Order a plagiarism free paper now

Our professional writers are ready to do this paper for you


Length:  paper should be about 3 pages double-spaced, using Times 12-point or equivalent font with 1” margins. 
The goal in this assignment is not to summarise the readings—rather, reflect on them and critically analyse. The essay should substantially address and cite ideas/material from the given readings. You will need to organize your thoughts into a coherent essay with an introductory paragraph that lays out your  THESIS and main ideas that support it. You need to have a focused deep analysis on one topic and NOT a summary.
how has the Indian government continued to instill fear in the Kashmiris by militarisation? How has Modi contributed to it?  
–what larger theoretical point do you see emerging from these readings, beyond their specifics?
–what questions do the readings/discussion leave you with?


counterinsurgency in
Indian-occupied Kashmir

Mona Bhan
Syracuse University, United States

Purnima Bose
Indiana University, United States


In this article, we analyze contemporary discourses of counterinsurgency in relation to

dogs in Kashmir, the disputed northernmost Himalayan territory of Jammu and

Kashmir, and the site of a prolonged military occupation. We are interested in the

widespread presence of street dogs in Kashmir as both embodiments and instruments

of military terror. We consider the competing narratives of how canines function var-

iously in Kashmiri perceptions of counterinsurgency and in Indian nationalist dis-

courses. Through ethnographic and cultural analyses, we track how street dogs

appear in various cultural and public narratives as the Indian military’s “first line of

defense,” and the ways in which their overwhelming presence produces deep anxieties

about the nature and extent of the military occupation of Kashmir.


Counterinsurgency, dog terror, Military Working Dogs, Indian occupation, Kashmir,

street dogs

In a deleted scene from No Fathers in Kashmir, a teen love story set against the
backdrop of Kashmir’s prolonged military occupation, a gravedigger recounts
events from the 1990s to a young British Muslim Kashmiri girl searching for her
missing father (Kumar, 2019). “Every army camp had an interrogation room” in

Corresponding author:

Mona Bhan, 327 Eggers Hall, Syracuse University, New York 13244, United States.

Email: [email protected]

Critique of Anthropology

2020, Vol. 40(3) 341–363

! The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:


DOI: 10.1177/0308275X20929395



mailto:[email protected]





the 1990s, where Kashmiris were tortured and killed, and then buried “quickly,” he
tells her in a despondent voice (Kumar, 2019). “The dogs would get them at night,”
he continues (Kumar, 2019). Dogs “had developed a taste for human flesh,” so “it
wasn’t unusual to see a dog running around the streets with a hand or a foot”
(Kumar, 2019). Pausing for a long time, as if haunted by the horrors of the past, he
claims that the dogs of Kashmir are different: they are “not like normal dogs”
(Kumar, 2019). Traumatized by his own retelling, the gravedigger abruptly leaves
the site of what appears to be a freshly dug grave.

This narrative film is set in Kashmir, the world’s most densely militarized space,
which has been under India’s military occupation since 1947, the year that India
gained its independence and was partitioned to form the Muslim-majority state of
Pakistan and the nominally secular state of India. Both India and Pakistan have
since exerted their claims over Kashmir and fought four wars over it even as there
has been a prolonged movement in the region demanding azadi or independence
since the 1940s. In 1989, Kashmiris began an armed struggle against India’s occu-
pation with moral and logistical support from Pakistan, a popular rebellion that
was countered by India through the disproportionate use of military force and
violent counterinsurgency tactics to silence all forms of dissent. The Indian security
forces’ repertoire included enforced disappearances, custodial killings, sexual
abuse and torture, and psychological warfare (Duschinski et al., 2018). India’s
violent repression of Kashmiris has been buttressed with legal protections for
the armed forces for their human rights abuses and, most recently, constitutional
maneuvers aimed at removing Kashmir’s limited legislative autonomy, a point
whose significance we return to at the end of this article.

The dogs evoked in the scene from No Fathers in Kashmir described above are
street dogs1 and are constructed as an informal ancillary force of the Indian Army
insofar as they are described as cleaning up the military’s human rights violations
in the 1990s by literally devouring the evidence of mutilated limbs. Since then there
has been a shift in the status of street dogs relative to the military occupation of
Kashmir. Where in the 1990s street dogs were perceived as loosely associated with
the Indian forces, in the 2010s the army has anointed them as soldiers in their own
right. For example, an article posted on the Indian news and entertainment site,
Rediff (2016), extols the counterinsurgency virtues of Military Working Dogs
(MWDs) in Indian-occupied Kashmir, and dubs them “the mute sentinels of
Kashmir.” Rattling off the various responsibilities of MWDs, which include
acting as guards, detecting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and tracking
suspected militants, the article introduces readers to individual dogs: Trigger,
Tractor, Sam, and Caesar. In the midst of these German Shepherds,
Rottweilers, and Labrador Retrievers, the breeds most often employed by the
Indian Army, we learn of Jojo, a Bakarwali dog, a breed which is found locally,
mostly in “hilly areas” (Kaul, 2016).2 Kaul (2016) implies that Jojo’s origins are
humble; he is an ordinary street dog who has been recruited into the Indian mil-
itary to disperse “violent demonstrators.” Indeed, according to politically conser-
vative Indian websites dedicated to animal rights, Indian street dogs are among the

342 Critique of Anthropology 40(3)

world’s “most intelligent” and are therefore deployed in large numbers by the
Indian security forces to tackle Maoist “naxals” in troubled regions and the
“terrorists” in Jammu and Kashmir (Jaagruti, 2010). (The basis for this assessment
of the Indian street dogs’ intelligence is never given, suggesting that it expresses
national pride rather than an actual evaluation of canine aptitude.) One such
website warns against treating Indian street dogs as a health and safety “nuisance,”
and urges its readers to reframe dog-inflicted violence as a befitting response
towards “untoward people,” mostly Kashmiris, who pose a threat to India’s ter-
ritorial integrity (Jaagruti, 2010). As “the unsung heroes in the war against terror
in Kashmir,” street dogs become India’s saviors while Kashmiris are animalized,
reduced to their bestial instincts that are most starkly expressed, according to
Indian commentators, during Kashmir’s frequent street protests and violent
attacks on India’s security forces (ul-Hassan, 2015).

In this article, we analyze how street dogs become extensions of India’s coun-
terinsurgency war against Kashmiris through the multiple roles they play for the
military, including as guard dogs, assault dogs, trackers of suspected insurgents,
and IED detectors, and to instill fear in prisoners and the wider population. We
explore how the Indian police and military forces, as well as several animal rights
groups, frame street dogs as defenders of the Indian nation and its territorial
integrity. Public discourses invoke concern over animal welfare to cement
India’s occupation of Kashmir and reinforce pre-existing power differentials
between Indians and Kashmiris based on religious and racial identities. Such con-
tingent and unfolding alliances between the Indian animal rights movement and a
deepening Islamophobia situate Kashmiris as civilizationally inferior and, hence,
undeserving of fundamental human rights. We also argue that the occupying logic
of a military state aligns with neoliberal virtues of pet care that have become
seamless extensions of a Hindu ethic of inclusivity amidst an increasingly polarized
religious context in India. In other words, appeals to animal rights and “canine
citizenship” mask virulent and violent forms of Hindu nationalism, which are
reinforced and enacted on a quotidian basis against Kashmiris (Uddin, 2003).3

Our intent in this article is to analyze the circulation of the figure of the street dog
in both ethnographic interviews with Kashmiris and the numerous blogs devoted
to canine welfare for what they reveal about the comparative valuation of life
under military occupation.

