Colonizing Kashmir
State-building under Indian Occupation
Hafsa Kanjwal



In 1952, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India and the Indian nationalist stalwart known for his role in the decades-long anti-colonial struggle against the British, wrote a letter to Sheikh Abdullah, the first prime minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, who played a towering role in the state’s politics for a larger part of the twentieth century.1 In the letter, Nehru demands that the state’s new Constituent Assembly affirm its contested accession to India, so that the Kashmir issue—which had embroiled the new Indian state in a dispute with neighboring Pakistan since 1947—could be laid to rest in the international arena. Nehru, speaking of the character of Kashmiris, writes: “It must be remembered that the people of the Kashmir Valley and round about, though highly gifted in many ways—in intelligence, in artisanship, etc.—are not what are called a virile people.” He adds, “They are soft and addicted to easy living. . . . The common people are primarily interested in a few things—an honest administration and cheap and adequate food. If they get this, then they are more or less content.”2 That Kashmiris had been brought to starvation and famine a number of times in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did not seem to factor into Nehru’s patronizing understanding of them as being “soft” and “addicted to easy living.” The parallels between British colonial attitudes toward Indians as unmanly and lacking virility and Nehru’s understandings of Kashmiris should not be surprising, the latter’s ironic reputation as an anti-colonial nationalist (and being of Kashmiri descent himself) notwithstanding.3 These attitudes are fundamental to the process of colonial domination.

A year later, the Indian state, with the cooperation of several Kashmiri leaders, turned against Sheikh Abdullah, who, despite playing a supporting role in Kashmir’s accession to India, was now perceived as working against Indian interests. After successfully arresting Abdullah and leading a coup against him, the Indian government placed Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, who had previously served as deputy prime minister in Abdullah’s cabinet, in power on August 9, 1953. Bakshi, a Muslim, became the second prime minister of the Jammu and Kashmir state. A tall, imposing figure, with a mustache, who often wore a long, buttoned overcoat or jacket with a salvar (pants) and Kashmiri karakul (hat), Bakshi was commanding and authoritative. During his decade as prime minister, the Kashmir assembly confirmed Kashmir’s accession to India and sought greater financial and administrative integration with the Indian Union.

The 1953 coup that brought Bakshi to power was one of the most significant events in Kashmir’s modern history. Its aftermath entrenched India’s colonial occupation over Kashmir. It denied the people of the state their right to self-determination. But it also led to what has been described by some as Kashmir’s “golden period,” marked by increased development and modernization, as well as a rise in economic and educational opportunities—modalities of rule that were reliant upon the very assumption that Kashmiris were “addicted to easy living” as Nehru suggested. This book is fundamentally interested in two seeming paradoxes: the first, how India’s period of decolonization simultaneously marked its emergence as a colonial power in Kashmir, in what is otherwise seen as the early “postcolonial” period or the heady “Nehruvian era” after Indian independence. The second paradox is that of development and progress in Kashmir under India’s colonial occupation. I contend that one of the key mechanisms of effective control by which India’s colonial occupation took place was through the installation of local client regimes, such as Bakshi’s, as well as the particular forms of state-building and governance that took place under these regimes. I examine the role that Bakshi’s government played in securing Kashmir for India, as well as the excesses, contradictions, and consequences of its state-building practices. Challenging the binaries of colonial and postcolonial, I historicize India’s colonial occupation through processes of integration, normalization, and empowerment to highlight the new hierarchies of power and domination that emerged in the aftermath of India’s “decolonization” from British colonial rule.

State-building refers to “the establishment, reestablishment, and strengthening of public structures in a given territory capable of delivering public goods” as well as the “processes through which states enhance their ability to function.”4 As states build their capacity, they come into greater contact with different groups in society, which in turn creates further expectations of state capacity. State-building necessarily requires a political arrangement—some form of sovereignty—as well as control over basic functions such as security, law, finances, education, and development. My reference to state-building relates to those processes that were part of the responsibility of the Kashmir government. The Kashmir government was a client regime of the Indian state, meaning it was politically, economically, and militarily dependent on and subordinate to India. For my analysis, however, it is important to distinguish between the Kashmir government and the Indian government, especially given the legally autonomous status of the Kashmir state within the Indian Union at the time, even as that autonomy was deeply contested in practice. It is also important to distinguish state-building from nation-building, the latter of which has been defined as the “most common form of a process of collective identity formation with a view to legitimizing public power within a given territory.”5 While the two are distinct, there are some overlaps; for example, building educational institutions is a form of state-building, while the educational curriculum developed in those institutions—especially if geared toward narrating a particular history and cultural identity—can be a form of nation-building.

This is not a book about how Kashmiris became alienated or estranged from India. It is also not a book about India’s mistakes in attempting to “accommodate” Kashmir within its union after accession, which led to an armed rebellion in the late 1980s. Such approaches are built on two fallacies: first, that Kashmiris were emotionally integrated into the Indian nation-state from which they would somehow become “alienated,” and second, that “conflict” was a result of misguided center-state relations and not India’s denial of self-determination and an imposition of a colonial occupation. And yet, these fallacies dominate much of the historical and political scholarship on Kashmir, as well as the understandings of most Indian scholars—including in the US academy—on Kashmir.6

Rather, this book poses the inverse question and a number of related questions: How did India acquire Kashmir without the popular consent of its people? How did India—through its client regimes—exercise state-building in a manner that entrenched its colonial occupation of Kashmir in the early post-Partition period? How did India and its client regimes normalize its occupation both within Kashmir and also for Indian and international audiences? What were the different modalities of rule that were in operation during this time? What can the case of Kashmir tell us about how state-building occurs in other politically liminal sites, tied to the emergence of the (post-) colonial nation-state?7 In these contexts, how do nation-states manage these restive populations, and how do they establish their legitimacy? And finally, what insight can Kashmir provide us in ongoing theorizations of colonialism, settler-colonialism, and occupation?

A Brief History

Historically, Kashmir was an independent kingdom, led by a series of Kashmiri Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim rulers. Starting in the sixteenth century, the region was ruled by the Mughals, the Afghans, and finally, the Sikhs. The events of the mid-nineteenth century were to shape the course of Kashmir’s modern history. On March 16, 1846, the English East India Company sold a cobbled-together territory of Jammu and Kashmir to Gulab Singh, a warlord from the Hindu Dogra family in Jammu, in return for his assistance in helping the British defeat the Sikhs in the Anglo-Sikh wars of the mid-nineteenth century. The Treaty of Amritsar is recalled as a “sale deed” in Kashmir as Singh agreed to pay the British government a sum of Rs. 75 lakh and an annual token for recognition of supremacy of “one horse, twelve shawl goals of approved breed, and three pairs of Cashmere shawls.” When Kashmiris resisted this treaty, the British threatened an invasion and the Dogras were able to secure the region, consolidating their newly acquired princely state. This was to be the first in a series of treaties in Kashmir’s modern history where the people were completely left out of a momentous decision that would come to shape their lives.

