Looking into Settler Colonialism through India’s Occupation of Kashmir — by Subhajit Pal

Jun 2, 2020

Inverse Journal presents Subhajit Pal’s academic paper on a key issue of interest within the present climate of uncertainty. In this paper written in November 2019, the young researcher attempts to study Kashmir within a settler colonial framework, while engaging with an initial comparative study that integrates core theoretical and academic research from other, and more widely studied, settler colonial societies (US, Australia, Israel). The fact that Pal finished writing this paper on November 27th, 2019, in the aftermath of the August 5th revocation of Article 370, adds to the greater interest readers may have towards its treatment of a subject that is currently being discussed in multiple academic circles and sections of the press.

Introduction: Setting the Premise

Studies in settler colonialism have produced a relatively new set of discourses in the realm of post-colonial studies. Although scholars in the context of colonialism have used the term ‘settler’ in multiple contexts, identification of the difference between settlers and sojourners in relation to their impact in political, social, economic and cultural spheres led to discourses found in settler colonial studies. As a separate field of study, settler colonial studies came to the forefront when the economic impact of the settlers on the indigenous in societies like America and Australia were discussed in research and academic work (Denoon 1979) with greater detail and further specificity. However, later Wolfe (1999), in criticising the monolithic post-colonial theorising of Australian society, premised settler colonialism as a distinct form of colonial formation. Settler colonies, he states, were not established to extract surplus value from indigenous labour. ‘Land’ was an important asset with which the settlers articulated their position and relation to the indigenous, establishing a position that Wolfe calls negative articulation”. This articulation made the indigenous unwanted, thereby calling for their elimination at the hands of the settlers through multiple (and simultaneous) processes of disenfranchisement, dispossession and disempowerment. He further specifies that in settler colonial projects the invasion is a structure not an event”, where the colonisers came to stay in order to develop an unrestrained occupation. In addition, such a structure entailed occupying positions of power while controlling the social and cultural discourses that defined the colonies. This was, in contrast to that of other forms of colonialism, where colonisers were rarely involved directly in the social and cultural life of the indigenous (Wolfe, Settler colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology 1999).

Another feature of such settler-colonial projects was the movement of the settlers away from the traditional metropoles into the interior (target) landscapes. Wolfe here pointed out two important issues that were central to the settlers; one was positionality, and the other was laying claim to the indigenous discourses and cultural practices for selective appropriation (Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology, 1999). As such, the main difference between a settler colonial society and a colonial society is found at an ideological level. Here, according to Wolfe, “the master-slave structuring of Fanon’s schema” (3) is sharply contradicted, as native labour becomes an insignificant part of settler colonies [because their labour along with their presence is no longer needed], while the only “sanctions practically available to the natives are ideological ones” (3). Moving ahead, Wolfe opines that, at ideological level, conflict keeps indigenousness alive in the discourse, thereby keeping assimilation and appropriation at bay due to the methods of contestation found in indigenous resistance. Building upon this observation, Wolfe (2006) also explains the tactics adopted by the settlers in order to assimilate with the natives and usurp their land, while also referring to the native discourses of knowledge production that will be discussed later in the paper.

Veracini (2011) furthers the differentiation of settler colonialism from colonialism while introducing settler colonial studies as a separate field. Delving deeper, he identifies how settler colonialism operates towards “self-suppression” (3), where it erases the differences between metropole and colony. In the process, settlers spreading all over in the colony try to eliminate the indigenous in both overt and covert ways. Moreover, Veracini claims that the process takes place slowly based on its “future demise”, stressing on Wolfe’s characterisation of settler invasion as a structure. Veracini also differentiates between the resistential patterns in colonial and settler colonial societies. In colonialism, different forms of resistance by the natives aim to primarily withhold the labour ties with the colonisers. Whereas when the demand of labour is non-existent and land and territoriality become the central issue, survival and “persistence”[1] (4), then, become the form of resistance.[2] Based on these differentiations, the perception of the indigenous differs, “docile” in the colonial form and “fragile” in the settler form (Veracini 2011). This “fragility” and its manifestation is seen in the emerging settler nationalist discourses, where the indigenous bodies and their rights are obfuscated, and as Mamdani (2015) claims, settler exceptionalism dominates over the indigenous. While tracing the evolution of settler colonialism, Mamdani opines that settler exceptionalism has been a central part of policymaking.

