Photo: Republic World / YouTube
Photo: Republic World / YouTube

Militarisation and the media

How the Modi government imposed its will on Jammu & Kashmir.

Everybody is left in the dark. The sun is shining in the sky but the day turns dark for us.

– A youth in Bijbehara, South Kashmir, from an interview conducted by the writer in the aftermath of the assassination of Burhan Wani in 2016.

A great deal of strategising went into the execution of the move to abrogate Article 370 and the dismantling of the statehood of Jammu & Kashmir which had existed as a historical entity since 1846. Even more carefully mapped out, it seems, was the management of a potentially explosive aftermath. There were many elements to this effort to suborn the will of the people of the state to that of the Government of India, including the arrest of the mainstream political leadership in the Kashmir Valley. But its lynchpin was the combination of military force and media manipulation, both conducted on an unprecedented scale.

Already one of the most militarised zones in the world, with miles of concertina wire wrapped around it, the state – more specifically the Kashmir Valley – is believed to have some 700,000 Indian armed personnel permanently stationed on its soil, although this figure is believed to be an underestimation. In the run up to the abrogation of Article 370, an additional 35,000-38,000, according to official sources, were said to have been brought in as reinforcements.

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Himal Southasian