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Kashmir Conflict in Contemporary India

By Inamul Haq

Conflicts in South Asia can be ascribed to various reasons. Some conflicts have their roots in British colonial policies such as divide and rule and some have arisen due to the modernization process in the sub-continent which benefits some and marginalizes and excludes others.

Kashmir conflict is a complicated and multidimensional issue and can fit into the first category. The political mobilization of the Kashmiri Muslims, deinstitutionalization of Indian politics, and the intervention of Pakistan sowed the seeds of discontent in Kashmir. India took repressive measures to deal with the insurgency that created the situation of ‘new war’ in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Mary Kaldor (1998) argues that the ‘new wars’ were basically post-cold war conflicts, which differ from the accepted definition of warfare. The main features of these conflicts include human rights abuses, identity issues, and the presence of para-military forces, which lead to the displacement of population. Moreover these conflicts take place in the context of criminality, corruption, and administrative failures. Since the partition of the sub-continent, Kashmir which was a princely state became a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Both the nuclear-armed countries have fought three wars over the territory. In addition to several border skirmishes, both the countries usually focus on everything related to Kashmir. In 1989, Islamic groups in Kashmir began a struggle for independence from Indian rule and India has since then deployed an estimated one million troops in the region. The basic reason for the breakout of the violence was the rigged elections of 1987, followed by an armed revolt after, and had drawn the Kashmir Valley into the conflict zone. The state was put under undeclared emergency from the 1990s, which disrupted the values of rule of law and made possible the violation of human rights and restricted the fundamental freedom of the people of the Valley. The law enforcement agencies suppressed the voice of self-determination by using force and creating alienation towards the Indian state. The popular uprisings in 2008, 2010, and 2016 prove this alienation. The prominent laws like AFSPA and PSA gave a free hand to security forces in propagating cruel and inhuman treatments on the people of Kashmir.

From July 09, 2016, the uprising after the death of Burhan Wani should be a matter of utmost concern not only for India, but the whole world. The approach adopted by the Indian state is the evidence that for India, there is only value of Kashmiri resources and not Kashmiris. What is even more problematic is that our state politicians too don’t seem to be disturbed by the innocent killings that have taken place since the last decade. The thirst of power had made them blind while resorting to the inhuman laws for the maintenance of social order. However, if both the center and the state have failed to learn the lessons from history, then we might be wrong in merely hoping that things will settle down for the good.

Those who are aware of Kashmir history would know that violence in the Kashmir valley has increased a lot since 1989. As Hanna Ardent had perceptively argued, violence becomes a tool and technique of social control among the modern nation states. In Critiques of Violence (1978), Walter Benjamin seeks to relate violence with social relations, ethics as well as justice and law. He states that law itself is a kind of violence that constitutes and maintains social relations by creating a monopoly on force and coercion. Similarly, Giorgio Agamben argues that violence had become a dominant paradigm of Government. The state justifies lethal weapons, killings as a means of law making or law preserving like war against terror, maintenance of law and order, etc. It is because the state wants to establish power through violence.

However, the discourse of Kashmir history changed to a very significant extent after 2008 when people in the Valley openly challenged the rigged Indian democracy. The demand of plebiscite, the slogans of Azaadi (freedom), the rage of stone-pelting and the raising of Pakistani flags showed the isolation people felt from India. There are so many events that clearly show that people in the Valley do not want to remain a part of India. Why are the educated youth in Kashmir, unlike the earlier militancy movements, picking up arms? Who is responsible?

The Kashmir issue became more interesting after the JNU event regarding Afzal Guru last year, which created chaos among the ‘nationalists’, who demanded stern actions against the organizers. Another incident occurred at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar on March 31 last year, which revealed the deep resentment the Indian youth felt towards Kashmir. In contemporary India, the debate, discussion, and research have become so difficult that everyone fears to talk about the Kashmir issue. The recent violence that happened at Ramjas College, Delhi University, created a new discourse in India and in that context the University of Hyderabad, along with Punjab University, cancelled a talk on Kashmir Conflict. On the one hand the world community gave statements on solving the Kashmir dispute: Norway, China, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey demanded that both India and Pakistan must solve the dispute and also asked India to stop human rights violations. On the other hand, the battle between the people of Kashmir and the Indian administration rages on without any solution in sight.

