that you were promised harmless something you were told that you are free to join india pakistan and we will ask you and both countries how over the two decades found on means of not asking bush needs to come to the table a sadly we live in a world where there's so many context aging around the world and kashmir is not the most sort of talk most fashionable conflict anymore but we are still hopeful that western arbres britain which has a long connection and historic connection with south asia with the subcontinent and cushman dispute came from the the hasty departure of the -ten from the subcontinent for these seven it was lord mountbatten who agreed to the idea that kashmir will be decided later after the partition of india and pakistan came into being mountbatten was a party to the idea that bush meat would be decided later wire resident referendum never took place and many any of the things we see now happening cushman go back to that time because then you haven't on the promises you made to people and it wasn't just bound back in time so taylor who made the same promise many times to the people of kashmir to indian people on the floor of parliament and that the u._n. That india will not keep cushman forcibly but that's exactly what they did on monday. The nominal autonomy the loss constitutional link between cushman and india or severe and essentially means their next kush me against the which which many people so that was the kashmiri author muzorewa he'd on join now by capital combat already i asia siddiqui and muslimeen jalil tacoma ready is author of malevolent republic. A short history of the new india aisha's the deka is a military scientist author and and research associate at us and muslim. Jalil who joins us from new delhi is the deputy editor of the indian express. Welcome all of you to the show capital. I'll start start with you and i know you'll enjoy being asked to speak for narendra modi but if we were to ask him why he's doing this. What would he tell us. Yes it would be the fulfillment of a long yearning to subdue the population of the only muslim-majority state of the union and to consolidate the indian union kushner was regarded by his party as the unfinished business of partition. It was given even special privileges. It wasn't a full part of the union in the sense that the constitution of the republic didn't fully apply to the state so he's gone ahead and remove the statehood gatewood is abolished the state of jammu in kashmir. He's turned it into a union territory <hes> which means that it is governed directly by delhi for him. It's the culmination the nation offer longstanding desire of his party to finish off the special privileges granted kushner at its accession to the union muslim l. in you deli. You've been in kashmir quite recently as recently as earlier this week when you spoke to people in kashmir. How do they think this is going to to change their lives. You know people in kashmir shocked that they are going to turn into another palestine. The tink that wants the permanent resident is taken away which has been there from nineteen twenty seven. They are going to be people coming there and basically the land is going. Would it be taken away in that has made tangible thing. Not this is in tangible terms. People understand loss of land loss of whom and you know you know much domes aisha. I'll bring you in this. Kashmir has of course being a well not really a frequent cause or reason for conflict between india and pakistan so much as a constant one. It's really only the the degree of the conflict that varies but is the incidents we saw in february this year the suicide bombing of an indian military convoy which killed forty indian soldiers the combat in the skies over kashmir resulting in the shooting down of at least one indian and one pakistani playing the part of the backdrop to what we're seeing mody doing now or would he be doing this anyway. I i mean national. Security is how maud is sold it but i would argue. It's more than about national security and it's more than about development amid shaw the home secretary minister said the plan is to bring development to kashmir but if you look at the statistics it's not that kushner is more more under developed than any other states in the the hindu belt in in india. The ratings are up pretty okay so these are all excuses if narendra modi or indeed any other indian prime minister and he certainly not the first complains that kashmir is used as a staging post by pakistani sponsored sponsored militants the not entirely wrong other no they're not but what needs to be understood is that in the last five to six six years <hes> the movement has itself has become very organic. It's an intifada in kashmir which every individual is involved volved <hes>. There's been so much bloodshed the conflict that started after nineteen eighty-nine that cycle of violence that started after nine hundred eighty nine it has culminated in involving every household in pushing back and trying to push back the state and of course it's it's these policies of the indian states depression which does contribute. I'm not saying that's the only reason box on has its own policies. They're bought bought it does contribute to attracting milton's from the other side of the border capital. Whether it's what narendra modi or indeed anybody else actually wants or not how serious a risk is india now running of inflaming not just a big conflict but an actual proper war over kashmir. Which would you'd say another war over kashmir a tremendous risk. I should just mentioned how organic this has become. <hes> when the conflict began in eighties that we young children even