With India changing domicile law, Kashmir’s indigenous population faces risk of dispossession, possible war crime – By Mirza Saaib Bég

…Navin Choudhary, a civil services officer, became the first Indian in a batch of 25,000 people to be certified as a “domicile” of the disputed region of India-administered Kashmir. Born in the Indian state of Bihar and officially now identified as a domicile of the “union territory,” Choudhary has worked in the Jammu and Kashmir government for many years. It was a much expected development after a string of illegal and unconstitutional changes imposed by the Indian state upon what was until last year a semi-autonomous state.…

Last month Kashmir’s unelected, bureaucratic government notified the procedural rules for grant of Kashmiri domicile certificates with provisions to grant these to Indian citizens. Now, the replacement of the Kashmiri people has begun. Creating new classes of “legally recognised Kashmiris” – naya Kashmiris, if one may. Under the new rules, the children of these “Kashmiris” can be recognised as Kashmiri domiciles even if they have never lived in Kashmir. At the same time, ethnic Kashmiris who fled Kashmir to escape massacres have no right of return anymore since the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Permit for Resettlement Act, 1982 stands repealed.

Taking their cue from Modi, India’s Hindu supremacists have renewed their call for “one nation, one people, one culture.” The new domicile rules in Kashmir are part of this project of homogeneity aimed at eventually yielding a singular, homogeneous group of people, with singular grievances and aspirations. Those who do not share these grievances and aspirations are not part of this homogenous group and are therefore the “others” who do not belong. Over the last 72 years, Kashmiris have been regularly reminded of their collective otherness.


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