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The Kashmir conflict in South Asia: voices from Srinagar

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2014
JournalDefense and Security Analysis
Journal number1
Volume30
Number of pages11
Pages44-54
Early online date16/12/13
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article looks at the Kashmir conflict in South Asia, which has been going on since 1947, when India and Pakistan became independent from British colonial rule. After looking at some historical background, the article looks at both the external dimension as well as the internal dimension of the conflict. The external dimension tends to focus on Indo-Pak relations over Kashmir and the internal dimension looks at India's repressive state policies within the state of Kashmir. This article uses Mary Kaldor's “New War” thesis as a theoretical framework to understand the situation and pays special attention to the conflict's very complex and multifaceted nature. The article argues that although the levels of violence have differed from time to time in the region since 1947, today the conflict seems to have less to do with Indo-Pak relations or the external side of things and has more to do with the internal dimension and India's undemocratic ways within Kashmir. Today, Kashmir is one of the most militarised conflict zones in the world. The stationing of the Indian military and paramilitary forces in the region has only exacerbated the situation since it is the security personnel who cause much of the problem. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act gives these security forces extraordinary powers in the region, which they often abuse. The armed forces have no real understanding of the local culture or sympathy for local religious sentiments. Poverty, corruption, administrative failure, police brutality, identity politics and human rights abuses are some of the key features associated with this conflict. Methodologically, a number of interviews were carried out with the local people in the region recently. From the data gathered through the interviews, it is very obvious that the people still feel very oppressed and that the situation is still very volatile, fraught with uncertainty. Finally, after making an assessment of the situation, the article tries to suggest methods of peaceful building and conflict management as the way forward.