The usurped state power in the settler societies, through the policies of forceful occupation of land, tries to erase the history of the natives and the traces of their elimination (according to Mamdani 2015). In the process, the same methodology is employed to attribute an innocence to their nationalist history. While explaining this occurrence, Mamdani (2015) refers to the manner in which  American society was called a truly multicultural society without referring to its disturbing past track record of eliminating of its native American populations. In tracing the journey of settler colonialism from America to Israel, he also differentiates it from the South African colonial framework where black labour was essential for the survival of the empire. In the case of Israel, the Palestinian labour requirement is eliminated and only the land becomes central to the settler colonial motive. Although Mamdani (2015) includes meditations and analyses about the difference between the two projects, where initially in America the settler nationalism developed from the cultural appropriation of some native symbols, in the case of Israel he concludes that the land and myths associated with it became powerful enough to disseminate a constructed nationalist imagination at a global level. In this way, the academic discussion and study also opens up not only to contextualising different settler colonial projects drawing similar patterns of occupation but also building upon differences depending on the forms of survival and subsistence of the occupier and the occupied. In this context, the following section examines India’s relationship with Kashmir since the 1947 annexation of the then princely state and the pattern of the Indian government’s policies implemented on the lives of the Kashmiris.

Kashmir’s Contested Past

Kashmir has been a contested territory almost since the Sultanate period. Later, the Mughals, Afghans and the British also ruled the territory, where in tyranny and poverty was historically documented. After the Treaty of Amritsar (1846), when the British company handed over the territory to the Dogra dynasty, the plight of the Kashmiri population still persisted. Towards the end of the colonial era in British India, both the newly formed states of India and Pakistan battled and warred with one another while seeking absolute dominion over Kashmir (Soz 2018).

In 1947, during the partition and formation of India and Pakistan, both newly-formed states were eyeing Kashmir for geo-strategic, resource and economic advantage, as Kashmir gave direct access to Central Asia. According to the official Indian version, the Maharaja of Kashmir acceded to India in the wake of a tribal invasion in Kashmir allegedly sponsored by their Pakistani counterparts.[3] In order to save the territory from Pakistani invasion, the Indian military was deployed after the Instrument of Accession was signed between India and Maharaja Hari Singh as the supreme ruler of the then princely state. In that version of history, the Indian troops never returned in accordance to the instrument of defence, external affairs and communication that was under India’s control according to the points of agreement previously specified in the Instrument of Accession[4] (Noorani 2011). There was also a promise of a plebiscite only after which the complete integration with India by majoritarian vote in favour would be possible, but that has not taken place till date.

Post accession, the state of Jammu and Kashmir received a special status in the Indian Constitution. With the plebiscite being delayed in the 1950s when the United Nations ordered a plebiscite, both the Indian and Pakistani governments backed off from the terms of plebiscite, with the territory being contested by their respective nationalist and expansionist agendas. The special Article 370 in the Indian Constitution from its initial days was subjected to Presidential orders, and by 1990, most of its special provisions were diluted, allowing the Indian government to effectively make laws on most of the state subjects. Between 1950 and 1990, along with imposition of President’s Rule several times, and putting several political leaders of Kashmir behind bars, the Indian government’s claim became increasingly territorial and ideological. After the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in September of 1990, the territory of Kashmir became, and remains, the most militarised zone in the world.

