Modi takes control in Kashmir

Tensions are escalating in the disputed Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir as he central government revokes its autonomy.

Indian troops in Kashmir © TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

New Delhi has taken back powers over Kashmir
(Image credit: Indian troops in Kashmir © TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)

India has "reopened old wounds inflicted at the founding of the modern Indian state" by revoking long-standing constitutional provision that granted autonomy and other special protections to Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, says Amy Kazmin in the FT. India is also downgrading Jammu and Kashmir from the status of a fully fledged state to a so-called union territory, giving New Delhi more control over the local administration, including its police. Modi's government argues that the moves will "tackle legal backwardness in a region living in the past and to make the government work better for its citizens" and that they will lead "to a burst of development".

Remaking India in Modi's image

By forcibly cutting off communications with the rest of India, the Modi government has "ground down and humiliated Kashmiris" as part of a project "to remake the entirety of India in accordance with Modi's ideology", says Kapil Komireddi in The Guardian. Modi is not only fulfilling "a long-standing Hindu nationalist yearning to domesticate the region's dissenting Muslim majority", but also using them "as an example to other Indian states, a demonstration that nobody is immune from his untrammelled authority". With organised political opposition to Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party "being meticulously wiped out", we can be certain that what has happened in Kashmir "will be repeated elsewhere".

Modi's move is also likely to enrage Pakistan, which claims parts of Kashmir, says The New York Times. The territory has "driven India and Pakistan to war" on several occasions, which has left its residents "trapped in a low-intensity conflict" between a few hundred young militants and tens of thousands of Indian troops. Pakistan's prime minister has "lashed out" at Modi, accusing him of seeking "to establish a state that represses all other religious groups". Yet Pakistan is hardly blameless: it has a "long history" of covertly backing militant groups inside the Indian-administered areas of Kashmir.

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With troops gathering on the de-facto border between Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir, "the chances of serious escalation are increasing by the day", says The Times. Relations between the two countries are "particularly raw" since the death of 40 Indian paramilitary police in a suicide bombing in February. Modi needs to consider whether he wants to go down in history as a "modernising peacemaker", or as a "leader willing to risk regional security for the dubious ambitions of his nationalist sympathisers".

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

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