Ahead of the second anniversary of the revocation of Kashmir’s autonomous status by India, Sajad Rasheed, an author and writer from Indian-occupied Kashmir, explains how Hindu nationalists are trying to change Kashmir’s demographic reality as a Muslim majority state.
“We are slaves” said Farooq Abdullah, an Indian puppet installed in Kashmir. Puppet, not just by the Kashmiri people’s estimation but by his own admission in a recent interview.
If this is the lens through which an Indian-sponsored client views Indian rule in Kashmir, (a man who has been provided every comfort by India and whose father, Sheikh Abdullah, was India’s playboy in Kashmir) imagine the views of the entire Kashmiri population, who view Indian rule in Kashmir as occupation.
The widespread international media reportage of Kashmir in the aftermath of August 5 2019, when Kashmir was rendered incommunicado and held hostage by Indian soldiers, only confirms that the Indian ideological state is expediting its mission to alter Kashmir’s demography and turn it from a Muslim majority region to a Hindu dominated one.
Be that as it may, the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir since 1947 have stood defiant with clenched fists in the menacing presence of death. The presence of more than half a million Indian soldiers shapes the conflict, people and the place.
But what fails to change course is the Kashmir people’s persistent demand of the right to self-determination. A right recognised by multiple United Nations security council resolutions and duly ratified by India and Pakistan. A right so far denied to Kashmiris but, if executed in letter and spirit, would serve as a pivot of peace and progress in South Asia.
Despite this apartheid coupled with heavy militarisation, the people of the region continue to struggle for their existence and hope for a dignified life. Hope has an obstinate presence in Kashmir as people know that a nation without hope is terminally enslaved.
Now, with the monster of demographic change let loose, the state intends to use, as an Indian serving diplomat in U.S. audaciously put it “an available tried and tested model in Kashmir – Israeli model in Palestine’” – to decimate the hope of Kashmiris.
Kashmir in the 2020’s is like Palestine in the 1960’s: history repeating itself as a farce.
In the streets in Kashmir, the Indian state’s decision of August 5, 2019 presents a demographic change with the force of reality. It lays bare the fact that the very existence of Kashmiris is under an immense threat.
People here believe that it is aimed at relegating the Muslim population of Kashmir into a helpless minority. The ghosts of the past – the Jammu massacre in which the Muslim share of the population was reduced from 61 percent to 38 percent due to ethnic cleansing – have come back to haunt the public conscience and the existential landscape. At least 200,000 Muslims were massacred in Jammu in this state-sponsored ethnic cleansing in connivance with RSS, and Jammu was converted into a Muslim minority region by engineering its demography.
Historically, the demography of Kashmir has been an issue for many including the former Hindu feudal rules, the Dogras (who ruled Kashmir before 1947), who never wanted the Muslims to prosper and flourish.
At the time when state subject law was introduced by the Dogra feudal despots, it was projected as protecting the interests of local population, of which Muslims formed the majority.
But upon a careful reading and critical dissection, an ugly reality hidden behind the supposed magnanimity of the Dogras was revealed, and it became clear that the law was aimed to strengthen Dogra rule against the Muslim subjects.
Dogra rule, de facto and de jure, qualified as a racist and apartheid regime in which Muslims at the time were only five percent in the administration and all the top administrative posts were an exclusive prerogative of Dogra Hindus.
While Dogras and Pandits (Kashmiri-high-caste-Hindus) were enjoying the royal politico-socio-economic status, Kashmiri Muslims continued to suffer and were marginalised. Muslims were subdued into forced labour and their religious spaces were encroached.
Local Muslims had no right to bear arms, much less being inducted in the army, despite having served on the frontlines in the World War. The Dogra regime even prevented Muslims from selling their own properties. Historian, PG Rasool, called it double colonialism for Kashmiris, serving both the Dogras and the British.
With Muslims under a miserable state of affairs under the Dogras, the Pandits, who graduated in hundreds from the Srinagar colleges, started to consolidate their power by launching a movement against outsiders, especially Panjabi Muslims, who at the time were well represented in Indian civil services and trade.
All this was done by exploiting the misery of the disempowered majority community by deliberately colouring it with a secular slogan “Kashmir for Kashmiris”: a mere façade that Pandits invented to patronise local Muslims, who actually had no share in government jobs.
The real goal for Kashmiri Pandits was to gain power in the state to control local Muslims and their politics. They were also hostile to the association of local Muslims with the Punjabi Muslim elite who had started acquiring land in Kashmir.
Since Punjabi Muslims had gradually started to develop amicable relations with the local Muslims, this concerned the Dogra regime as well. They felt that the economic influence of Punjabi Muslims would empower local co-religionists, which was quite repugnant to the Dogra interests, who wanted local Muslims to remain a cattle class devoid of any political agency and economic autonomy.
Dogra Rajputs were also at loggerheads with the Punjabi Hindus, who they thought would become partners in power.
With the benefit of hindsight, it would be fitting to say that the genesis of this law relates to safeguarding the interests of Dogra Hindus and Kashmiri Pandits. Soon Muslims from Punjab started offering scholarships to poor, promising young Muslims in the valley to pursue their studies, leading to a batch of who returned to Kashmir in 1931 after receiving education at Aligarh and other universities.
With Muslims getting educated and earning jobs, the insecurity of Dogras and Pandits increased. Later, when it was felt that the law was serving Muslim interests while becoming an obstacle in the path of Hindu dominance, the BJP felt obligated to do away with it.
Dogra feudalism continues to exert a macabre fascination for demographic change, just like Nazi Germany, which according to British historian, Richard Overy, continues to inspire many supremacist-totalitarian regimes.
To this effect, an editorial on November 6 1947, in the RSS mouthpiece “Organiser” spilled the beans by stating that “Kashmir has a vast space for the expansion of the population and it can absorb millions of people from mainland India, and thus can a majority of the populace be converted into a minority.” It is worth mentioning that RSS is the parent organisation of the BJP that is currently ruling India under the leadership of Narendra Modi.
Post 1947, the settlement of non-Kashmiris in Kashmir, an essential feature of demographic change, continued unabatedly. Analyzing census data, legal scholar Prof. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, in his widely circulated booklet Kashmir – Palestine in the Making explained how the numbers have constantly been tampered with and deliberately adjusted in line with political designs of the Indian State.
As per the census records, Hindi speaking people have dramatically increased by 2,200% in Jammu and Kashmir. The numbers game is a BJP thing and it was precisely what an RSS plan in practice looks like.