At a time when fears of a demographic invasion are running rife in Indian administered Kashmir, a government website has declared the conflict-ridden Muslim majority region a Hindu majority, according to international news agency Anadolu.
The InvestJK website, run by the Industries and Commerce Department, describes under its heading on Temples that, "be it Kashmir or Jammu, the population is predominantly Hindu." "This explains the presence of a number of temples in the state, surrounded by lakes, rivers, snow and alpines," the website reads.
According to government census data, however, only four of Jammu and Kashmir's 20 districts are Hindu majority, with the rest Muslim majority. While the Kashmir Valley is nearly entirely Muslim, six of the ten districts of Jammu have Muslim-majority populations, the Anadolu said.
Tellingly, taking que from Israeli policy to implant Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's extreme-right government on August 5, 2019 revoked the special status of Jammu Kashmir under articles 35A and 370 of the constitution which forbid Indians from outside the region from buying land or permanently settling in the Muslim-majority territory.
By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in Kashmir and settle there permanently.
Article 35A of India's constitution permits the Kashmir legislature to define permanent residents of the region. The Article forbids Indians from outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs or winning education scholarships in the region.
The article also bars female residents of Kashmir from property rights in the event that they marry a person from outside the state. The provision also extends to such women's children.
Kashmiris as well as critics of India's Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
The once-in-a-decade census of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir last held in 2011 says Muslims represent 68.31% of the population and Hindus 28.44%, the rest being other minorities like Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians and Jains.
Besides contradicting with the government's own population data, the website describes the two regions in terms critics say reek of religious bias rather than an invitation to prospective investors, the Anadolu added.
The Muslim-majority Kashmir is described as a "fertile valley with a mild climate and well known for its handicrafts, in particular its shawls and carpets."
Jammu province is not described in its entirety -- it has a diverse geography and its largest area is inhabited by Muslims. Instead, the website focuses on the province's capital, Jammu. The city is described as being adorned by its founding Dogra rulers "with numerous temples and shrines, [and is] now known as the city of Temples."
"It is dotted with some historical temples like Raghunath Temple, Ranbireshwar Temple, Peer Kho Temple, [and] Panjbakhtar Temple, which are over a hundred years old," it adds.
The region is showcased to investors under three headings: Places to Visit, Temples, and Hill Station. Under Places to Visit are the three famous lakes of the Kashmir Valley and two in Jammu.
"From Amarnath and Raghunath to Vaishnodevi [all Hindu shrines], the state attracts pilgrims in hordes throughout the year, as great religious importance is attached to these places. Most of these are known for their unique architecture, solitude and peaceful environment."
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