The recent turn toward animal studies in anthropology has shown the remark-
able ways in which categories of human and animal are “not inevitable or universal
but shaped in particular contexts” by differently positioned actors (Mullin, 2002:
390). Instead of treating dogs and humans as mutually distinct entities, we take
cues from multispecies ethnography to show the “effects of [human] entanglements
with other kinds of living selves,” and their implications for what it means to be
human in fraught political contexts of racism, slavery, mass incarcerations, geno-
cide, occupation, and war (Kohn, 2007: 4). Animals have long been incorporated
into projects of empire building, their material capacities deployed, and at times
enhanced, to remake borders and impose imperial visions of sovereignty

Bhan and Bose 343

(Kosek, 2010). At times, such as along the US–Mexico border in Arizona, dogs
join vultures and other desert-animals to scavenge the dead bodies of Mexican
migrants, scattering their remains and making it impossible to track or document
their deaths (De Le�on, 2015). For Radhika Govindrajan (2018: 3), the concept of
“relatedness” captures the multiple ways “the potential and outcome of a life
always and already unfolds in relation to that of another,” and highlights how
conceptions of species autonomy and the attendant boundaries between human
and animal are perpetually negotiated and in a state of constant flux. In the case of
Kashmir, the concern over street dogs, and the liberal humanitarian appeals to
save them, attain meaning only against the denial of fundamental human rights to
Kashmiris. The categories of canine personhood and Kashmiri personhood are
dialectically produced under the prevailing conditions of a military occupation.

Tyler Wall (2014) has analyzed how police dogs “animalize the force of law” by
functioning as literal weapons of the state and inflicting violence on “disobedient”
populations, an ever expanding category of people that includes racialized bodies,
dissident subjects, terrorists, and protesters. In Kashmir, the power of canines
cannot be separated from the legal impunity that the Indian military enjoys for
their routine human rights violations and its prolonged war on Kashmiri people
(Wall, 2014). Dogs embody the force and bestiality of the state as they become
vectors of militarized violence through the mauling and killing of Kashmiris; they
represent the pervasiveness of control and containment meant to undermine peo-
ple’s resistance against the Indian state. As we describe later, Kashmiris continue
to resist characterizations of their civilizational backwardness by drawing attention
to their “dwindling quality of life and diminished humanity” through protests that
showcase street dogs and simultaneously expose the differential valuation of
humans versus dogs in Kashmir (Khan, 2014: 256). Kashmiris have appropriated
canines as a metaphor for the brutality of the state as evidenced by the pervasive-
ness of urban graffiti demanding “Indian dogs return to India.” In such invoca-
tions, Amit Baishya (2018: 5) states, “the feral otherness of the colonial occupier is
equated and rendered coextensive with a familiar example of feral animality.”
Indian street dogs, in sum, acquire multiple meanings, simultaneously encompass-
ing associations with militarized violence, a virulent version of neoliberalized
Hinduism, and spirited resistance to the national security state.

The dogs of war

India has one of the largest programs in the world to train and deploy MWDs;
these canines assist troops in detecting explosives, sentry duty, and tracking of
suspected “militants” (Times of India, 2016). MWDs have been deployed to dif-
ferent parts of India, including Kashmir, where many people now view dogs with
suspicion and hostility (Allsopp, 2011: 19–20).4 Dogs have three acute physical
senses which make them particularly useful in warfare: they have a much more
developed sense of classificatory smell (e.g. they can group smells into categories
such as “friendly and dangerous”); they have better night vision and a larger field

344 Critique of Anthropology 40(3)

of vision than humans (250 degrees); and they have a heightened sense of hearing
and are able to detect a higher range of pitch (Allsopp, 2011: 14–15).

Moreover, dogs can be trained to attack, making their teeth a literal embodi-
ment of power and turning them into weapons of the state. By “violently seizing
flesh deemed threatening to order,” Wall (2014: 4) observes, “trained dogs” instan-
tiate forms of state violence that are continuous from ancient warfare to its modern
counterpart, and, in effect, become “instruments of organized coercion and blood-
letting.” In an interview to a prominent Indian newspaper, the Inspector General
of India’s Central Reserve Police Force claims that “dogs give a combat unit more
teeth” against what he calls “insurrectionists” (Chakrabarty, 2010).The targets of
such official canine violence all too frequently have been defined by the racial and
ethnic logics of state power, as B�en�edicte Boisseron (2015: 18) analyzes in relation
to African Americans in the United States. She explains that not only has “white
collective consciousness in the Americas . . . been imposing images of ferocious
dogs on black men,” but slave owners in the past and police in the present have
also used large dogs to harass and coerce African Americans. In South Asia, where
religion and ethnicity are often conjoined, the struggle for territorial sovereignty
has rendered Kashmiri Muslims as the object-choice for canine violence by the
Indian security forces.5

In vocabulary that eerily resembles the US military’s description of MWDs,
Indian military officials also refer to their canine members as “force multipliers”
(Chakrabarty, 2010). The Indian Army has about 1,200 MWDs, many of whom
are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, and along the Line of Control (LoC), to
detect mines and IEDs and track suspected militants (Times of India, 2016).6 Apart
from their general contributions, army officials particularly emphasize MWDs as a
vital aspect of maintaining military control of Kashmir. Colonel N.S. Kanwar, the
commandant of the army’s veterinary hospital in Srinagar, attests that “Where
humans have failed, dogs have excelled in anti-insurgency operations. In Kashmir,
every operation is led by a dog and a handler” (Mushtaq, 2003). “It is the dog and
his handler who face militants first,” a military dog trainer avers: “One cannot
imagine how many lives these dogs save” (Mushtaq, 2003). Such statements con-
tribute to the sense, among many Kashmiris, that canines constitute the army’s
first line of security against dissident Kashmiris.

The cultural meanings associated with the proliferation of street dogs in
Kashmir’s towns and villages in the past decade must be understood in relation
to Kashmir’s prolonged occupation by at least 738,000 military personnel who are
currently deployed along the contested LoC and in Kashmir’s towns, cities, and
villages (IPTK and APDP Report, 2015).7 The threat by the military is com-
pounded by an estimated 90,000 stray dogs in Srinagar alone, and approximately
1 million in the entire valley (Umar, 2012). Dogs are a ubiquitous presence in
Kashmir. You see them near military bunkers, around mounds of trash that the
municipality lets accumulate on the streets, on the lanes and alleyways leading up
to apartments and houses, and also seated on cars and trucks. As a Kashmiri
journalist reports, “The canines have been storming its streets, chasing cars, pulling

Bhan and Bose 345

down bicycle riders and often attacking pedestrians and school children” (Umar,
2012). In a five-year period, between 2008 and 2012, officials recorded approxi-
mately 80,000 dog bites and 20 rabies deaths (ul-Hassan, 2013). Statistics such as
these have led the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission to deem
dog attacks a “violation of human rights” (Umar, 2012). For Kashmiris, the fact
that street dogs often congregate in and around military cantonments, bunkers,
and checkpoints facilitates their close association with MWDs. If formal MWDs
“animalize the force of law,” street dogs informalize state terror while intensifying
the culture of state impunity in Kashmir (Wall, 2014: 2). Street dog-inflicted vio-
lence functions as a supplement to that unleashed on Kashmiris by MWDs, sanc-
tioned by the state and protected through legal provisions which guard the armed
forces from prosecution.