Kashmir became one of over 565 princely states under the Dogras, within the broader ambit of British colonial rule. As Mridu Rai states, the monarchical Dogras were vested with a new form of “personalized sovereignty, erasing earlier traditions of layered authority shared simultaneously by various levels in Kashmiri society.”8 They inherited a diverse territory, which included the regions of Jammu, Ladakh, the Kashmir Valley, Gilgit and Baltistan, and later, Poonch.

By the last British census before Partition, in 1941, Muslims constituted the majority of the entire princely state and were nearly 77 percent of the total population. Hindus comprised just over 20 percent of the total population. The Dogras’ native region of Jammu had a population that was over 60 percent Muslim, and the remainder, Hindu. The Muslims of Jammu would later be ethnically cleansed in 1947, making Hindus the majority. The Kashmir Valley was majority Muslim (over 90 percent) and also had a small but significant Pandit, or Kashmiri Hindu, community (around 5 percent), as well as a smaller percentage of Sikhs. Finally, the sparsely populated region of Ladakh was both Buddhist and Muslim, in almost equal measure. Muslims in the princely state were also diverse; while Kashmiri-speaking Muslims dominated in the Valley, other regions included Punjabis, Rajputs, and Baltis, as well as nomadic tribes such as the Gujjars and Bakerwals. There were also Shia Muslims, particularly in the region of Kargil in Ladakh as well as in the Valley.

Decolonization led to the creation of two new nation-states—India and Pakistan. After a controversial accession by the last Dogra ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh to India in October 1947, the two countries would immediately go to war over Kashmir. As a result of the first of four wars between India and Pakistan in 1948, two-thirds of the former princely state—known as the state of Jammu and Kashmir and including the regions of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh—was controlled by India. One-third of the princely state was controlled by Pakistan, which included Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Northern Areas, today’s Gilgit-Baltistan. A UN ceasefire line, later renamed the Line of Control, divided the two parts. Given the challenges of conducting sustained research on both sides of the Line of Control, I focus in this book on the part of the former princely state that is controlled by India. Scholarship on the part of the former princely state controlled by Pakistan describes its own diverging political trajectory within the Pakistani nation-state.9

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Nehru placed Sheikh Abdullah, a Kashmiri Muslim who was one of the leaders of the anti-Dogra struggle in Kashmir, in power. Abdullah supported the accession, thinking Kashmir would have a greater autonomous status under India. Under Sheikh Abdullah’s rule (1947–1953), the state of Jammu and Kashmir acquired a status of legal provisionality as an administered, but autonomous, territory of the Government of India, pending a United Nations–mandated plebiscite to determine the future of the entire region. Its autonomy was enshrined in Article 370, which gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status within the Indian constitution, allowing the state to make its own laws and have its own prime minister, flag, and constitution as well as the ability to restrict residency rights of land ownership and employment to Kashmir state subjects (the latter under Article 35A). It was the only state that would have this status and indeed, the only state that negotiated its status in this manner with the Indian Union.10 As early as 1949, Sheikh Abdullah began to backtrack. He was increasingly concerned with rising Hindu nationalism in India as well as the Indian government’s attempts to erode the agreed-upon autonomy of the Kashmir state by moving beyond the restricted mandate of communications, defense, and foreign affairs and interfering in the state’s internal matters, including finances and judicial authority. Amid rising tensions and realignments in the region with the emerging Cold War, his retreat resulted in India gaining a more significant stronghold in Kashmir.

The Compulsions of State-Building

After the 1953 coup, Bakshi’s government faced a number of important challenges that would come to define its state-building policies. Primarily, the Indian government tasked Bakshi with promoting Kashmir’s fiercely contested accession to India domestically and internationally while repressing popular political aspirations for merger with Pakistan or independence. Thus, from the onset, Bakshi had to emotionally integrate Kashmiris to India and deny the possibility of a plebiscite for Kashmir, even as Kashmir was still being debated at the United Nations. After violently quashing protests that arose in the aftermath of Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest, Bakshi turned his attention to implement a number of educational and economic policies meant to empower the population—including the rural masses—and help Kashmiris see the practical benefits of acceding to India.

The notion of “emotional integration” here is important. Bakshi’s period oversaw crucial shifts in India’s political and economic relationship with Kashmir toward concrete, material integration. Yet, Bakshi knew that in order for this relationship—and his rule—to be legitimized, Kashmiris had to be convinced that this relationship was in their best interests, and they had to develop an emotional bond in favor of India, based on their political and sociocultural identification with the Indian state.

In many ways, then, Bakshi’s state-building project was an earlier iteration of what Mona Bhan has termed “heart warfare” when speaking of relations between the Indian army and border communities in Ladakh, also part of the Jammu and Kashmir state, in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil war. Through a large-scale counterinsurgency development intervention, called Operation Sadhbhavna, the army deployed “heart warfare, healing, and compassion . . . [as an] emerging yet pervasive strategy of governance in war-torn regions where states are heavily invested in rebuilding their authority and legitimacy.”11 As a “sentimental undertaking,” heart warfare transformed “subversive (or potentially subversive) subjects into law-abiding citizens, who would pose no future threat to India’s territoriality and political integrity.”12

Other occupying powers have referred to such strategies as “winning hearts and minds.” In Bakshi’s Kashmir, the concept was resonant, although the context was different. Here, it was the Kashmir government, not the Indian army, that was engaged in “certain modes of consent and subjectification.”13 Furthermore, there was no active armed resistance that the Kashmir government was engaged with, as would happen decades later. Thus, the role of a civilian government relying on such strategies is striking, but also points to the longue durée of India’s colonial occupation and its recurring modalities of control. With the concept of emotional integration, this book builds upon recent anthropological research that showcases how colonial occupations can function as both the assimilation of territory and the intentional assimilation of people.14

Bakshi’s policies were driven not only by a desire to secure Kashmir’s accession to India and contain political dissent. As I detail in the first chapter, Bakshi was compelled to respond to the economic and social aspirations of the people. Enacting the aims of the anti-monarchical struggle against the Dogras that he had played a part in, Bakshi had to build a modernizing state that was committed to rectifying the ills of the past and empower society through a Naya, or New, Kashmir.15 He had to ensure a better quality of life for those he now ruled over, especially Kashmir’s majority-Muslim populations who had long suffered under unjust economic and social policies. Meanwhile, given the frictions that existed between Kashmir’s diverse regional and religious groups under the Dogras and under Abdullah, he had to ensure his state-building policies were inclusive so that there were no communal or regional tensions that would undermine the Kashmir government.

Bakshi also had to enable a process of normalization. Targeted toward local, domestic, and international audiences, the Indian government and its varying client regimes often deploy the trope of normalization to disguise its colonial occupation, project Kashmiris as being content and thriving under Indian rule, and dismiss dissent as not being indigenous to the region but sponsored by foreign actors, namely Pakistan. Normalization in the context of Kashmir meant that the people of the state had accepted the accession to India (or whatever the latest colonial maneuver may be), seeing it as politically and economically beneficial for Kashmir, while also creating an ideological acceptance of the natural, indeed time-immemorial, relationship between Kashmir and the Indian nation-state.

