Archives  >  2019  >  September  >  11th

The Kashmir Question

1. What’s the story?

Ever since India’s landmark repeal of Article 370, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been making global headlines. And on Tuesday, there was an India-Pakistan showdown about the issue at the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). India referred to Pakistan as the “global epicentre of terrorism” and accused it of using “offensive rhetoric” and “false allegations”. (Quick recap: The UNHRC is a United Nations body that aims to promote and protect human rights across the world.)

Tell me more.

As 6 Things had covered before here, Pakistan hasn’t been happy about the Kashmir situation. Back in August, it sent back the Indian envoy, disrupted bilateral trade, and downgraded its diplomatic ties with India. Pakistan has also, till date, presented this matter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as well as the International Court of Justice. On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, called out India’s actions in Kashmir at the UNHRC. India, expectedly, lashed back

 “The recent legislative measures taken by India in Jammu & Kashmir is within the framework of the country’s Constitution. It was a sovereign decision and an internal matter of India. No country can accept interference in its internal affairs,” said Vijay Thakur, Secretary (East) MEA.

Describing Pakistan as the epicentre of “global terrorism”, India called out the Pakistani delegation for “giving a running commentary with offensive rhetoric of false allegations and concocted charges” against New Delhi. “The world is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years,” Thakur said.”

Thakur also addressed the National Register of Citizens of India (NRC) issue, calling it a “statutory, transparent, nondiscriminatory legal process mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court.” (Quick recap: The NRC is supposed to be a register containing the names of all genuine Indian citizens. It first came into being during the 1951 Census. It was recently updated in the state of Assam – the final list leaving out around 40 lakh people.)

So, what now?

India’s strong stand at the UNHRC comes a day after United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed “deep concern” over the apparent human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir. She also expressed “anxiety” at the implementation of NRC in Assam. 

Watch this space. We’ll keep you updated.



2. Where else should I be looking at?

The Kashmir valley, that’s where. The state has been facing communication issues since Article 370 was repealed last month. It’s been 37 days of curfew in the valley. Schools and colleges remain empty, offices remain deserted, and most shops are closed. 

“While telephone landlines have started ringing again, calls often do not go through. Mobile and internet connections remain blocked across the Valley. While restrictions on movement have been eased, the Valley is punctuated by security checkpoints. Shops are shut and most public transport is off the roads because of a civil shutdown to protest the government’s decision. Moreover, hundreds of people have been detained, from political leaders to lawyers and businessmen to youth, many of them minors, considered potential stone pelters by the authorities.

The clampdown has also affected everyday life in other ways. While residents of the Valley remain cut off from basic services, the restrictions have also disrupted the government machinery.”



3. What more?

As 6 Things covered here earlier, the Indian automobile industry is in deep trouble. In 2019, it reported its worst performance in 19 years as high ownership costs, a worsening economy, and floods in some states led to a 31% drop in sales in July. Now, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is blaming millennials for this trouble

“Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday stated that the mindsets of millennial were adversely affecting the automobile industry as they prefer to use radio taxi services instead of buying own vehicle.

“The automobile and components industry has been affected by BS6 and the mindsets of millennial, who now prefer to have Ola and Uber rather than committing to buying an automobile,” said Sitharaman while addressing reporters.

(What can we say, we do love our avocado toasts and ride sharing apps.)



4. Anything else?

A tiny Kolkata sitar shop on a dusty street boasts of George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, and Yehudi Menuhin as its loyal customers. Here’s a fascinating look at this living piece of history. 

“Sitars in Hemen & Co are wrapped in plastic and hung from the ceiling with wires. Paint peels off the walls. At 180 sq ft, the shop is tiny; being right on the main road, dust is inevitable. Outside the shop, buses screech to a halt as the traffic lights turn red. The smell of fresh chai lingers as rabindra sangeet chimes from a speaker somewhere in the distance. A second branch down the road is only slightly larger.

Each handcrafted instrument is made to order and the owners of this family business, Ratan and Tapan Kumar Sen, only repair instruments they create. While each instrument has a one-year guarantee, they should last a lifetime. The wood for the sitar is brought especially from Assam, while the goatskin of the sarod comes from Kali temples that practice the sacrifice of baby goats. In most temples, sacrificing is prohibited, making it difficult to procure and consequently expensive – it takes a whole month to create a single sarod or a harmonium.”



5. Is that all?

Citizens in Hong Kong have been protesting for months against a controversial Chinese extradition bill. According to critics, this bill might have made it easier for China to interfere in Hong Kong’s ‘internal’ matters. After prolonged protests throughout summer, the bill was finally withdrawn by Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, last week. However, protestors’ demands have since grown, and people fear that it may have been too little, too late. The grim protests rage on.
 
“But death is something protesters now appear willing to contemplate. In recent weeks, violence on the part of both demonstrators and police has reached levels not seen in Hong Kong since the Cultural Revolution riots of the late 1960s. The Umbrella Movement was sparked by outrage at police using tear gas during a single incident. For over a month now, tear gas has been deployed almost every single weekend. Police have also turned to rubber bullets, pepper pellets, beanbag rounds, and—debuting them at a recent weekend protest—water cannons. Officers have on several occasions drawn their service weapons and, in a couple of instances, fired warning shots into the air.”



6. Before you leave …

Read about the horrific damage caused by Hurricane Dorian. The hurricane, that affected parts of USA and its surrounding islands, damaged 90 percent of Bahamas’ infrastructure and affected more than 76,000 people.



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