While a generalized fear attends street dogs among Kashmiris, they are cele-
brated on the Indian mainland in ways that confirm local suspicions that these
canines are tools of counterinsurgency. In an article posted online at Jaagruti, the
anonymous author alerts readers to the dangers of Maoists, or “red terror,” who
draw their inspiration from terrorists in Kashmir (Jaagruti, 2010). The author
explains that the Maoists have launched a targeted killing campaign against
India’s street dogs, because these loyal canines dare to “bark at the terrorists at
night,” thereby, alerting the police and military to the presence of insurgents
(Jaagruti, 2010). The article celebrates street dogs for their bravery and intelli-
gence, while applauding them for being the nation’s loyal sentries. “Hail the
Indian street dog,” the author proclaims, for its tireless and selfless service guard-
ing neighborhoods; far from being a nuisance, the Indian street dog, which the
terrorists want to see dead, is an abiding symbol of service and patriotism
(Jaagruti, 2010).

These sentiments are echoed by numerous Indian Army officials, whose praise
for the street dogs’ assistance in counterinsurgency campaigns blurs the distinction
between them and MWDs. A retired army officer, Habib Rehman, reveals that
every army picket from the LoC in the north-west to Arunachal Pradesh in the
north-east has adopted a local “mongrel” to act as a watchdog (Karlekar, 2011).
These canines, as Lt-Col. N.K. Airy points out, are “quick to train, easy to main-
tain,” and do not require a large capital investment (Karlekar, 2011). More impor-
tantly, they have the ability to discern between troops and local civilians, on the
one hand, and strangers, on the other.8 It is not entirely clear whether he believes
that the dogs perceive the differences between troops and local civilians because of
their innate canine abilities or if he thinks that these dogs can see race or ethnicity,
or even sense ideology. The naturalization of loyalty to India that these dogs
supposedly demonstrate has shaped much of the public and military discourse in
India around street dogs in Kashmir.

Perhaps most importantly, military officials maintain that street dogs who have
been trained in policing can avoid being recognized as army dogs; they can “pass”
as fixtures of the local environment even as they patrol the streets for insurgents.
All of these factors have contributed to the popularity of street dogs among

346 Critique of Anthropology 40(3)

military officials and police authorities (Karlekar, 2011). In fact, the Indian mili-
tary began, in 2017, to recruit “desi” (local varieties) dogs, particularly the Mudhol
hound, into its ranks, dispelling the notion that desi dogs were “too independent
minded to become disciplined professionals” and presenting these dogs as a “hardy
alternative” in the face of the declining genetic diversity of service dogs globally
(Bureau, 2019). The references to “passing” and “genetic diversity,” a code for
miscegenation, demonstrate how the military occupation racializes sentient beings
under its purview. The first batch of Mudhols was to be sent for “validation and
testing” in Jammu and Kashmir before being permanently drafted into the Indian
military (The Hindu, 2017). Important to bear in mind is that Mudhol dogs are
considered “dogs of honor,” a title that recognizes their physical characteristics – a
“slender body and graceful features that include elongated skull and a tapering
muzzle” – as well as their fierce loyalty and bravery, attributed to their association
with Hindu-warrior kings such as Chhatrapati Shivaji, a Maratha king celebrated
by Hindu ideologues for his resistance to Muslim Mughal rule in Maharashtra.9

Indigenizing canine recruitment into the military therefore fits well within the
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-hyped “Make in India” policy,
which encourages local manufacturing, to mark the emergence of a resurgent
India (The Hindu, 2017). The parallels between Indian manufacturing and the
recruitment of “Indian” dog breeds into the military, or as pets, are striking insofar
as they both rely on the assertion of a nativist pride and loyalty, and claims to
liberate India from its dependencies on foreign interventions, both human and
animal (The Hindu, 2019). Associations between Mudhols and resistance to the
British in the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny further fortify their status as canine patriots
(Menaskinakai, 2017). Much like Indian manufacturing, the militarization of
desi dogs also relies on claims of India’s national resurgence, which contributes
to the legitimization of Modi’s brand of xenophobia that combines a toxic blend of
masculinity with an emboldened Hinduism. Modi has used the exaggerated repre-
sentations of Mudhol dog patriotism to discipline what he and his party members
derisively call India’s tukde tukde gang, a progressive group of student leaders and
their political allies who dare to criticize Modi’s divisive and violent policies
against India’s minorities. In a dig against Rahul Gandhi, the President of the
Congress Party, for his show of support for the tukde tukde gang, Modi urged him
to shun his “uneasiness” with nationalism by “learn[ing about] patriotism from
Army’s Mudhol Hound Dogs” (Outlook, 2018). Mudhol dogs have thus emerged
as the gold standard of Indian patriotism and the flag bearers of India’s new
political dispensation that crushes democratic dissent, or ridicules it, by branding
it anti-national. While Mudhol dogs are India’s honor dogs, embodiments of
“royal” breeding and physical grace, other indigenous Indian dogs sometimes
referred to as the “Indogs” are also increasingly hailed in India’s dog-loving cir-
cuits as “smart, friendly, and agile,” despite having suffered years of contempt and
ridicule (Agarwal, 2019). In such assessments, however, the conflation between
Indogs and India’s street dogs is discouraged, since the street dog continues to
be construed as the racial other, a mixed-breed or mutt that threatens the purity of

Bhan and Bose 347

the indigenous Indian dog. The indigeneity of dogs therefore also relies on a
racialized scheme in which the street dog is deemed an Indian loyalist even as it
remains racially inferior to the purebred Indogs. Such racialized hierarchies
between dogs also stabilize distinctions between human insiders and outsiders in
a context where Hindu-ness and indigeneity have become fundamental require-
ments for Indian statehood and citizenship. Despite the entrenched racism and
xenophobia, Indian animal rights activists repeatedly invoke the care for animals
as a Hindu ethic to animalize human Others for whom canine populations embody
the ferocity of the state.

The dehumanization of Kashmiris and canine personhood

In contrast to the receptiveness towards street dogs exhibited by the Indian police
and military personnel, and also by India’s top leadership, conservative blogs
assert that “terrorists” – namely, Kashmiri, Maoist, and Punjabi insurgents –
urge local communities to engage in mass killings of street dogs (Karlekar, 2010,
2011). Whether to consider the street dog a friend or a foe, in effect, has become
yet another index by which to denigrate Kashmiris, who are figured as inferior
moral beings on account of their willingness to eliminate stray canine populations.
In the hierarchy of cultural value, Kashmiris are constructed as inhabiting a status
lower than dogs, evident in the dehumanizing treatment and cruelty they experi-
ence at the hands of the Indian military and the derisive discrimination they face
from Indian civilians more generally. One need only recall the actions of an Indian
Army major, who after gratuitously beating a young Kashmiri man, strapped him
to the front of a jeep to act as a human shield against stone throwers. The young
man’s name was scrawled on a piece of paper affixed to his chest and a soldier
blared a warning to bystanders, informing them that this was the “fate” awaiting
stone pelters (Yasin and Berry, 2017). The immobilizing of the young man by tying
him to the jeep evokes the tethering of dogs by ropes; his status as a human shield
announces that his life matters only insofar as his body, alive or dead, protects
those of the security forces from harm. Shortly after this incident, the responsible
army major was awarded a military honor for what army spokesperson Colonel
Aman Anand describes as “sustained efforts in CI [counter insurgency] oper-
ations” (Singh, 2017). Of course, this incident is just one of a long charge sheet
against the Indian military, consisting of rapes, torture, disappearances, custodial
deaths, and murder. And in Indian cities, Kashmiris periodically face threats of
violence by frenzied Hindu nationalists, along with enduring the petty humiliations
of encountering signs prohibiting their entrance into commercial establishments.
“Dogs are allowed but not Kashmiris” reads a display in an Uttarakhand shop
window, while hotels in Noida and Agra, home to many exquisite monuments
built by Muslim rulers, feature placards announcing, “Kashmiris not allowed”
(see Bhatnagar, 2019; Latif, 2019).