Normalization is integral to processes of colonization, settler-colonialism, and occupation. India and its client regimes’ oft-repeated “Kashmir is normal” trope belies the immense amount of violence inherent to the production of normalcy in the aftermath of the 1953 coup. As Michel-Rolph Trouillot argues in the context of European colonization in the Caribbean, “Built into any system of domination is the tendency to proclaim its own normalcy.”16 To even admit that people are discontent or that there is resistance means to “acknowledge the possibility that something is wrong with the system.”17 Although the Kashmir government claimed that Kashmiris were content, a series of measures, as I detail in chapter 7, were set in place to curb any form of dissent or resistance. As this book shows, the careful manufacturing of normalization through both punitive measures and propaganda has an inherently intricate relationship to state-building. Furthermore, structures of colonial occupation necessitate the banality—and thus, the normalcy—of the everyday that obscures its multi-pronged violence.

Bakshi’s state-building policies were designed to reconstruct Kashmir’s local culture, politics, and economy altogether and alter people’s day-to-day lives, revealing the reach of the state in society. What is astounding about this state-building project is how thorough it was; Bakshi left no stone unturned in transforming the state and utilized a range of actors, including Kashmiri bureaucrats, educators, intelligentsia, workers, peasants, tourism operators, and Indian filmmakers, for this purpose. With financial assistance from the Government of India, the Kashmir government established a number of public institutions and developmental projects, including schools, colleges, and universities; hospitals, roads, tunnels, irrigation and power projects; as well as cultural centers, stadiums, and social welfare associations. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Bakshi’s government used state-building to empower the population of Muslim-majority Kashmir and emotionally integrate it into India and to normalize India’s colonial occupation for international, Indian, and local audiences.

The Politics of Life

Colonizing Kashmir centers the varying modes of control in the aftermath of Partition and Kashmir’s disputed accession to India, and especially during Bakshi’s rule. It argues that the early decades of India’s colonial occupation were marked by what Neve Gordon calls a “politics of life,” in which the Indian government and Kashmir’s client regimes propagated development, empowerment, and progress to secure the well-being of Kashmir’s population and to normalize the occupation for multiple audiences.18 Relying on a biopolitical mode of governmentality, the politics of life entailed foregrounding the day-to-day concerns of employment, food, education, and provision of basic services.19 At the same time, questions of self-determination and Kashmir’s political future were being suppressed. Nehru is purported to have told Sheikh Abdullah, “India would bind Kashmir in golden chains.”20 The government intended to ensure that with an improved standard of living and greater prosperity, Kashmiri—especially Kashmiri Muslim—sentiments would shift in favor of India, toward a form of emotional integration. The politics of life played out in multiple spheres—both in the discursive realms of cinema and international diplomacy and in the realm of planning, policy, and bureaucratic strategies.21

A reliance on the politics of life did not entail forgoing more coercive and lethal measures—as chapter 7 of this book highlights, they were indeed used. Yet, it denotes an emphasis in the modes of control that were being deployed. In the early years of India’s colonial occupation, the Indian and Kashmir governments perceived Kashmiris as malleable—while they may have had varying political aspirations, Kashmiris were viewed as having the potential to be integrated subjects as long as they could experience the benefits of Indian rule. In his memoirs, Sheikh Abdullah stated that this approach to state-building, including policies like subsidized rations, was the brainchild of D. P. Dhar, a Kashmiri Pandit leader who served as a cabinet minister under Bakshi and was close to the Indian leadership.22 According to Abdullah, Dhar and others “propounded the theory that Kashmiris knew little of politics, what they cared about was a hearty meal, and they could be won over gastronomically,” comparing this approach to the use of opium during British imperialism in China.23 This gastronomic approach—not unlike Nehru’s contention that Kashmiris were “addicted to easy living”—was foundational to the politics of life.

Bakshi’s efforts to treat his government as a site of advancing the politics of life emerged in two key ways. First, his state-building project drew upon the history of Kashmir under Dogra rule as well as British colonial tropes of Kashmiris that had been internalized by India’s post-independence leadership as well as the Kashmir client regimes. British narratives of Kashmir depicted the people as always in want, despicable, greedy, cunning, and weak. Given how central economic and educational empowerment had been to Muslim demands under the Dogras, the Indian and Kashmir governments, led by individuals such as Nehru and Dhar, acted upon the assumptions that Kashmiris were not able to think beyond their immediate material comforts and that dissent could be contained as long as basic needs were met.

Fundamentally, for both the Indian and Kashmiri leaders, the Kashmir issue in the years following 1947 was not political but economic—linked to a better standard of living—and thus could be managed through state planning. This biopolitical approach is endemic to the politics of life and informed Bakshi’s policies of abundance, creating conditions for making Kashmir a space for a different kind of politics. Abundance—and primarily abundance under India—referred to the many benefits that Kashmiris could incur under Indian rule, well beyond what could have been possible under any other political setup and well beyond what was provided to Indian states.24

Second, state-building policies were primarily geared toward Kashmir’s Muslim-majority population, most of whom were located in the Kashmir Valley. The Kashmir Valley posed a particular challenge of legitimacy for the Kashmir government, as it was there that demands for a plebiscite were raised, especially amongst Kashmiri Muslims in the aftermath of the UN resolution of 1949.25 The regions of Jammu and Ladakh also had significant Muslim populations. However, in the case of Jammu, the Muslim demographic decreased significantly. As sections of the region became a part of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, or Azad Kashmir, many Jammu Muslims migrated to Pakistan or, as I discuss in chapter 1, were killed by the Dogra state and its affiliates in 1947. Given that the demographics had now shifted in favor of Hindus, the Muslims who remained in Jammu were not viewed with much concern by the Kashmir government. In Ladakh, the Muslim population was sparse and did not necessitate the attention of the Kashmir government either. Indeed, political mobilizations in both Jammu and Ladakh—led by Hindus and Buddhists—called for greater integration with the Indian Union and did not pose the same challenges as the Kashmir Valley.26

In addition, the Kashmir Valley faced a different political trajectory than Jammu and Ladakh in subsequent decades, as the region erupted into a mass uprising and armed rebellion against the Indian state in the late 1980s. Although my primary focus is on the impact of state-building in the Kashmir Valley, I consider how the other regions of the state influenced the shape of economic, linguistic, and cultural policies.

Most importantly, Bakshi’s government took a keen interest in the empowerment of Kashmiri Muslims—notwithstanding the ethnic and sectarian divisions in this group—and they became the principal beneficiaries of several economic and educational policies. The reasons are many and go beyond charges made in some Kashmiri Pandit or Indian circles that the Muslim-led bureaucracy was communally minded and, therefore, preferred to patronize Kashmiri Muslims only. The first reason is that Kashmiri Muslims constituted the majority of the population of Kashmir. The second is that most of them had remained illiterate and financially disadvantaged under Dogra rule. They were demanding that they also benefit from the social and economic progress that other communities in the state, including Kashmiri Pandits, had made. The third, and crucial, reason is that the focus on Kashmiri Muslims reflected a strategic desire on the part of the new government to maintain political stability in the aftermath of the accession and arrest of Sheikh Abdullah. In the eyes of the Indian and Kashmir governments, the Kashmiri Muslim political identity was suspect; indeed, as some have argued, it was increasingly pro-Pakistan as a result of the oppressive nature of Abdullah’s rule.27 The new government could ill afford strong political sentiments in favor of Pakistan and a deeply held anxiety about the Indian state.28 Muslims were also seen as being sentimental and easily influenced by discourses that relied on emotional calls for religious solidarity and unity with Pakistan. As Bakshi came to power at this moment, the development of a secular, modern Kashmiri Muslim identity—one that was neatly aligned with the alleged secularity of the Government of India—was critical to his government’s policies.