The AFSPA was implemented in order to crush the insurgency that had broken out in the fight for the Azaadi (independence and self-determination) of Kashmir. The result had a brutal impact on Kashmir, rendering up to 10,000 disappeared[5], and more than 70,000 killed.[6] This disarray continued to complicate the political and social fabric for almost thirty years, making matters more complex until the unilateral striking down of Article 370, a move that, according to Ather Zia, was finally successful after decades of planning.[7]

Extending the Settler Colonial Framework to Kashmir

After the revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy on official basis in August of 2019, scholars have warned about the ills of a settler colonial project if extended to Kashmir. Several noted scholars also opined and forecasted, through previous academic research, about the possibility of the beginning of an Israeli styled settler colonial project.[8] However, at the time of researching for and writing this paper, not much fieldwork and scholarly research has been produced in applying such concept to the particular case of Kashmir, where proper definitions and studies on it in a localised context are still in development. The situation of complete shutdown of telephony, media, internet and mass communications, that prominent Kashmir scholars and writers have outright called a “siege”, has not made it possible to conduct ground-level research before and after the August 5th revocation of Articles 370 and 35A.[9] Comparing the contours of occupation in Kashmir with the principles around which the settler colonial framework is evolving day by day can provide a better insight about the discourses that shape it at multiple levels. Stemming from Nitasha Kaul’s (2019) observation about how India has been colonising Kashmir, the policies of the Indian government towards Kashmir could shed a light on the various patterns of colonisation at play.[10]


Since 1947, Kashmir has occupied a distinct place in the national imagination of India. The claim over its territory has seen three wars being fought between India and Pakistan, without a plebiscite being held and postponed further towards impossibility.[11] As the only Muslim majority territory and state, Kashmir became a fixation for India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to bolster India’s image and fabric as a secular land (Guha 2007). Since then, Kashmir has become a site for the exercise of power and implementation of policies for the Indian government. Over the years, whenever the Indian state has sensed any form of non-conformity initially amongst Kashmir leaders, these have been put behind bars or under house arrest.

The Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, after the subsequent accords in Shimla tried to put the demand of self-determination to rest. First by bifurcating the territory without any input from the Kashmiri populace. Then by installing out-of-jail leader Sheikh Abdullah under the condition that the question of self-determination would be left out of question. Even though popular protests (like the ones post-1990, 2008, 2016) or mass agitations before the 1980s are not recorded in mainstream Indian history, the discontent for the lack of basic rights and slow marginalisation was evident, particularly in the writings and historiography by key Kashmiri figures. Even during the 1994 parliamentary resolution on Kashmir, India maintained its claim on the complete territory of Kashmir. The will and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people, according multiple sources, never entered the discussion.

In the post-1990 scenario, the territorial autonomy of the Kashmiris was constitutionally bypassed in placing Kashmir under a military occupation facilitated by the DAA (Disturbed Areas Act and Armed Forces Special Powers Act), requiring huge masses of land to be allocated for military camps and structures of control for the most heavily militarised zone in the world. To quote an example, in “Pattan tehsil alone, the Army has occupied 378.25 acres of land owned by 515 families. Official records suggest that 30 percent of the land taken over by security forces is being used to construct barracks” while various other places have been taken over to build camps and barracks.[12] The camps along with heavy militarisation have been the instruments of the Indian state since 1990 to carry out governance over Kashmir within the constitutional framework established via the Instrument of Accession. These infrastructural establishments within the indigenous Kashmiri experience embody structures of violence aimed at maintaining control over the indigenous, particularly in instances where the indigenous population has resisted. In such an academic contextualisation, the military personnel represent the settlers, whereas the immediate structures they occupy spread from the metropoles to the countryside creating a spatial displacement of the locals. Even under the shroud of Article 35A such displacement materialised with the privileged freedom of movement for the Indian Armed Forces, while contrarily the Kashmiri population was subject to displacement from public space or containment within very insular familial spaces that could not afford the freedom to move under a heavily militarised state apparatus.

