Jammu and Kashmir: Revocation of Article 370
On August 5, 2019, the Indian Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, announced that the Indian government would do away with Article 370 of the Indian constitution. Article 370, established in 1949, gave the region of Jammu and Kashmir autonomous control over certain aspects of society, namely the ability for the region to have its own constitution, its own flag, and control over all matters except for areas such as foreign policy and defense. Since its creation, Article 370 has formed the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s “accession to the Indian Union at a time when erstwhile princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from British rule,” and has been the cornerstone of Kashmiri relations with New Delhi.
The revocation of Article 370 is particularly concerning as it could potentially reignite deep-seated animosity between Hindus and Muslims and result in an increase of terror attacks by militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). It is important to note that animosity between Muslims and Hindus in the region is not new. Since the end of British rule, the region of Jammu and Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan. Because of the majority Muslim population in Jammu and Kashmir, it was widely believed that Jammu and Kashmir would be placed under the Pakistani rule, following the end of British rule in the region. However, in 1947, Hari Singh, maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, decided to join India, a country with a Hindu majority.
The presence of a majority Muslim territory under the control of a majority Hindu nation has bred
militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), all of whom are being monitored closely by the Historical Analysis Team at CTG. Lashkar-e-Taiba, or Army of the Pure, was formed in 1990 and is the largest and most active Muslim militant group in southeast Asia. It operates primarily out of Pakistan, and has often used the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as one of its primary motivations. Until the mid 1990s, LeT only targeted Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir. However, in 1996, the group moved to target civilian minorities in the state. LeT has perpetrated numerous attacks against Indian targets, most notably the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Similarly to LeT, JeM is a Sunni Muslim, Pakistani militant group that seeks to liberate Kashmir from India and make it part of Pakistan. It has been active in the region since its creation in 2000 and gained notoriety through its attack on the Indian Parliament building in 2001 which killed twelve people. The group’s most recent attack occurred in February of 2019, when a militant crashed his “bomb-laden” truck into a bus carrying Indian paramilitary troopers, killing 42 people.
Unlike either LeT or JeM, Hizbul Mujahideen is a guerrilla group operating in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, and is believed to be the only group led by and made up of ethnic Kashmiri in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. The group is based in Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and became active in 1989. HM is a pro-Pakistani group, unlike many Kashmiri organizations that desire complete independence from both Pakistan and India. In 2001, the head of HM declared a ceasefire with the Indian military, and since then the group has been split between a number of factions.
With the revocation of Article 370, we can expect to see a severe increase in the number of terrorist attacks in both Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and other major Indian cities. Within the past week, the CTG Historical Analysis Team has already observed an increase in activity along the Line of Control (LoC) and throughout the region of Jammu and Kashmir, although the activity has not necessarily been connected to a designated terrorist organization. On September 16, 2019, it was reported that four employees of the Indian army were injured by mortar rounds launched by the Pakistani Army, along the LoC. That same day, a letter was received in Haryana, India, which threatened to blow up the main railway stations and temples across eight states by October 8th; this letter was reportedly sent by Jaish-e-Mohammed. Furthermore, on September 23, Indian security forces seized 38kg of explosives during a search operation in Kashmir’s Kathua district, possibly indicating that terrorist organizations are mobilizing across the state.
LeT has already proven willing to attack major cities in order to incite fear and push their views. JeM has also shown a willingness to attack important sites in India, and as India clamps down on Jammu and Kashmir, it is highly likely that JeM will again attempt to attack Indian government and religious facilities, as seen by the group’s threat on September 16th. The revocation of Article 370 may also be enough to reunify Hizbul Mujahideen and incite the group to further violence. Furthermore, when India revoked Article 370, pro-Indian politicians within Jammu and Kashmir were placed under house arrest, so there are few moderating voices in the state. This could easily lead to an upsurge in Hizbul Mujahideen membership as more Kashmiris feel that the only solution to the current situation is violence.
It is also difficult to overstate the importance of the religious differences between India and Jammu and Kashmir. As the only Muslim-majority state within a Hindu-majority country, there are significant religious tensions that date as far back as the British occupation. Article 370 was implemented in order to keep peace between the Muslim residents and the Hindu government. However, there is speculation within Kashmir that India is planning to change the population of the state by allowing non-Kashmiri to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir. Thus, we can expect to see a significant surge in violence against Hindi residents of the state as Muslim terrorists attempt to prevent a change in the religious makeup of Jammu and Kashmir. Should there be a sudden influx in Hindi residents, then we can also expect to see a concurrent rise in both pro-Pakistani and pro-independence rhetoric and actions across Jammu and Kashmir.
Because of high tension in the region and the increased likelihood of a terrorist attack happening, the Historical Analysis Team at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG_ recommends that local authorities monitor social media and popular events very closely. Events that attract tourists or draw in large crowds of people serve as prime targets for extremists, so the Historical Analysis Team recommends having an increased security presence at the events both explicit and clandestine (ie. undercover law enforcement authorities). Furthermore, September 23, 2019, marks the 54th anniversary of the end of the Indo-Pakistani War. The anniversary of this event could provide militant groups with the perfect opportunity to attack government targets or soft civilian targets. We recommend that authorities monitor social media chatter throughout the day, to try and anticipate potential terrorist attacks.
This Historical Analysis Team also strongly recommends that Jammu and Kashmir be kept under close observation as we approach October 26th and 27th, which marks the 72nd anniversary of the signing of the Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir into India. This will be a particularly volatile date as a greater percentage of the population is likely to be unhappy with Indian rule. Should the current media blackout and house arrests of local politicians continue for the next month until the anniversary, conditions in Jammu and Kashmir will likely be incredibly fraught.
The security situation in Jammu and Kashmir is of increasing concern, and the Historical Analysis Team believes that the region requires close monitoring in order to detect, deter, and eventually defeat terrorist groups active in the state. CTG will continue to observe ongoing and emerging threats in Jammu and Kashmir both online and on the ground to provide comprehensive and up to date information to our clients.
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