• Crisis Severity ?
     
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
     
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
     
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    2.2
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    2.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 12,541,000 People exposed [?]
  • 1,081 Civilian deaths (Civil society estimation 2008-2018) [?]

Overview

20/04/2020

The disputed region of Kashmir has led to uprisings and independence movements for decades. In 2019  a series of political efforts to strip India-Administered Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) of its autonomy escalated the conflict and deteriorated the humanitarian situation in the region.

In August 2019, the Indian government issued a presidential decree revoking Articles 370 and 35A, which gave Jammu and Kashmir special autonomous status, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly seven decades. Jammu and Kashmir was further downgraded from State to Union Territory, officially placing it entirely under the jurisdiction of the central government.?

There is limited information regarding the humanitarian situation in Kashmir. Reports indicate human rights violations by both militants and Indian Security Forces are common. Access to livelihoods and education are often disrupted due to forced closure of businesses, schools, and markets. Healthcare is affected by communications disruptions and restrictions on movement.?

Latest Developments

28/05/2020

Cyclone Amphan made landfall on 20 May, affecting 60 million people in India’s West Bengal and Odisha states and 1 million people in Bangladesh’s southern and western districts. Across both countries, at least 112 people died and 3 million people that were evacuated remain in emergency shelters. Assessments are ongoing, though initial reports suggest needs will be high. In India, 80,000 homes were severely damaged and much of the area’s coastal crops have been destroyed, with reports suggesting farmland could be unusable for years, which will severely impact livelihoods. In Bangladesh, estimates suggest 500,000 households could be displaced and storm surges damaged 18,000 water points, limiting access to clean water and raising concerns about disease spread. In the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, moderate flooding and small landsides blocked drains and damaged stairs, latrines and bridges. Just over 7,000 Rohingya refugees were affected, and approximately 550 were moved  within the camps to temporary shelters or are staying with relatives. Preparation and response to Cyclone Amphan has been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with emergency shelters in India reportedly operating at 50% capacity and with many shelters having been previously converted into COVID-19 isolation centres.?

For more information related to the COVID-19 outbreak in Kashmir, see content below.

Risk

Additional government citizenship initiatives fuel intercommunal violence, embolden militancy in Kashmir, and lead to government oppression of Muslim communities, increasing protection concerns, access restrictions, and displacement. Latest update: 25/03/2020

Probability

Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely

Impact

Very low Moderate Major

Risk Rationale

Recent moves by Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have strained relations and incited new dissent from India’s Muslim population. In August 2019, a presidential decree revoked the autonomy status of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. A complete lockdown on communications and movement in the region followed. Simultaneously, the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) brought the citizenship status of 1.9 million people, mostly Muslims and minorities, into question, and efforts to establish a nationwide registry have been met with opposition. The situation was further aggravated by the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December, designed to provide a pathway to citizenship for those fleeing religious persecution from certain countries, but did not include Muslims.?

Anti-CAA demonstrations have fuelled violence between Hindu and Muslim communities. As of February 2020, nearly 80 people have died, including 53 in four consecutive days of violence in Delhi, which saw the torching of Muslim shops, homes, and mosques.?

In 2020, Supreme Court rulings eased the internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir and allowed protests to continue. However, legal challenges against the CAA and questions about the NRC remain unanswered. The Supreme Court, rather than rule on the amendment’s constitutionality, has given the government an opportunity to respond to challenges. Statements from BJP leaders have indicated that no decision has been made regarding a nationwide registry, though a push to convene a National Population Register in April 2020 has raised concerns that demographic data will be used to identify non-citizens.?

Any announcement of a nationwide citizenship registry or other moves perceived to alienate Muslims are likely to fuel intercommunal violence and embolden militancy in Kashmir, resulting in a strong response by the Indian government. This is particularly true if the Supreme Court is unwilling to address challenges to the CAA or Indian police do not ensure the safety of all Indian communities and protestors.

Risk Impact

Political unrest will disproportionately affect Muslims in Kashmir, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh, all of which have a history of deep ethnic tensions. Reports indicate that police have been slow to respond to, or even active participants in, violence in Muslim communities. Conflict trends suggest that 100,000 to 250,000 people could be significantly affected, either by displacement, access restrictions, or increased protection risks.?