According to the Hilal Mir, who reported in an event of KSDS, “there used to be 2400 kanals of land Under SKUAST but now only 800 kanals of land are left under them, resulting in an illegal land grab by the forces. There was a Cattle Research Station under SKUAST that unfortunately landed under military occupation.”[13] The narrative articulated from the Indian side justifies the heavy militarisation as part of measures against counter-terrorism based on procedures of “national security” and “national integrity” with attempts to normalise the military presence in civilian spaces through health camps, counselling centres, schools and other activities conducted by the Indian Armed Forces in the valley.  Peer Ghulam Nabi and Jingzhong Ye (2015) argue that the interventionist presence of the Indian Armed Forces in the valley will not win the hearts of the people.[14] They continue to explain that these techniques of governance through armed force would not legitimise the occupation, nor would it be possible for the military occupation to assimilate into the populace. As such, the crisis that is fuelled by clashing political identities, nationalist and self-determinist aspirations and ideological differences could not be solved by such a token ‘developmental’ approach.

With the rise of the right wing in India, the demand for Indians to settle in Kashmir continuously grows stronger, culminating into different attempts by the Indian government to transfer land away from the Kashmiri Muslim majority or allocating acres of land meant for public use to specific state and government proscribed uses. Such attempts have earlier led to violent protests across Kashmir valley. In 2008, the Amarnath land transfer row kicked up huge protests, which were brutally crushed by the Indian Armed Forces.[15]


The Constitution of India, and Article 370 in particular, gave Kashmiris the right to be citizens of India, but at the cost of giving up their identity based on a core political history of their own. Unlike the settler societies of America in the 19th century, on official terms, such citizenship rights were bestowed but, at ground level, the surrender of a distinct Kashmiri identity was the cost to bear. As India tightened its grip over Kashmir’s territory, until the 1980s, the portrayal of Kashmir in mainland India was characterised along the lines of an exotic destination, as Ananya Jahanara Kabir reiterates through her readings of Indian popular culture in its relation to Kashmir.[16]

In the aftermath of the 1980s, generations of young Kashmiris, in invoking Maqbool Bhat, had attempted to come to the forefront and demand the return of the then erased autonomy that in part allowed democratically elected parties to govern. According to multiple historical sources, the Indian state and its apparatuses of control, both incited such agitations and mobilisations and then implemented force for their containment. The rigged elections of 1987, which triggered the outbreak of insurgency, were not only a betrayal in electoral politics but a whistle-blower phenomenon that unmasked the Indian government manipulations of democracy, at that time under the Congress party’s rule. In order to dominate the strong indigenous group under the banner of the Muslim United Front, which had planned to bring back the constitution of Kashmir, the Indian government collaborated with the National Conference (the same party that was founded and run by the Abdullahs) to establish a ground-level government in favour of India. In consulting a wide range of academic, journalistic and historiographical research, it can be ascertained that political parties like the National Conference and the later formed People’s Democratic Party are not considered rightful representatives of Kashmir by a wide majority of Kashmiris. The material basis of such observations can be drawn from the minimal voter turnout in the elections organised by India since 1984. The turnout in 1987 was significant and when the MUF lost, it was evident that the elections had been rigged, a fact corroborated by multiple sources, official and independent. Later such sabotaging of the democratic process was even confirmed by several Congress leaders. Looking at minimal voter turnouts since then inversely reflects the increasing number of Kashmiri people participating in the protests, election boycotts, and hartals in Kashmir, primarily when comparing such numbers with those few actually participating in India-organised elections.

The safeguarding and preservation of rights enshrined in the Indian constitution and their omission in the case of Kashmir is exposed when Kashmiris have demanded their rights within and far beyond the constitutional scope and framework. It has consistently been at the cost of state policy establishing a different set of standards to treat them differently within constitutional articulations such as DAA, AFSPA, etc, in their political identity being marked by conflicted, contested and incomplete citizenship within the nationalist Indian agenda, with inclusion dependent on surrendering their particular cultural and political identity. Similarities can be observed in the brutal force employed on native Americans to ensure they let go of their tribal identity in order to survive within an imposed American national identity, particularly in the way the American state’s occupation of the Cherokee and their land operated in colonial and post-independence North America.