who saw their fathers disappear who saw mothers molested they've now come of age and what they've seen they can't unsee and they've internalized internalize the trauma and they are now regardless. What pakistan does they are demanding things that the union government is unable to provide and now now when you have this tremendous supply this rage pakistan can just ignited he's created an opening for pakistan comment and exploit the grievances of the people and so i think there is a big risk of this blowing up into a war so the short answer to your question is yes. It's a tremendously big risk doc muslim meal in in terms of the reporting. You've been doing and what you're hearing and seeing in new delhi. Does that strike you as something that the indian public in general are worried about are people concerned modena's provoking something he might not necessarily be able to control no other way around. I think a lot of sport for this policy. You should have seen how much celebration was there and it is not just b._j._p. Didn't like five sixty of the congress party who have come out against depart at these official line. I think that you know we have to also understand that. This country has changed because i immediately enter we. We understand ah the not understand. Why isn't that in the movie has been able to do this muslim meal just to follow that up when you talk about people celebrating this revoking one of kashmir's special status. Are you able to get a sense of water dis. They're actually celebrating. How do people elsewhere in india think that this is going to improve their lives. You know it's not about that. I think that there is a narrator that has been created in this country which is such an appeasement muslims. Muslims go ahead done. This muslims are responsive in everything. There is no rationality nick but this is the reality capital. It's been a recurring occurring motif of narendra modi's rise to power and his continuing purchase on power is his demonizing of india's muslim minority and again. We have to acknowledge that where india's concerned these things are always relative. We're talking about a minority of some two hundred million people but is this intervention in kashmir. The only muslim-majority pretty state in india as was should it be interpreted as a signal to the rest of india's muslims that you would not really all that welcome here and even if you are not really proper indian citizens what's very interesting is that for longtime kashmiri secessionist muslims didn't have any support among the majority georgia of indian muslims india was home to the largest population of muslims outside of a few countries in asia and they didn't support kashmiri sessions and they saw themselves primarily as indians. What movie has done is. He's treated them as a fifth column and as was just mentioned they are somehow responsible for the crimes of muslim invaders and what i witness now what's very interesting is that muslims in india in the rest of india are beginning to worry about what movie has done to kashmir previously only the previous secular governments did similar things they were brutal with cushman the imposed these laws where you could just kill a man if you had reasonable belief that he posed a threat to you but muslims never spoke on behalf of kashmir's never stood with kashmir's and the rest of india for the first time muslims look at what is happening in kashmir and they see if this man can do this to an entire state. What is our future so india is fragmenting as never before long religious lines muslims who previously viewed themselves as indians and opposed kashmiri secessionism now see themselves as muslims who worry about this being a trailer for the feature film. That's about to follow shoot. We've talked. They're a bit about public opinion in india and how it's going to perceive this if we look at the same question on the other side of the border how much in day to day pakistani politics first of all in kashmir issue pakistan beasley administers a section of kashmir there has been frequent conflict not least but most recently in february across what is called all day long of control but is it something that comes up recurrently in pakistan only at moments of of flare up intention. It was there you know you. You knew it was there. You sympathize with it but you didn't have to really do much about it. You know you just sleep with it like a pillow under your head. No i think there would be a worry wart next but having said that i must say that opinion is divided on the whole on the surface. Yes there is a sympathy but on the other hand. We have to understand that there are the policy makers the military for instance in kasane john. It's raise for all these years is being you know the desire to get independence for indian kashmir that would be gone so they're awarded party party and the society has been so divided because of the way military is imposed. It's politics on the rest of the society so i'm not sure that pakistan right now is in a position to really respond strongly. It has on the other hand it. Is it a score of trade ties. That's been announced at a stop. The train service between india and pakistan it has recalled its high commissioner and send india's hike mystery back relations have been downgraded but narendra modi's single act has ignited a fire that will engulf south asia muslim meal in new delhi. I want to ask you a bit about the bigger. International picture here lost time there was sustained open conflict between india and pakistan kashmir asked me one of the things that helped bring it to a close was the intervention of the united states under the leadership