As much as this book is about state-building, it is also about state dissolution. Bakshi’s state-building efforts were frustrated and tempered by his need to secure popular and affective sources of legitimacy for the new political order as well as keep up with the demands of the Indian state. This book reveals the tensions within the state-building project: while the Kashmir government attempted to empower different groups in society, these policies were marked by religious and regional tensions between them and within them, as well as corruption, political suppression, and coercion.

Even as the project intended to emotionally integrate Kashmiris into India, it ended up continuing a sense of distinctiveness and resentment. While the Kashmir government attempted to cultivate particular subjectivities that would lead to consent for its—and by extension, the Indian state’s—rule, it simultaneously created opportunities for resistance, as evidenced by the rise of various groups within Kashmir that were contesting the accession. Furthermore, Bakshi’s usefulness for the Indian government eventually reached an apex. Increased corruption and repression in the state made the Indian government wary, as did Bakshi’s resistance to eroding the state’s autonomy even further by changing the nomenclature of the head of state from prime minister to chief minister, as in Indian states.

In September 1963, under the guise of the Kamraj Plan, the Indian government requested that Bakshi step down from power. The plan called for the voluntary resignations of high-level officials in order to devote their efforts to rebuilding the Congress Party in the aftermath of a disastrous war with China. Months later, in December 1963, the moi-e-muqaddas, a relic revered by Kashmiri Muslims, said to be the Prophet Muhammad’s hair, was stolen from the Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar. The event came to be known as the Holy Relic Incident. There were mass protests throughout the state, and hundreds of thousands of people were on the streets. The Holy Relic Committee, composed of Muslim leaders throughout Kashmir, was formed to recover the relic. Bakshi—and by default the Indian state—was blamed for the disappearance. The relic was recovered a few weeks later under mysterious circumstances. However, mobilizations continued and paved the way for a mass movement for self-determination against the Indian state, underscoring the tenuous nature of Bakshi’s state-building project during the prior decade. At the end of Bakshi’s decade of rule, the state was brought into the political and economic fold of the Indian Union. However, the people of the state—particularly Muslims in the Kashmir Valley, were not. Rather than empowering them, Bakshi had further entrenched India’s colonial occupation over them. Ultimately, the government provoked opposition from the very class it sought to emotionally integrate into the Indian Union, sowing the seeds of its own disintegration. This resistance became heightened in the late 1980s, manifesting in an armed uprising and a popular rebellion that erupted against Indian rule, and continues until today.

A Colonial Occupation

Building on recent Kashmir scholarship, this book is anchored in an understanding of Kashmir and its relationship to India as a colonial occupation and in particular foregrounds the role of a client regime in Kashmir in entrenching the colonial occupation. Even though India is a postcolonial nation that emerged from British colonial rule, it has itself become a colonizing force. Its colonialism, as we will see below, is disavowed or ignored, especially among postcolonial scholars of India. There remains an attachment in scholarship to seeing colonialism as emerging only from the West to the Global South, in addition to situating our present moment as a decolonial one.29 Both tendencies fail to account for power dynamics in the Global South and the ways in which (post)colonial nation-states are also enablers of imperialism or colonialism.30 Even in more rigorous analyses where the colonial analytic persists, terms such as neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism continue to depict ongoing forms of economic exploitation and political subordination by the West of its former colonies in the Global South, obscuring colonialism within the Global South.

Colonizing Kashmir pushes back against such reductive understandings of colonialism and coloniality that see colonial powers and nation-states as being entirely different constructs, arguing that it is precisely in spaces like Kashmir where postcolonial studies, in its “ambiguous spatio-temporality,” confronts its limitations, especially given ongoing forms of colonialism.31 Scholars have advanced the terms postcolonial colony, postcolonial informal empire, postcolonial occupation, and third world imperialism to reflect how “formerly colonized nations assert their sovereign status through vociferous proclamations of territoriality and violent enactments of military might” that have implications for both indigenous communities and stateless peoples within their borders who are denied self-determination.32 One reason that these forms of colonialism remain obscure is that “geographic contiguity and internal cultural cohesion” disguise imperial or colonial dynamics.33 Thus, the fact that Kashmir is geographically contiguous to India creates the possibility for a less visible kind of colonialism than is possible overseas. Such contiguity results in what Goldie Osuri calls a “broader concealment of the relationship between postcolonial nation-states and their [own colonies],” as well as the concealment of “the manner in which postcolonial nationalism is also an expansionist project.”34 My book, then, attempts to understand the forms colonialism takes today within (post)colonial nation-states.

Recent Kashmir scholarship has contested triumphalist narratives of the postcolonial Indian nation by examining how colonialism, imperialism, occupation, and settler-colonialism are all important analytics to understand India’s relationship with Kashmir (and elsewhere).35 Building upon this body of work, my use of the term colonial occupation highlights these varying, often overlapping, and sometimes contradictory strategies and practices.36 This book further develops our understanding of the modes of control used by the Indian government and its client regimes, which have varied over time, underscoring the multiple trajectories and manifestations of colonialism, occupation, and settler-colonialism in Kashmir.37

A number of the signature features of late colonialism, as recognized and theorized by leading scholars in the field, constitute Kashmir as a colony. First, the denial of sovereignty and the absence of popular consent are integral to colonial formations. In Kashmir, the colonial nature of India’s rule stems primarily from the fact that the “state subjects of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be said to have ceded sovereignty to the Indian state through popular collective will.”38 The accession treaty signed by the maharaja, the formation of the Kashmir constituent assembly, and elections in Kashmir are all identified as evidence of India’s sovereignty in Kashmir. However, these events occurred in the absence of popular collective will with no consideration given (despite multiple UN resolutions calling for self-determination and a plebiscite) to the political aspirations of the people.

