The sudden revoking of Kashmir’s protected special status on 5 August has hit headlines around the world, and raises fears that persecution against minorities in the region will increase. Amongst those vulnerable to escalating hostility are Kashmiri Christians, many of whom are from a Muslim background.
These Christians already face pressure within their local, Muslim-majority communities. But recent developments suggest this may become much worse, as a Hindu nationalistic agenda increases and power dynamics in the region shift.
Illustrative image of Kashmir
The newly revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution had given special status to the region since 1947, allowing it to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state. This article put the citizens of Kashmir under a separate set of laws, including those relating to citizenship and ownership of property – citizens from other states couldn’t buy land or property in Kashmir. The Indian Government say that the special status was always intended to be temporary, but its sudden revoking is likely to have widespread consequences. There are concerns that it will lead to conflict, violence, protests and clashes between opposing groups.
Without Kashmir’s special status, religious minorities in India are also increasingly concerned that the government will introduce anti-conversion legislation in the region. Similar laws in seven other states have made it much more difficult to convert from Hinduism to other faiths, and it has become common to persecute Christians through baseless accusations under these laws. India is number 10 on the World Watch List, and persecution is getting worse in the country.
Please pray that:
- There would be peace in Kashmir, and that this revocation wouldn’t lead to increase conflict and violence
- That anti-conversion laws wouldn’t be enacted in the region
- For protection and peace for Christians facing increased persecution.