India has lost hearts and minds of Kashmiri people: WSJ report

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NEW YORK, Aug 25 (APP):India has lost the hearts and minds of the people in occupied Kashmir following its brutal crackdown in the disputed state, a leading American newspaper said in a report from Srinagar on the precarious situation resulting from New Delhi’s annexation of the disputed region.

“There is nothing left for us,” Saqib Rehman, a political science student in Srinagar, told The Wall Street Journal.

The report said that Kashmiri leaders, who favoured an independent future for Kashmir, were of the view that New Delhi’s action had “pushed the region toward a deeper crisis because it has lost the hearts and minds of the local population.”

India’s government, led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, did not consult with local political leaders in Kashmir before their move to revoke Kashmir’s special status or inform them or the public beforehand, the report said, noting that authorities had arrested or confined hundreds of local political leaders, activists, businessmen, students and teachers to their homes.

But, it said, state authorities had declined to provide an updated tally of how many people still remain detained or confined to their homes, or allow the media or their supporters to meet with them.

Prominent politicians in detention include Farooq Abdullah, president of the National Conference—a political party with a long history in Kashmir—and his son Omar Abdullah. Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the Kashmir-based People’s Democratic Party, which once allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ’s Bharatiya Janata Party, also remains in custody.

Khalid Shah, associate fellow at New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, was quoted as saying: “There is little room for anyone to do politics in Jammu and Kashmir. Today, whoever will make peace with the central government’s decision will be seen as a traitor by the Kashmiris.”

Happymon Jacob, a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, told the Journal, “The Indian government did not take this decision after consulting many political leaders, or creating a consensus about it because they knew there wouldn’t have been a consensus.”

Eventually, he said, “All these parties will come together and rally under one banner, with a common demand—the reinstatement of Article 370.”