The sovereignty claims of colonial states are also derived from “the authority of [their] own particular narrative of history and identity.”39 Indian narratives hold Kashmir as being integral to India since time immemorial (especially given the construction of Kashmir as essentially Hindu), thus legitimating both secular and Hindutva claims over Kashmir. Colonial rule is driven by territorial conquest, largely for the purposes of resource extraction for the metropole, and it relies on labor and explicit racial logics. Resource extraction, especially of Kashmir’s water resources, is an important part of India’s colonization, as is the racialization and exotification of Kashmiris in Indian imaginaries. Colonial rule is also borne of strategic geopolitical interests. Kashmir’s pivotal location fortifies India’s geopolitical interests with regard to Central and East Asia and also “secures its geo-political hegemony in South Asia.”40 Nation-states like India also derive a more symbolic benefit from colonization. Kashmir consolidates India’s identity as a nation-state: it produces “nationalist consensus in its mainland,” which has served to maintain and reproduce India both territorially and symbolically as a secular nation (especially during the Nehruvian period) and a Hindu homeland. In binding the nation together, Kashmir can “be used to paper over the unfulfilled needs and demands of postcolonial India’s own disempowered people.”41

Another distinguishing feature of colonial rule is the presence of compradors, or native political elites that colonial powers utilize to facilitate effective forms of governance, especially in instances of indirect rule. Indirect rule is often developed in response to demands for self-rule or self-determination by the colonized.42 This comprador class in turn attempts to negotiate and gain from colonial structures. Examples include Kashmir’s client regimes, such as Bakshi’s government, which helped reinforce Indian rule in Kashmir by demanding increased financial integration, economic rights, and educational access. Far from denying the colonial logics inherent in the relationship, these examples are evidence of colonial rule. The demand for jobs, education, and greater representation (by the Congress and others) occurred under British colonial rule in India, too, and is widely understood as part of the colonial framework rather than a negation of it.

Defining India’s relationship with Kashmir as an occupation has been deployed by a number of Kashmir scholars, who have examined the ways in which occupation has been critical to the foundation of what is often touted as the world’s largest democracy. The term occupation has its roots in international humanitarian law and refers to military control by a power over a territory that is outside its sovereign jurisdiction. This control is meant to be temporary, until a permanent settlement is reached, and international law seeks to regulate the relationship between the occupier and the occupied. Recent scholarship on occupation has problematized “the very nature of occupation,” arguing that many occupations, like Kashmir, remain outside the bounds of international law and are prolonged, not temporary, often resulting in processes that overlap with settler-colonialism (through land grabs and demographic engineering) as well as colonialism (through resource appropriation).43

Mohamad Junaid has argued that occupation is a process that involves “concomitant strategies and practices,” many of which operate in Kashmir.44 Developing occupation frameworks in relation to Kashmir allows us to see how India’s occupation operates through illegitimate elections portrayed by the Indian government and its client regimes in Kashmir as exercises in democratic action and popular will (what Ather Zia calls the “politics of democracy”) and preemptive detention of political opponents, as well as more spectacular forms of military violence and dispossession.45 In addition, particular forms of law and constitutionalism—such as states of emergency—are constitutive of occupations.46 Haley Duschinski and Shrimoyee Ghosh argue that India’s occupation should be seen as “occupational constitutionalism,” whereby legal mechanisms and processes produce foreign dominance through annexation of Kashmir’s territory and sovereignty after Indian independence. These constitute “a state of emergency and permanent crisis in Kashmir,” a point I develop in my seventh chapter.47 This occupational constitutionalism originates in Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which, the authors argue, was initially intended to form a constitutional framework of sovereignty and self-determination for the Jammu and Kashmir state but became “a constitutional mechanism of incorporation in the Indian Union.”48 Given my focus on emotional integration, I also draw from an understanding of occupation as an affective category, “at once a regime of power and a structure of feeling that shapes the logics of rule while transforming space, place, nations, and communities.”49

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government “dismantled” Kashmir’s special status under Article 370, setting into motion policies intended to “carry out far-reaching changes to demographic and land-holding patterns.”50 Kashmir scholars have increasingly turned to the framework of settler-colonialism—which focuses on the acquisition more of land than of labor and resources—to understand “India’s escalating assaults on Kashmiri sovereignty.”51 These assaults include laws that enable Indian citizen-settlers to buy land and achieve “domicile” status in Kashmir (which in turn gives them voting and employment rights) and the Indian army to make land grabs, as well as providing Indian corporations opportunities for investment and resource extraction. While some scholars have argued that settler-colonialism and colonialism are antithetical, I situate settler-colonialism as a variant of colonialism and thus constitutive of colonial occupations.52 Furthermore, Samreen Mushtaq and Mudasir Amin argue that settler-colonialism should also be placed within the framework of military occupation. They describe the long history of settler-colonialism in Kashmir, starting from 1947, as “a shrewd combination of eliminationist and assimilationist tactics undertaken by India to erase the distinct historical and political context of Kashmir.”53

These tactics include what Mushtaq and Amin call “practices of memoricide”: “the erasure of history of one people overwritten by that of another” in order to “create a narrative over time that has appropriated local histories and people’s notions of belongingness.”54 Settler logic removes such notions of belongingness in an attempt to construct a new identity, an identity that is inextricably tied to the settler state. In particular, both the Indian and Kashmir governments have attempted to erase from historical consciousness the involvement of the Indian state and Hindu nationalist militias in changing the demographics of the Jammu province from a Muslim to a Hindu majority.55 For Kashmir’s identity to be mapped neatly onto India’s “secular politics of inclusion,” violence against Muslims in Jammu had to be elided, and ideas of a new, secular Kashmir had to be propagated.56 The Indian army’s usurpation of territory, especially of ecologically critical forestland, since 1947 also demonstrates the settler-colonial logic that has governed Kashmir.57

Patrick Wolfe argues that settler-colonialism “is inherently eliminatory but not invariably genocidal” and that elimination can also take place via assimilation.58 This means that elimination logics are more than the liquidation of indigenous or colonized communities; rather, in their positive aspect, they mark “a return whereby the native repressed continues to structure settler-colonial society.”59 Calling for a broader understanding of the term genocide, Wael Hallaq pushes back against Wolfe by arguing that colonialism is always “inherently genocidal,” even though it is normalized in modern history, “whereby the totalizing act of decimating ‘traditional’ cultures comes to be regarded as ‘natural’ development.”60 For Hallaq, colonialism, including settler-colonialism, is a “structure of thought,” a “modern project of total transformation, one that perpetually aims at reengineering the subject as nature.”61 Colonialism’s genocidal intent lies in its relationship to modernity and the total transformation that engenders.

Nonetheless, Wolfe’s other main argument that we should see settler-colonialism not as an event but rather as a structure—that is, “elimination is an organizing principle of settler-colonial society rather than a one-off occurrence”—is an important one for Kashmir.62 It helps us understand how the Indian government has used assimilationist tactics as a form of elimination since 1947, especially in the context of a global decolonial moment where conventional killing would provoke condemnation from the international community, including the United Nations, as well as threaten India’s position vis-à-vis its leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement. Drawing from J. Kehaulani Kauanui and other indigenous studies scholars, however, it is important to situate settler-colonialism as a “structure that endures indigeneity, as it holds out against it.”63 Kashmiris, like all other colonized and indigenous communities, have resisted Indian sovereignty, as well as Indian declarations of normalcy, through practices of “refusal, or everyday practices of rejecting externally imposed institutions of settler state sovereignty and asserting . . . political orders that challenge settler logics of inclusion.”64

Four decades after accession, and especially during the Bakshi period, India’s (settler) colonial occupation primarily utilized assimilationist strategies. Assimilationist policies—what I refer to in this book as integration—seek to erase the historical specificity and sovereignty of a given community and forcibly bring it into the fold of the settler state. Assimilation as integration is “one of a range of strategies of elimination that has become favoured in particular historical circumstances.”65 It is inherently destructive—perhaps what Hallaq would refer to as genocidal. This book incorporates an understanding of assimilationist settler-colonial logics and how they intersect with state-building practices.

