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Indian Nationalism, Islamophobia and the Kashmir Question

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Indian Nationalism, Islamophobia and the Kashmir Question
19 July 2012 Muslim League leader Mushtaqul Islam arrested when he was going to address press in Srinagar

Every other Politician, Media Panelist and Editorial piece would claim Kashmir as an “integral part” of India, but alas every “Kashmiri” is a suspected anti national, militant or separatist. Kids as small as 13 get shot dead in Kashmir causing no furor in the rest of India as patriotic fervor is called in, and anybody who dissents is immediately labelled an anti-national, and if a Muslim –you are a traitor and a potential terrorist.

Till date Kashmir remains the most militarized zone in the world, with about 600,000 armed and paramilitary forces stationed there turning the estimated ratio of civilian to security personnel to be about 1:10. The authorities have ample powers to prevent protests, not only under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), but also under Jammu and Kashmir’s draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) as well as Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Kashmir Valley, which has recorded a high occurrence of sexual violence in comparison to other conflict zones in the world. Despite investigations and judicial enquiries no one has been punished for egregious crimes such as extra judicial executions, custodial torture, rape and enforced disappearances.

Kashmir has been in turmoil since 1989, but the recent Military repression and civilian uprising has resulted in unforeseen casualty and destruction. July onwards, more than100 lives have been taken, 15,000 civilians have been injured, out of which 4500 persons have sustained serious injuries due to pellet-guns, 4664 have been injured by bullets. 14 per cent of those injured by pellets since July 9 are below the age of 15 and face complicated surgeries. Over 8000 people have been arrested out of which 434 people have been detained under the Public Safety Act (toll as on October 30, 2016). And reports claim that almost 2,800 CRPF troops were sent to the State following the new situation.

How does this still continue to happen to the people of Kashmir?

The earlier Governments and now the BJP has managed to use the image of the “Other” (Pakistan/ Muslim) successfully in hanging Kashmiris at the altar of not law and justice but “collective conscience” of the Indian Nation. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and the separate flag and constitution which symbolize that special status of J&K in the Indian Union, is a historical truth that has receded from the minds of Indians and now it only reeks as a separatist claim from “Akhanda Bharath / Unified India”. Meanwhile any Kashmiri is worthy of a bullet and any Muslim is a pro- Pakistani if he speaks for the rights of Kashmiris. Your Facebook accounts would be pulled down if your share news from Kashmir and your houses will be ransacked if you gather in protest. India has done away with Democracy and Justice and it is jingoistic nationalism that reigns. It needs to be seen what 2017 holds for the suffering souls of Kashmir.


Reports on human rights violations in Kashmir can be read at: http://www.jkccs.net/structures-of-violence-the-indian-state-in-jammu-and-kashmir-2/ http://apdpkashmir.com/https://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/kashmir/

Varsha Basheer
Varsha Basheer obtained her Doctorate in English Literature at the University of Kerala, India. She has been teaching English as Second Language for undergraduates and is a human rights activist working closely with organisations promoting interfaith dialogue and inclusive action. She has been engaged in academic endevours trying to focus on how misconstrued media/literary representations propagates Islamophobia and jeopardizes religious harmony in India. Her research interests include critical Media studies, Comparative Religious Studies, Religious Pluralism and Secular Modernity. She intends to pursue Post- Doctoral research in Women Studies in Religion, focused on Muslim women in India.