It has been four months since August 5, when the Centre announced it was going to strip Jammu and Kashmir of special status under Article 370 and divide the state into two Union Territories. It also revoked Article 35A, a law that allowed the Jammu and Kashmir state government to define “state subjects” and reserve certain rights and privileges for them, including the right to own land in the former state.
As Union Home Minister Amit Shah made his announcement, Kashmir was flooded with troops and placed under an unprecedented lockdown – a complete communications blackout, restrictions on movement, mass arrests, with almost the entire political leadership of the Valley locked up. Reports from South Kashmir spoke of torture and crackdowns by security forces. Across the Valley, minors were detained by the police, some for a day, others for weeks, often with no formal paperwork.
Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have officially been Union Territories for over a month now, with new lieutenant governors in charge. The grinding administrative process of downgrading a state which once had a constitution of its own into a Union Territory is under way; a slew of state laws will now be replaced by Central laws.
Most political leaders still remain in jail. The internet blockade in the Valley also remains in place – journalists have to rely on the media centre set up at the department of information to file their stories. Late November, 80 companies got internet access after signing bonds agreeing to use it only for business purposes.
Restrictions on movement have been lifted but a civil shutdown to protest against the government’s move continues intermittently. Grenades go off and fires break out in markets, while shopkeepers allegedly defying the shutdown and migrant workers in South Kashmir have been targeted.
Here are five pieces that tell you what Kashmir looked like in November.
‘Kashmir has changed’: Deadly attacks have sent migrant workers fleeing the Valley Non-local truck drivers and migrant workers, who flood the Valley during apple harvesting season, have been under fire since August 5. After six migrant workers from West Bengal’s Murshidabad district were killed in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, it triggered an exodus from the Valley.
His detention order was lifted but this 14-year-old Kashmiri had to spend two more weeks in jailA 14-year-old boy from South Kashmir’s Shopian was among the many minors held illegally. He had been detained under the Public Safety Act, a preventive detention law which is not meant to apply to minors, and sent to a prison outside Uttar Pradesh. After the matter went to court, it emerged that the police records incorrectly described him as a 20-year-old. Even after the government quashed his detention order, the teenager had to spend another two weeks in jail.
Khalida Shah interview: ‘Every Kashmiri leader should think of uniting. That includes separatists’The president of the J&K Awami National Conference and the sister of detained former chief minister Farooq Abdullah said she had been under house arrest since August 5, even though the Jammu and Kashmir police denies the claim.
Shutters down: How Kashmir has kept up a slow-burning protest since Article 370 was revokedThis time, the Valley showed its anger not by pouring out into the streets but by staying in. In the initial weeks after August 5, there was talk of “civil disobedience”. Four months later, this has waned. What remains is a lawyers’ strike and a shutdown by traders. With no separatist leadership to issue a “calendar” or schedule for shutdown, it remains unpredictable, spread by word of mouth, almost missing in some areas and strictly enforced in others.
In Jammu and Kashmir, a new department opens to register land transactions – and it’s sparked angerPreviously, registration for land transactions had to pass through the strict scrutiny of the judiciary. With these powers now handed over to the executive, lawyers in both Jammu and Kashmir have been up in arms. In the Valley, it has reinforced a specific fear, that recent legal changes are aimed at altering the demography of the Muslim-majority region.