Decades of assimilationist policies still failed to bring Kashmiris into the Indian national fold, leading instead to anti-colonial resistance in the form of the armed rebellion and the popular mass uprisings in the late 1980s. Junaid situates this period of a “military occupation” as an “ensemble of spatial strategies and violent strategies that the occupier state employs to dominate physical space in a region where its rule lacks, or has lost popular legitimacy and thus faces an imminent challenge of being popularly supplanted.”66 Seeking to quash the resistance, the Indian government turned to more necropolitical forms of control, whereby different modes of killing and containment are used in order to subject the population at large to death.67 With over 750,000 Indian troops deputed to Kashmir, the decades after the armed rebellion have been marked by the deaths of over 100,000 Kashmiris and thousands more raped, disappeared, arbitrarily detained, and tortured. This period largely relied on an immense amount of militarization and control through violence, as well as a heightened state of emergency through draconian laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in 1990. However, as Kashmir scholars like Mona Bhan have highlighted, assimilationist strategies of development and humanitarianism still continued throughout the military occupation, once again underscoring the overlapping modes of control in Kashmir.68


Kashmir is not a unique political entity and nor is it an exception. A number of other nations and communities have been brought into the fold of nation-states without their consent or remain under colonial occupation, dispossession, war, and apartheid. These include, but are not limited to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Palestine, Hong Kong, Tibet, East Turkestan, Chechnya, and Western Sahara. They include indigenous and First Nation communities in Canada, the United States, and Australia, as well as the Kurds, Papuans, and Oromo and Tigray people.

This book calls for the creation of a historiography of states that do not exist, have not been allowed to exist, and peoples who have been denied self-determination and the right to exercise their sovereignty. These are states-in-waiting, not-yet-in-formation, in varying stages of political liminality. Sometimes the disastrous results of former colonial machinations and divisions, places like Kashmir are now meshed with the colonial, expansionist policies of the nation-state. They unsettle and threaten hegemonic forms of nationalism. Their histories are deeper than those constructed by modern day borders; they exist at the confluence of multiple routes and civilizations. Like Kashmir, some of them have been on the agenda of the United Nations, at the receiving end of resolutions that have collected dust over the years. Most have become pawns in the international liberal order, subject to the whims and political agendas of regional and global superpowers. The ways in which nation-states manage these places and peoples differ. Some are subject to intense forms of violence and dispossession on a daily basis, while others have been forcibly integrated—or assimilated—in an uneasy “peace.” The people in these places attempt to make their voice heard through anti-colonial resistance, as well as everyday acts of “refusal” that resist ongoing forms of colonialism, occupation, and settler colonization.69

Many movements or struggles in these places are often depicted in both scholarship and popular narratives as “ethnic conflicts,” “secessionist movements,” “territorial disputes,” “insurgencies,” or “terrorism.” These depictions are as ahistorical as they are dehumanizing. They are inherently colonial in their upholding of a hegemonic idea of the territorial nation-state to the detriment of those who refuse inclusion. While territory defines the space of the nation-state, the territorial boundaries of the nation-state are not primordial, and nor should we treat them as such. It is critical to consider the colonial processes through which these boundaries are consolidated. More crucially, the way we think about the territorial sovereignty of the nation-state does not always align with how people inhabit these spaces. These are spaces where people have their own histories, identities, spatial imaginaries, and political aspirations. Their lived experiences under occupation, colonialism, and settler colonization must be accounted for. This book urges us to think beyond the foregrounding of nation-states and their territorial sovereignty or integrity in understanding these “disputes” or “conflicts.” It asks what kinds of histories are possible when we do not take the narratives nation-states tell about themselves for granted. In doing so, it “allows us to rethink the nature of India’s sovereignty claims, as well as sovereign power more generally in the modern world order.”70

Given the area studies frameworks that dominate the discipline of history, these places are not often conceptualized together. Building from recent studies of governance, development, and state-building in other contemporary colonies, this book situates what the Kashmir context can advance in this body of work and how it can help us think through comparative regions.71 In his recent work on comparative settler-colonialisms, Mahmood Mamdani argues that nationalism and colonialism were co-constituted and that the birth of the nation-state entailed homogenous nation-building through large-scale ethnic cleansing, civil wars, and genocide.72 His insight certainly applies to the context of India, Pakistan, and the Partition, as well as the Jammu Massacre. However, it may function to dismiss the violence in Kashmir in the four decades after accession, which happened through parallel processes such as the politics of life, development, integration, and normalization. By leaving these assimilationist processes invisible in the analysis of the making of the colonial nation-state, existing power structures and the state form are reified. This book provides insights into the role of state-building under colonial occupations; rather than being an exception, I argue that these spaces are integral to the formation of nation-states.

In challenging the sovereignty claims of the (post)colonial nation-state, this book also contributes to global histories of decolonization as well as histories of the third world. It is part of a constellation of counter-narratives about how global decolonization has played out after World War II, challenging ideas that it was liberatory.73 In particular, I critique narratives about the third world as an emancipatory, anti-colonial project. In his discussion of the “built-in flaw” of the third world project, Vijay Prashad discusses how newly independent governments reinforced social hierarchy and were unable to meet the economic demands of their people.74 Yet, his discussion does not include a major built-in flaw: the ways in which the third world project replicated European claims to sovereignty and territoriality. While the third world project countered European colonization and sought to build a different type of world, triumphalist and romanticized narratives of the third world ignore the presence of South-South colonization, as well as the political condition of those who were excluded from the decolonial movements that gained traction during that time. Instead, I situate the postwar “decolonial” third world moment as one in which the sovereignty of the (post)colonial, third world nation-state was affirmed, a new moment of the assertion of state boundaries and territorial claims, or as Bhan and Duschinski formulate, third world imperialism. These were advanced through moments like the Bandung Conference in 1955 as well as the Pancheel Agreement in 1954 between India and China, which normalized notions of territorial integrity through principles of noninterference, leading to the undermining of Tibetan claims of sovereignty.

