‘Bulldozer politics’: Modi’s demolition drive fuels Muslims’ fears in Kashmir

Violence and censorship rife among citizens and the media, as push to reclaim state land belies Indian government’s claims of peace in disputed region

Suhail Ahmad Shah stood despairingly before the wreckage that for two decades had been his livelihood. Just hours before, he had been busy at the workshop when he heard an ominous crunch above him and the tin roof began to cave in. He barely made his escape before a bulldozer flattened the entire place.

“No notice was served to us,” said Shah, 38. “The officials came suddenly and demolished our workshop. No one is listening to us. We’ve been paying rent. Isn’t this an atrocity? They have snatched our livelihood.”

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Kashmir letters cast doubt on claims Nehru blundered by agreeing ceasefire

Exclusive: papers kept classified for decades reveal India’s first PM acted on advice from most senior general

India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was urged by his most senior general to agree to a ceasefire with Pakistan in 1948, the Guardian can reveal after viewing letters on Kashmir that have been kept classified in India for decades.

The correspondence from the then commander-in-chief, Gen Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, will have significant political ramifications for the current nationalist government in Delhi, which has discredited Nehru’s decision to come to a compromise on the status of disputed Kashmir as an ill-informed “blunder”.

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India trying to prevent declassification of ‘sensitive’ 1947 Kashmir papers

Government documents fear letters about special status known as Bucher papers could affect foreign relations

India may prevent the declassification of papers from 1947 related to Kashmir as it fears the “sensitive” letters could affect foreign relations, according to internal government documents seen by the Guardian.

The letters, known as the Bucher papers, are believed to include political and military arguments for why India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, called for a ceasefire with Pakistan and provided special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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The Kashmir Files: Israeli director sparks outrage in India over ‘vulgar movie’ remarks

Nadav Lapid, chair of the International film festival India, spoke out against work that critics say is anti-Muslim propaganda

A row has erupted in India after an Israeli director described a controversial film about Kashmir as propaganda and a “vulgar movie”, prompting the Israeli ambassador to issue an apology.

Nadav Lapid, who was chair of this year’s panel of the international film festival of India (IFFI), spoke out against the inclusion of The Kashmir Files at the event.

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India criticised over arbitrary travel bans after photojournalist blocked from Pulitzer trip

Sanna Irshad Mattoo says she was barred from taking a flight to New York where she was scheduled to receive the 2022 Pulitzer Prize

Indian authorities have been criticised after a Kashmiri photojournalist said she was barred from taking a flight to New York where she was scheduled to receive the 2022 Pulitzer prize.

Sanna Irshad Mattoo, 27, was in a team of Reuters photographers who had won a Pulitzer for feature photography for their coverage of the coronavirus crisis in India.

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‘To sing in Kashmiri is political’: Ali Saffudin, the singer-songwriter who smuggled his album to the world

Influenced by Led Zeppelin, the 29-year-old’s debut album almost didn’t get made because of a communications blackout. He talks about the blues, the Kashmiri spirit and the fight for freedom

‘If someone like Neil Young or Bob Marley were born in Kashmir, who do you think they would have supported?” Ali Saffudin asks. “The oppressed. These are my inspirations.” For Saffudin, a Kashmiri folk singer-songwriter, his music is a way for people to understand the plight of Kashmir, a volatile state in the Indian subcontinent which has been the subject of territorial dispute, separatist insurgency and resistance against Indian rule since it was split during partition in 1947. It was only in 2020 that the parliament of India recognised Kashmiri as an official language. “We are living in the most militarised zone [in India],” Saffudin says. “To be Kashmiri is to be political. To sing in Kashmiri is even more political.”

On the eve of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, Saffudin is calling from his home in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir. The 29-year-old is weeks away from the release of his debut album, Woliver, a politically urgent record addressing the Kashmiri people’s continuing fight for a life free of persecution. Underpinned by punchy guitar indebted to Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine, Saffudin sings with anguish and intensity about resistance, existentialism and spirituality, capturing the anxieties of a generation that bears the burden of carrying on the fight for azadi (freedom) in the future. “Geography is political,” he sings on Vaidyon, a song written on a long bus journey from Delhi to Kashmir as he noticed “how many mountains I have to cross to reach my home, how geographically separate Kashmir is from India. It is a plane while we live in the Himalayas. Even the nature in Kashmir is making a political statement.”

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Uprooted by partition: ‘I feel I don’t belong in England. I’m a very proud Punjabi’

Impact of ‘traumatic period’ still lingers with those who now based in UK – and their families – 75 years on

After living in Britain for nearly half a century, Pabitra Ghosh is still gripped by a rootlessness borne after being displaced from modern-day Bangladesh as a child.

