Kashmir

Doomsday Clock: 2.5 minutes of midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Jan. 26 moved the minute hand of its symbolic Doomsday Clock from three minutes to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. On this year that marks the 70th anniversary of the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin notes (full text at PDF; links added by CountrerVortex): "The United States and Russia—which together possess more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons—remained at odds in a variety of theaters, from Syria to Ukraine to the borders of NATO; both countries continued wide-ranging modernizations of their nuclear forces, and serious arms control negotiations were nowhere to be seen. North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth underground nuclear tests and gave every indication it would continue to develop nuclear weapons delivery capabilities. Threats of nuclear warfare hung in the background as Pakistan and India faced each other warily across the Line of Control in Kashmir after militants attacked two Indian army bases."

Amnesty closes India office after sedition charges

The India branch of Amnesty International (AI) temporarily closed its office Aug. 17 after the organization was accused of sedition and anti-India sentiments. The accusations arose after AI promoted a human rights seminar in Kashmir, focusing on alleged human rights abuses carried out by the Indian security forces. AI responded to the accusations by stating that the accusations "are preventing the families of victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir from having their stories heard. And preventing civil society organisations from enabling these families to exercise their constitutional right to justice."

Land-grabbing behind India's new caste wars

The fetish for hacking apostates to death on the Subcontinent has spread from the jihadis to the Hindu-fundamentalist competition... In another case of mounting caste violence in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, a newly-wed couple was beaten in full public view in the town of Udumalpet on March 13—and the man then hacked to death. Times of India reports the attackers were the woman's relatives. The local police commissioner said her family was angered by the couple's marriage: "They married some eight months ago and the woman's family was unhappy. She is an upper Thevar Hindu caste and the man was a Dalit." (First Post, March 14) The Dalits are India's lowest caste, the so-called "untouchables."

Kashmir jihadis claim attack on India border base

A Kashmir-based militant coalition, the United Jihad Council, claimed responsibility for an attack on the Indian air force base at Pathankot, which has left five militants and seven soldiers dead in three days of fighting. The attack on Pathankot—in northern Punjab state, near the borders with both Jammu & Kashmir state and Pakistan—is seen as an attempt to derail recent peace moves by India and Pakistan. The attack came about a week after a surprise visit by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif—the first Islamabad visit by an Indian premier in 12 years.

Ismaili Muslims massacred in Pakistan

Gunmen on motorcycles stopped a commuter bus carrying Ismaili Muslims in Karachi May 13, boarded it and opened fire on the passengers, killing at least 45. Outside the hospital where some dozen wounded survivors were taken, and where the bus was parked, scores of grim-faced young Ismali men formed a human chain to block everyone but families and doctors—apparently fearing a follow-up attack. English leaflets left in the bus were headlined "Advent of the Islamic State!" The leaflet used derogatory Arabic words, blaming the Ismali community for "barbaric atrocities...in the Levant, Iraq and Yemen." Pakistani media said the attack was claimed by the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan, the Jundullah network, and militants claiming to represent ISIS. (AFP, BBC News, May 13)

Climate change exacerbating Kashmir crisis?

Renewed fighting between India and Pakistan across the Line of Control in Kashmir has killed at least 19 civilians over the past week—11 on the Pakistani side; eight on the Indian side. Thousands of villagers have been displaced by the fighting, as each side blames the other for breaking the 2003 ceasefire. (BBC News, Oct. 9; India Today, Oct. 8) At Kishtwar, in India-controlled Kashmir, Muslim protesters defied security forces, marching through the town and hoisting the Pakistani flag Oct. 8. (Kashmir Media Service, Oct. 8) Local anger is deepened by last month's devastating floods, in which large parts of Srinagar, capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, were inundated, leaving a still undetermined number dead. New Delhi has come under harsh criticism for its response to the disaster—prioritizing the rescue of tourists as little was done to assist locals. Local government was paralyzed by the collapse of the telecommunications system. (Saudi Gazette, Oct. 8)

India: Qaeda sees fertile ground for sectarian war

In a new video release, al-Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahri announced a new wing of the militant network to "raise the flag of jihad" across the "Indian subcontinent." Zawahri pledged that "al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent" (AQIS) will "break all borders created by Britain in India," and called on "our brothers" to "unite under the credo of the one god...in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir." The statement made two references to Gujarat, the home state of India's new Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gujarat was the scene of communal riots on his watch as chief minister of the state in 2002. More than 1,000 people, overwhelmingly Muslims, died in the wave of attacks. In the 55-minute video, delivered in a mixture of Arabic and Urdu, Zawahiri also pledged renewed loyalty to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. India has thus far had no recorded al-Qaeda presence, although it has suffered numerous attacks from groups including Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Indian Mujahedeen. (Long War Journal, Sept. 5; Today's Zaman, Turkey, BBC News, Indian Express, Sept. 4)

Protests rock Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar and other towns in India-administrated Jammu and Kashmir are under curfew following unrest over the killing of four protesters by the Border Security Forces (BSF) on July 18. The killings took place in the Gool area of Ramban district. According to locals in Ramban, protests erupted after BSF personnel roughed up a religious leader's brother following an argument over offering late-night Ramadan prayers. The BSF dismisses this version, saying a mob attacked their camp and tried to storm their storehouse of arms and ammunition.  Separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has called for a three-day general strike in response to the incident, while several other prominent separatists have been arrested. A clash between demonstrators and security forces at the town of Doda, in Chenab valley, left 20 injured, including five police officers. The Amarnath Yatra, an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a sacred cave associated with the god Shiva in the mountains of Kashmir, has been ordered suspended. (Hindustan Times, CSM, July 19)