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.
Opposition parties won first local election in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) since 2019, while India and Pakistan exchanged fire amid ongoing anti-militant security operations.
Kargil region of Ladakh Union Territory held council elections for first time since 2019. Coalition of Kashmir-based National Conference and national opposition Congress party 8 Oct won 22 seats on 26-member Kargil hill development council, while ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured only two seats; election was first to be held since BJP reorganised J&K into two union territories in 2019. National Conference claimed victory sent verdict that people remain opposed to reorganisation, while party leader Omar Abdullah questioned why regional elections had not been held in J&K, accusing Election Commission of “taking decision at the behest of the BJP”.
India and Pakistan traded fire as security operations continued. In ceasefire violation on 17 Oct, Pakistani and Indian border troops exchanged fire at Arnia sector of Jammu region, injuring two Pakistani guards; gunfire 27 Oct wounded four Pakistani civilians. Meanwhile, security forces 4 Oct killed two Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Kulgam district. Militant group The Resistance Front in Anantnag district same day fatally wounded teenager. Security forces 10 Oct killed two suspected Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) militants, who allegedly killed Kashmiri pandit recently in Shopian district. Security forces 26 Oct killed five LeT militants in Kupwara district.
Authorities sought to prevent rallies to support Palestinians. Following outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas (see Israel-Palestine), authorities 13 Oct closed largest mosque in J&K summer capital Srinagar to prevent pro-Palestine protests; citing security concerns, authorities also placed Kashmir’s chief cleric and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest after releasing him in Sept. Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti 21 Oct led protest in Srinagar against Israel’s offensive in Gaza. The Resistance Front 18 Oct vowed to attack Israeli interests.
In another important development. Govt 5 Oct banned pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom (JKDF) party for five years under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, citing its “anti-India” and “pro-Pakistan” activities; govt statement alleged JKDF was involved in terror activities with intention of creating “reign of terror”.
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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