- India revoked a provision that gave the state of Kashmir autonomous powers.
- By revoking this, India’s central government now has more power over the region, which has long been at the center of disputes between India and Pakistan.
- India claims that this decision was made for the security of the region, but many are criticizing the move saying it was a power grab.
India Revokes Article 370
India’s government revoked the constitutional provision that gave the state of Kashmir certain autonomous powers in a highly controversial move announced Monday.
For context, Kashmir refers to both a state and a region. As a region, Kashmir has been a flashpoint of conflict in the area since India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947.
Originally, Kashmir had wanted to be independent from the two countries, but they ultimately decided to join India under the condition that they would be able to have some autonomy.
That autonomy was granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which is the provision that India revoked Monday.
Under that provision, Kashmir was allowed their own constitution, flag, and to make their own laws, with the exception of laws regarding defense communications and foreign affairs, which were left to India’s central government to decide.
After Kashmir joined India, India and Pakistan went to war over the region. The two nations eventually agreed to divide Kashmir along a ceasefire line called the Line of Control.
Today, the region is divided between India, Pakistan, and China, though India and Pakistan each claim the region fully belongs to them.
India controls the largest part of the region, which until now was the Indian state called Jammu and Kashmir. However, there has still been a lot of violence and clashes both internally and between India and Pakistan.
Since the 1990s, separatists in Indian-controlled Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule, a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.
Then in February, India and Pakistan clashed in the region after a militant group reportedly killed dozens in an attack on Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later claimed his government had struck a large terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir, but Pakistani authorities denied that occurrence.
What Does It Mean?
Given Kashmir’s significance both historically and contemporarily, India’s announcement Monday represents a significant shift.
On the very top-level, the Indian government said it is going to break up the state of Kashmir into two federal territories.
One of those territories will still be called Jammu and Kashmir, and it will have a state legislature. The other will be called Ladakh and will not get its own legislature.
Now that the article has been removed, Kashmir will have to abide by the Indian Constitution and Indian laws. Essentially, the move will give the central government in India a lot more control over Kashmir while simultaneously gutting much of its previous autonomy.
Also of note, the Indian government additionally said Monday that they are revoking another provision that had prevented nonresidents from buying property in Kashmir.
That is massively consequential because Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state. Now that other Indians can buy property and move to Kashmir, some experts are worried the demographics of the region will change, creating tensions between Hindus and Muslims not just in the region but all over India.
Others believe that making Kashmir more Hindu is exactly what Modi, who is a staunch Hindu Nationalist, wants. During his recent re-election campaign, one of Modi’s promises was that he would revoke Article 370.
At least right now, Indian authorities are more concerned about the spike in tensions that the annoucement itself will cause in Kashmir. According to local media reports, the central government sent 35,000 troops to the region last week in anticipation.
The Indian government also evacuated tourists, closed all schools, and cut off internet access entirely. Currently, the people of Kashmir are essentially on lockdown and in a media blackout.
While the Indian government claims it made the move in order to better ensure security in the region, many argue it is just a blatant power grab.
When the decision was announced, it was met with loud jeers from opposition leaders.
Many in India have also argued that the move is illegal and unconstitutional, pointing out the fact that under the Constitution, Article 370 cannot be unilaterally removed and could only be changed with the consent of the state government.
The constitutional argument could set up a scenario where the government’s decision is brought to the country’s Supreme Court.
The government of Pakistan responded by condemning the decision, and saying it violates international law and United Nation resolutions.
In a statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it would “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also condemned the move and noted in a tweet that President Donald Trump had offered to mediate the crisis.
It is time to end the long night of suffering for the people of Occupied Kashmir. They must be allowed to exercise their right to self determination according to UN SC resolutions.The only road to peace & security in South Asia runs through a peaceful & just settlement of Kashmir— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 4, 2019
India for its part has repeatedly said it does not want Trump to intervene.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman responded in a statement Monday, saying that the U.S. is “closely following” the situation, which she added was a “strictly an internal matter.”
“We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities,” the spokeswoman said. “We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control.”
China, which also controls part of Kashmir, has also condemned the move.
