A Kashmiri activist and commentator has warned that India’s controversial cancellation of New Delhi-administered Kashmir’s limited autonomy will create a situation similar to that of Israel’s occupation of Palestine in the disputed Himalayan region.
Rafiq Kathwari made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday after Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah told the parliament that the government would scrap Article 370, a constitutional provision that grants special status to Kashmir.
The article, which had come into effect in 1949, allows Kashmir to have its own constitution, flag and autonomy over all matters, save for certain policy areas such as foreign affairs and defense. Pakistan strongly condemned India’s “illegal” move in the Muslim-majority region.
Kathwari further said the India-controlled part of Kashmir is currently the most highly-militarized zone in the world, with 750,000 Indian troops controlling a population of 6 million people.
“What is unfolding in the valley of Kashmir is that most Kashmiris … don’t know what is going to happen to them because there is no internet, no cell phones, no land lines, no media coverage and a curfew that we do not know how long that is going to last,” he said.
The activist also predicted that following the latest decision for Kashmir, the Indian government would take its next step that is to “declare India as a Hindu republic … in the next few months.”
“The Indian settlers will come and buy Kashmiri land,” he said. “India is going to send in its army of 500,000 … and the situation would be very similar to what the settlers in the occupied territories in Palestine are doing.”
“The settler colonialism that has happened in Palestine is about to happen in Kashmir,” he added.
Asked about a solution to the Kashmir crisis, Kathwari underlined the need for respecting the dignity of Kashmiris.
“There is a very simple solution [to the Kashmir crisis,] talk to the Kashmiri people, bring them around the table and ascertain their wishes with an open heart , not with any agendas.”
Kashmir lies at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947.
New Delhi and Islamabad both claim the region in full, but rule parts of it.