Kashmir: Demystifying India as a neo-colonial power*

I attended a webinar held by Ziam university Istanbul Turkey which was on “”DECOLONIZATION IN A POST -EUROCENTRIC WORLD “ and I spoke on the colonisation of kashmir by india . It is a pleasure to speak on the subject of decolonization which people in Kashmir are seeking for the last 75 years from India.

India is the present neo-colonialist and has put in place in Kashmir laws and ways by which Indian citizens can migrate to and settle in an area which for all international norms is a foreign land for them.

Lorenzo Veracini, an eminent writer on colonialism, has written in his essay on “Kashmir: Is it Settler Colonialism?” that the changes done specifically by India in 2019 with regard to Articles 370 & 35A of their constitution unilaterally in ways that could be enabling a settler colonial moment.

Both the ancient Greeks and the Romans practiced colonialism and settler colonialism as distinct modes of domination, and both developed specific ways to refer to a remarkable variety in the relationships linking colony and metropole.

India overtook Kashmir during partition of the sub-continent and its aftermath, but while it exercised forcibly a control of all external relations, it did not enact an undifferentiated citizenship – the two Indian constitutional provisions mentioned above ensured that the polities remained distinct.

They shared institutions, but no isopolity was established – no common citizenship was enforced.

Specifically, Indian citizens did not acquire the ability to exercise in Kashmir what the Roman constitutions defined as commercium and connubium – terms the Latins used to indicate inherent rights to residency and to hold property.

Articles 370 and 35 A were constitutional obstacles to their acquiring commercium and connubium rights in the subordinate polity were formally removed.

In the settler colonial polities, individuals and collectives move and immediately acquire rights to hold property, and especially real estate, and to transfer to their children political rights that are normally preserved for natives.

India’s control of defense, external affairs, and communications made Kashmiris a domestic dependent nation within the Indian federal state, but Articles 370 and 35 A ensured a limited sovereignty within a wider sovereignty.

The property rights of recognized permanent residents were constitutionally protected, and there were other protections in education and in the administration of the state (some fiscal benefits were also granted).

The coming isopolitical arrangements sound democratic, but they are not – the Indigenous peoples of the world are rightly suspicious of the rule of settler colonial majorities and rightly seek constitutionally enforceable protections (in 2007 the UN also issued a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).

Settlers can now ‘indigenize’ – the distinctive mark of all settler colonial regimes – especially if they hold ‘domicile’ documents.

The newly introduced legal category of ‘domicile’ is especially typical of a settler colonial regime, as it renders permanent residency certificates irrelevant or obsolete.

‘Domicile’ is designed to undermine the claims to indigeneity that Kashmiris have traditionally and jealously defended.

The settler collective aims to turn itself into a ‘native’ polity.

Recent developments under the BJP Indian federal administration include the aggressive promotion of Hindu pilgrimages to Kashmir, and an emphasis on the presence in Kashmir of ancient Hindu temples.

‘Muslims’ in the region are routinely represented as an exogenous collective that ‘conquered’ the land in historical times – that is, Muslims are presented as a collective that cannot rightfully claim an authentic form of indigeneity. ( which in itself is a wrong narrative as Islam spread in kashmir not by conquest but by the work of sufis who came to the region with the arrival of many Muslim Sufis preachers from Central Asia and Persia, beginning in the early 14th century.)

Now talking about the laws through which they dominate:

Take, for example, the law called Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. This law has been regularly deployed against Kashmiris and many have been imprisoned under it which runs into thousands . One of the clauses of this law penalizes any act or speech that “creates disaffection against India”.

Can a colonized population feel, or express, anything besides disaffection for the colonizing nation?

As a result, under this law, resistance against colonization inevitably becomes an act of terrorism.

So, the function of Indian law in Kashmir is not, and cannot be, the dispensation of justice, or the provision of rights. Rather, the entire juridical apparatus stands to criminalize resistance to Indian colonization, decriminalize or conceal the violence of the Indian state against the Kashmiri population, and help the Indian state in projecting an image of its rule in Kashmir as one marked by commitment to principles of justice.

Or take the example of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). The AFSPA provides the Indian troops with powers to “shoot to kill, conduct warrantless searches, and detain people arbitrarily”, all of which they have regularly done.

India’s colonization of Kashmir is not typified by militarization and forced cultural assimilation alone.

It is, first and foremost, characterized by the power the colonial-state wields to kill subject populations at will, without being subject to any rule other than the will itself.

Now, it has introduced a new set of domicile laws which allow Indian citizens to permanently reside and buy land in Kashmir if they have worked in the region for fifteen years or studied there for seven years.

Recently, their election commission has decreed any person can vote for local elections if they are living ordinarily in kashmir and give up their right to vote from the place they have migrated for work , jobs including working in the Indian army ( which is estimated to be from 900000- 1 million )

It is estimated that about 2.5 million people will be added which will be more than 30-35% increase in people eligible to vote and thereby control the political set up while as the laws they have changed in august 2019 they slowly are controlling the economic spaces in Kashmir.

So, the only consideration that dictates what the Indian state does in Kashmir is the question of what is necessary for the sustenance and continuity of occupation? As written by a Kashmiri young writer Ahmed Bin Qasim in an article in TRT on 20th April 2021

Sometimes, it is the application of the law, and sometimes, its suspension. Sometimes, it is the carrot that is effective, and sometimes, the stick. And sometimes multiple forms of power are deployed simultaneously.

Living under colonialism, one learns that the lawmaking in the assembly, the courts of the occupation and the gun of an army man work in tandem, constantly overlapping and reinforcing the other.

Now, the question is how to decolonize and make the world community understand that India is the neo-colonial power in South Asia, notwithstanding its deceitful narrative of the biggest democracy in the world which is exposed by the above description I have made and then make the people of the free world know about all this in all fora in the way a common man will understand on the streets of Europe and America which as such for the present control the geopolitical situation in the world which has been although dented recently in the Ukrainian war where a multipolar world is trying to shape up although India with its deceitful way of diplomacy which in their parlance is called Chanakya Neti trying to play both sides by which to a large extent by which they have dented the sanctions imposed on Russia.

For us, the only hope in this geopolitical war of domination is China which with all its warts and issues particularly Uyghurs is relevant in this issue and could be our saviour to finish this colonialism of India as by doing that and intervening in Kashmir they will safeguard the most important route of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) being the best way to undo the shackles of the USA in South East Asia through the potential blockage of Johor Straits for Chinese trade and shipping .

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