In these triumphalist narratives, India figures as a prominent example of third world anti-colonial struggle as well as the beacon of the Non-Aligned Movement. However, this book complicates this narrative by “suggesting that India’s adoption of an anti-colonial positionality in the international arena in effect strengthened its capacity for colonial domination in Kashmir.”75 Positioning India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Nehruvian moment, as anti-colonial erases the histories and legacies of India’s colonial state-formation, including in Kashmir. That Nehru identified “the United Nations as the principle institution for planetary justice” and key to the third world project, while undermining multiple UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir, reveals the inherent contradictions of this “emancipatory” third world project.76

Aside from contributing to the discussion of decolonization in India, my primary intervention in South Asian historiography is to challenge scholarship on India’s foundational moment, including India’s state-formation and nation-making and the transition from the colonial to the (post)colonial nation-state. This book builds on recent scholarship that focuses on the legacies of British India’s indefinite colonial borders, as well as the contingencies that marked India’s nation-state formation. In particular, this scholarship seeks to understand how the “territorially circumscribed nation-form and the sovereignty of the nation-state [have] played out since decolonization.”77 Scholars have examined how princely states and frontier regions like the Northeast, the Himalayan border with China, and Hyderabad were incorporated into India, arguing that “a relation of hierarchy,” “democratic deficit,” and “violence and coercive force” were constitutive of India’s relationship with these troubled regions or borderlands.78

However, even in these important works, India’s expansionist strategies and its sovereignty claims are rarely depicted as colonial maneuvers, despite the violence used to overthrow the Nizam’s sovereignty and annex Hyderabad, the indirect rule used in the Northeast to suppress demands for self-determination among the Nagas or the people of Manipur, or the exploitative resource extraction in the Northeast.79 Even as there is an understanding that India’s policies were not “a radical departure from colonial practice” or were “reminders of the horrors of colonial violence,” there is little articulation that India is fundamentally colonial.80 What does it mean to act like a colonial power instead of being a colonial power—where is the line drawn? Does the fact that a nation was previously colonized mean that it cannot colonize? This book argues that the quest to consolidate the Indian nation-state was a colonial quest; India’s foundational years need to be reexamined through this framework. Arguing that there were simply continuities with colonial rule discredits the ways in which Indian sovereignty manifested on its own terms and had its own logics and intent.

There has been scant scholarly attention on the role of Kashmir in India’s nation-state formation, an irony, given how crucial Kashmir was to India’s self-definition as a secular nation in the early years of independence. For example, in the 2007 volume From the Colonial to the Postcolonial: India and Pakistan in Transition, not one of the sixteen essays is about Kashmir, admittedly an issue that has been fundamental to understanding the “transition.” The editors refer to the “spiritual and political price to be paid for this postcolonial concern with the territorial integrity of India” and suggest that there is “no denying that some social groups—admittedly not a majority of the population were coerced into being Indians. The historical incongruity of a nation emerging from colonial rule imposing with an iron fist its own rule on a reluctant minority cannot go unnoticed.”81 While Kashmir goes unnoticed, the example that the authors give of this “minority” is the Nagas—who were forced into being Indians through “strategies of which sheer and awesome military force was a very powerful component.” The Nagas’ case, the editors argue, “only highlights the colonizing tendencies that an anti-colonial nationalism may also display as it mutates into official nationalism with the assumption of power by the nationalists.”82 In addition, the editors note that the case of the Nagas was somewhat different from “the many ethnic and secessionist movements that grew in India and Pakistan after Independence,” of which we are to assume Kashmir is one.

This example reveals a number of classic tendencies in the scholarship on Indian nation-state formation and decolonization. First, it shows how many scholars of India remain committed to a methodological nationalism or statism, which naturalizes the (Indian) nation-state form and denies its coloniality.83 Once again, nation-states can act like colonizers, have “colonizing tendencies” (as India did with the Nagas) and take on structures of or continuities from colonial rule, but somehow, they can never be actual colonizers. Second, the authors refer to “concern with the territorial integrity of India” as a postcolonial, not a colonial concern. The use of the term “spiritual and political price” here is also for India—we must lament what India’s colonizing tendencies did for an otherwise abstract ideal of India. What, then, is the physical, material, and existential price for those who were “coerced into being Indians”? Finally, the erasure of Kashmir and possible assumption of Kashmir (and many other places) as “ethnic and secessionist movements” are rife in postcolonial and subaltern studies of India. I have referred to this as epistemological violence on Kashmir, given the reflection of a colonial commitment to the integrity of the Indian nation-state form, as well as the nation-state’s historical narrative.84

Colonizing Kashmir builds upon a body of Kashmir scholarship that poses a much-needed corrective to studies of “postcolonial” South Asia, or subaltern studies. This “postcolonial” scholarship, as Huma Dar has argued, remains unable—or unwilling—to move beyond its “unacknowledged, un-interrogated nationalism amongst those otherwise apprehensive of nationalism.”85 It is part of a broader “sanctioned ignorance” in which, Ather Zia maintains, “the Kashmir issue and the demands of Kashmiris have been overwritten, invalidated, and criminalized by India.”86 The Subaltern Studies Collective, in particular, has played a role in this “sanctioned ignorance” (despite one of its founders coining the term). As Mohamad Junaid discusses, the collective examined the “heterogeneity of colonial subjects, [but] omitted using its own conceptual tools to analyze the constitutive hierarchies in postcolonial India,” especially in relation to those for whom India’s rule was colonial.87 He continues, “Of the 83 articles published . . . [in] their flagship publication . . . there was not a single article on Kashmir—even during the 1990s when the collective had gained global recognition and Kashmir was under intense military repression.”88 Instead, Kashmir was “subsumed under the overarching master-sign ‘India.’89

Many postcolonial scholars of India have continued to solidify the fiction of a unified India in which Kashmir’s incorporation is a natural teleology—seen as a given historically, geographically, and politically. In this understanding, the “division” of a time-immemorial “India” into India and Pakistan or the quest for freedom or self-determination of various communities is an aberration to the ideal of a unified nation. However, what we know today as “India” is a nation-state borne out of a particular decolonizing/recolonizing moment; its form as a nation-state could have come about in a number of different iterations.

There is also a body of work that, while acknowledging “regional” political aspirations, seeks to figure out ways to better incorporate them into the broader “nation.” For example, in the introduction to the edited volume Kashmir: History, Politics, Representation, Chitralekha Zutshi asks how “borderland” regions such as Kashmir, Kurdistan, or Palestine and their “national movements and their people’s interests [can] be accommodated within states rather than being seen as threats to the national interest.”90 The relationship between the “region” and the “nation” becomes one of an ideal, if sometimes contested, affiliation. This methodological nationalist framing once more privileges the Indian nation-state as needing to improve its efforts to accommodate the Kashmir region (perhaps through even more Indian-styled democracy and elections). In this perspective, the region remains a subservient category, but the category of “India” especially in its territorial form remains the norm to which the region must be accommodated under. I ask why we are compelled to examine Kashmir as a “region” and India as a “nation.” More importantly, why does Kashmir have to be accommodated within India?

