What you need to know about the current crisis in Kashmir

The Daily Vox

The situation in Indian-administered Kashmir has worsened in recent weeks. Eighty-two people have people killed in clashes with Indian security forces, while thousands of civilians have been injured.

Why the unrest though?
Kashmir’s summer of discontent was stirred by the killing of a popular militant, Burhan Wani on 8 July. His killing, which came during a gunfight with Indian soldiers, inspired a new wave of protests and acts of civil unrest across the region. Protesters have called for strikes and stay-aways in protest of the Indian occupation.

What do the protesters want?
Protesters are demanding the right to self-determination. Some want independence for the region, others want a merger with Pakistan. The history of the conflict can be traced back to 1947 when the region was divided between India and Pakistan upon independence from Great Britain. Both India and Pakistan claim the territory in full. And several rebel groups have been at war with the Indian military for years now.

How has the Indian military responded?
There are currently around 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory. When the current wave of protests broke out, Indian security personnel shot pellets and live ammunition at protesters. The use of pellet guns has been severely criticised for blinding hundreds of youth and causing organ ruptures when shot multiple times.

So, what happened this week?
Protests continue against the presence of the Indian military in the region. In an effort to quell further protests, the Indian government shut down internet services and mobile telephone networks, as well as calling the army into civilian areas to combat protests and impose restrictions.

Al Jazeera reports that authorities did not allow congregational Eid prayers in Kashmir’s main mosques or at Eid prayer grounds, but prayers were held by people in small neighbourhood mosques. Riffat Fareed tells The Daily Vox that some people have been unable to visit their family members in different parts of Kashmir.

According to the BBC, the Indian state says the Eid shutdown was to stop plans by separatists to march to the UN observers’ office in Srinagar.

Why isn’t more information coming out?
Fareed says the blackout has been imposed by the government so that no news comes out of Kashmir. Activists say that Facebook posts and pages in support of Kashmir in India are being deleted. One page that has emerged is Teach me how to write Azadi. Facebook and Twitter have been shut down, even for some media houses inside the territory.

The piece first appeared on The Daily Vox and can be accessed here

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