Two historic developments undergird the simultaneous dehumanization of
Kashmiri Muslims and the emergent concern over animal welfare: changes in

348 Critique of Anthropology 40(3)

attitudes to dogs connected to neoliberalism and the political maturation of Hindu
nationalism. One consequence of the liberalization of India’s economy in the early
1990s has been an explosion of new arenas for the consumption of goods and
services, including pet-related markets. The drive for conspicuous consumption
has changed the nature of the relationships between Indians and dogs. Prior to
the opening of the Indian economy to foreign investment, most individual house-
holds did not have canine pets; more often than not, street dogs were loosely
“adopted” by neighborhoods.10 These canines occupied a liminal space outside
of domestication but not fully separate from it. As Krithika Srinivasan (2019: 3)
explains, “food waste generated by human co-inhabitants” provides the primary
sustenance for street dogs while their vehicles and buildings offer shelter. She notes
that although street dogs are not feral, in the sense that they often seek human
companionship, these canines exercise considerable autonomy in their day-to-day
lives (Srinivasan, 2019: 3–4). The dependent autonomy of street dogs has resulted
in a relationship with humans characterized by the everyday intimacies of living in
a shared space. Yet even as such intimacies still color the relationship between the
two species, new forms of social differentiation have emerged in the last few
decades, resulting in additional complexity in the human–animal dynamic already
overdetermined by India’s military occupation of Kashmir.

Economic liberalization has created new subjectivities materialized in particular
forms of consumption. Pet ownership has become one constituent of middle- and
upper-class Indian identity, as these classes began to acquire pure-bred dogs such
as beagles, labradors, and boxers, and started to buy services and stuff for their
canine companions (Mukherjee, n.d.; see also Bradley and King, 2012).11 The
correlation between rising incomes, pet ownership, and new arenas for consump-
tion is an essential aspect of the expansion of pet ownership and evolving attitudes
towards dogs into new regions of the world (for an analysis of the expansion of
Western attitudes towards pets under neoliberalism, see Nast, 2006a, 2006b). For
our purposes, it is important to acknowledge the social differentiation that has
occurred between canine pets and street dogs. The former are increasingly figured
as members of the family in a version of …

01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 1/9


Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and
why it matters

5 August 2019

Kashmir tensions

There have been protests both for and against the decision

India’s BJP-led government is hailing its decision to strip the state of Jammu
and Kashmir of autonomy aer seven decades, characterising it as the
correction of a “historical blunder”. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi
explains why this has happened and why it’s important.

Why is Kashmir controversial?

Kashmir is a Himalayan region that both India and Pakistan say is fully theirs.

Home News Sport More


Asia China India















01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 2/9

The area was once a princely state called Jammu and Kashmir, but it joined
India in 1947 soon aer the sub-continent was divided up at the end of British

India and Pakistan subsequently went to war over it and each came to control
different parts of the territory with a ceasefire line agreed.

There has been violence in the Indian-administered side – the state of Jammu
and Kashmir – for 30 years due to a separatist insurgency against Indian rule.

What’s happened now?

In the first few days of August, there were signs of something afoot in Kashmir.

Tens of thousands of additional Indian troops were deployed, a major Hindu
pilgrimage was cancelled, schools and colleges were shut, tourists were
ordered to leave, telephone and internet services were suspended and
regional political leaders were placed under house arrest.

But most of the speculation was that Article 35A of the Indian constitution,
which gave some special privileges to the people of the state, would be

The government then stunned everyone by saying it was revoking nearly all of
Article 370, which 35A is part of and which has been the basis of Kashmir’s
complex relationship with India for some 70 years.

How significant is Article 370?

The article allowed the state a certain amount of autonomy – its own
constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. Foreign affairs,

01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 3/9

defence and communications remained the preserve of the central

As a result, Jammu and Kashmir could make its own rules relating to
permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could
also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling

Modi’s Kashmir move will fuel resentment

Former chief minister says India has betrayed Kashmir

Why a special law on Kashmir is controversial

The constitutional provision has underpinned India’s oen fraught relationship
with Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority region to join India at partition.

Why did the government do it?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata
Party had long opposed Article 370 and revoking it was in the party’s 2019
election manifesto.

They argued it needed to be scrapped to integrate Kashmir and put it on the
same footing as the rest of India. Aer returning to power with a massive
mandate in the April-May general elections, the government lost no time in
acting on its pledge.

Critics of Monday’s move are linking it to the economic slowdown that India is
currently facing – they say it provides a much-needed diversion for the

India has had a fraught relationship with Kashmir for decades

Many Kashmiris believe that the BJP ultimately wants to change the
demographic character of the Muslim-majority region by allowing non-
Kashmiris to buy land there.





01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 4/9

Although Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement in parliament on Monday
came as a surprise to most Indians, it would have taken the government some
preparation to arrive at the decision.

The move also fits in with Mr Modi’s desire to show that the BJP is tough on
Kashmir, and Pakistan.

What’s changed on the ground?

Kashmir will no longer have a separate constitution but will have to abide by
the Indian constitution much like any other state.

All Indian laws will be automatically applicable to Kashmiris, and people from
outside the state will be able to buy property there.

The government says this will bring development to the region.

Hindu rightwing groups have welcomed the move

“I want to tell the people of Jammu and Kashmir what damage Articles 370
and 35A did to the state,” Mr Shah told parliament. “It’s because of these
sections that democracy was never fully implemented, corruption increased in
the state, that no development could take place.”

The government is also moving to break up the state into two smaller,
federally administered territories. One region will combine Muslim-majority
Kashmir and Hindu-majority Jammu. The other is Buddhist-majority Ladakh,
which is culturally and historically close to Tibet.

P Chidambaram, a senior leader in the opposition Congress Party described
the decision as a “catastrophic step” and warned in parliament that it could
have serious consequences.

“You may think you have scored a victory, but you are wrong and history will
prove you to be wrong. Future generations will realise what a grave mistake
this house is making today,” he said.


01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 5/9

In December Yogita Limaye examined why there had been a rise in violence in Kashmir

Is this all legal?

According to the constitution, Article 370 could only be modified with the
agreement of the “state government”. But there hasn’t been much of a state
government in Jammu and Kashmir for over a year now.

In June last year, India imposed federal rule aer the government of the then
chief minister, Mehbooba Mui, was reduced to a minority. This meant the
federal government only had to seek the consent of the governor who
imposes its rule.

The government says it is well within its rights to bring in the changes and that
similar decisions have been taken by federal governments in the past.

But expert opinion is sharply divided.

One constitutional expert, Subhash Kashyap, told news agency ANI that the
order was “constitutionally sound” and that “no legal and constitutional fault
can be found in it”.

However another constitutional expert, AG Noorani, told BBC Hindi it was “an
illegal decision, akin to committing fraud” that could be challenged in the
Supreme Court.

Opposition political parties could launch a legal challenge but Kashmir is an
emotive issue with many Indians, and most parties would be wary of opposing
the move lest they be branded anti-India.

That could leave any challenge up to individuals or activists.