An increase in intercommunal violence and militancy will likely result in a strong response from Indian forces. Previous human rights violations by the Indian government included mass detention, excessive use of force to suppress dissent, and amplified military presence. Civilian attacks targeting Muslims will likely increase, leading to casualties, property damage, and loss of livelihoods if shops are destroyed.?

Government response to violence will likely include restrictions on communications and/or movement. Kashmir has limited capacity to cope with further restrictions or conflict following the August 2019 lockdown, which strained public services and hindered access to healthcare, education, and livelihoods for 8 million people. Access to healthcare will be strained should road blockades impede access to hospitals. Threats from militants attempting to usurp control, as well as government-imposed restrictions, will likely result in school closures and fear of attending classes.?

Displacement is likely. Conflict forced 170,000 people in India from their homes in 2018, the majority in Kashmir, and ethnic conflict in Assam has previously displaced 150,000 people in a single episode of violence. Conflict displacement in India is often temporary; however, recent intercommunal violence torched homes, creating longer-term displacement.?

Read this risk

Key Priorities

20/04/2020

Protection: Shelling along the Line of Control, clashes between police and militants, protest violence, and human rights violations by police forces and militants all pose a significant protection concern. Conflict-related deaths hit a record in 2019, with nearly 600 fatalities.?

Education: Disruptions to education are common in Kashmir. Protests result in the closure of schools by Indian forces. Even if schools are open, demands to boycott schools by Kashmiri militants and the threat of violence confines students to their homes. Nearly 1.5 million children in Kashmir see regular disruptions or complete lack of access to education, often for months at a time.?

Health: Restrictions on communications and movement directly impact health. Patients are unable to call ambulances, roadblocks pose a challenge for travel to hospitals, and inability to make online or phone orders has caused medicine shortages. Reports suggest nearly half the population experiences symptoms of mental illness, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.?

COVID-19 Impact

03/04/2020

The internet slowdown in Jammu and Kashmir is affecting public health officials’ ability to adequately prepare for or treat cases of COVID-19 in the region. After more than six months without internet services, the Government of India restored Kashmir’s internet in early March, but only at 2G speeds. Doctors and public health authorities have reported disruptions in access to information regarding COVID-19 due to the slow internet connection. Downloading health documents, including research on the virus, recommendations for prevention and treatment, and watching international news broadcasts is not possible with 2G.

Access to education is also directly affected. Schools in Kashmir reopened in February following seven months of closure. However, the closure of schools in India due to the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in requirements for distance learning. Many elements of distance learning, such as streaming of lessons online or downloading curriculum documents are restricted by the internet slowdown.?

ACAPS' team is monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information related to the outbreak, see the ACAPS COVID-19 Project.

Information Gaps and Needs

20/04/2020

There is no crisis severity score for the Kashmir conflict due to the lack of available data.

Access to the region is limited for humanitarian organisations and international media. Within Jammu and Kashmir restrictions on movement and communication disruptions are common. Information regarding severity of humanitarian needs or population affected is limited.

Assam NRC (Risk December 2019)

25/03/2020

The August 2019 publication of the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) brought into question the citizenship of 1.9 million people. Six months later, it has evolved into a slow-moving political battle and left Assam’s Muslim communities in citizenship limbo. Rejection certificates, originally meant to be issued around October 2019, have not been sent. Following claims that foreigners were included in the list while many Hindus were excluded, some BJP leaders called for the Assam NRC to be carried out again. Inconsistencies, including discrepancies in the list and the disappearance of data from the cloud service used to store it, has resulted in questions about accuracy and security. As of February 2020, internal checks have begun to determine if ineligible people, such as declared foreigners, have been incorrectly included. Authorities have announced plans to finish the filtering of names, notify the Registrar General of India of the final list, and send rejection certificates by mid-March, after which appeal cases to the foreigners’ tribunals will begin. The NRC process, along with other citizenship initiatives implemented by the Indian government, have sparked violence between Hindu and Muslim communities, which continues to threaten the security of Muslims in Assam and India. Additionally, questions around citizenship status still present a risk of human rights violations, lack of access to public services, and even statelessness. ?

Read more in the ACAPS End of Year Report 2019