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.
Militant activity remained at low ebb in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), while mandate of grassroots body of representatives expired as new regional elections remained in doubt.
Militant attacks and security operations remained at low ebb due to winter. Security forces and militants 3 Jan engaged in gun battle in Kulgam district. Security forces 4 Jan arrested Hizbul Mujahideen militant from New Delhi. Security forces 5 Jan killed alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militant in Shopian district. Authorities 21 Jan arrested juvenile harbouring militants. During annual press conference, India’s army chief 11 Jan claimed “increase in terrorism” in last five-six months in J&K’s Rajouri and Poonch districts, describing it as “one area our adversaries have been active in”; he claimed security forces killed 45 militants in last three years in area, while militants killed seven soldiers in Kashmir valley and twenty in Rajouri-Poonch area in same period. Security forces 27 Jan busted module of cross-border arms smuggling and arrested five militant associates in Kupwara district.
Terms of grassroots political representatives expired. Mandate of 28,000 grassroots representatives elected in 2018 to first-ever three-tier system of representation in J&K officially ended on 9 Jan after completion of five-year term, bringing end to last semblance of political representation in region; calls continued for regional assembly election to be held this year, last of which was held in 2014, but no date has been set.
Govt banned two separatist organisations. Ministry of Home Affairs 27 Dec declared Muslim League Jammu Kashmir “an unlawful association” for five years under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, accusing it of seeking to establish “Islamic rule in J&K”. Ministry 31 Dec declared Tehreek-e-Hurriyat unlawful for five years under same law, alleging “terror activities to fuel secessionism in J&K”.
In other important developments. India’s Border Security Force 20 Jan seized consignment of arms and ammunition smuggled by drone, allegedly from Pakistan, in Punjab district. India 13 Jan protested UK High Commissioner to Islamabad’s visit to Pakistan-administered Kashmir, asserting “such infringement of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unacceptable”. Pakistan’s FM 25 Jan claimed “credible evidence” of links between Indian agents and 2023 killings of two Pakistanis in Pakistan; India rejected allegation.
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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