Read more about Kashmir

Kashmir: Why India and Pakistan fight over it

Tracing the path that led to Pulwama

The funerals driving Indian Kashmir youth to militancy

Finding God in the anguish of violence





01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 6/9

Related Topics

Article 370 of the Constitution of India Narendra Modi Kashmir India

India-Pakistan relations Srinagar Kashmir tensions Asia Pakistan

More on this story

Top Stories

Article 370: Former chief minister says India has betrayed Kashmir

5 August 2019

Article 370: India’s move on Kashmir will fuel resentment

5 August 2019

The funerals driving Indian Kashmir youth to militancy

13 May 2018

Finding God in the anguish of violence

26 December 2018

Kashmir attack: Tracing the path that led to Pulwama

30 April 2019

Kashmir: Why India and Pakistan fight over it

8 August 2019

Iranian nuclear scientist shot ‘by remote control’

Iran accuses Israel of a hand in the death of top nuclear expert Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

1 hour ago

France to rewrite police bill aer huge protests

3 hours ago

Biden picks Janet Yellen for US treasury secretary

2 hours ago



















01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 7/9



The mafia plundered hospitals – then Covid-19 hit Will mass testing be available where you live?

Has Topshop boss Philip Green done anything wrong? Is my pension ruined if a retail empire crumbles?

One man’s fight to stop a coal power station Southmead to Star Wars: Remembering Dave Prowse









01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 8/9

Most Read


How might GCSE and A-levels work this summer? The Grand Tour: ‘Eventually, one of us will snap’

Coronavirus: How do you vaccinate the world? A 70-year-old photographic mystery

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh: Iran scientist ‘killed by remote-controlled weapon’ 1

One of biology’s biggest mysteries ‘largely solved’ by AI 2

Rita Ora ‘sorry’ for breaking lockdown rules to attend birthday party 3

Kimchi ferments cultural feud between South Korea and China 4

Australia demands China apologise for posting ‘repugnant’ fake image 5

Biden to nominate Janet Yellen as US treasury secretary 6

France to rewrite police security bill aer huge protests 7

Moldova’s new president calls for Russian troops to withdraw from territory 8

Italy fines Apple €10m over iPhone water-resistance claims 9

A 70-year-old photographic mystery 10

















01/12/2020 Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708 9/9


BBC News Services

On your mobile

On smart speakers

Get news alerts

Contact BBC News

Terms of Use About the BBC Privacy Policy Cookies Accessibility Help Parental Guidance Contact the BBC

Get Personalised Newsletters Why you can trust the BBC Advertise with us AdChoices / Do Not Sell My Info

© 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.












































Bouquet”, and Flashback, which is the narrative history of Kashmir. Currently,
he is finishing a book on peoples’ history, of Kashmir.


1 They are well-known Hurriyat Conference leaders.
2 Handoo, Bilal, ‘Batamaloo Blaze’, Kashmir Life, 10 August 2015,

http:/ /kashmirlife.net/batamaloo-blaze-issue-2 l-vol-07-2-83161 I
(accessed on 6 July 2018).

3 See Bhan, M., H. Duschinski, and A. Zia, “Rebels of the Streets”:
Violence, Protest, and Freedom in Kashmir’, in H. Duschinski, M.
Bhan, A. Zia and C. Mahmood (eds), Resisting Occupation in Kashmir,
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.

4 For more, see Mir, Farhat, ‘Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir:
Residents recall Jagmohan Malhotra’s 1990 reign with fear, horror’,
Firstpost, 2018. https:/ /www.firstpost.com/india/governors-rule-
in-jammu-and-kashmir-residents-recall-j agmohan-malhotras- l 990-
reign-with-fear-horror-4602271.html (accessed on 7 July 2018);
also see Handoo, Bilal, ‘He came as a nurse, but … ,’ The Free Press
Kashmir, 2018, https:/ /freepresskashmir.com/2018/01 / 19/jagmohan-
he-came-as-nurse-but/ (accessed on 7 July 2018).

5 See AIR 1953, J&K 25 Vol. 40, C.N.17.


Of Rooms and Resistance:
Prisons, Protests, and Politics

in Kashmir
Mona Bhan

I came of age in the 1990s, amidst curfews and crackdowns. Before the 1990s, the situation in Kashmir was by no means peaceful.
Not for me, at least. In the 1950s and ’60s, my maternal grandfather
had spent five years in jail, fighting the tyrannical occupation of a
land he loved intensely. Even though the rebellion that swept our
land in the 1990s seemed ‘erratic’ to many, it had been long in the
making. The Kashmir issue had divided India and Pakistan and
made them bitter rivals. It had also divided my family.

In many ways ours was a conventional Kashmiri Pandit family.
And yet my grandfather’s politics set it apart from many others. My
maternal grandparents lived in separate rooms. I saw them share
a life, sometimes their joys and sorrows too, but the bitterness of
the conflict and my grandfather’s defiant role in it had taken a toll.



My grandmother single-handedly raised her two children while my
grandfather was in jail. Without an income and without much of a
formal education, she led a difficult life, made more onerous by her
husband’s dogged stance on Kashmir.

When our friends or extended relations visited my grandparents,
they would spend time in Badimami’s (a term of endearment for
my grandmother) room and only visited Papa, my grandfather,
hesitantly. Even as a young child, it was clear to me that the boundaries
between their rooms were no longer easy to cross. The politics of the
past forty years had hardened those lines; Badimami, a strong and
dignified woman, had to constantly defend her husband’s politics
while ignoring the slew of insults and offences fr6m her extended
relatives. Papa stood by his principles, the only truth he knew and
the one he died with.

For me, crossing those boundaries every day exposed me to two
different worlds. In one, some of our bitter friends and relatives
spoke grudgingly against Muslims for being hypocrites, for stealing
medical or engineering seats that, in their view, belonged to us,
the Pandits. Some chastised the Muslims for being ungrateful to
India, despite its continued benevolence. In the other world, I read
Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens,
Jonathan Swift and Premchand. The room was packed with books:
the Quran and the Gita stacked on to each other. In this room,
languages and worlds blended into each others as Papa could recited
couplets in Farsi, which he knew well, and Sanskrit that he had
taught himself during his prison stints.

The memory of the two rooms in the upper storey of our rented
accommodation in Lal Chowk and the lines that separated them
continue to haunt me. The Kashmir dispute had divided our family
and its turmoil was etched on the doors and corridors of the house.
The curse of a tortured and enslaved land had become our curse too.
We couldn’t rest in peace. There was no peace.


There are other rooms and walls that speak of Kashmir’s
imprisoned history – in the 1950s and ’60s, jails across the state,
in Srinagar, Jammu, Udhampur and Reasi were filled with political
prisoners. The memories persist; they circulate in the confines of
Kashmiri homes, in spaces where they find room to live and breathe.
There were rooms in our house where these memories had ceased
to live. But in some nooks and crannies, between the tall and hefty
stack of books and files. It is here that bits and pieces of Kashmir’s
history, the one we didn’t read in school or in officially sanctioned
textbooks, thrived. Little did I realize that Papa had struggled hard
to build these spaces. It was not easy to keep the history of Kashmir’s
long political turmoil alive. After all, Kashmir’s seductive image as a
‘peaceful paradise’ came strapped with bombs, bullets and bunkers.

After 1947 and till the mid-1980s Kashmir’s peace was
manufactured and greedily consumed through voyeuristic
depictions of beauty and innocence in the Indian media. Kashmiri
bodies were consumed too. Many Kashmiris languished in jails and
the state routinely tortured people, physically and psychologically.
In 1953, Papa was arrested and sent to a jail in Udhampur. After
months of trying to set up a meeting with him, his wife and children
were finally granted permission, seven months after he had been
lifted off the streets of Suhayar, Safa Kadal, downtown Srinagar.
It was December, during the peak of winter that Badimami with
their seven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter travelled to
Udhampur for this meeting. They arrived late in the night in brutal
cold and waited for Papa outside the prison’s gate. Seeing their
bedraggled state, Papa requested the warden to house them for the
night and postpone the meeting to the next day. They returned to
the prison for the meeting at 9.30 in the morning.

