Once the government announced revocation of Articles 35A and 370, it was obvious that this would be the cover focus of our September issue. Weeks before home minister Amit Shah made the announcement in Parliament that the government was not only withdrawing the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir but also reducing it to two Union territories — Jammu & Kashmir and Kargil & Ladakh — speculation was rife in the Valley that something extraordinary was afoot. The surreptitiousness of the whole process added to rumour-mongering. However, this time rumours proved true. The worst fears of the Kashmiris were realised.
The only surprise was the meticulousness with which the government proceeded to carry out its decision. Large scale troops were inducted into the state, the evening prior to the announcement. Politicians and whoever the government deemed as possible ‘trouble-makers’ were arrested. Curfew was imposed. Telephone, internet connections and cable television were snapped. News was embargoed. Hence, even as the rest of the world learnt just before noon on August 5 that the government has changed the decades old status quo in Kashmir, the Kashmiris didn’t know what fate had befallen them. The news spread slowly and in trickle. Since then the lock down continues.
No matter what the popular perception may be about Kashmir being a nationalist issue, the reality is that it has long-term geopolitical, military and strategic implications not only for India but the region. The FORCE cover story looks at all of this and how it is a destabilising factor in the Indian neighbourhood.
Our second focus area in this issue is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bhutan and what challenges and opportunities the India-Bhutan ties present under the looming shadow of China. Written by Professor Mahendra Lama, an expert on India-Bhutan, this essay also dwells upon the Doklam crisis which eventually led to the first informal summit between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan. Xi is coming to India in October for the second informal summit under the Wuhan Spirit. In many ways, this summit will determine the course of India-China relations in the short-term. The summit will also have reverberations in Kashmir.
In the defence industry section, we have a commentary on the defence industrial corridor project which has finally taken off from the paper. The ground breaking for the Uttar Pradesh corridor took place earlier this year.
In addition to these are the usual updates from the defence industry, military services and extracts from two books. Enjoy the issue.