Indian government abolishes Kashmir autonomy

Indian communists demonstrate today in Kolkota against the abolition of the autonomy of Kashmir, Reuters photo

This Reuters photo shows Indian communists demonstrating today in Kolkota against the abolition of the autonomy of Kashmir by the right-wing Indian government.

Translacted from Dutch NOS TV today:

India abolishes special status of Kashmir: “We are afraid we will lose everything”

Emigrants from Kashmir are desperate about their family members and friends, now that the government of India has intervened in the autonomy of their state. This morning, the Hindu nationalist government in Delhi abolished the special status of Kashmir, which had been in the Indian constitution since 1947.

With the measure, India is trying to get a grip on the only predominantly Muslim state in the country. That goes against the will of a large part of the local population. India had sent thousands of additional troops to the region in advance and cut off all internet, telephone and television connections.

“I called around 23:00 with friends there last night, and said goodbye. We had no idea what would happen the next morning.” That is what Tabish Rafiq (25) tells the NOS. He is a Muslim from Kashmir who now lives in the South Indian city of Bangalore. “It is of course very disturbing because now we can no longer reach our friends and family. It gives a desperate feeling to be cut off from them like this.”

Tabish Rafiq, NOS photo

Due to the blockade on telecommunications, the rumor circuit is running at full speed, says Rafiq. “We could predict that India would repeal Article 370, but there are also rumors of killing among the population in Kashmir. People are quick to believe that because the Indian army has done that more often and nobody stops them.”

“The last time I spoke to my mother, I advised her to stock up on enough food and other things for at least a month. And I told her to stay calm,” Rafiq adds. “It’s hard to grasp that nobody knows exactly what’s going on in Kashmir. It’s dystopian.”

The repeal of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which regulates the special status of Kashmir, is the most far-reaching political action in nearly seventy years around the conflict region in the Himalayas. Neighboring Pakistan, against which India has waged war twice because of Kashmir, is angry and calls the move a violation of UN resolutions. …

The measure taken by India will alienate the people of Kashmir from Delhi and drive them further into the arms of Pakistan, according to Professor Ashok Swain, conflict expert at Uppsala University in Sweden.

“I think that the opposition in Kashmir will become stronger, that we will see more unrest and terrorism, and that the relationship between Pakistan and India will further deteriorate. This decision by India is also going to strengthen the position of hardliners in Pakistan. Making a solution at the negotiating table more unlikely.” …

“India wants to colonize Kashmir”, says Omair (23), a Muslim from the north of the state who left for the capital Delhi two weeks ago. “They are already talking about founding settlements. Of course we find that very threatening. We are afraid that we will lose everything.”

But their biggest fear is what Indian troops are going to do in the coming weeks, Omair tells the NOS. “We can’t talk to each other, and that increases fear. We don’t know what is happening right now, but we are afraid that India will repeat what they did in 2009, 2010 and 2016.” The last time India intervened militarily, a large number of young people became mutilated and blind.

“When I last spoke to my family in Kashmir last night, they were hysterical. It’s scary. They don’t feel safe at all,” said Omair.

Through actions that are tantamount to a constitutional coup, the Indian state has not just abrogated the broad autonomy that Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) enjoyed—at least on paper—under articles 370 and 35 (A) of the Indian constitution. The new governments of the bifurcated state have been given a status inferior to that of the Indian Union’s remaining 28 states, enabling New Delhi to exercise wide powers over the territories’ affairs in perpetuity: here.

India’s Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is mounting an unprecedented military-security crackdown in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region to quell popular opposition to the patently illegal changes that it has made to the region’s government and relations with the central government: here.

Indo-Pakistani conflict sharpens with New Delhi’s assault on Kashmir: here.

New Delhi’s assault on Kashmir and the fight against communal reaction, imperialism, and war: here.

