Kashmir 101: Decoding Kashmir's conflict

By , Staff writer

4. What is India's military presence?

India keeps hundreds of thousands of military, paramilitary, and police forces in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Some estimates suggest India has at least a 50 to 1,000 force-to-population ratio. To put that in perspective: US counterinsurgency doctrine calls for a 25 to 1,000 force ratio, something the United States has never achieved in Afghanistan.

India says the forces are necessary to prevent a return to armed insurgency. Large numbers of soldiers are deployed along the border to stop incursions from Pakistan.

But residents are still living under a police state. Barbed-wire enclosed barracks sit in downtowns, heritage sites, and rural areas alike. Internet use is monitored, phones are tapped, and text messaging is banned. Public gatherings are forcibly dispersed. Even foreign journalists interviewing residents on the streets of Sopore prompted an armored vehicle to slow down and inspect the scene.

Residents can be locked up for two years without trial under special policing laws denounced by Amnesty International. More than 5,000 youths have been rounded up by police this past winter alone. Allegations of torture are pervasive.

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