Pro-India alliance in Kashmir seeks restoration of autonomy

Attribution: Faisal Khan - Anadolu Agency

People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration says Indian government’s 2019 decision ‘deepened uncertainty’.

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA) – An alliance of pro-India political parties in Indian-administered Kashmir on Tuesday said that a “big political void and deep uncertainty” has been created in the region by the Indian government’s decision on Aug. 5, 2019 to scrap the disputed region’s autonomous status.

Three former chief ministers are part of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which was hurriedly formed on Aug. 4, 2019, a day before the Indian parliament scrapped Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian Constitution that guaranteed Kashmir its own constitution, a flag, and barred outsiders from buying properties or taking up government employment. The loss of these two articles has sparked fears of demographic flooding of the Muslim-majority Kashmir by Hindus from India.

Although Muslim pro-India politicians believe Kashmir to be a part of the Indian Union and denounce the mainstream secessionist sentiment, they have been demanding constitutional guarantees to maintain the unique demographic character of Jammu and Kashmir. But most of them were either jailed or put under house detention before and after the decision, which the Indian government says will integrate the region with the rest of India and boost its economy. Many members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party call the alliance the “Gupkar gang”.

After today’s meeting, like in a few of its previous meetings, the alliance passed a resolution, asking India to restore the autonomy and called its Aug. 5 decision “unconstitutional”. India’s Supreme Court is yet to hear a slew of petitions challenging the scrapping of autonomy.

“It is most unfortunate that the judicial challenges against this abrogation as a violation of the Constitution continue to remain pending before the Supreme Court even after two years,” the alliance said in a statement.

“The suppression of civil liberties and democratic rights continues unabated. Attack on democratic rights under the draconian laws like UAPA/PSA continues as hundreds of people remain under detention without even charges being framed,” the statement said and added that new laws are being passed to deny passports and government jobs to “those accused of involvement in law and order situations or stone throwing”.

With the loss of autonomy, the statement said, the protection to the jobs and other rights of the citizens of the erstwhile autonomous region was “snatched arbitrarily which deepened the sense of insecurity in the regions and communities”.

Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir. Also, in the Siachen Glacier region of northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.

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