By Zaboor Ahmad
To all intents and purposes it an undeniable and verifiable truth that India inherited if not all but most of its institutional and structural framework from the colonial British government. People have never been at the centre of the narrative, only the land. Hence the construction of a narrative that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. The Indian government has surpassed its colonial masters in committing untold atrocities on hapless people sans any compunction and remorse. The colonialist actually banks on supposedly subservient colonial subjects to construct its own identity of being a Hindu rashtra.
Settler colonialism refers to a phenomena in which settlers drive the indigenous population from their land to craft their own ethnic, religious national community. Settlers not only appropriate the resources, but banish and exterminate people from the colonial space by following certain policies in a systematic way. Settlers seek to construct a community bound by ties of ethnicity and faith. The images of masculine or feminine gods are being used not only to lay claim to new areas like Kowsarnag, source of the famous Aharbal water fall in Kulgam, but to proliferate such places to fortify the claim of that land belonging to outsiders as it houses their variety of gods. The narrative that it would engender would be: how can this land can be yours if it houses my god?
Constructing the Sainik colony for retired army men is not only structurally flawed but suffers from certain inconsistencies. Its construction is not an idea but a grand plan and political gimmick fraught with horrendous consequences. The refusal of India to accept Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed land, awaiting a final solution is one aspect. That all by itself is a recipe for ballooning of a conflict for an infinite period. It is a foregone conclusion that the conflict will consume more lives of army men, hence more settlements. Once the grand plan is implemented, it will reach its logical conclusion, and dispossession of the locals will be complete. The settlers will be informal eyes and ears of the colonial government.
The question that arises here is why settlements for military men only, why not for people who became victims of conflict? The inference that can be drawn is that the government ‘owns’ a set of people while simultaneously disowning others: a peculiar characteristic of a settlement plan.
If the government is providing compensation to the next of kin of those killed in a systematic way in conflict prone regions, why can’t the same touchstone be applied to military men? Why settlement only in Kashmir Valley, not in Jammu? Isn’t Jammu geographically a larger area than the Valley. Is it because the Valley has pleasant weather, or the dynamic of demography is at the core of this plan?
No, the project will not take off in Jammu as it is a Hindu dominated area. The conspirator proposal will definitely engender a cataclysmic politics and hurt local environment on a much bigger scale than the Amaranth land row. The people in Valley are full of frozen rage, which needs just a spark to explode.
The grand project will bring forth a horrendous fallout, it will adversely affect the already enfeebled social fabric of the state. The only difference between the two coalition partners working in tandem, with heads united but hearts supposedly divided, is that one is overtly communal and the other covertly communal. Both rely on communal politics to rule.
The construction of these settlements is an attempt to perpetuate the communal underpinnings of the state by bestowing a separate identity to a section. This will be the first time that a project will have separate fallout for both coalition partners. It will enable BJP to build a constituency within the security establishment while PDP is burning its bridges. And, the freezing of the project will enable the army to ensure that draconian acts remain intact.
—The writer is a lecturer in political science