I attended a webinar on 4 th August 2022 arranged by the Pakistan embassy in Belgium and spoke on the above subject .
The illegal changes india has done in Kashmir , it has been doing for a long time which has now become more blatant & is what occupiers do & have done to strengthen their occupation which in turn has effected the economy for a long time before august 2019 and continues .
1. Control of land & Occupation
This has been done in different ways like acquiring land for various reasons on the name of development and security reasons . The J&K government when headed by Mehbooba Mufti admitted in the state assembly that during (2015-2018) more than 4.3 lakh kanals (53750 acres ) of land in J&K is under the illegal occupation of Indian army and other military forces stationed in the state. The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) indicates that the current deployment of regular Indian army and other forces in J&K is estimated to be over 700,000 personnel turning the region into the largest militarized deployment in the world, with one armed personnel for seventeen civilians. Also, there are studies that suggest presence of Indian troops, with a ratio of one soldier for every eight Kashmiris . Moreover, there has been an emergence of a new form of military, multilateral, and humanitarian occupations that reinforces institutionalized vehemence against occupied people .
The stationing of this colossal army has resulted in the land grab of diverse topographies, including forests, hills, glaciers, mountains, stream beds, paddy fields, and peripheries of lakes, in both urban and rural settings, thereby establishing permanent military structures. The exact figure of land under Indian armed forces in J&K may be even higher as huge chunks of the area remain illegally occupied, which was never officially demarcated, requisitioned, leased, mutated, or attained under the J&K Land Acquisition Act .
A classical example of land grab by the army is shown by the occupation of Tatoo grounds a 200 acres in the centre of the city and where a garrison is in place . The army took replacement of it in Shariefabad some two decades back but still occupies this place . Being an economic space the Kashmir Chamber was at the forefront for asking it back but inspite of agreement of the army in 2015 with the then mufti syed govt it still remains in occupation .
The JKCCS documents also show that the occupation is not limited to land only, but also includes 1,856 buildings, including 1,526 private buildings, 280 government buildings, 14 industrial units, give cinemas, and 28 hotels. The irony is that most of the owners of these establishments have not been paid rent and that whenever the military has paid rent, it is negligible compared to the real worth of the property under the occupation. The Public Commission on Human Rights in 2005 identified 46 schools and educational establishments occupied by armed forces .
Indian authorities have furthered the occupation by acquiring land through agencies such as the National Highway Authority of India, Indian Railways, and others in the name of improved connectivity and development. There have also been forcible land acquisitions for projects including highway and railways .
In a report by the Oakland Institute Research Team USA , in context of scrapping of the Article 370, the researchers call the investment could be a “Trojan horse for forcing the demographic composition of Kashmir” and adds that this move resembles to that of the “illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine’s West Bank”
The government of India is using occupation as a tool to disempower residents of Kashmir. As stated above, military rule has systematically furthered the land grab, making inhabitation hard for the locals and rendering the population dispossessed. In Kashmir almost every village at the entrance and exit there are army camps or drop gates even .
2. Hydro-economics and confict .Jammu & Kashmir’s rights over one of the most precious natural resources, water capital, were taken away by New Delhi through the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, which was mediated by the World Bank. The International Water Management Institute has stated that the Indus Water Treaty deprived J&K state of approximately 6500 crore (800 million dollars ) annually, and that the treaty has negatively affected the power-generation and agriculture-potential of the state .
New Delhi’s apparatus through which the state controls resources like water includes India’s hydropower generation company, National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). New Delhi owes 20000 crore ( about 2.5 billion) to J&K State for using their water as a reparation for the power-generated from their resources. The occupation of our resources particularly our power generation from our water resources which is under their central govt companies ( NHPC Limited (erstwhile National Hydroelectric Power Corporation) . This company has an asset base of 97 billion dollars with a yearly income of 710 million dollars . One third of its generating capacity is in kashmir and has rightly got the name of “EAST INDIA COMPANY “ in kashmir .Kashmir chamber of which I was head from 2006-2009 had been fighting regarding return of our assets which they built with or without agreement of limited time but never returned to the state although different commissions like RANGARAJAN COMMISSION recommended return of some projects .While our industry and business are reeling under power cuts they are by occupying our most important resource earning and becoming big corporations with profits besides we are incurring losses which is further depriving us economically .
