Blame it on populist Hindutva forces or BJP’s revisionist ambitions. BJP-led India has abrogated Article 370 and 35-A of Indian Constitution, which offered a cover of constitutional protections to Indian occupied territories of Jammu and Kashmir. Now the velvet glove has come off and the iron fist brandishes an attempt to forcefully and illegally annex UNSC recognised disputed territories.

In South Asia, this is a new, dark and embroiling chapter of conflict. It is not simply an extension of aggravation in Jammu and Kashmir dispute. With one stroke of a pen; the Indian leadership favoured myopia against prudent foresight. Shimla Agreement of 1972 offered a means of addressing the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. However, India used the mantra of “bilateralism” for evading the negotiating table through third party mediation. The unilateral and illegal attempt to annex Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in flagrant violation of UNSC resolutions simply leaves the Shimla Agreement hollow. It now remains to be seen if the agreement will stand the test of time. August 5, 2019 will go down in history as the beginning of a tragic, yet defining moment in history of South Asia.

The repression of Hurriyat leadership was always the norm in IOK. Now political leadership which previously remained aligned to India is also subject to regressive suppression. Violence, unrest, incessant violation of human rights, media blackout, censorship, internet shutdown, illegal detentions, extra judicial killings and massacres will just be some features of the feared beginning. With so-called constitutional protections repealed, the original Kashmiri residential areas will be turned into ghettos. The “occupation-plus” will only recall images of Nazi ghettos, South African Apartheid and illegal settlements across West Bank. Being economically vulnerable for multiple decades, the majority of people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in future will be restricted to lower strata of wealth and income. Disregarding the euphemism, Kashmiri people will be reduced to aliens in their own land. Unable to afford property and ever facing structural discrimination from both Indian state and occupying settlers, it will give way to unrest, communal violence and state collusion to repress Kashmiris further. If revisionism is to accepted, down the road is only a cornered place and traumatic chapter for Kashmiris.

For almost a decade now, Pakistan demonstrated consistent commitment to the end wave of terrorism across the country. It has also clipped different non-state actors across. The change of status-quo and high handedness by Indian security forces in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir will translate to violent reprisals from Kashmiris. India as predicted will invoke “terrorism” from across the Line of Control and blame Pakistan. Deteriorating situation in IOK will not lead to introspection, but reinforcement of previous conviction in India. Riding a complete sense of misplaced confidence can lead to another folly. A repeat of another misadventure by India will push both countries to brink of war. Revisionism, an iron fist approach in IOK and possible misadventure are fundamental ingredients for disaster in South Asia.

The idea that people in IOK will become accustomed to India’s unilateral designs are highly misconceived. People will resist, as the sole yet feeble element of trust has eroded now. Feeling ever more threatened, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s firefighting reassurances, tells the tale of their dubious motivations with which abrogation bill was passed. Massive securitisation of IOK in recent weeks doesn’t indicate a prelude of coming of emancipation, but of big brother’s sham promises.

Despite being in the 21st century, the world appears to have forsaken lessons of World War II and a world based on liberal order. Norms and rules based order is threatened by fascist, ultra-right-wing and populist forces. The same tragedy appears to be falling IOK, where Hindutva fascism threatens Kashmiri people and their unique identity. Will the liberal world which has invoked and cherished such values let another systematic tragedy go unnoticed in IOK? Should the beginning of another apartheid be pushed to oblivion at the outset? A chapter of new systematic discrimination needs to be checked, reversed and scuttled. If the international conscience will fail to prevent India’s apartheid in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, it will be a beginning of a long and arduous end. An end vindicating a hard lesson: that political aspirations of people cannot be suppressed through military means. On the contrary, they are only realised through a substantive dialogue and actual resolution with parties to the dispute