Many experts and political leaders anticipate that India’s move will just create more violence and conflict in the region. While Kashmir is essentially under lockdown, protests have broken out all over Pakistan, where protestors reportedly yelled: “down with India!”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Khan said he expects terrorist violence to increase because of the move. Khan also accused India’s leadership of promoting “racist ideology,” continuing, “I fear they may initiate ethnic cleansing in Kashmir to wipe out the local population.”
“If India attacks us, we will respond. We will fight until the last drop of blood,” he added
See what others are saying: (Vox) (The Washington Post) (BBC)
Gang That Kidnapped American and Canadian Missionaries in Haiti Seeks $17 Million Ransom
The incident has fueled calls for the government to take action against gangs, which control many territories in the country and have repeatedly carried out large-scale abductions for ransom
The gang that abducted 17 American and Canadian missionaries in Haiti on Saturday is demanding $17 million for their safe release, Haitian officials said Monday.
The group, which consists of one Canadian and 16 Americans, are all part of Christian Aid Ministries, an Amish and Mennonite charity based out of Ohio with a long history of working in Haiti.
While on their way to visit an orphanage in Croix des Bouquets, a suburb of the capital Port-au-Prince, the group’s bus was stopped at gunpoint by the 400 Mawozo gang. The gang is known for being one the most dangerous in the area, reportedly having about 150 members.
Multiple outlets, including CNN and Reuters, report that during the gang’s confrontation with the missionaries some victims managed to get messages out to associates to let them know what was going on. One even managed to drop a pin location on his mobile phone, helping authorities get a better idea of where exactly this happened.
By 4:53 p.m on Saturday, the kidnappers contacted Christian Aid Ministries to make their steep demands. According to authorities, the request is a noticeable jump from the thousands to tens of thousands the gang typically asks for.
Lack of Government Control
While Haitian authorities are involved in the investigation to free the missionaries, they actually have little power in the area. Croix des Bouquets is largely out of the government’s control and is instead run by 400 Mawozo. Government authority being replaced by gang activity isn’t uncommon in Haiti, and in some places, government control is almost completely lacking. This was highlighted on Sunday when Prime Minister Ariel Henry was forced to turn back from a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of revolutionary war hero Jean-Jacques Dessalines due to its placement in gang territory.
The issue makes recovering the missionaries far more complex, but Haitian authorities aren’t alone. The FBI has been involved in the investigation and is continuing to help Haitian authorities.
“The FBI is part of a coordinated US government effort to get the Americans involved to safety. Due to operational considerations, no further information is available at this time,” The agency said in a statement to Reuters.
Reports indicate that the hostages are being held in some kind of safe house for the gang. Currently, no one is believed to be physically hurt. The gang has warned against harming the hostages, although according to a Haitian security forces member who spoke with CNN, the group didn’t seem too worried about those threats.
Haitians Call for Changes
Abductions in Haiti have always been an issue, but the problem has become particularly bad lately. In 2020, the Haitian National Police reported 234 kidnappings. In the first eight months of this year, there have been at least 328.
Some organizations claim that number is actually low. In fact, the Center for Analysis and Research for Human Rights reported that at least 600 people have been abducted this year. The center said that much of the increase was caused by 400 Mawozo, who have figured out that kidnapping busloads of people is more profitable than just taking individuals.
The issue is so prolific that just before the kidnapping on Saturday, a Haitian transportation union called for an indefinite strike starting Monday, with its president further justifying the move in a written statement a day later.
“We call on the government to put an end to the kidnappings and provide us safety or for them to resign immediately. We are the most victims; the transportation sector is an easy target for kidnappers all over the country,” Union President Méhu Changeux wrote. “We lost many members to the insecurity and dozens of members have been kidnapped. The latest tragedy of the kidnapping of the American missionaries shows no one is safe in this country.”
Since Monday, many parts of the country have come to a standstill amid the strike, putting increased pressure on a government with little resources to handle the underlying cause of discontent: gang activity and government instability.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The New York Times) (Associated Press)
5 Dead, 2 Injured After Bow and Arrow Attack in Norway
Police have called the incident a terror attack, though exact details regarding the suspect’s motives remain unclear.
Super Market Attack
The Norwegian town of Kongsberg is reeling from a deadly incident at Coop Extra supermarket on Wednesday that police are treating as “an act of terrorism.”
