Drastic steps have been taken in the dispute over Kashmir. On 5th August the government of India, headed by Narendra Modi of the BJP, ended the special status of autonomy enjoyed by the state of Jammu & Kashmir. This status had been in place since India’s independence from the UK in 1947, and was enshrined in article 370 of the Indian constitution.
Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state in India, a country whose population is over 80% Hindu. Nevertheless, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir chose to join India in 1947, rather than Pakistan, and was accorded the now–removed special status. Tensions are always high in the region because of the ensuing dispute between the two nuclear powers.
The removal of the special status was also accompanied by a clampdown in communication. Internet and mobile networks have been blocked and in many cases landlines have also been compromised. In addition, large congregations have been banned, making it difficult for the Muslim population to celebrate one of their most important annual religious festivals, Eid–al–Adha, escalating the already significant tension in the area.
AsiaLink has partners in the Kashmir region with whom we work closely and we have not heard anything at all from them since this clampdown. It is obviously a cause of concern for us. We have no idea if they are safe or what their current situation is.
We would earnestly covet your prayers for the whole situation and especially for our partners in Kashmir. Thank you.