Our guest this week is a young Kashmiri woman currently living in Mumbai.
Situated in a mountainous region between India and Pakistan, Kashmir has been a nominal part of India since shortly after India and Pakistan both gained independence from the British in 1947. It’s also India’s only Muslim majority state and was the battleground in two separate wars between India and Pakistan and several armed conflicts between the two nuclear-armed rivals, including one limited engagement earlier this year.
Under article 370 of the Indian constitution Kashmir was guaranteed broad autonomy, including a separate constitution, and freedom to administer its own affairs in all areas except for currency, communications, defense, and foreign policy. Over the past few decades much of this autonomy has been slowly rolled back by the central government in Delhi, but one key feature that remained was Kashmiris exclusive rights to buy and own land in Kashmir. This key remaining feature of Kashmiri autonomy was eliminated when Hindu Nationalist Prime Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government eliminated article 370 from the Indian constitution earlier this month. Since that time landlines, mobile communication links, and the Internet have been cut, and Kashmiris have been cut off from the rest of the world and their families in India.