Papa writes in his prison diary that he could hardly pay attention
to the struggles that his family had endured in the past six months,
without any moral or financial support from their friends or


relatives. On the veranda of the sub-jail where he was meeting them,
his mind kept drifting towards the ‘threatening patches of reddish
clouds [that were] gathering in the sky.’ In an impulsive moment,
Papa instructed his wife and children to return to Srinagar in a mail
bus that was scheduled to leave in a few hours.

For disputing Kashmir’s accession to India, Papa was branded a
Pakistani butta (Hindu/Pandit), a label that invited state surveillance
and incarceration, in addition to ridicule from close friends and
relatives. Unwilling to seek refuge in Jammu which was closer
to Udhampur, or ask for favours from her embittered (relatives,
Badimami, along with her son and daughter, agreed to return to
Srinagar the same day, despite clear signs of ominous weather. Papa
would often recount how several strands of his hair turned grey that
night, as he felt responsible for plunging his family into a death trap.
He didn’t find a moment’s peace until they safely arrived in Srinagar,
two days after they had left Udhampur.

During his solitary confinement in the Reasi sub-jail in 1958,
Papa’s prison cell was a torture chamber. For at least six months, in
the rancid air of an enclosed cell, he lived amidst an infestation of
bees, snakes and scorpions. In his prison narrative, he writes that
each time he was stung by a bee, it ‘felt like the touch of a burning
coal’. A severe bout of gastroenteritis that lasted several months
turned his body frail. Before its torture trails became visible and
hard to ignore after 1989, the Indian state had long exercised its
brazen will over Kashmiri bodies inside the putrefied and anguished
emptiness of prison cells.

Too many voices were suppressed; many people were brutally
incarcerated or exiled from their homes, their resolve for demanding
Kashmir’s political settlement broken, or co-opted. In the 1950s and
the ’60s, such was the state of Indian democracy in Kashmir that
people were either sentenced to solitary confinement for resisting
the suppression of their rights and sentiments or, on the whims of a

police officer, exiled and banished to Pakistan, without the slightest
hope of ever being reunited with their families.

In one of his journal entries from the 1950s, Papa writes that
‘Kashmiri freedom fighters were lifted during the darkness of the
night and kicked into dark cells without knowing the grounds of
their imprisonment. Orders of arrest of the National Conference
(NC) opponents, mainly Muslim Conference workers and any
other political bigwigs who did not see eye to eye with the NC were
issued from the headquarters. The jail officers unquestioningly
obeyed to put the arrested person behind the prison gates. But
there were other methods of terror and fear, which the NC
volunteers were allowed to resort to in order to see the silence of
the grave did not suffer any vibration on account of dissent or
political difference with the powers that held the sway. The local
media was thoroughly gagged.’

The armed rebellion of the 1990s ushered in a new phase in
Kashmir’s resistance against Indian rule. I saw it enacted on the
keyboard of an old and rusty typewriter, day after day. I remember
Papa waking up very early in the mornings – sometimes before the
crack of dawn – to write. Often he would me to read the typed
version out loud. I was happiest when I could point out typos in the
text or lines that he might have skipped while typing. After collating
and organizing the sheets of paper, he would walk to the post office,
a few miles from the house, to mail it to people he thought could
weigh in on Kashmir: Indian and Pakistani ministers; national and
international leaders, diplomats, writers, activists and scholars. This
was part of his everyday routine and my starkest childhood memories
are of him sitting in his chair, in front of his typewriter, either
reading or writing while sifting through the stacks of documents
that cluttered his table. Recently, a colleague of his from the Political
Conference said to me: ‘Pt Vaishnavi ki kalam bahut cha/ti thi’ (a
remark on his prolific writing). His pen, his typewriter, faded words


on yellowed paper, frayed edges of newspaper articles, loose sheets
of paper with finished and unfinished sentences that filled his room
form the bulk of my memory, my history.

I came of age in other rooms too; rooms that filled my life with
love, laughter and friendship. Rooms in which I learnt discipline
and also learnt to contest it if it was stifling. The neatly arranged
rows of wooden tables and chairs in our classroom, located on the
second storey of our school in Srinagar, seemed unusually empty
after our three-month winter vacation in 1990. The room seemed
stark despite the warm rays of the spring sun that filteretl through
the tall glass windows. In hushed whispers, we discussed our missing
Pandit friends and classmates. Nobody seemed to know how long
they would be gone. Occasionally, the hush of our whispers was
interrupted by loud and sonorous slogans of ‘Hum kya chahtay,
azadi, ‘which filled the narrow street outside our school. On normal
days, the street was filled with gol-gappa, cotton candy and ice cream
vendors, who, at the end of school day, were thronged by groups of
young students. But now calls for freedom (azadi) overwhelmed the
street. We guessed that a large group of boys from our neighbouring
school had gathered outside and were waiting for us to join the
protest march.

With bated breath, we waited for our next move. The teacher
hadn’t arrived yet. In the meantime, a senior student walked into our
classroom. She instructed us to assemble downstairs, where several
girls from our school had gathered to join the angry and defiant
young boys, who were bravely marching the streets of Srinagar city.
Our teacher walked in as we prepared to leave the room. After she
had failed to convince us to stay indoors, she angrily bolted the door
from the inside. A classmate of mine opened the door and walked
out. Most of us followed suit.

I was drawn to participate in Kashmir’s freedom rallies. There
was revolution in the air of a kind that I had only read about in


books. It was a heady mix of hope, excitement and anticipation for
a future in which Kashmir could decide its destiny, In the school
compound, hundreds of young girls chanted the slogan in sync with
the boys who were still waiting outside the gate. The synchronous
calls for azadi filled the space, forcing our principal to come out of
her office. She ordered us to gather in the basketball field, chiding us
to stay inside, safely ensconced within the sturdy walls of our school.
We were asked to write an essay on azadi instead of marching for it.
But the walls had lost their strength. They could no longer hold us
back. Hundreds of girls, ranging from thirteen to eighteen, stared
her in the face. In that moment of deep uncertainty, as we readied
to march on the streets, the veil became a symbol of resistance,
offering us courage but .also anonymity. Like my peers, I covered
my face with a long scarf revealing only my eyes. And I got up to
muster enough courage and respond: ‘We will write an essay on
azadi when we get it.’ There was tremendous applause from my
peers. An unending stream of slogans followed. In no time, we were
out on the streets with our school bags positioned on our backs to
protect us from the sting of military batons, in case we were fated to
experience them that day.

After exiting from the narrow street, we arrived on the main
street in Lal Chowk, a space heavily fortified by India’s security
forces. The CRPF, outfitted in riot gear, barricaded the street. Their
trucks loaded with guns and armour were stationed in the middle
of the road to prevent students from marching forward. With
batons in their right hands and defence shields in their left, the
soldiers waited for the slightest provocation to come after us. The
Jammu and Kashmir police, sympathetic to our cause, tried to form
a loose ring to shield us. But many of us, driven by the desire to
taste freedom, found the shield too constraining. We were ready to
reclaim the streets as young Kashmiri women, fearlessly expressing
our aspirations for freedom. I had long resented the indignities of



being subjected to the gaze of soldiers who would randomly stop
public buses, force all the men and young boys to get off and walk
several hundred feet. Simultaneously, a few armed men would enter
the bus to search for hidden weapons. The slight winking of the eye,
a sexually charged gesture emboldened by an outright difference
in power, or endless questions of what I carried in my school bag
were routine.