Another aspect to consider is the violation of basic human rights through the violence inflicted on Kashmiris by the armed forces. Multiple reported and documented instances of fake encounters, massacre, all forms of sexual violence on both females and males, custodial killings and torture indicate that such methods have been naturalised in the Kashmir valley.[17] The right to justice when wrongs are committed is denied by clauses of the AFSPA (in a majority of the cases filed), which gives the Armed Forces impunity and immunity from prosecution, where legal action is not driven by civilian courts, but rather army tribunals.[18] In other cases, the Indian courts deny or delay justice for years. For example, during the then American president Bill Clinton’s visit to India in 2000, members of the Indian army allegedly killed five innocent Kashmiri villagers, and in the aftermath of such killings, the corpses of these villagers were presented to the international media as “Pakistani terrorists”, claimed to be the unidentified gunmen who had gunned down 35 Sikhs hours before Clinton’s landing in India. The case known as the Prathibal fake encounter, later investigated by the CBI during the UPA rule, termed the events of that day as murder or homicide.[19] It took twelve years for the Supreme Court to decide that trials against the army officials involved were to be initiated. However, the legal framework allowing the army court to take on the case further in the legal process to the point of leading to the dismissal of the chargesheet filed by the CBI, even before trials had begun.[20] This is just one such case among scores of others, where the heinous crimes against Kashmiris (breaching multiple UN resolutions and conventions) are denied basic and fundamental acknowledgement of having been perpetrated. The Kunan-Poshpora mass rape of women is another such case where the government denied the happening of such war crimes.[21]

A larger body of work by academics, journalists, documentarians, human rights advocates, writers and professionals within the multidisciplinary field of Kashmir Studies have asserted the view that Kashmir has been converted into an open prison where the state works with a self-proscribed impunity to seize or dilute basic and fundamental human rights, while the Indian state is trying to coax assimilatory participation of the common people. Such assimilatory participation materialises, for instance, through a monopoly on employment opportunities to cash incentives in crushing varying degrees of dissent and protest, both armed and unarmed. That territory-wide control by the state and its various institutions is countered through years of survival, persistence and resistance against the state’s operations over Kashmiri lives.

Assessing the Arguments of the Settler Colonial Framework

After looking into particular events in Kashmir’s larger history, an assessment of implementations that resemble a settler colonial framework at a textbook level would be imperative, considering preliminary research available from other places. If observed from a comparative standpoint, the military occupation has remained markedly visible through its structures, human resources and establishments, but the Indian state has tried its best to erase and hide its operations in the Himalayan territory from the scrutiny of the international community (as well as from most of its own pan-Indian citizenry). In the case of Kashmir, the positionality of the land is different from that of other settler societies. In Kashmir, the land is not required to make a new nation altogether but to complete the idea of an India still settling the scores of partition, if nation-statist discourses are to be studied and evaluated according to Indian nationalist perspective. The idea of India politically mobilised and integrated according to set ideological principles in the Indian mainland has obfuscated the nakedness of the actual settling in, where, in order to complete an ancient idea of India, Kashmir’s territory is required to make permanent an official a map, that is contested by other nation states, and especially by a multitude of Kashmiris themselves. Fundamentally, such settler-colonial patterns are also different from the American settler societies where the United States assimilated the territory through strategic and systematic violence, for a specific vision of the country as a whole. In the case of Kashmir, differences from the Israeli strategies towards Palestine standout as well, where the complete mythical and political homeland of the Jewish peoples was created and projected into the Palestinian territory, encroaching upon it to the point of rendering the Palestinians homeless, stateless, invisible and in perpetual exile. In the case of Kashmir, territorially, I would call it a settler extension of the Indian state’s vision that at once considers the territory as integral yet has to deal with its historical status as an autonomous state of its own, one that is still waiting for UN intervention. In the case of fundamental rights and their denial, settler colonies mostly deal with similar kinds of denial that incites grounds for cross-border solidarities.

