As a security lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir entered its fourth day, reports have emerged that hundreds of migrant workers working in the Kashmir Valley have begun to feel. While the general reactions is that the Hindu majority and Buddhist majority regions are celebrating the decision, Muslim dominated Kashmir Valley and Kargil district (dominated by Shia Muslims) are protesting.
Migrant workers, according to reports in different media outlets in Jammu and Kashmir complained that their Kashmiri employers didn’t pay them any salary as security forces began imposing tight travel restrictions over the weekend and asked them to leave their jobs.
On Wednesday, workers crowded the railroad station at Jammu as they waited for trains bound for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. They carried their belongings on their heads and under their arms, tied in bedsheets.
Kashmiri Pandits Rejoice, But Some in Fear
The Kashmiri Pandit community, who were hit by Islamic militancy in 1989 and were forced into exodus, celebrated and welcomed the decision by Modi Government. Many KP’ as they are known, said even though this step does not benefit them directly (as they are the state subject holders and have all the rights like other Kashmiris), but this step is a landmark decision to connect Kashmir with India.
Many Kashmiri Pandits who recently moved from the Kashmir Valley to different parts of the country (after the advisory of the Indian government) stated on condition of anonymity that they were jubilant with PM Modi’ decision. Here in Jammu are able to celebrate the historic decision and discuss its implications freely and without any fear.
However back in the Kashmir valley, you lose the freedom of expression despite sharing excellent bonhomie with fellow Muslims brethren. We could not celebrate recent Indian victory over Pakistan (in the cricket world cup) and we could not express our delight over the revocation of Article 370.
Protest in Kargil
Meanwhile, India’s surprise move to carve out sparsely populated Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir to make it a territory directly administered by New Delhi has been met with protests in Kargil, Ladakh.
While some Ladakhi lawmakers hailed the move as a long-overdue response to their requests for separation from the region, organisations in Kargil denounced the decision. Tsering Namgyal drew thumping applause in the lower house on Tuesday when he said that Ladakhis long to be an inseparable part of India.
In a tweet, PM Narendra Modi complimented Namgyal, saying he had “coherently presented aspirations of our sisters and brothers from Ladakh”. Ladakhi Buddhists have often claimed that the region’s policies were Kashmir-centric and discriminated against them.
After Kashmir’s special status was scrapped, Kargil’s religious and political organisations met to discuss the changes, releasing a statement condemning the Indian government for acting “without the consent from the people”.
After gagging the voices from Kashmir valley, Sec 144 was imposed in Jammu – protests weren’t allowed, but celebrations were! Today there was a huge protest in Kargil against abrogation of 370, so Kargil has been put under curfew and Internet snapped!
The groups called for a district-wide shutdown on Tuesday as a “token of public resentment against the unjust decision taken by the union government”. Schools and shops were shuttered, and streets were empty except for a group of demonstrators who marched while shouting slogans decrying the separation of Ladakh.
The Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust, Kargil, an influential religious group in the region, supported the protest. The chairman of the trust, Sheikh Sadiq Rajai, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the new law amounts to an attack.
“It’s an attack on our identity. This decision will disempower our people,” he said. Former Kargil lawmaker Asgar Ali Karbali also condemned the Indian government’s move to divide the region, referring to it as “a black day in the history of India”. Karbali said he doesn’t accept the decision, and that others in Kashmir also won’t.
“It was the people of Leh that were demanding that Ladakh be freed from the Kashmir region over a long time, not us. Kargil is against the division of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of religion, language and region. The move is undemocratic,” Karbali said.