Violence along defacto border in Occupied Kashmir likely to increase, reports ACLED

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Violence along defacto border in Occupied Kashmir likely to increase, reports ACLED

Violence along the de-facto border in Kashmir is likely to continue to increase and India and Pakistan are unlikely in the near future to make efforts to resolve the conflict bilaterally, according to a report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) Project.

The grim prediction is based on ACLED’s analysis of the events of 2020, which it called the most violent since 2016 when Kashmir witnessed months-long protests against India triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani.

Pakistan accused Indian troops of violating the agreement more than 1,600 times. Dozens of soldiers and civilians were killed and scores wounded in these firing incidents, which experts say were the highest since the signing of the border agreement in 2003.

While the borders are likely to stay “hot,” the explosive situation inside Kashmir could deteriorate further, said the ACLED report, which lists Kashmir as one of the 10 conflicts to watch for in 2021 alongside others such as Yemen, Myanmar, Ethiopia, and Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The report said there could be a surge in the activity of domestic and foreign militants in Kashmir because of “policy shifts” after August 5, 2019, when India stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomous status and divided it into two centrally ruled territories.

“Though the rise in militancy is attributed to Pakistan-based jihadi groups, disillusionment and anger caused by [India’s move on] August 5 has enabled both domestic and foreign [militant] groups to recruit Kashmiris,” the report said.

It said another source of a possible spur in militant activity is new citizenship and land laws that allow outsiders to purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir besides claiming residency. Before August 5, only Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist residents of the Muslim-majority region had these rights.

An ongoing exercise aimed at redrawing the local legislative assembly segments will shift the power to the Hindu-majority Jammu region, the report said. The resulting marginalization of Muslims “could in turn spur militant activity in the region,” it said.

*India government has 'virtually destroyed any chances of peace'*

Experts in Kashmir echo these concerns. Noor Ahmad Baba, former head of the department of political science at Kashmir University, told Anadolu Agency that India’s Hindu supremacist government has virtually destroyed any chances of peace with the August 5, 2019 decision.

“On the one hand, Kashmiris have been thrown into an impossible situation. On the other, India tried to sideline Pakistan by the unilateral decision of August 5, though Pakistan’s role in any Kashmir resolution is recognized internationally,” Baba said.

“What is going to be most dangerous is the situation of fear in which common Kashmiris find themselves right now. There are extraordinary restrictions in place and the situation can explode,” he added.

* 'lawless law' in Kashmir*

The August 5 decision has also disturbed regional stability, Baba said, referring to analyses that attribute last year’s India-China border clashes to the change of Kashmir’s political status. China had said the decision was “unlawful and void” and “challenged its sovereignty.”

Sociologist Farukh Fahim, who has studied the history of nationalistic movements in Kashmir, said India had claimed August 5 as a solution, but “that is not happening.”

“Soon after August 5, there was talk of Kashmir as another Palestine in the making. Muslims living in the neighborhood could be radicalized because of the worrying situation in Kashmir,” he told Anadolu Agency.

The ACLED report said that in 2020, India focused on deflecting opportunities for negotiation and tightening control of Kashmir while promoting pro-Indian politics in the region. At the same time, its forces reportedly used the coronavirus lockdown to strengthen intelligence gathering and to intensify counter-militancy operations.

“Pakistan responded by continuously casting doubt on the bilateral cease-fire agreement with India by highlighting Indian violations and human rights abuses in Kashmir at international diplomatic forums as well as inciting violence near the Line of Control,” it said.

With both countries “adopting non-cooperative militarized strategies,” the report said, “bilateral attempts at resolving the Kashmir conflict remain unlikely in the near future.”