Elimination of the Indigenous Identity

The logic of elimination of the native, as studied by Wolfe (2006), resonates in all settler colonies, with their main objective best articulated by Veracini’s (2011) words as “you [the indigenous] go away”. Taking cues from the strategies of elimination of the native identity and native subject specified by Wolfe, it can be clearly ascertained that Kashmir has seen such strategies employed since the last thirty years. The killings of civilians and dissenting subjects, approximately 8,000 to 10,000 enforced disappearances, imprisonment without bail, detentions without warrant, rape as a weapon of war, fake encounters and enforced assimilation have been standardised practices within the constitutional framework of Kashmir as a Disturbed Area within the larger prism of “national security” where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act sets the rule of law.

In the context of the revocation of autonomy (Aug 5), the renaming of places has also started to look starkly similar to the renaming via appropriation of Jerusalem and its neighbouring territories. For example, the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium was recently renamed after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and reported by press articles appearing in The Wire, Newsclick, Deccan Herald, among several others. As Wolfe studies elucidate, through the framework of a state, settlers tried to affect every aspect of the native life, from religion, speech, political freedom to economic liberty, cultural diversity, nomenclature and naming conventions, etc., with each of these being verifiably affected in the everyday life of the indigenous and native, who within the scope of this paper are the Kashmiris themselves.

Conversely, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Indian state targeted Kashmiri Muslims on various folds, in an attempt to integrate itself into the globalised western discourse and narrative of “War on Terror”. The illegal detention of people such as Gulzar Ahmad Wani, S.A.R Geelani, and the hanging of Afzal Guru (on the pretext of “satisfying the collective conscience of the nation”) are few examples of India’s treatment of Kashmiri Muslims within the constructed prism of “national security.” As such, the political freedom of Kashmiris has long been minimised and curtailed since 1947. The freedom to protest and express dissent has been degraded overtime through imposition of curfews and disruption of protests through the use of guns, pellets and tear gas to disperse gathering crowds.

Although Kashmir has a better per capita compared to India, the economic liberty of Himalayan territory has been severely crippled, with the state maintaining a monopoly on employment, while private industry and enterprise have had to work within very limited frameworks. There have been instances when vital transport lines were closed during periods of public protest in order to restrict the valley economically. According to reports, the siege of Kashmir after August 5 this year, has resulted in loss of more than one billion dollars[22].  Along with such practices, the pluralism of the land has been affected by the Indian intervention in Kashmiri society. It is seasonally debated that the advent of heavy militarisation in Kashmir in the early 90s involved the then governor Jagmohan, who facilitated the exodus of Pandits from the valley. Much has been written about the manner in which the forced migration of the Kashmiri Pandits was weaponised, discursively as well as militarily, to establish a new order of brutal suppression. Such strategies again revalidate settler colonial tendencies to establish justification in affecting and treating the native identity and its subjects to eliminate and criminalise certain native discourses and narratives until the last straw.

How Settler Colonialism Comes Closest to Describing Kashmir

The study of other forms of colonialism has also been applied to define the occupation of Kashmir, but in a greater trajectory of scholarship, certain studies remain limited in entirely coming up with a perfect definition or description that fits, given the vast complexities of contemporary Kashmir as a zone of conflict and a militarised and policed territory. For example, Partha Chaterjee in earlier work attempted to equate the happenings in Kashmir as “internal colonialism”,[23] but such articulations met with criticism given the multiple instances of Indian scholars, writers, and critics repeatedly contextualising Kashmir from their own Indian nationality or their identity as Indian citizens. The major criticism formulated in such cases emerged in regard to the position of Kashmir in context to India. If concepts such as “internal colonialism” were used to describe Kashmir, then such academic elaborations would also mean not only delegitimising, but completely negating the discourse of self-determination of the Kashmiris. In a parallel mode, settler colonialism in its existing framework also falls short, albeit in different areas.

