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Indian soldier in Kashmir.

India isn’t hiding its strategy of simply forcibly changing the demographics of Kashmir.

It’s an open secret that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has demographic designs in Kashmir. Changing the demographics of Kashmir is one of the core goals of Modi’s right-wing government. It is essential to mention that nearly 2.5 million new non-local voters have been registered in Kashmir and more than 200,000 acres of land have been appropriated by the government, resulting in the demolition of thousands of homes, shops, schools, and mosques.

Idris Bhat writes in Foreign Policy: “It seems clear that revoking Article 35A will change the nature of Kashmir. For now, it is Muslim majority—according to Indian census data from 2011, 68 percent of Jammu and Kashmir’s 12.5 million people were Muslims. With the local government no longer able to bar outsiders from land ownership, New Delhi could presumably encourage the migration of Hindus to the region in the same way China has supported the growth of Han Chinese populations in Tibet.”

Additionally, issuing domicile certificates to over 3.4 million non-Kashmiris, mainly Hindu migrants from other parts of India, enables them to purchase land and apply for regional jobs. These actions will result in the economic disempowerment and marginalization of the predominantly Muslim Kashmiri population.

India’s recent decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status and impose direct rule indicates the country’s slide towards authoritarianism, which prioritizes the expansion of central government authority at the expense of international norms, the rule of law, and India’s own constitution. This action is consistent with the Indian government’s imperial goals and the goals of right-wing Hindu nationalists in Kashmir. The situation, however, also highlights the colonial control of Kashmir and the oppression of the region’s Muslim majority.

Systematic human rights abuses and state-sanctioned violence have characterized the Indian government’s occupation of Kashmir. Kashmiris have accused security forces of perpetrating a wide range of crimes including extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, and sexual assault. In the meantime, the Indian government has undertaken an aggressive invasion attempt in the territory to change the region’s demographic composition and make Kashmiris a minority in their own land. Human rights groups and the international community have sharply criticized establishing new settlements and the forceable acquisition of property by non-Kashmiris.

The situation for the people of Kashmir remains dire. Due to many countries prioritizing economic and geopolitical interests above human rights concerns, the international community has not held India accountable for its actions in Kashmir. Kashmir’s predicament must be resolved in an equitable and long-lasting way for the sake of the local populace and the region. A peaceful resolution to the dispute via negotiations would benefit the people of Kashmir and reduce tensions in the region.

For decades, conflicting claims to Kashmir have fueled tensions between India and Pakistan. According to various United Nations resolutions that have been ignored by India, a referendum must be held in Kashmir to determine its political status. India has a substantial military presence in the region, as it considers it to be an integral part of its territory. Numerous viewpoints and opinions, such as those of Kashmiri leaders and the international community, are examples of the subjective aspects of the long-running issue.

In Kashmir, human rights violations are prevalent; this is an undeniable fact. According to some estimates, more than 13,000 people have been killed, and more than 10,000 Kashmiris have been subjected to enforced disappearances over the past several decades. The violence has severely impacted the local economy. As a result, the region’s per capita income is the lowest in India.

It is arguable how much of a role Kashmiri leaders have in representing the people and relaying their concerns. Jammu and Kashmir’s All Parties Hurriyat Conference has been contending for the right of Kashmiris to self-determination through an alliance of separatist parties. And given current geopolitical realities, several countries have expressed their support for a peaceful resolution, while others have taken no position.

Abdul Mussawer Safi is an author at various platforms such as Modern Diplomacy, Kashmir Watch, and Eurasia Review. He is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in International Relations from National Defense University. He has a profound interest in world politics, especially in the regional dynamics of South Asia. His academic strengths are critical and SWOT analysis.