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Kashmir: the worst ongoing conflict you've never heard about.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but control only parts of it.

The latest string of attacks by Kashmiri insurgents left 44 Indian soldiers dead, and will provoke a massive crackdown by Indian army stationed in Kashmir. But what is the conflict in Kashmir, which is undereported by the world media, is really all about

Kashmir today is widely regarded as the being the world's most militarized zone. The region has witnessed three major wars between India and Pakistan, another limited war between India and China, numerous border skirmishes, high mountainous warfare, an ongoing insurgency, tens of thousands of dead Kashmiri, a Hindu exodus and internal civilian war.


Historically the problem of Kashmir was created by Great Britian in 1947, when it partitioned India into two countries, Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. The British Partition displaced fifteen million people and killed more than a million and created the problem of Kashmir. In August, 1947, when, after three hundred years in India, the British finally left, the subcontinent was partitioned into two independent nation states: Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. Even before India and Pakistan won their independence from Britain in August 1947, Kashmir was hotly contested. Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan. The maharaja (local ruler), Hari Singh, chose India and a two-year war erupted in 1947. During the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, Jammu and Kashmir, like other Muslim-majority regions, was expected to go to Pakistan. But the ruler of the princely state, who had initially wanted Jammu and Kashmir to become independent, joined India in return for help against an invasion of tribesmen from Pakistan. In 1949, a special provision was added to the Indian constitution providing autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. Article 370 allows the state to have its own constitution, a separate flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications.

Pandit Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah sign the instrument of Accession which saw Jammu and Kashmir joined the Union of India in 1947.

A new war followed in 1965, while in 1999 India fought a brief but bitter conflict with Pakistani-backed forces. By that time, India and Pakistan had both declared themselves to be nuclear powers. Many people in the territory of Indian controlled Kashmir do not want it to be governed by India, preferring instead either independence or union with Pakistan.

The population of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir is more than 60% Muslim, making it the only state within India where Muslims are in the majority.

Pakistani backed Rebel groups in Kashmir began fighting in 1989 against Indian rule, and more than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising and subsequent Indian crackdowns. To counter the Kashmir insurgency, India militarised the Valley, deploying a huge number of troops in the region. Some half a million Indian troops and paramilitary Police and armed units are currently stationed in Kashmir, according to which the region possesses the highest ratio of troops to civilians in the world.

In its efforts to crush the militant movement, India's central government has pursued a policy of repression in Kashmir which has resulted in massive human rights violations by Indian army and paramilitary forces. Throughout the conflict, the security forces have deliberately targeted civilians, the majority of whom are widely believed to sympathize with the militants. According to a 1993 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, the security forces use rape as a method of retaliation against Kashmiri civilians during reprisal attacks after militant ambushes. According to a 1996 HRW report, security personnel in Kashmir have used "rape as a counterinsurgency tactic". A study in 2005 by Médecins Sans Frontières concluded that the rate of sexual violence against Kashmiri women was one of the highest among the world's conflict zones, with 11.6% of respondents, out of a total 510 people in their survey, reporting personal experience of sexual abuse. Among the worst of these violations have been the summary executions of hundreds of detainees in the custody of the security forces in Kashmir. Such killings were carried out as a matter of policy. Recently mass graves of thousands of Muslim Kashmiri have also been found containing thousands of bodies riddled with bullets which are thought to have been civilians who were killed the the Indian army or its paramilitary units.

Am unmarked mass graves site in Kashmir.

However Muslims are not the only people suffering in the Indian controlled Kashmir region. During the eruption of militancy in Kashmir valley, terrorism by Pakistan-backed militants has specifically targeted the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits minority. Reports by Indian government state 219 Kashmiri pandits were killed and around 140,000 migrated due to militant attacks while over 3000 stayed in the valley. For their part, armed militant organizations in Kashmir have also targeted civilians, although not to the same extent as have the Indian military and security forces. Particularly in early 1990, militant groups threatened, assaulted and murdered Hindus residing in the Kashmir valley -- driving many to flee to refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. Pakistiani backed Militant groups have also kidnapped and killed Muslim civilians whom they have accused of being informers or of not supporting their political views. Various armed militant groups in Kashmir have also committed rape against civilian women, but not in the scale of the Indian units. Reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists confirmed Indian reports of systematic human rights violations by Pakistan-backed militants against Kashmiri Hindu pandits.

A protest by Kashmiri Hindu Pandits.

A report published by Asia Watch sums up the the ongoing state of violence in Indian controlled Kashmir :

"In Kashmir, the militant forces do not control territory and their military operations are generally characterised by ambushes of government forces and hit-and-run attacks for which they rely on weapons such as AK-47s, grenades, mines and other small arms. However, the guerrillas command considerable support throughout the valley and may take refuge among local civilians following these operations. Unable to locate or identify the militants, government forces routinely respond to the attacks by retaliating against entire villages, killing and assaulting civilians and destroying their property." Ever since Kashmir's autonomy was revoked by India in 5 August 2019, Kashmir and the 7 million people there have been living under a military lockdown, with the internet and communications to the outside world remaining highly restricted. No foreign journalists have been granted permission from the Indian government to report in Kashmir which might explain why this issue is being completetly ignored by the media. Sources:

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