The traditional definition of a settler state is predicated upon the understanding of settlers entering into a particular territory and geography to form a new state altogether. Examples studied widely include the case of Australia, United States of America, multiple locations in colonial Latin America and modern-day Israel. However, in the case of Kashmir, the Indian state occupies the territory and rules over its subjects not in order to form any new state, rather to annex the territory and establish a new order that permeates into many aspects of Kashmiri life, while having severe impact on Kashmir’s historically distinct identity. In this case, the logic and process of elimination varies to an extent, where the native discourse was important in Australian or American cases for selective appropriation and building of a national imagination based on key concepts such as symbolic inclusiveness and (token) diversity. In the case of Israel, the erasure of the native discourse is the end and the means, while in the case of Kashmir the same is applicable, even if the native discourse is not only diminished but invisibilised  such that the Indian imaginary appropriates the place to present the popular Indian cultural representation of Kashmir as Jannat (a Himalayan paradise), as an ideal Bollywood honeymoon and touristic destination and a target for various religious pilgrimages served to its larger citizenry and the greater world beyond South Asia. Other studies can assess, as Ananya Jahanara Kabir suggests, how the representation of Kashmir has changed, decade by decade, in the Indian imaginary and particularly from the angle of literary, popular to mass mediatised constructions.

Multiple operations and procedures in the treatment of Kashmiris, such as the ones highlighted previously, create a space where native and culture-specific identities are more susceptible to elimination or disappearance, which is a prime requirement for settlement to the extreme of displacement. The classical form of settlement as studied in other places can be dispensed in Kashmir since the idea of private labour has long been disposed of and employment has been articulated from an Indian and national integration framework (that then expansively erases a distinct Kashmiri identity). As a result, within this settler colonialist paradigm, the survival of Kashmiris, their way of life, tradition and culture are manifest through multiple modes of resistance as self-assertion, which the Kashmiris have actively been participating in, and that (given the overreach of the Indian state) include engagement with the state establishment for the sake of their survival and continuity (Veracini 2011).

Tremblay refers to this phenomenon while observing the complex form of resistance of Kashmiris, where they “have at times resisted state power and embraced goals of the secessionist/nationalist groups, while at other times […] sided with the governmental institution that promised them material benefits and personal security” (Tremblay 2018). In the greater complexities of Kashmir as an occupied territory and Kashmiris as a peoples occupied through a settler colonial framework, a lot more research will have to be conducted and verified to posit Kashmir also as a settler extension of Indian state’s overreach since post-partition and more specifically throughout the 90s. In such studies, research by Kashmir scholars will be instrumental in understanding Kashmir discretely from a settler colonial framework, taking into consideration the classical forms described and studied by scholars around different parts of the world. At the same time, a reformulation of such studies can also be essential in understanding Kashmir as a settler extension given the history of Kashmir’s landlocked engagement with India as an entry and exit port at multiple levels and considering the great power and presence that India as a nation state holds in Kashmir since the times of Dogra rule, particularly in the aftermath of Partition.



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Kabir, Ananya Jahanara. 2009. Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Kanjwal, Hafsa. 2019. Opinion: The Washington Post. 5 August. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/05/indias-settler-colonial-project-kashmir-takes-disturbing-turn/.

Mamdani, Mahmood. 2015. “Settler Colonialism: Then and Now.” Critical Inquiry 596-614. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/680088.

Noorani, A.G. 2011. Article 370. New Delhi: Oxford India Paperback.

Soz, Saifuddin. 2018. Kashmir: Glimpses of History and Story of Struggle. New Delhi: Rupa Publication India Pvt.ltd.

Tremblay, Chowdhari Reeta. 2018. “Contested Governance, Competing Nationalism and Disenchanted Publics: Kashmir beyond Intractability.” In Kashmir: History, Politics, Rpresentation, by Chitralekha Zutshi, 220-244. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.

Veracini, Lorenzo. 2011. “Introducing.” Settler Colonial Studies, 1-12. Accessed November 16, 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/2201473X.2011.10648799.

Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. “Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native.” Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native. 387-409. doi:10.1080/14623520601056240.

—. 1999. Settler colonialism and the transformation of anthropology. London: Cassel.



[1] Veracini, Lorenzo. 2011. “Introducing.” Settler Colonial Studies 1-12.

[2] Ibid, Rose in Wolfe, Settler colonialism and the elimination of the 2006.