On this day, it was Rabia, my feisty classmate, who took the
first step to express her sedimented rage. She defiantly broke
the ring, walked towards a military vehicle and started chanting
slogans for azadi. In no time, the situation turned chaotic and we
saw a bunch of soldiers charging towards us with their batons.
The scattered group of girls ran for cover. A bunch of us sprinted
towards the bund, a picturesque lane by the Jhelum, famous for
its fancy clothing and handicrafts stores. Those days, shopkeepers
would routinely keep their shutters half-open and close them
immediately after students sought shelter from the military during
student-led protests. We ran into a store and sat huddled in a
corner behind closed shutters. After the usual antics of marching
and hiding from the military in half-shuttered shops, I, along with
some of my friends, went back to school, tired but not defeated.
At home that night, I nervously called my friends to ask about
Rabia. To my utter dismay, I heard she lay unconscious in the
biggest bone and joint hospital in the city.

Those were strange times. We attended school sparingly. On
most curfewed days, we played cricket in our neighbour’s yard or
stole apples from nearby orchards. My friends and I knew that
our familiar world was collapsing. There were killings every day,
shootings, encounters and crackdowns. Kashmiris had to quickly
learn an entirely new vocabulary to grasp the dramatic events
of the times. Strangely enough, our games too became morbid.
Routinely, my friends and I played spirit of the coin, enjoining


spmts and djinns to share our moments of distress; often, we
called them to solicit their perspectives on the names of killers
when too much uncertainty surrounded the events of the day.
When unidentified gunmen killed Moulvi Farooq, the religious
head of Kashmir, the mystery consumed everyone. My parents and
our neighbours played the speculation game, sometimes blaming
the government forces and at other times holding the armed rebels
responsible for the killing. But my friends and I wasted no time.
We asked the spirits of the dead, the jinn, to settle the query. We
then ran excitedly to the backyard where our neighbours had
gathered for their afternoon tea, to contribute our unsolicited
opinion. In a war zone, where too many organizations, too many
agents were hired purposefully to create chaos, turning to spirits
for clarity was our only hope.

By the early 1990s, most of my Pandit relatives, friends and
neighbours had left the Valley. Our neighbourhood, like many others
in Kashmir, wore a deserted look. Caged inside the Pandits’ empty
and abandoned homes were memories of our childhood. I spent
most of this time with my remaining friends, family and the helpful
jinn. Despite the mayhem that engulfed us and the sudden departure
of Pandits from the Valley, I wanted to stay in Kashmir where the
ongoing war had collapsed the distance between life and death, the
living and the dead. As a young teenager, I had desired other places
– places that made it to the national news. Kashmir never did. It
never felt important. Perhaps other teenagers experience the same
emotion of feeling trapped in a place that seems static, unchanging.
Papa’s stories of resistance seemed from a distant time and place.
During those years, the numbing effects of an enforced calm were
hard to see but much easier to experience. I wanted to always see
the other world, one where time moved and things happened. And
while I lamented the non-passing of time, it was moving faster than
any of us could anticipate.


Despite the seemingly slow and laboured passage of time,
Kashmir gave me an abundance oflove and hope. When I didn’t live
with Papa and Badimami in the city, I spent time with my parents in
locations across the Valley. My mom’s patient in Pulwama, roughly
my grandfather’s age, brought me chicken and roti every Saturday.
I always gobbled it up so greedily that it lit up his deeply wrinkled
face. In the villages, I enjoyed the freedom to explore and learn
from friends who knew the best spots for fun and play. Weather
permitting, they would shed their clothes without inhibition and
swim in the river, effortlessly.

In Tral, where my parents were posted for several years, I often
thronged the streets with my friends Nasreen, Rosy, Kaki and Minu,
looking for candy or maatam pheal. Unlike the sweets I bought at
my school canteen in Srinagar, these came without a cover and in
motley colours. I loved accompanying my friends to the local fair on
Eid-ul-Fitr to buy cheap jewellery and trinkets. I still have a picture
of the five of us dressed up in our finest clothes, taken in a village
studio. I am in a new outfit, imprinted with light blue almonds that
stand out against the deep blue background of my sleeveless dress.
My friends are in their newly stitched salwar-kameezes. Our outfits
fail to hide differences of class and wealth, but the games we played
and the reckless fun we had often trumped such distinctions.

Our differences did not vanish entirely, though. For instance, I
was once invited to attend a class in the village school where students
sat on the Boor on dirty and tattered mats. After brief introductions,
the teacher shoved me in front of the classroom. I was instructed to
teach my peers the hackneyed essay on ‘cows’, an essay that most kids
in India are forced to memorize. I was happy that my friends didn’t
seem too bothered to see me flaunt my English-medium education.
Soon after, my friends made it clear to me that my Kashmiri sounded
like pairim (a foreign language) and Minu, the youngest of the lot,


was assigned the task of teaching me ‘better accented’ Kashmiri.
Such moments of mutual embarrassment ~ere rare. For the most
part, we were too engrossed in our games, many of which, like
cricket, we played with competitive zeal, attempting to mimic the
high-intensity that was routinely on display during cricket matches
between India and Pakistan. We also played adolescent games in
which I would pretend to be Rosy’s coy wife, who, in turn, played
the part of a doting husband exceedingly well.

Only in the village could I play such games. The missionary school
in the city had socialized us differently and such naive plays would
be severely discouraged. Even though the school organized treks
and camps across the Valley to instil in us a spirit of curiosity and
adventure, the Victorian legacy to groom us into ‘ladies’ remained:
when we were six or seven, the school staff regularly assembled us in
the prayer hall and, one by one, our female teachers would lift our
tunics to confirm whether or not we wore underpants. Not wearing
one would invite punishment from teachers and days of ridicule
from classmates.

In 1988, for the first time in their medical careers, my parents
were posted to Srinagar. For me, it meant being confined to the
city, where I could no longer bathe in running rivers or paint my
hands red with the colour of raw walnuts. But not long afterwards
the mood in the city changed too. The events of the 1990s, scary,
chaotic and uncertain as they seemed, were strangely also about new
beginnings. It was a new revolution. A long night filled with deceit
and collaboration had passed, and Kashmir awaited its new dawn. I
too hoped for Kashmir’s just future, a future where the thin veneer
of ‘Kashmiriyat’ would peel away to make way for truth, trust and
solidarity; where garlic and asafoetida would lend their distinct
flavours to Kashmiri food without being persistently othered;
where difference would be embraced and encouraged and not just


tolerated. 1 Sadly, the situation on the ground looked altogether
different. The empty rhetoric of Kashmiriyat was shred to pieces,
only to be replaced by even more vicious narratives and counter-
narratives in which Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) and Kashmiri Muslims
(KMs) were now pitted against each other as the worst of enemies.
By the mid-1990s, the horrific killings ofKashmiris made front-page
news every day. There were raids and killings by Kashmiri rebels.
But many Kashmiris were killed while crossing the LoC, and many
died fighting for freedom or in violent raids and encounters by the
Indian Army. Young men were shoved into prisons indefinitely and
without trial, while mothers and wives awaited the news of their
disappeared sons and husbands.

In the meantime, in wretched rooms and makeshift tents in
Jammu and Udhampur, which now housed many Kashmiri Pandits,
the sun blazed viciously. It melted people’s pride and identities.
For many, the indignities of survival in unfamiliar places, where
they were unwelcome strangers, was too much to bear. Most died
without ever returning to their homes. A future of justice and
dignity became even bleaker as the politics between KPs and KMs
turned venomous.

