Asia

Kashmir: text messaging services to be restored in disputed region

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Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir are to restore text messaging services in the disputed region, almost five months after India’s government downgraded its semi-autonomy and imposed a strict security and communications lockdown.

A local government spokesman, Rohit Kansal, said the decision was made after a review of the situation.

Curbs on broadband internet and mobile internet services will remain, with the restoration of broadband internet services limited to government-run hospitals.

Authorities fear the internet being used to provoke protests in the region against Indian rule that could morph into large-scale street demonstrations.

With the end of British colonial rule, the Indian subcontinent is partitioned into predominantly Hindu India and mainly Muslim Pakistan. Mass migrations follow, with Hindus and Muslims moving to their country of choice. More than a million people are killed in the communal violence that ensues.

India and Pakistan fight their first war over control of Muslim-majority Kashmir, a kingdom ruled by Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh. The war ends in 1948 with a UN brokered ceasefire, leaving Kashmir divided between the nations, with the promise of a referendum to chose which nation its people wish to join.

A second war erupts over Kashmir, with India and Pakistan agreeing to a UN-mandated ceasefire the following month.

The third war between India and Pakistan is fought in East Pakistan, ending with the creation of independent Bangladesh.

India detonates a nuclear device in the first confirmed nuclear test by a non-permanent member of the UN security council.

India and Pakistan sign an agreement that neither will attack each other’s nuclear installations or facilities; it takes effect in 1991.

Armed resistance to Indian rule in Kashmir begins. India says Pakistan supports local fighters with weapons and training, which Pakistan denies, saying it only gives local Kashmiris “moral and diplomatic” support.

India detonates five nuclear devices and Pakistan responds by detonating six of its own. International sanctions are imposed against both.

A car bombing of a paramilitary convoy in Indian-controlled Kashmir kills 40 Indian soldiers. Militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, headquartered in Pakistan, claims responsibility. India blames Pakistan and promises a “crushing response”.”

Tensions in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety, have escalated since Delhi’s surprise decision in early August to downgrade the region’s semi-autonomy. India followed the move by sending in tens of thousands of extra troops, detaining thousands of people and blocking mobile phone and internet services.

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The government had earlier said the restrictions on communication services were “in the interest of maintenance of public order”.

Some communications services, such as post-paid and landline phones, were restored in phases in October.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over their rival claims over the territory, which is divided by a heavily militarised line of control.

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