[3] Naqvi, Saeed. (2016, July 10). The Killing Fields of Jammu: How Muslims become a minority in the region. Scroll.in. https://scroll.in/article/811468/the-killing-fields-of-jammu-when-it-was-muslims-who-were-eliminated

[4] See Link: http://jklaw.nic.in/instrument_of_accession_of_jammu_and_kashmir_state.pdf

[5] Ahangar, Parveena. (2019, September 25). “My son is one of Kashmir’s ‘disappeared’. When will India tell the truth about their fate?” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/12/son-kashmir-disappeared-india-truth-fate-siege

[6] FIDH. 2019. “Key Human Rights Issues of Concern in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir,” March.

[7] Ather Zia, “Revocation of Kashmir's Autonomy Is Culmination of Decades-Long Plan,” The Globe Post, August 16, 2019, https://theglobepost.com/2019/08/16/kashmir-culmination-plan/

[8] Shannon Ebrahim, “Kashmir Has Become the New Settler Colonial Project,” IOL News, November 10, 2019, https://www.iol.co.za/news/opinion/kashmir-has-become-the-new-settler-colonial-project-36968825

[9] Recollections of a long siege in Kashmir. (2019, November 19). Time. https://time.com/5726782/kashmir-under-siege-mirza-waheed/

[10] Nitasha Kaul, “Kashmir Is Under the Heel of India's Colonialism,” Foreign Policy, August 13, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/13/kashmir-is-under-the-heel-of-indias-colonialism/

[11]  Indo-Pak wars in 1947, 1965, 1999.

[12] Selections from regional press. p86, Volume 25, Institute of Regional Studies, 2006. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=KMY-AQAAIAAJ

[13] “'Militarization Will Only Go When We Take Firm Stand',” Rising Kashmir, accessed November 26, 2019, http://risingkashmir.com/news/militarization-will-only-go-when-we-take-firm-stand

[14] Nabi, Peer Ghulam, and Jingzhong Ye. "Of Militarisation, Counter-insurgency and Land Grabs in Kashmir." Economic and Political Weekly 50, no. 46-47 (2015): 58-64.

[15] Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and EQUATIONS. 2017. Amarnath Yatra: A Militarized Pilgrimage, March.

[16] Kabir, Ananya Jahanara. 2009. Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

[17] International Commission of Jurists. 1995. “Human Rights in Kashmir: Report of a Mission.”

[18] “Militarization with impunity: A brief on rape and murder in Shopian, Kashmir.” (2009). International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir. https://kashmirprocess.org/reports/shopian/

[19] Duschinski, Haley. 2010. “Reproducing Regimes of Impunity: Fake Encounters and the Informalization of Violence in Kashmir Valley.” Cultural Studies 24(1): 110–32.

[20] “Seventeen Years On, SC Notice on Pathribal Fake Encounter Brings Little Hope of Justice to Victims' Families,” The Wire, accessed November 27, 2019, https://thewire.in/security/seventeen-years-sc-notice-pathribal-fake-encounter-brings-little-hope-justice-victims-families

[21] Batool, Essar, Ifrah Butt, Samreena Mushtaq, Munaza Rashid, and Natasha Rather. 2016. Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora? New Delhi: Zubaan. https://zubaanbooks.com/shop/do-you-remember-kunan-poshpora/

[22] Anindita Sanyal, “Rs 10,000 Crore Loss In Jammu and Kashmir Since August, Says Trade Body,” NDTV.com, October 28, 2019, https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/10-000-crore-losses-in-jammu-and-kashmir-since-august-says-trade-body-2123694

[23] Partha Chatterjee, “Kashmir Is the Test Bed for a New Model of Internal Colonialism,” The Wire, accessed November 26, 2019, https://thewire.in/government/kashmir-is-the-test-bed-for-a-new-model-of-internal-colonialism


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About the Contributor

Subhajit is currently finishing his Masters in Global Studies at Ambedkar University, Delhi. He previously interned with the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP Kashmir).