The venom was everywhere, but it was soaked up most rapidly
by young boys and girls who grew up elsewhere, estranged from
their homelands. The violent disconnection between a place and
people was hard to suture. It affected everything – even the food
we ate carried the venomous hint of politics. In Kashmir, during
Shivratri, the smell of my grandmother’s fish and nadru (lotus
stems) used to waft through the corridors of the house days after
the festivities were over. We couldn’t warm the leftover fish. There
were strict rules of eating it cold. In Udhampur, where my parents
were posted for six years in the 1990s, the urgencies of drawing
stricter boundaries between Hindus and Muslims consumed


everyone. Our Pandit kin and neighbours routinely discussed
the sanctity of eating fish on a Hindu religious festival. Posters
emblazoned with the words ‘Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain,’
(‘Proudly claim that we are Hindus’) summed up the politics of
the 1990s. The right-wing conservative politics in India had made
inroads into Kashmir too. It was framed as a palliative to the
emasculated politics of secular India.

But even before the 1990s, the state had played its part in
turning people against each other. It had used surreptitious ways
to induct people into its intelligence network. A year or so before
the start of the armed rebellion, my mother worked in a major
hospital in the city where, in addition to her medical duties, she
performed a variety of administrative tasks. One day, a Kashmiri
Muslim man of medium height and build walked into her office,
introducing himself as someone who had worked with the Criminal
Investigation Department (CID) during her posting in Pulwama
as a block medical officer. She barely recognized him although
the face, she claims, seemed familiar. At the time, his association
with the CID did not concern her much, perhaps because the days
when the CID officials actively tracked her father and the rest of
the family had passed. She might have briefly wondered about the
reason for his visit. But her curiosity was drowned out by the idle
chatter about her glorious days in Pulwama and the challenges of
working in a city hospital.

In recent months, my mother had been dealing with a number of
disciplinary issues: after 6.00 p.m., outsiders would assemble inside
the hospital to gamble, and patients and staff often complained about
the noise and ruckus in the night. On hearing her complain, the
man asked her if she could provide him this kind of information on
a weekly basis and help the department rout out miscreant elements
from the city. He also assured her that she would be paid two


thousand rupees a month for the task. If the quality and consistency
of her work exceeded their expectations, she could earn even more.
My mother was puzzled. Sensing her hesitance, he assured her of
his credentials. He now worked for the Research and Analysis Wing
(RAW), he said. He had moved up in life. Mom didn’t know much
about the RAW then and had heard the name only in passing. But
because the idea of being paid by an external organization made her
uncomfortable, she politely rejected his offer.

I was sitting in Papa’s room when she came home that day.
Over tea, she casually described her meeting with the agent. Papa
was staring at the tea kettle but at the mention of RAW he looked
up, alarmed. ‘I hope you said no to him,’ he said nervously. I did
not fully understand the dangers of the seemingly innocuous offer,
but a brief lesson on RAW convinced me that Mom had done the
right thing.

In less than a year, the situation changed dramatically. Lives were
taken; lives were lost. Some were mukhbirs (informers), some were
not; perhaps some were unwittingly so. Nothing seemed certain
although one thing was obvious: the state had long spun a web of
deceit and paranoia to ensnare Kashmiris, both Pandits and Muslims,
civilians and otherwise, and use them as mukhbirs/inforrners against
each other. Many Kashmiris were unwittingly made surrogates of
the state. My mom was saved. Others weren’t as fortunate.

Indeed, state paranoia had a long history in Kashmir. The state
cultivated suspicion to tear communities apart. But it also feared
those who refused to act as state surrogates – those who wrote. And
those who dared to speak.

Recently, a historian friend emailed me two documents that
she came across during her archival research in Srinagar. One was
the government’s letter to the assistant superintendent of police
(ASP), CID, a letter written in response to Badimami’s request to


start a newspaper, the Kashmir Humanist. 1?is request came soon
after Papa’s Urdu newspaper, jamhoor, was banned in 1952 for its
anti-NC reporting only a few months after it was launched. The
government had instructed the ASP (CID) to check Mrs Vaishnavi’s
credentials in order to determine whether or not she was a suitable
candidate to run the paper. The ASP (CID)’s letter is worth quoting …

01/12/2020 One Year On, Modi’s Kashmir ‘Master Stroke’ Has Proven to Be a Massive Flop

https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-kashmir-master-stroke 1/10


One Year On, Modi’s Kashmir
‘Master Stroke’ Has Proven to Be
a Massive Flop
Protest has been contained simply because the state has become a
large jail. Locking up everyone can be a strategy to �ght crime, but
with everyone in, on whose behalf are you �ghting crime, anyway?





Java Design And Development

Sign Up




Pe�ume Samples

Farewell Kalbe Sadiq, India
Needs More Like You




























Creed AVENTUS FOR HER Samples/Decants
Creed AVENTUS FOR HER Samples/Decants
Creed ORIGINAL VÉTIVER Samples/Decants
Sospiro Opera Eau de Parfum Unisex Sample/Decants
PACO RABANNE 1 Million Lucky Decants/Samples
Burberry Body for Women EDT Samples/Decants
Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Tender Oud EDP Samples/Decants
Sospiro Opera Eau de Parfum Unisex Sample/Decants
Sospiro Opera Eau de Parfum Unisex Sample/Decants
Creed AVENTUS FOR HER Samples/Decants
Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Tender Oud EDP Samples/Decants
Creed ORIGINAL VÉTIVER Samples/Decants










01/12/2020 One Year On, Modi’s Kashmir ‘Master Stroke’ Has Proven to Be a Massive Flop

https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-kashmir-master-stroke 2/10

Manoj Joshi

P O L I T I C S 04/AUG/2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election campaign rally at Sher-i-Kashmir cricket stadium in Srinagar in 2014.
Photo: PTI/S. Irfan/Files

On August 5, 2019, the Narendra Modi government revoked
Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and statehood, dividing
it into two union territories. In this series – ‘One Year in a
Disappeared State’ – The Wire will look at what the last
year has meant and what the region looks like now. 

Farewell Kalbe Sadiq, India
Needs More Like You













01/12/2020 One Year On, Modi’s Kashmir ‘Master Stroke’ Has Proven to Be a Massive Flop

https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-kashmir-master-stroke 3/10

It’s been a year now that the Bharatiya Janata Party
government delivered its Kashmir “master stroke”. Just like
the other “greatest hits” – demonetisation, Goods and
Services Tax, the Christmas Day descent on Lahore, the 9
pm-9 minute lighting plan to destroy COVID-19 – the
Kashmir one has also been a flop, if not disaster.

Yes, militant leaders have been eliminated and public protest
and stone-throwing prevented. Figures show that the level of
violence has not really come down. Data collected by the
South Asia Terrorism Portal reveals that the levels of
violence were coming down at the beginning of this decade,
with the lowest point reached in 2012 when 19 civilians, 18
security personnel and 84 terrorists/extremists killed. But in
just eight months of 2020, 17 civilians, 34 security
personnel and 154 terrorists/extremists have been killed.

It is convenient to blame Pakistan for the continuance of
violence in the state, but the reality is that the August 5
decision has only increased the recruitment of locals into the
separatist militancy. Pakistan, if anything, is playing a
waiting game.

It is difficult to describe what happened in Jammu and
Kashmir as anything else but political vandalism. A state
which was part of the Union under very difficult and
dangerous circumstances, was demoted and ripped apart
through questionable legal means.

Rs 2,870

Farewell Kalbe Sadiq, India
Needs More Like You













01/12/2020 One Year On, Modi’s Kashmir ‘Master Stroke’ Has Proven to Be a Massive Flop

https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-kashmir-master-stroke 4/10

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

The highest court of the land has yet to hear the urgent issue
of the constitutionality of the J&K Reorganisation Act, as
well as a slew of petitions relating to the detentions of
various leaders, the withdrawal of 4G services and the
misuse of draconian preventive detention …

Order your essay today and save 10% with the discount code ESSAYHELP