3. Economic losses .The economic losses businesses had to incur because of extended curfews and Hartals particularly from 1990’s were more than 3600 days which have been lost ( which roughly means 10 years ) , the magnitude of which the world can understand with LOCKDOWNS done under Covid where strong economies of the world like USA , Canada as well as Europe are reeling
In the latest press report on December 2021 the losses calculated by the Kashmir chamber , Kashmir has suffered a loss of around Rs 50,000 crore ( 5 .5 billion dollars ) since 5 August 2019 . This is loss calculated for two years and multiply it by at least 5 times if not more giving us a figure of 200000 crore rupees . ( 27.5 billion dollars ) This is only from 1990 and not to speak from 1947 because of non settlement of kashmir as per aspirations of the people
This has also effected in number of ways Our people like :
—who invested in industries particularly from the 1990’s became sick because of the prevailing situation in kashmir because of frequent curfews and Hartals which were done as a form of resistance to different terrorist actions by the Indian forces wherein it is estimated that about more than 3600 days have been lost in the last thirty years which was further accentuated by the action in august 2019 and subsequently by covid . The world can understand it more with the experience of covid lockdowns as explained previously above . We lost more than 10 years in closure of last 30 years . You can realise that how businesses can survive and lot of them have become bankrupt.
Now by the change of laws after 2019 the big corporates of India will buy these assets at rock bottom prices and occupy our economic places .
I am reminded by a personal episode I got to know in 1993 when I went to buy Brass handicraft items from Moradabad . The items are manufactured by Indian Muslims while the traders are mainly Hindus . This has happened by cyclical religious riots where usually & invariably Muslims suffered and they remained the workers while the main profits were taken by the traders . This is what is going to happen in kashmir .
——In kashmir lot of local assets have been created on leased properties particularly in resort places like Gulmarg and pahalgam whose leases are not being renewed & the option of owning by locals have purposely not been done previously although there are numerous cases in even New Delhi where such properties were converted into ownership. . Now by withdrawing the 35A on 5 th august 2019 we fear they will be handed over to the big corporates of india and Kashmiris in their own country will become servants and second rate citizens
——-The latest law of land use where agriculture land can be used for non agriculture use thereby making a way for land to be taken over by corporates from India
——Already unfortunately our waqf properties were taken over by the state by one of the previous regime of Mufti Syed on the pretext of corruption but we now realise that it was done under a plan to disempower Kashmiri Muslims.
4. Control over financial institutions . The Indian state, over decades, has gradually and systematically used numerous measures to ensure economic imperialism of the J&K, which has included control over of the local financial institution, the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited (JKB). The state administrative council headed by the previous J&K governor S.P. Malik has turned JKB into a Public Sector Bank, which has meant taking away its independence. The bank has lost all its autonomy that it used to derive under the Article 370. Also, the bank has undergone much restructuring, and all the shareholding that the state used to own are now owned by New Delhi since the revocation of the Article.J&K bank was in 1990’s made strong by local people in transferring their assets to the bank instead of Indian banks and by the change of law the whole has been reversed .
While occupying our economic spaces India has done the biggest human right violation of not providing KASHMIRI RIGHT OF SELF DETERMINATION & We cannot forget that it has resulted from 1990 a human catastrophy resulting in more than 100000 killed , 150000 civilians arrested ,8500 custodial killings , 12000 disappearances , 110000 structures destroyed / arsoned ,11,170 rape cases , Injured will be running in hundred thousands with at least 7000 with pellet injuries and out of them at least 700 with eye injuries resulting in blindness of different levels besides the above financial implications .