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China and Inner Asia
In Session: Law, Justice, Society at the Margins of Asian States
4: Dissolution of Article 370: A New Beginning of Settler Colonialism in Kashmir
Friday, March 26, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Independent Scholar, Kashmir
On August 5, 2019, the Indian government led by the right-wing Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party unilaterally elided Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Article 370 was a temporary clause that granted the Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) an “autonomous” status, with rights to land, livelihood, and self-governance. Subsequently, J&K was bifurcated into two administrative units of J&K and Ladakh, with both units downgraded to union territory status, thereby effectively bringing the region directly under the auspices of India’s central government. The decision was enforced through a total clampdown on movement and assembly by imposing a total communication blackout on the population of Kashmir. The abrogation of the temporary clause entails a forcible integration of Kashmir into the Indian Union while obfuscating the international status of the Kashmir dispute, which directly violates international laws. Amid arbitrary detentions, torture and other human rights violations by Indian armed forces personnel, India amended Kashmir’s domicile laws through the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act to effectuate demographic change in the region by facilitating the settlement of non-Kashmiris.
I examine the consequences of these “illegal” laws and policies in reducing the indigenous Kashmiri Muslim population to an absolute minority and its impact on locals’ right of self-determination. I argue that these laws buttress the strategic imposition of India’s “official” settler colonial project aimed at the economic, social, and political disenfranchisement of Kashmiris, where the former legal agreement between Kashmir and India has been usurped by permanent annexation of the Kashmiri territory.