When a communal riot broke out in 1950, Ghosh, then five, fled with his family across the newly carved Indian border from East Pakistan. The train journey was both “bedlam” and “traumatic” as they abandoned their home to start afresh in Kolkata.

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At least 16 killed as flash floods hit Hindu pilgrimage in Kashmir

Thousands rescued from makeshift camps in Himalayas after sudden deluge in Indian-controlled region

Emergency workers rescued thousands of pilgrims after flash floods swept through their makeshift camps during an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a Himalayan cave in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing at least 16 people and injuring dozens, officials said.

Authorities suspended the pilgrimage for two days as the sudden rains continued to lash the region. Teams of rescuers from India’s military, paramilitary and police as well as disaster management officials combed through the slippery mountain tracks and used thermal imaging devices, sniffer dogs and radars to locate dozens of missing people. Civilian and military helicopters evacuated the injured to hospitals.

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‘First modern novel – oldest language’: Sanskrit translation of Don Quixote rescued from oblivion

Translated by two Kashmiri pandits from an C18th English translation in the 1930s, unique work lay forgotten in a Harvard University library

There is an adjective that all too invitingly describes the wildly optimistic endeavours of the American book collector, the Hungarian-British explorer and the two Kashmiri pandits who, almost a century ago, took it upon themselves to translate Don Quixote into Sanskrit for the first time.

Today, the same word might equally be applied to the efforts of the Bulgarian-born Indologist and Tibetologist who has rescued their text from decades of oblivion.

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India bars Pulitzer-winning Kashmiri photojournalist from flying to France

Sanna Irshad Mattoo says she was stopped by immigration officials at Delhi airport despite holding valid visa

Indian authorities have blocked a Pulitzer prize-winning Kashmiri photojournalist from taking a flight to Paris where she was to take part in a book launch and photography exhibition displaying her photos from Kashmir.

Sanna Irshad Mattoo, who works with Reuters as a multimedia journalist from Indian-administered Kashmir, was stopped at the Delhi airport by immigration officials on Saturday, despite holding a valid French visa.

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‘Fear is increasing’: Hindus flee Kashmir amid spate of targeted killings

Increase in violence prompts protests and biggest exodus of Kashmiri Pandit families for two decades

Hundreds of minority Hindus have fled from Indian-administered Kashmir, and many more are preparing to leave, after a fresh spate of targeted killings stoked tensions in the disputed Himalayan region.

Three Hindus have been killed by militants in Kashmir this week alone, including a teacher and migrant workers, prompting mass protests and the largest exodus of Hindu families from the Muslim-majority region in two decades.

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Cats, dogs and Musy the donkey: welcome to Kashmir’s first animal rescue centre

A husband and wife team who opened the region’s only sanctuary now care for more than 1,000 rescues and have helped hundreds find homes

On an isolated stretch of land on the banks of Jhelum River in Srinagar, a baby donkey stands in a pen eating straw. He’s been nursed back to health by staff at the first – and only – animal rescue centre in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Weeks earlier, on a freezing February morning, the wailing noise from the donkey, called Musy, abandoned with a broken leg, had woken residents in the city’s upmarket housing estate. They knew who to contact.

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Deportation of Rohingya woman from India sparks fear of renewed crackdown

Hasina Begum was separated from her family and forced return to Myanmar despite her refugee status. Hundreds of others now face expulsion

The deportation of a Rohingya women back to Myanmar has sparked fears that India is preparing to expel many more refugees from the country.

Hasina Begum, 37, was deported from Indian-administered Kashmir two weeks ago, despite holding a UN verification of her refugee status, intended to protect holders from arbitrary detention. Begum was among 170 refugees arrested and detained in Jammu in March last year. Her husband and three children, who also have UN refugee status, remain in Kashmir.

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Editor arrested in Kashmir as press crackdown escalates

Journalist Fahad Shah detained on Friday under terrorism and sedition laws in disputed Indian region

A prominent journalist has been arrested under terrorism and sedition laws, as a crackdown on the press in Indian-administered Kashmir continues to escalate.

Fahad Shah, the founder and editor of the widely read local news website The Kashmir Walla, was arrested on Friday evening when he was summoned to a police station in the southern district of Pulwama.

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Kashmir independent press club shut down in media crackdown

Authorities close organisation after pro-government journalists and police storm its premises

The future of press freedom in Indian-administered Kashmir has been thrown into question after pro-government journalists and police officers forcibly took over its independent press club, which the authorities later shut down.

The incident, which follows the harassment and detention of dozens of journalists in Kashmir in recent months, is the latest attack on independent journalism in the region, which is disputed between India and Pakistan.

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