Kashmiris under attack across India
As India and Pakistan exchange military strikes in the wake of last week's massive suicide blast in Kashmir, many cities across India report cases of targeted violence against Kashmiri students and businesses by right-wing groups. Members of Yuva Sena, youth wing of the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena, reportedly attacked Kashmiri students in Maharashtra on Feb. 20. Two private colleges in Dehradun expelled Kashmiri students for posting objectionable content on social media about the suicide attack. Two nursing students from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh were expelled by college authorities for comments on social media after the attack. A video surfaced on social media showing a Kashmiri man being beaten in Kolkata, West Bengal, by a mob which forced him to chant patriotic slogans like "Vande Mataram" and "Bharat Mata ki Jai" ("Mother, I praise thee" and "Victory to Mother India," two phrases appropriated by the Hindu-nationalist right).
The new crisis began Feb. 14, with the deadliest attack targeting security forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir since the insurgency began there. More than 40 members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed in a suicide blast on a convoy near Letpora, 20 kilometers from the capital Srinagar. The Jaish-e-Mohammad militant network claimed responsibility for the attack. On Feb. 18, Indian security forces killed three JeM militants in a clash near the site of the attack. Shelling across the Line of Control in Kashmir ensued. Then, on Feb. 26, Indian Air Force fighters struck a supposed JeM training camp at Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province—the first Indian air-strikes inside Pakistan since the 1971 war. The following day, the Pakistan Air Force brought down two Indian warplanes in strikes across Line of Control. The two planes reportedly came down on opposite sides of the LoC. The airman who fell on the Pakistani side was taken captive.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan later went on national TV to call for talks to de-escalate the crisis, warning that a "miscalculation" could lead to nuclear war. (The Diplomat, BBC News, Kashmir Watch, SCMP, India Today)