Has India’s Kashmir policy under Modi failed?

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government unilaterally stripped Indian-administered Kashmir of its limited autonomy and statehood in 2019, it claimed the move would wipe out decades of armed rebellion in the region, and usher in peace and development.

Nearly three years later, peace continues to elude the disputed Himalayan valley, with nearly daily killings of rebels, Indian security officials and civilians in gunfights and targeted attacks.

Only this year, more than 100 suspected rebels, mostly young Kashmiris aged between 18 and 26, have been killed by the Indian police and military, the region’s police chief Vijay Kumar said on Wednesday.

The rebels in turn are accused of killing at least 16 people this year, seven of them belonging to the minority Hindu community.

Since the abrogation of the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir on August 5, 2019, at least 197 security personnel, 675 suspected rebels and 131 civilians have been killed in the wave of violence that has engulfed the valley.

These include the targeted killings of at least 23 people from the region’s minority, mainly Hindus. Even non-resident Muslim migrant workers from other parts of India have not been spared.

The spiralling wave of violence has prompted critics to wonder whether the Modi government’s “muscular policy” towards the country’s only Muslim-majority region has failed.