On 5 August, 2019, the Narendra Modi government revoked Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories. The region was placed under a months-long lockdown and communication blackout was imposed.
Soon after the government announced its decision last year to abrogate Article 370, international media said it would have “consequences”. The Washington Post had called it a “disturbing turn” and The Guardian had warned that it would have its “consequences”.
The Srinagar administration had announced a 48-hour curfew on Monday night. District Magistrate Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said a “series of inputs have been received suggesting that separatist and Pakistan-sponsored groups are planning to observe August 5 as Black Day and violent action or protests are not ruled out”.
A fresh order was issued on Tuesday evening saying curfew had been lifted as the day remained incident free, but restrictions would continue in view of a spike in Covid-19 cases, according to PTI.
One year later, this is what international media is saying:
The report is titled ‘Our identity has been robbed’: life in Kashmir after a year of crisis’. It talked about how the Narendra Modi government justified the abrogation of Article 370 on the grounds of bringing economic prosperity to the region, but “residents of Kashmir have instead found themselves living in a region far more volatile, unstable and economically fragile than ever”.
The report goes on to say that the impact of the crackdown, in particular a six-month internet shutdown, led to huge economic losses and unemployment. This was only worsened by the Covid-19 lockdown.
The Washington Post
The article also talked about how the Modi government pledged that Article 370 move would bring a “new dawn” of peace and prosperity by jettisoning decades of what it described as failed policies toward Kashmir and bringing it politically closer to the rest of India.
“Instead, it’s been a year of upheaval and repression.”
The Foreign Policy piece looked at how even one year after the abrogation of Article 370, “communications are still slow, arrests are routine, and the pandemic rages on”.
It collated its best reads on Kashmir. “In the 12 months since, the region has remained on edge. Communications are still slow, arrests are routine, and now the coronavirus pandemic threatens to throw Kashmir, and India, into an even deeper tailspin. To explain how India got here—and what comes next—we gathered our top reads.”
CNN reported on how journalists were not excluded from the shutdown after the abrogation of Article 370. Newspapers went offline and for weeks, print editions did not run, it said.
“Journalists and editors who worked during the shutdown say the government restrictions made reporting all but impossible. And in the months since, they say colleagues have been intimidated, questioned and even charged under anti-terrorism laws for pursuing stories deemed critical of the government. Almost one year after the start of the communications blackout, while internet and phone lines have now largely been restored, many newspapers are relying on government advertising revenue to stay afloat.
“All that has caused some to question whether an independent press in Jammu and Kashmir is possible at a time when readers need it most.”
(With PTI inputs)