India Lashed Over Plan for Religious Settlements in Kashmir

Indian police moved against civilian protesters in Srinagar, the largest city in Kashmir, today amid growing outraged over a recently unveiled government plan to build new settlements for Hindus.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) argues that some 200,000 to 300,000 Hindus fled Kashmir during the armed revolt which began in 1989, and says they are building the settlements to encourage those Hindus to return.

Critics say the plan is effectively Israeli-style religious settlements with an eye toward bringing pro-government Hindus into a region with an active, predominantly Muslim, separatist movement.

Separatist leaders say the BJP’s move is aimed at further weakening the existing autonomy Kashmir has, and even the top Kashmiri Hindu organization accused the government of putting them at risk by singling them out into special, exclusive districts which would become a target for attack.

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