As New Delhi seeks to repeal a law that acts as a constitutional bridge between India and disputed Kashmir, many prominent journalists, actors and public figures celebrated what experts call an undemocratic move.
Led by the far-right Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014, India has moved into uncharted territories by enforcing a constitutional amendment which changes the status of India-administered Kashmir, locally known as Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan region claimed by both India and Pakistan.
Most of the country’s television channels and newspapers praised the government's decision, abandoning the basic ethics of journalism.
“I am in tears. I have been stormed with phone calls & messages. Never imagined this would happen in my lifetime. Full integration of Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh with India is final now. No special status. History written before our eyes. No Article 370,” wrote Aditya Raj Kaul, a vocal Indian journalist, on Twitter.
Article 370 gave the disputed region a nominal autonomy, which was put in place in the late 1940s as one of the conditions to Kashmir's temporary accession to India.
Soon after India's Home Minister Amit Shah revealed the government's plan to renege on a 70-year-old treaty - which became a constitutional bridge between the Indian state and the erstwhile princely domain of Jammu and Kashmir - Aditya Raj Kaul said New Delhi should go after the lawmakers of Kashmir's People Democratic Party (PDP), who tore down the constitution of India in parliament to protest India’s "unconstitutional" decision of erasing the law that safeguarded the disputed region's demographic balance.
Kaul also believes that everything in Kashmir is “absolutely normal right now”, while the region is under an intense military siege. According to yesterday's local reports, there are military and police checkpoints almost every 500 metres. Experts see the heavy military footprint as a sign of India's occupation of Kashmir.
Preeti Bakaya, a New Delhi based corporate consultant, also cheered the state’s decision to turn Kashmir’s status to that of Union Territory, an entity that's directly ruled by New Delhi. Bakaya wrote the decision was “long overdue!”
Since 2014, the year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, displaying what many call a “divisive” leadership, India has seen a worrying increase in the number of hate crimes targeting minorities, particularly Muslims across the country.
“This is illegal annexation of a militarily-occupied territory and completely unacceptable,” said Shireen Mazari, Pakistani Minister for Human Rights, on Twitter.
But for Hindu nationalists and their media advocates, Kashmir’s annexation to India has long been part of their political agenda.
Some of them even described the revocation of Article 370 as India's display of “love” for Kashmiris.
“To the people of Kashmir: Seize this incredible moment in History. Love India, just as India loves you. Light a diya, not a Molotov,” wrote Anand Rangahathan, a right-wing columnist, on Twitter.
Abhijit Majumder, another senior Indian journalist, lauded opposition political leader and Chief Minister of New Delhi Arvind Kejriwal for endorsing Modi’s decision to tear up Article 370.
“Pretty mature stand as an Opposition leader,” Majumder reacted to Kejriwal, who defends statehood for the capital city, New Delhi, while rejecting the same for India-held Kashmir.