Militants in Indian-administered Kashmir have increased the targeted killing of Hindus, who are a small minority in the region, spreading panic among them. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Praveen Donthi draws upon interviews with residents to explore the implications of this violence.
Militants launched first deadly attack on Hindus in years in Jammu region, while acrimony continued between India and Pakistan.
Militants targeted Hindus in brazen attack despite low ebb in violence across Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). In first attack on minority Hindu community members in Jammu region’s Rajouri district in over a decade, militants 1 Jan came down from forested higher reaches to village and fired indiscriminately on three houses, killing four people and injuring seven; explosive left behind by militants next day killed two children in same village. Security forces did not accuse any group of responsibility. Meanwhile, militant attacks across J&K remained at low ebb owing to harsh winter. Notably, militants 1 Jan lobbed grenade at security forces personnel in regional capital Srinagar, injuring one. Two alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militants 15 Jan escaped during security operation in Budgam district but were killed two days later. Militants 22 Jan lobbed grenade in Srinagar, injuring one civilian. Home ministry declared The Resistance Front and People’s Anti-Fascist Front as “[militant] organisations” 5 and 7 Jan, respectively.
Locals protested against govt’s land laws in J&K. Hundreds of political activists 16 Jan protested in Jammu against J&K administration’s ongoing eviction of locals from what has been declared “state land”; protest leader same day said govt had “fiddled” with laws of “erstwhile State of [Jammu and Kashmir]” to “allow people from outside J&K and deprive the residents of their due right to use the land”.
India and Pakistan continued hostile rhetoric. Pakistan’s foreign ministry 4 Jan called on India to end “vile anti-Pakistan propaganda”, accusing Delhi of “brazen involvement in fomenting terrorism on Pakistan’s soil”. Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif 16 Jan called for talks “to resolve our burning points like Kashmir”. India 19 Jan said “we always desire normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan” but there should be no “terror, hostility or violence”. Indian Army Chief Manoj Pande 12 Jan said Feb 2021 ceasefire with Pakistan “is holding well but cross-border support to [militancy] and [militant] infrastructure however remains”; security forces 3 Jan claimed to have killed Pakistani trying to intrude in Punjab state’s Gurdaspur district.
Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries or regions at risk of deadly conflict or escalation thereof in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could enhance prospects for peace and stability.
As the decades-old conflict continues in Kashmir, with incidents occurring every week, dangerous tensions make future violence possible. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to push for India and Pakistan to rebuild mutual respect and peaceful relations by resuming formal bilateral ties and re-engaging with Kashmiri political leaders.
One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan. Kashmiri militancy is growing, often with Pakistani encouragement. Allies should urge New Delhi to relax its clampdown and Islamabad to stop backing jihadist proxies.
Reciprocal airstrikes by India and Pakistan have been accompanied by shelling, troop reinforcements and small arms fire. In this Q&A calling for restraint between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director Laurel Miller notes that the airspace violations alone were the worst for 50 years.
A 14 February suicide attack by Pakistan-based militants was their bloodiest strike in Indian-administered Kashmir in over three decades. In this Q&A, our Asia Program Director Laurel Miller warns that even a limited Indian retaliatory strike could spark a sharp escalation in conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Their recent dialogue process provides the best chance yet for bilateral peace and regional stability, but Pakistan and India must still overcome serious mistrust among hardliners in their security elites.
Even if India and Pakistan appear willing to allow more interaction across the Line of Control (LOC) that separates the parts of Kashmir they administer, any Kashmir-based dialogue will fail if they do not put its inhabitants first.
When the third round of the normalisation talks concludes in July 2006, India and Pakistan will be no closer than when they began the process in February 2004 to resolving differences, including over Kashmir.
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