India’s disputed Kashmir region remains today for an eleventh straight day under an unprecedented security lockdown that is being enforced by tens of thousands of Indian soldiers and paramilitaries, as well as local police. Its 13 million people are subject to sweeping restrictions on their movements and all internet and cell and land phone use has been suspended: here.

INDIA DETAINS THOUSANDS IN KASHMIR At least 2,300 people, mostly young men, have been detained in Indian-administered Kashmir during a security lockdown and communications blackout imposed to curb unrest after New Delhi stripped the disputed region of statehood. [AP]

NO ‘LIFE AS USUAL’ IN KASHMIR Kashmir’s local administration has arm-twisted street vendors to ply the streets, jailed store owners for refusing to keep their shops open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and urged gas station owners to stay open, police sources told HuffPost India. [HuffPost]

The state of siege that India’s Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has imposed on Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is now well into its third week: here.

India’s Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and corporate media are crowing about the full-throated support Washington has given New Delhi in its assault on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K): here.

THOUSANDS rallied in protest at political attacks on the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], which has seen two party workers killed in the past month and the arrest of a senior party leader. Safiur Rahman was shot dead in Nakashipara, West Bengal, on Thursday, an act which the CPI(M) blamed on the “goons of the TMC [the All India Trinamool Congress]”: here.

Less wetlands, worse flooding in India

This video says about itself:

Wildlife and adventure sports in India! Watch Sarus Cranes at sunrise in an Uttar Pradesh wetland (soon to be ruined by an airport!), elephants in a chaur grassland at Corbett National Park, Gir lions or Asiatic lions in Gujarat, White-eyed Buzzard Eagle with nictitating membrane over eye, hard ground barasingha sparring in Kanha National Park during the mating season, Short-toed eagle doing the samba while stationary mid-air, Python molurus at Bharatpur or Keoladeo ghana Sanctuary in Rajasthan, helicopter skiing in Himachal Pradesh, jumaring over a crevasse in Himachal, Axis deer or Chital in Corbett or the erstwhile Hailey National Park, leopard or panther, para sailing at Billing and Solang Nala / nullah, white water river rafting on the ganga / Ganges, tip top ice climbing on an ice wall in the Himalaya with ice axes and crampons, elephants fighting in a grassland during the mating season, fox crossing the Zanskar river in Jammu and Kashmir state of India, ice bridge in Padum / Padam, Zanskar, Paradise Flycatcher feeding young chicks at nest on a kathal or jackfruit tree, Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) in Arunachal Pradesh’s thick rain forest, Jungle Cat at Ramganga river, Uttarakhand, water skiing on Dal Lake in Kashmir, India, with house boats in the background, Rhino chasing other rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis, in Kaziranga National Parj, Assam, tiger cub coming to mother at Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, peacock displaying, Indian peafowl, Pavo cristatus, Himalayan Pied Woodpecker expelling wood chips from its recently excavated nesthole, Black shouldered / winged Kite at Panna National Park, climbers with Bhagirathi peaks in background on the Gangotri glacier national park, Uttarakhand, India.

Less wetlands, worse hurricane and flooding disasters in New Orleans, USA.

And from Wildlife Extra:

Bombay Natural History Society blames poor land management for extent of Kashmir floods

Following the recent flooding disaster in the Kashmir region of India, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have gone on the record saying that the loss of wetlands in the Kashmir valley has directly impacted the catastrophe, making conditions worse than they otherwise would be.

They state that in the past 30 years, nearly 50 per cent of the wetlands in the Kashmir Valley have been severely damaged, and highlight the reduced areas of Dal Lake and Wular Lake as having a detrimental effect on important drainage for the valley. Dal Lake currently covers half the area of its earlier spread, while Wular Lake and marshes now cover just 2,400, after previously spanning a total of 20,200 hectares. They cite that the encroachment upon the shallow portions of the wetland by the Forest Department for plantation of willow trees has significantly reduced the size of Wular Lake over the years.