Inamul Haq  is a PhD student at the Central University of Gujarat. Email:


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12 Responses to “Kashmir Conflict in Contemporary India”

  1. karanshorey

    Dear Inamul, with due respect to complex issue of Kashmir and the struggle of Kashmiris, I understand that Kashmiri youth take up arms to rebel and retaliate against the state. From the bits that I read in the news, I understand Burhan Wani was another such youth who picked up arms to fight against the state, which possibly could be called militancy. Then, how is his execution killing of innocents? Or is there some link that i am missing? Is there a possibility that Wani represented the aspirations of 100% Kashmiris?

    • inamul haq

      Thank you
      my concern was about those people who were killed before and after Burhan. His brother Khalid was an innocent, who were killed by the army. I witnessed in July 2016 uprising, so many youths, who were not part of stone pelting were killed in cold blood. Recently, a new theory discovered by security agencies is stray bullet theory and on killed 06 years old kameeza in Kupwara. Why this stray bullet only hit Kashmiris, why not army men. For what they use pellet, bullet against youth. To mend their ways or to execute them…..

      • karanshorey

        Good to know that and I completely respect your thoughts. Just that, the entire ‘uprising’ in 2016 was in the name of Burhan. May be, the Kashmiris decorate the armed struggle and idolize youth who take up arms. It could be due to lack of faith in the system and administration which they believe has wronged them. Additionally, it might not be far fetched to believe that Pakistan does play a crucial role in creating chaos in the valley.

      • zubairringshawlblog

        Its not that kashmiris idolise youth who take up arms but we have to look at circumstances which compelled them to take up arms. The prevailing sense of injustice and current atrocities by security forces who go unpunished is the main reason why we feel alienated.

      • karanshorey

        Completely understandable. I relate to the situation there, it isn’t the best for sure. I just want to know your thoughts though, is Pakistan playing constructive or destructive role in the current situation, Can Kashmiris trust them more than the Indian establishment?

      • zubairringshawlblog

        Can we blame India for any trouble in Azad Kashmir(PoK)? They say that terrorism in PoK and Balochistan is sponsored by India.But in my opinion even if its sponsored by India, they should first introspect themselves what is the problem in that particular region.
        Its not about Pakistan, our fight is against injustice. May be in the past (1990’s) Pakistan was sending foreign militants but this time around its complete reversal, the youth picking guns are kashmiris, who at the present time feel alienated, humiliated and what not. I hope you would understand. Any question you wish to ask about kashmir, feel free to ask..

      • karanshorey

        From whatever I read, I do understand that the region is troubled and kashmiris have suffered due to this. However, comparing India and Pakistan in terms of sheltering/promoting and propagating terrorism seems a little too far fetched to me.

      • zubairringshawlblog

        I was answering your question of regarding the influence of so called external dimension causing the entire Kashmir issue and at the same we forget about the impact of Indian govt. policies which in my opinion are destroying kashmir

      • karanshorey

        At present, Kashmir is not in a happy state, that’s for sure. The govt. policies are not great across the country, many states are laggard because of that. People are suffering in other states too but they do not transform into armed rebels. If AFSPA is the only reason, then North East is doing much better in revolting against it. I might appear to you I suffer from patriotic bias, well, I can’t deny that completely but I am trying to be as rational as I can.

      • zubairringshawlblog

        But Kashmir issue is not only a matter of AFSPA revocation. We have our history where the settlement of our issue should be as per UN resolution. The statement made by the former Indian Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru at the UN is an affirmation of the fact that plebiscite should be held in the region.

  2. inamul haq

    Yes, it is true that people of lost faith in Indian administration in 1987. however, India did not take possible steps to win the hearts of people. they looked it through the prism of securitization and considered it merely a proxy-war. Still, they are in dilemma, but it is an alienation that people support/favor Pakistan against India. it would be better to seal borders rather than valley….. but they wanna keep the cycle of violence continue.


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