Protests in Kashmir India

Essay by connortistCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2009

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The country I was assigned is India and the major political crisis I will be analyzing are the protests currently occurring in Kashmir. Kashmir is not actually part of India; it is a northwest region between Pakistan, India, and China, but it is owned by India. The reason the protests are occurring is because the state government transferred over 100 acres of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board to a Hindu shrine according to http://news.bbc.co.uk. The environmentalist and protesters are upset about this because they want the land back and they also want independence from India.

This is an important issue because Kashmir has had many issues over the last century, including three wars in 1947, 1965, and 1999. In 1989, a separatist insurgency began and it is now being compared to the recent happenings in the country’s riots and protests. The latest riots are the most violent that have been seen in recent years.

The riots in Kashmir have turned aggressive, violent, and now even fatal. On the week of June 24th, Police shot a 37 year old man at a rally while trying to control the crowds. He passed away later the following day which stirred many members of the demonstrations to react aggressively towards authority. Vehicles were destroyed, police posts and government offices were stoned and damaged, and a fire engine was even set on fire.

There are really only two options when it comes to the main sides regarding the current Kashmir issue. These options would be clearing the forests versus not clearing the forests. The protesters are on the side that does not want to relocate the land while the government is in disagreement with them. The government is obviously siding with the transfer of the forests.

The two major players involved in the protests are the side that is opposing the transfer of the forest, and the government officials who desire the forest to be cleared. Members of the opposing group include environmentalists, locals, and pilgrims that annually travel to the shrine area. The members of the government officials are obviously authority figures and those in control of the decision making processes in this matter. The opposing side would like the land to be left alone because they feel it is all a conspiracy to reduce Muslims to a minority. The government officials want to transfer the land because they feel the land would be better suited for structures for the pilgrims that congregate at Amarnath cave every year.

I personally favor the government’s decision on this matter. The land would be cleared to benefit the pilgrims during the yatra. The yatra is the two months out of the year that the Hindu religion is celebrated at the Amarnath cave. As I previously stated before, the land would be cleared for much needed structures for the many thousands of people that attend the yatra annually. The government commented on this saying that the structures would include prefabricated huts and toilets.

The only thing I do not agree on is the government’s timing to relocate the land. According to www.ibnlive.com, many of the pilgrims are angry that the clearing of the land, and in reaction to that, now the protests, are occurring at this time when the yatra is also taking place. A pilgrim, Naresh Duseja, was quoted saying, “The yatra should not be politicized. If parties have to play a political game they should do it during the rest of the 10 months when the yatra does not take place.” I completely concur with that statement. The government could have been more considerate, especially during a religious celebration. There were many other dates that the government could have chosen to have this event take place.

The consequences of the government having their way would be that on the negative side, the protesters and many other people would be livid and a substantial amount of forest would be destroyed. On the positive side however, there would be places for the pilgrims to stay and new restrooms available next year for the yatra. Another possible negative result of the government obtaining their way is that the protests could continue and even worsen. As of this moment, nearly 200 Kashmiri’s have been injured and three have been fatally wounded. Unfortunately these events have only led to more rioting and protesting.

If the protesters were to get their way, I do not foresee many negative outcomes. The land would be preserved and the riots would cease. Granted there would not be any extra sites or restrooms for the pilgrims at the yatra. But take into consideration the fact that many thousands of people have been celebrating at the Amarnath cave without those things for years now and there have not been issues.

Police enforcement has been brought into the area to help calm the riots. Banks, schools, and businesses have been temporarily shut down in order to protect the citizens of Kashmir. Besides that, not many other steps have been taken to try to solve the problem of the chaos in this country. Not to say that the government is not necessarily trying, but there is not really anything else that can be done. The best and only solution would be to stop the rioting if at all possible. I believe that the land could be cleared or not cleared and it would not really make a difference in the solutions. Just as long as the riots do not continue and the citizens are not in danger I feel it would be acceptable.

If the right steps and precautions were taken, I see the solution previously mentioned being very viable. Of course it all depends on if the right moves are taken. I also feel that it is up to the government of India to begin the course of action. The government should start doing things to try to end the riots and protests but in peaceful and understanding ways. After that, it is up to the citizens of Kashmir. They need to decide if they want to end the fighting and destruction or if they would rather continue to protest and go nowhere with it.

As for the immediate future, I have a hard time predicting an outcome. Basing this on previous events and because this is a protest situation, I do not foresee this to last very much longer. The severity of the circumstance could worsen within now and the time it ceases though. Hopefully no more lives are lost and an agreement can be reached soon. Regarding the long term future, I am sure this will leave a mark in Kashmir’s and India’s history. It also seems it may make it easier for the citizens and protesters to revolt in the future. I predict it will weaken the ties between Kashmir and India and it will eventually take the effort to attain Kashmir’s independence one step further.

I do not think either the United States or the United Nations needs to interfere with the protests at this time. If India asked for the assistance then I could understand why it would be necessary. As for other countries, I do not see the purpose of them stepping in or interfering either. Countries such as Pakistan and China may need to be wary of the situation at hand because they surround Kashmir.

Overall, the current issue in Kashmir is not completely out of hand, but soon needs to be resolved. There are a few different plausible solutions that can be taken into account in the event but all parties involved need to be considered. I feel that the decisions that have been made and the actions that have been taken recently need to be reviewed so control of the situation can be gained again. Hopefully a resolution is within the near future; one that can make everyone satisfied.

References:BBC News . (2008, June 27). Retrieved June 30, 2008, from Huge protests continue in Kashmir: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7478008.stmIBN Live . (2008, June 30). Retrieved June 30, 2008, from Land Row: BJP Calls forJammu Bandh Today: http://www.ibnlive.com/news/politics-over-land-bjp-calls-for-jammu-bandh-on-monday/68002-3.htmlThe Dawn Media Group. (2008, June 25). Dawn. Retrieved June 30, 2008, from Kashmiris protest transfer of land to shrine: http://www.dawn.com/2008/06/25/top13.htmWikipedia . (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2008, from Kashmir Conflict: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmir_crisis