Shortly before 6 p.m., a 37-year old Danish man entered the market, armed with a bow and arrow, along with other weapons. He then began firing at those inside the building.
Authorities quickly responded and were on the scene within five minutes. Despite a police confrontation with the suspect, the attack continued. Four women and one man were ultimately killed while two others were left injured.
The suspect initially avoided arrest after managing to flee the scene. Police Chief Ole Bredrup Sæverud told reporters Thursday that it took 35 minutes to catch the attacker.
While police described the incident as a terror attack, they refused to specify a motive. Officials did hint that the rampage might have been religiously motivated by revealing that police had previously been in contact with the suspect due to his conversion to Islam and possible connections to radical content and teachings. Still, Sæverud clarified that the perpetrator hadn’t been actively investigated at all in 2021.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who was just hours away from leaving office after she was ousted in recent elections, described reports of the scene as “horrifying” on Wednesday. Incoming Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a Facebook post from Thursday morning that the attack was a “cruel and brutal act.”
Norway’s King Harald expressed his sympathies to the mayor of Kongs-berg, telling the country, “We sympathize with the relatives and injured in the grief and despair.”
“And we think of all those affected in Kongs-berg who have experienced that their safe local environment suddenly became a dangerous place. It shakes us all when horrible things happen near us, when you least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street.”
Attacks of this nature are rare in Norway. In 2019, a right-wing gunman tried to enter a mosque before being overpowered and hitting no one. Wednesday’s attack is the most deadly since July 2011, when a far-right extremist killed 77 people at a Labour party summer camp.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murderers or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Protests Erupt in Italy Over World’s Toughest Vaccine Mandate
The violence is believed to have been instigated by far-right groups that oppose COVID-19 vaccines and other pandemic-related safety measures.
Green Pass Pushback
Demonstrators gathered in Rome over the weekend to protest against Italy’s plans to require a coronavirus “Green Pass” for all workers starting Oct. 15.
The Green Pass is a European Union initiative that shows whether someone is vaccinated, has recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months, or has received a negative COVID test in the past 48 hours.
Since August, Italy has required the pass for entry at restaurants and use of long-distance trains, along with nearly every other activity that involves interaction with others or use of a public space. Now, the pass will be required to enter a workplace, which critics argue is particularly harsh.
Individuals who can’t produce a valid Green Pass will be suspended without pay, making it the most extreme of any COVID-19 mandate in the world.
The weekend protests started out peaceful, with people chanting “Liberta,” which means freedom. However, the scene turned violent by Saturday when a group of protesters affiliated with the far-right Forza Nuova party decided to storm the headquarters of the CGIL, Italy’s biggest and oldest labor union.
Protesters then marched towards the Prime Minister’s office, prompting police to respond with anti-riot measures like tear gas, water cannons, and shield charges.
It’s unclear how many protesters were hurt in the ongoing fighting, but dozen of police officers were reportedly hurt in the scuffle. By Sunday evening. at least 12 protesters were arrested, many of who are members of Forza Nuova, including its leader Roberto Fiore. Authorities also indicated in a press conference on Monday that it had identified at least 600 other people who took part in illegal activities during the demonstrations.
Fiore was unapologetic about the rioting, and Forza Nuova said in a statement, “The popular revolution will not stop, with or without us, until the Green Pass is definitively withdrawn. Saturday was a watershed between the old and the new. The people decided to raise the level of the clash.”
Saturday’s events have led many of the country’s largest political parties, including the 5Star Movement and the Democratic Paty, to support a motion calling for Nuova Forza and similar groups to be dismantled in line with a constitutional provision from 1952 that bans fascists parties.
While that motion is still going through the legislative process, prosecutors have already seized the group’s website in line with a 1988 law that bans inciting violence through public communications.
“The events [on Saturday] take us back to the darkest and most dramatic moments of our history and they are an extremely serious and unacceptable attack on democracy,” Valeria Fedeli, a senator with the center-left Democratic Party, said on Monday.
The violence from the weekend may make it seem like a sizeable chunk of Italians are against the vaccine; however, over 70% of all Italians are already vaccinated, making it one of the highest rates in the world.
According to polling from the summer, most Italians think the new rules will help in the long run and prevent another catastrophe like last year when the country ran out of room to bury the dead due to the number of deaths caused by COVID-19.