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Indian Journal of Federal Studies
(Vol.XII, No.2, 2011)

ISSN No. 0976-8408

Kashmiri Identity: Contested Terrain

- Mohd Shafi Bhat


The politics of identity in Jammu and Kashmir is deeply rooted in its socio-cultural, economic and political aspirations of the people. Despite the fact that Jammu and Kashmir has been constantly in a state of conflict for the past six decades, it is only during the present phase of conflict that the inner complexity of the state has come to the fore more sharply. The armed militancy advocating separatism in 1989 brought to focus the specificity of the problem in the identity politics of Kashmir on one hand and the plurality of the political responses on the other. Militancy, which affected the whole of the state, generated a process which resulted in sharpening of multiple identity politics. The peace process initiated during 2002-2003 sought to focus on the internal aspects of the problem through a process of dialogue which further augmented the process. It triggered various claims and counter claims advocating not only the various identity politics but also bringing to the centre stage the question of representation. To counter the possibility that only the dominant political voices get to be accommodated in the peace process, various claims started being made. All these claims pointed to the intricacy of the problem due to the diversity and political divergence within the state. Furthermore the gradual erosion of federal autonomy vis--vis special federal status has diluted the distinctive composite cultural identity of Kashmiriyat which in turn has led to the fragmentation of Kashmiri identity. Identities, as the present paper argues, overlap at certain points and cut across at other and therefore cannot be easily separated on the basis of a single type of identity. Cautioning against the tendencies towards the division of the state, the present paper makes a strong case for a democratic federal and plural system. Only such a system can resolve the tensions of plural identities and harmonize the politics of the state.

[Page No. 11 - 22]





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