In addition, the organisation blames commercial activities on the severe loss of wetland habitat. These wetlands, they argue, acted as a sponge when they were well preserved, but have since been neglected in recent years. As such, BNHS stress the need for a Wetland Conservation Act.

Commenting on the recent flooding, Dr Asad Rahmani, Director at BNHS, says: “The disastrous damage caused to life and property could have been minimised if the large number of wetlands that once existed in the Valley, had been preserved. Wetlands act as a sponge that retains excess water. Wular Lake is a classical example”.

Rare pheasant discoveries in Kashmir

Western tragopan

From Wildlife Extra:

Two new populations of Endangered Western tragopan discovered

Two rare Indian pheasants’ new territory – Western tragopan is shy and silent

June 2011: The extremely rare western tragopan has been recorded at two new sites along the Pir Panjal range in Jammu and Kashmir. Sightings and calls of the pheasant were validated at the Kalamund-Tatakuti and Khara Rakh areas of the range.

A Schedule I species on the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List, the western tragopan is a medium-sized, brightly coloured pheasant endemic to the western Himalayas and inhabits coniferous forests. Locals had talked about seeing the bird in April – but its presence was confirmed the following month.

‘The bird is extremely shy and silent. But knowing that the best way to locate the species would be during its breeding season, when it becomes highly vocal, we returned in May,’ said Riyaz Ahmad, the team leader and assistant manager, species division of WTI.

The victim of rampant poaching

A victim of rampant poaching for its meat and plumage and habitat degradation and fragmentation, the western tragopan has previously been reported only from Kazinag range and Kishtawar National Park in the state. A few scattered records occur from Sud Mahadeo area of Jammu province.

‘I was pleasantly surprised to note the tragopan’s presence in these areas. Unlike its usual haunts, the moist north-facing coniferous slopes, the present sites are located on the south face of Pir Panjal along Poonch,’ said Dr Rahul Kaul, South Asia representative, IUCN SSC Galliformes Specialist Group and Chief Ecologist, WTI.

In addition to western tragopan, the team also sighted another threatened species in the region, the cheer pheasant.

Ecologically diverse and representative of western Himalayan forests possessing key species such as the markhor, brown bear and musk deer, the team has recommended Kalamund-Tatakuti for notification as a protected area.

NEW YORK (July 3, 2012) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that the markhor – a majestic wild goat species – is making a remarkable comeback in Pakistan due to conservation efforts: here.

Bird migration to Hokersar wetlands in Kashmir

This is a video about Eurasian wigeon and mallards.

From Daily India:

Hokersar Wetland (Srinagar), Dec.4 (ANI): Over five lakh winged foreign visitors have made the picturesque Kashmir Valley their residence this winter, as plunging temperatures and freezing lakes in their native lands have compelled them to visit other places for safety.

Abundance of natural food at the Hokersar wetlands, barely 17 kilometres from Srinagar, the State capital of Jammu and Kashmir, has been a favourite with migratory birds. …

The dozens of species of birds arriving this year include Grey-legged Geese, Grey Heron, Little Grebe and others.

But among the species that can fascinate nature lovers is the arrival of the Bar headed Geese, which had stopped coming to the Valley for the last few years.

However, the huge arrival of migratory birds is a big responsibility for wildlife officials who are ensuring that no poaching activity takes place.

The annual migration of the rare and exotic birds from the high altitudes of Siberia, Afghanistan, China, Central Asia and Northern Europe begins around September, with most birds nestling in the Valley till March every year.

Hokersar is a world-class wetland, spread over 13.75 kilometre area including lake and marshy area. It is the most accessible and well known of Kashmir’s wetlands, which include Hygam, Shalibug and Mirgund.

A record number of migratory birds have visited Hokersar in recent years.

An estimated quarter of a million birds have already been spotted at Hokersar in the current season.

Birds found in Hokersar – Migratory ducks and geese– include Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal and Eurasian Wigeon.

Ferruginous duck in Wales: here.

Bharatpur birds in India: here.