Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has slammed the Narendra Modi-led government's decision to revoke occupied Kashmir's special status, saying that India had "lost the reputation" of being the world's first non-Western country to adopt a democratic system.
“As an Indian, I am not proud of the fact that India, after having done so much to achieve a democratic norm in the world, where India was the first non-Western country to go for democracy, that we lose that reputation on the grounds of action that have been taken,” he said in an interview with NDTV on Monday night.
On Aug 5, the Indian government repealed Article 370 of the constitution that granted occupied Kashmir special status and prevented non-Kashmiris to buy property or start business in the region. A strict curfew and communications blackout is still in place in the region while international news agencies have been reporting protests held by residents.
Sen said that the decision to allow non-Kashmiris to buy property in the region should have been left for the Kashmiri residents because "it is their land".
"That is something for the Kashmiris to determine [...] If that is the will that the Kashmiris have on democratic grounds, we can accept it."
"This is something in which Kashmiris have a legitimate point of view because it is their land," he added.
He also criticised the imposition of a lockdown — that has been in place for over two weeks — in the occupied region as well as the arrests of Kashmiri leaders under the pretext of preventing violent protests in the valley, calling it a “colonial excuse”.
"That’s how the British ran the country for 200 years. The last thing that I expected when we got our independence [...] is that we would go back to our colonial heritage of preventive detentions."
More than 4,000 people have been arrested by the Indian forces in occupied Kashmir under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial, AFP reported last week. Several prominent Kashmiri leaders, including former chief ministers of occupied Kashmir, have been placed under house arrest.