Skip to content
Kashmir: Narendra Modi's double-edged bet

Article reserved for subscribers

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's televised address in Ahmedabad, India, on August 8th. AMIT DAVE / REUTERS

In a perilous exercise, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, responded with a strong message. His televised speech was highly anticipated, three days after his government's abrupt announcement to revive the autonomy of Indian Kashmir. In a televised speech on Thursday August 8, Modi said the  «historic decision » would bring peace and prosperity to this province claimed by neighboring Pakistan and bruised by a separatist insurgency. His powerful voice and incantatory Hindi, which have won over the crowds since he came to power in 2014, were reassuring and determined. The Hindu nationalist leader promised that the removal of the Jammu and Kashmir State's state of exception, to which Kashmir with a majority of Muslims is attached, will allow the "Liberate from terrorism" and to start "A new era".

Read also Kashmir prey to Indian nationalism

Announced on 5 August by presidential decree, the renunciation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution put an end to the status of relative autonomy that prevailed in Jammu and Kashmir for seven decades. The inhabitants also lose their exclusive right to own land in the Himalayan valley. Finally, according to a law ratified this week by the Parliament, Jammu and Kashmir is split in two "Territories of the union" which are placed under direct administration of New Delhi.

These are all spectacular and controversial measures that, according to Modi, will give a chance to change. The repeal of Article 370 should allow New Delhi to clean up Kashmir's accounts, unblock infrastructure projects and encourage regional growth. Prime Minister Bets on Business Investment and Job Creation to Boost the Region and Raise Public Awareness "New hopes and new aspirations". "Kashmir has some development indicators that are superior to other states in India; to speak of Article 370 as a barrier to development is an improper argument ", contests Shah Faesal, a former Kashmiri senior bureaucrat who recently founded his Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement (JKPM) party. He denounces a Hindu nationalist project that aims to "A forced assimilation of Kashmir to the rest of India, which could only be done with the abolition of Article 370".