BY VICTORIA WANG ’20
Kashmir, a state in northern India, was hit by a bomb blast on Thursday, Feb. 14, in the province’s most dire attack in over 30 years. A car loaded with explosives struck a convoy carrying approximately 2,500 troops to Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir.
Kashmir has been contested land since 1947, with “many people in the territory not want[ing] it to be gov- erned by India, preferring instead either independence or union with Pakistan,” according to the BBC. Both India and Pakistan are self-proclaimed nuclear powers, and tensions around the area are increasingly volatile.
The bombing occurred around 3:15 p.m. local time on a highway 12 miles from Srinagar and resulted in 44 fatalities, NPR reported. The driver of the car was a suicide bomber from the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group, founded about two de- cades ago, was designated as a terrorist organization in 2001 by the UN Security Council. In December 2001, JeM attacked the Indian parliament, provoking fears of a full-scale war between India and Pakistan, according to CNN.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the morning before the Kashmir attack, another suicide bomber struck in the region, this time in southeastern Iran. This attack was similarly attributed to Pakistan. The bomber targeted a bus transporting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards — a major military and political force — through the Sistan- Baluchistan province near the Pakistan border.
Jaish al-Adl (“Army of Justice”), a Sunni Muslim extremist group, has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Jaish al-Adl, founded in 2012, claims its mis- sion is to ght for Sunnis in Shia-dominated Iran.
Officials and military leaders of both affected states have blamed Pakistan for orchestrating these attacks. Rajnath Singh, Home Minister of India, said JeM was “Pakistan-based and Pakistan-backed.” In response, a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry tweeted that the ministry “strongly reject[s] any insinuation” that Pakistan is linked to the attack.
Mohammad Ali Jafari, Major General of Iran, made a similar statement on Saturday, referring to terrorist group Jais-al-Adl. “The government of Pakistan must pay the price of harboring these terrorist groups and this price will undoubtedly be very high,” he said.
The Pakistani government has denied responsibility for the Kashmir attack, stating that “any insinuation by elements in the Indian media and government that seek to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations” was false.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday, Feb. 17 that the accusations were made without any thorough investigation.
“India needs to introspect and respond to questions about its security and intelligence lapses that led to this attack [....] Bluster, belligerence and pursuit of expedient standards to suit internal political interests is both delusional and counterproductive,” the statement read. “India must come out of the denial mode, end state re- pression against Kashmiri youth, address widespread alienation in [Indian-Occupied Kashmir] and pursue the path of dialogue.”
The statement maintained that “JeM remains a proscribed entity in Pakistan since 2002 and Pakistan is implementing its obligations on sanctions implementation.”
Guneet Moihdeen ’21, an international student from India, does not believe the Pakistani government is to blame for the attacks. Rather, she said, in holding the Pakistani government responsible, the Indian govern- ment “perpetuates anti-Muslim sentiment through inciting hateful crimes or facilitating these crimes through active terror organizations.”
“Existing government institutions that were supposed to aid and protect the public are instead pushing their agendas by subjecting their people to terror and violence,” said Moihdeen.
As to administrative rights on Kashmir, an all-time Indo-Pakistani dispute only exacerbated by the recent bombing, Moihdeen believes that neither state is en- titled to sovereignty over the region. “Kashmir is a sep- arate entity entitled to its own sovereignty and state- hood,” says Moihdeen. As an Indian citizen, Moihdeen called on actions to “free Kashmir, free Palestine and stop enacting colonial violence on brown bodies.”