This is our second article on the Kashmir issue. You can read the first one, expressing an alternative perspective, here.
Sam Mansour, global security expert
The history of conflict in Kashmir dates back to 1947, when both India and Pakistan fought their first war over Kashmir that resulted in its partition between both countries. The dispute was referred to the UN which then issued a resolution on August 13, 1948, which called on both countries to withdraw their respective forces from Kashmir, and called for a “free and fair” plebiscite to allow the Kashmiri people to decide their own fate. However, the UN resolution was never implemented, and another war over the region broke out in 1965. Then, in 1999, what became known as the Kargil Conflict erupted between India and Pakistan, which pushed the Indian subcontinent to the brink of nuclear war. Throughout the years, an endless number of skirmishes took place over the line of control in Kashmir.
Against this historical background, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to abrogate the autonomy of Kashmir— India’s only Muslim-majority state—seems to have sparked a crisis with Pakistan, which considers Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of its territory. The move could also negatively impact India’s relations with its own Muslim population, which already suffers from sectarian Hindu practices.
This article intends to explore Modi’s decision, its meaning and implications for the stability of India, especially after it started to implement extreme security measures in anticipation of terrorist attacks which could not only target Kashmir but also the Indian capital of New Delhi.
The Indian government passed a resolution in parliament which abrogated Article 370, which governed the relationship between Kashmir and India for over 70 years, and granted Kashmir special autonomy since the early 1950s to make its own laws. Article 370 also banned outsiders from acquiring property and holding state government jobs in Kashmir.  Modi’s move was rejected in the Indian parliament from major opposition parties, in addition to all of its Muslim members.
It is important to note that Kashmir’s autonomy was granted in exchange for joining the Indian union after independence in 1947,  thus representing a grave threat to the historical basis through which Kashmir’s king accepted to join the Indian state in 1948.
The passing of the resolution was accompanied by an unprecedented number of security measures. Landlines, mobile phones and the internet were all blocked. India also imposed a curfew, and sent about 10 thousand extra troops to Kashmir, where more than half a million Indian soldiers were already stationed. 
Prominent politicians in Indian-administered Kashmir have been placed under house arrest, including Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and Sajjad Lone, chairman of People’s Conference. 
Modi’s decision to end Kashmir’s autonomy could be interpreted as an attempt to alter the ethnic composition of Kashmir, whose population is estimated to be about 12 million. Among the abrogated articles concerning Kashmir’s autonomy, is an article that bans outsiders from living in, acquiring property, and holding state government jobs in Kashmir.
Thus, Indians can now go and live in Kashmir, which could end up making Muslims a minority. This scenario is plausible given the fact that Kashmir retains religious importance for Hindus. Every year, since the early 1990s, an estimated 300,000 Hindu pilgrims visit Kashmir. This increased after the Hindu-nationalist government led by Modi encouraged “pilgrimage tourism”. 
Thus, in Modi’s calculus, his decision will encourage Hindu migration to the region so as to hinder Pakistan from supporting Kashmiri demands for self-determination, and end all Kashmiri calls for independence or reuniting with Pakistan. 
Modi is also attempting to enhance his popularity, by courting Hindu nationalists, who have for seven decades vehemently denounced Article 370 and hold an ideological belief that India should be a single and centralized nation-state. 
The Past as a Prologue
Modi’s policies towards Kashmir was a stark contrast to his conciliatory speech towards Muslims after he was re-elected prime minister on May 23. Furthermore, data shows that during the five years of Modi’s first term in power, hate crime against Muslims soared. Some 90% of religious hate crimes in the last decade have occurred since Modi came to power.  Thus, Modi’s policies towards Kashmir will not only alienate Muslim Kashmiris but also all Muslims in India.
Modi’s decision could also empower Hindu extremists within India, who celebrated Modi’s decision and proudly said: “We will now build a Hindu nation”. The popular narrative among Hindus argues that: “Now the Muslims will become Hindu out of fear or they will go to Pakistan, or …”  This exclusionary rhetoric threatens to empower extremists within the Indian Muslim community, especially as Hindu atrocities against Muslims continue to go unpunished.
India’s decision regarding Kashmir might also spark an insurgency against New Delhi, and this is not unprecedented. Since 1989, and throughout the 1990s, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed an insurgency which sought independence from India. Despite all security measures India took, and unprecedented military presence of the Indian army in Kashmir, it couldn’t root out this insurgency.
This was evident in February 2019, when about 44 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a suicide attack in Kashmir, prompting an immediate war of words between the nuclear-armed nations of India and Pakistan. Indian authorities said that the suicide bomber implicated in the attack appeared to have been a local Kashmiri militant, affiliated with the Pakistan, Jaish e-Mohammed, which India classifies as a terrorist organization.  New Delhi retaliated by carrying out an air strike against the Balakot site, inside Pakistan, which India claimed to be a base used by Jaish-e-Mohamed. Pakistan responded by shooting down two Indian military jets.  India is now trying to intimidate Pakistan and the Kashmiri people, but such measures will only serve to escalate the conflict and decrease any hope for a lasting peace.
In conclusion, Hindu attacks against Muslims outside Kashmir, and growing sectarian rhetoric against Muslims, in addition to the ending of Kashmir’s autonomy sends a clear message to Indian Muslims that they are no longer considered equal to their Hindu compatriots, rather they are relegated to a secondary status. These policies are further alienating Muslims, and making them more susceptible to adopting extremist views, and accepting foreign intervention. All of this increases communal tensions and has negative implications for stability in South Asia.
European Eye on Radicalization aims to publish a diversity of perspectives and as such does not endorse the opinions expressed by contributors. The views expressed in this article represent the author alone.
 A brief history of the Kashmir conflict, The Telegraph, September 24, 2001, https://bit.ly/2xpERWz
 Removal of Article 370 will bring stability, market access, predictable laws to Kashmir: PM Modi, Business Today, August 12, 2019, https://bit.ly/2Z0LEln
 Rebecca Ratcliffe and Shah Meer Baloch, Kashmir curfew eased in Srinagar but blackout remains, The Guardian, August 11, 2019, https://bit.ly/31FvlfR
 #KashmirBleeds: Conflict Escalates as India Deploys More Troops, Asks Tourists to Leave Occupied Region, Telesur, August 4, 2019, https://bit.ly/2T67DG9
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 Balakot air strike: Pakistan shows off disputed site on eve of India election, BBC, April 10, 2019, https://bbc.in/2IvYPGF