of bill clinton which was able to act as something over interlocutor at least in the current context of course it's far from clear that the president of the united states has any interest in kashmir or even really could point to it on a map for that reason is mody more emboldened than he otherwise might be. I guess what i'm really asking is if you look around the world old whose opinion his actually taking into account at this point. I don't think he thinks anybody's opinion in account. I think we have to look at this issue what he has done. We have to understand that. This is a civilizational project. It is a way to homo denies this country what i think how how this has changed the dynamics of this conflict is the before these people were seeking as are the people who are seeking independence or order merger with pakistan that daca freedom is a higher explanation but what is has done it has made did this conflict somehow leaking into the very existence of cash needs as people and i think that what does my worry because i am from the generation who became the consuming thousand nine hundred and i witnessed was its impact on us to my understanding. Opting for violence was the worst dissident that kashmir ever took but this has pushed cashmere into that cycle of violence again and interviews that people do not see any other way capital kapito muslim meal that talks about what modi's embarked upon a civilizational project obviously remaking india very much in in his own image me jordan and and as the b._j._p. And especially the r._s._s. would prefer to see it. Do you get a sense that there might be a limit on the price of the indians are willing to pay four narendra modi's civilizational project. I i don't think so as long as india remains safe indians of been insulated from what is happening in kashmir schmidt. We've what is happening. Schmidt brutality is not new successive governments have brutalized kashmiri people and india carried on as they didn't exist but if the violence comes south if it comes into the plains indians might rethink it within cushman. I just wanted to make this point under when you mentioned kashmir's there is a substantial substantial segment of kashmir's that does support movie there the non muslims who were driven out of their homes by the separatists and it's important to mention them because they've been written out of history history <hes> they live as refugees and delhi and other parts of india and some some injunction they welcomed this move and they've been among the people who've celebrated it and in doc which has been partitioned from jim cushman which is a buddhist heavy state. It's no union territory. They welcomed it so there are nuances to this but within within kashmir which is a small valley really because much of it is in pakistan's hand that valley is full of enraged angry men where they once upon a time until two days ago mainstream political parties that were pro-india that said our accession to india's final non-negotiable. They announced speaking the language of separatist because they can't show themselves in public. This betrayal is so heavy going forward. I think it would be very difficult to cultivate pro-union voices in kashmir and we're looking <music> at a people whom we are holding onto by force and as the example of india itself shows you can't hold onto people by force. You can't make people sit on benefits. Are you sure given everything we've been discussing. It seems a possibly vainglorious thought to wonder if there is any potential positive constructive or helpful settlement to winnie of this but is there any way at all that this isn't going to get worse see my fear is that short-term mosey will feel that not his one but medium to long-term. I think very slowly of violence will return to india and then to south asia in general this is not something which will not have long term repercussions and mind you there other minorities in india who must be feeling very unsafe at the moment they will be reactions and you don't know how violence could erupt in india capital. Do you think narendra mody thinks he can control what happens or does he in this is potentially the more dangerous simply not really care all that much. He is drunken paula. How he has an absolute majority his second term he absolutely believes in this movement that does is it. He's the master he's redrawing destiny of india but very soon i keep thinking about yugoslavia in eighty nine milosevic took power from rives. Darvish was the president of yugoslavia to abolish the autonomy of vojvodina the dina and kosovo and he thought that was the beginning of the consolidation of the serb nation. It was the beginning of the end of yugoslavia. Any state in india can now be abolished polished overnight as kashmir has been abolished and india is a federation a union of states with very vastly different cultures people in the south people in the east will start asking themselves questions agents at this moment they will just be questions and thoughts but these things crystallized grew and we may reach point if we don't ask ourselves difficult questions christians and confront this man where people might think you know. One part of this union dot is how it happened. In yugoslavia. An india's divinely ordained it can fall apart coupla capital camaraderie asia siddiqui and was jalil in new delhi. Thank you very much for joining. That's that's it for. This episode of the forest will be back next week and look out for the foreign desk explainer available every wednesday. The foreign desk is produced and edited by yolene goffin and ludi andrew. Thanks very much for listening until next time goodbye.