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Territorial Plan: Jammu, Kashmir And Ladakh

By Inshah Malik

29 May, 2011

It is the commencement of much awaited summer, if the rebels of the street (Sangbaaz) are facing massive crackdown from the state and population is engrossed in unperturbed silence of misdoings, it is perhaps the right time to ask questions and seek answers. Over past twenty years to seek legitimation and relevancy, the state has not just evolved but also employed methodologies to accomplish what I call a ‘Territorial Plan’. It is important to revere some theoretical underpinnings; State has always emerged to maintain the hierarchy between the contesting social groups. It becomes absolutely inevitable to distribute, redistribute populations on the basis of territory so that ‘state’ becomes absolutely relevant machination the one which puts out the balancing act between contesting social groups.

Engel says ‘in contradiction to the old gentile (tribe or clan) order, the state first divides the subjects according to territory”.

Under the supervision of above statement let us explore the Dogra state of Jammu and Kashmir which was formed out of an elite upper class as an instrument to subjugate a Kashmiri population. The state executed through a manifestation of public power predominantly police apparatus and prisons. Eventually, under the rebellion headed by Sheikh Muhamad Abdullah, a definite ‘withering away’ of this State resolved into formation of yet another State reinforced by a predominant upper class within the Kashmiri population. This modern state of Jammu and Kashmir could be well understood as a ‘state carved out of elite governed by State of India’. The governing elite primarily are Kashmiri (not from Jammu or Ladakh). State of India ensures democracy but this discrepancy has been allowed with a purpose. The purpose is to create the image of opportunist Kashmiri and is only one that a Ladakhi or Jammuite sees. The face of the oppressed Kashmiri remains unexplored for the other two parts of the state.

What has created Jammu?

After the Dogra retreat into an area named as Jammu, which is also an only logical continuum of the Indian culture with Kashmir, it has been beautifully carved to serve as a bridge which looks absolutely natural to the foreigners. Jammu has been forcefully imagined as the only hope of holding on to oneness of Indian nationalism while the ‘Jawahar Lal Tunnel’ serves the best blinder before the reality strikes us.

The Question of Jammu arises after 100 years of Dogra rule and 70 years of Indian rule one wonders where was this question before that?, interestingly did ‘state’ create it?,-more so in past 20 years when Kashmir was caught in violent politics. Placing Jammu against Kashmir is a strategy that benefits none other than the state. Construction of Kashmiri State as a violent enemy with no civil face for the people of Jammu has served a base for harboring ethnic difference and total disengagement. Jammu is now a hot bed Hindu Right wing politics since the face of Kashmiri they see is that of the governing elite Kashmiri.

Does an Oppressed Kashmiri hate a Jammuite?

The oppressed can never hate anyone other than an oppressor. The People in Jammu have been forced to remain in a dark shell of opportunism and imperialist interest because they have known Kashmiris only as opportunist governors. The need to tame Kashmiris and considering the state of India rightful in its actions is actually the insecurity emerging from the lack of power. It is not the terrorist theory that bothers them as much the fact that Kashmir remains the only attraction of Indian state despite the ‘loyalty of Jammu’ to Indian State.

The Ladakh Question?

Ladakh has stayed destitute though not through brutal oppression of the militaristic apparatus installed in Jammu and Kashmir but their daily life is a struggle of different nature, the atrocious climate, economic burdens and basic survival threats are rampant. A common Kashmiri is unaware of a challenging life in Ladakh and it is true as much the vice versa. The barriers of language and terrain have been humungous to overcome but the matrimonial ties of Kashmiris have been spread all across this region even up to Tibet.

Ladakh has been angry with Kashmiri people because their oppression has been economic and vehemently executed by the ‘governing elite’ who have hardly given space to the voices of the oppressed Ladakhis. The problem is also triggered when less of solidarities are extended by the oppressed in the valley to them. The more hatred is filled due to state’s promotion of their seclusion and limited interaction in Kashmir. More direct flights from New Delhi to Ladakh and the new road and train ways into Ladakh without touching Kashmir is another method that has been employed to implement the ‘Territorial plan’.

This territorial plan that Engels has foretold manifests in subtly different ways in Kashmir to ascertain and legitimize the power of state. These divisions created over time and investments are real threats to establishing a harmonious communion unless extending solidarities and rightful redistribution of power does not take place. This territorial politics has been well gauged under economic growth and package scheme in order to make Kashmir’s claim of Right to self determination sound more ridiculous and obscure and delay it further by creating a beautiful occupation out of an ugly one.

Inshah Malik is a research scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.



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