My work emphatically pushes back against these territorial and historical conceptions of India, whereby all other political visions and aspirations become mere aberrations. By idealizing and valorizing the territorial boundaries of the nation-state, Indian nationalist, postcolonial, and subaltern scholarship naturalizes the relationship between India and Kashmir, without critically analyzing how this relationship was constructed in the first place. A result of such impoverished analysis is that the “the Kashmir issue” is simply reduced to a “crisis of federalism,” a “crisis of democracy,” or “internal colonialism.”91 This verbal gymnastic foregrounds India’s inability or challenges in managing “difference,” a fault that can be rectified through more inclusive practices. As mentioned earlier, one of the ways in which this is iterated is through the use of security and statist language such as “separatism” and “ethno-nationalist” insurgencies.92 For example, Rekha Chowdhary argues, “The present phase of separatism in Kashmir can be explained with reference to the failure of Indian nationalism to accommodate the ethno-nationalist identity politics of Kashmir.”93 This failure, she argues, has resulted in a “deep-rooted sense of alienation in Kashmir but also in the shaping of this identity in a direction that is incongruous with Indian nationalism.” Anti-colonial resistance and a struggle for sovereignty is simplified to Kashmir’s “ethno-nationalist identity politics” that must be accommodated (one wonders whether the British could have better accommodated Indian nationalists and their “identity politics”). From a settler-colonial framework, the liberal desire for accommodation or inclusion is not so divergent from the desire to eliminate through assimilation. These flawed understandings not only obscure India’s colonial occupation, but they also valorize Indian nationalism as the universal normative that a Kashmiri “ethno-nationalism” must be subsumed under. As Junaid has pointed out, Indian scholars’ evocation of Kashmir in these terms of accommodation echoes the statist rhetoric of “Kashmir is an integral matter [or part] of India.”94 Fundamentally, it reveals epistemic complicity on the part of these scholars in India’s colonial occupation.

Rejecting accounts that rely on pre-constituted, naturalized geographies of the “territorial integrity” of the Indian nation-state, as well as the ad nauseum Indian statist and scholarly narrative that Kashmir is “integral” to India, I historicize how Kashmir was made integral to India through state-building policies, both discursively but also through the planning and assimilationist processes of emotional integration and normalization. Rather than taking territory as a given or naturalizing Kashmir’s association with the Indian state, I show how Kashmir was territorialized through state-building practices that attempted to also transform people’s subjectivities, while simultaneously producing tension and resistance.

Finally, this book also contributes to scholarship on secularism in India. Given the expansion of right-wing Hindu nationalism in the past few decades, discussions of the death or crisis of “Indian secularism” have come to the fore in both scholarly and popular discourses.95 In this narrative, India had a “distinctive” brand of secularism, one in which there was not an opposition to religion but rather a “principled distance” between religion and state that attempted to balance the claims of individuals and religious communities and oppose “institutionalized religious domination.”96 The idea of India as a “secular republic” was evidenced by its constitution. Some scholars have challenged how India’s secular credentials played out in its post-independence history by examining how Muslims, in particular, were erased or marginalized in Indian nation-state making. They have also examined how “the Indian state is directly involved in the Hinduisation of the country.”97 Yet, in debates over whether India is truly secular or secular enough, the secular still remains a normative ideal that the Indian republic should aspire to.98 I draw from interventions in critical secularism studies that show how secular power exacerbates religious tensions and is involved in—not distant from—the “regulation and management of religious life.”99

In particular, I am interested in the relationship between secularism and (settler) colonial occupation. Nehru promoted the use of Kashmir to serve as a litmus test for India’s alleged secularism and a bulwark against Hindu communalism. In a public rally in Calcutta in 1952, he argued, “There can be no greater vindication . . . of our secular policies, our Constitution, than that we have drawn the people of Kashmir towards us. But just imagine what would have happened in Kashmir if the Jan Sangh or any other communal party had been at the helm of affairs. The people of Kashmir say that they are fed up with this communalism. . . . They will go elsewhere and they will not stay with us.”100

Given the primacy of Muslim-majority Kashmir in “exemplifying India’s exceptional status as a tolerant, secular state,”101 what exactly does that secularism entail if India’s secular credentials are grounded in the context of a colonial occupation? The “secular,” I argue, was deployed as a mechanism to entrench India’s colonial occupation and criminalize Muslim political aspirations or “alternative visions of nationhood and belonging.”102 For Kashmiris to want to “go elsewhere,” according to Nehru, was a rejection of Hindu—not secular—nationalism. Yet, Kashmiri Muslims viewed “Indian secularism as an alibi to forcibly integrate Kashmir into the predominantly Hindu Indian nation-state.”103 Ultimately, Kashmiri Muslims were politically useful for India’s “secular politics of inclusion”; this forcible inclusion aligned with assimilationist settler-colonial narratives about Kashmir’s history and recent past.104 As a number of my chapters reveal, the secular was used to both erase Muslim histories of Kashmir, while taming “Islam’s assumed fanaticism under Hinduism’s influence.”105 In addition, I show how Hindu geographies, imaginaries, and histories were central to these secular discourses, revealing the close relationship between secularism, settler-colonialism, and Hindu majoritarianism.

In the field of Kashmir studies, my research foregrounds the role of the Kashmir governments, or client regimes, as well as the perspectives of diverse Kashmiri political elite, bureaucratic, and educated classes as they sought to resolve the socioeconomic problems of the people. In doing so, I draw from a recent strand in South Asian historiography that examines governance, citizenship, and development in the immediate post-Partition moment, as well as the role of the everyday state and state/society relations.106 This historiography challenges simplistic divisions of the state-versus-society paradigm and examines how the new citizens of India and Pakistan were involved in nation- and state-building, showing how the state is often a site of competition or dispute among different groups. In addition, it underscores that the state is not as monolithic or coherent as accounts of its reach make it out to be and that it is responding to both local concerns as well as broader postwar international development schemes. While these insights are relevant to the Kashmir context, my contribution to this literature is to examine how state-building practices, governance, and development operate differently in the context of a colonial occupation and where the transition from subject to citizen remains opaque.

Studies of the various post-accession Kashmir governments have largely focused on political leaders’ actions as they attempted to navigate relations with the Indian state.107 In shifting away from seeing the Kashmir governments as only “puppet regimes” of the Indian state, I attend to the ways in which state-building policies shaped and were shaped by people in Kashmir, highlighting how local aspirations intersected and conflicted with broader political realities.

One of the Bakshi government’s most important features was its greater reach toward the masses in the state, including workers, peasants, and artisans. On some level, ordinary people became a part of the project of reform, either by pushing for better schools and colleges in their areas or seeking employment in government service. In this way, state-building constituted a local logic, borne out of local concerns and needs and binding the government and people in new ways. The Kashmir government played a crucial role in responding to the demands of the local population, providing services, acquiring new obligations, and expanding its capacity and bureaucratic apparatus. At the same time, it is important not to conflate participation by people in the state-building project with giving the Kashmir government legitimacy. Instead, building on Ilana Feldman’s work on Gaza, I distinguish between “bureaucratic authority” and “state legitimacy.” The Kashmir government was able to exert authority, where “both practitioners and the public recognize its demands as being authoritative,” and thus took part in it, but that did not entail that the government was seen as legitimate, even though it aspired for that.108 Rather, people realized that their continued participation could procure them particular benefits—at least for the short term. In this way, I argue that Article 370—the clause in the Indian constitution that provided some autonomy for the Kashmir state—was significant. However, instead of creating a state-form that was truly autonomous or negotiated its own form of sovereignty, the Kashmir state, through its state-building measures, reinforced India’s colonial occupation.

My research also brings the Bakshi period to the forefront of understanding Kashmir’s contemporary history. A vast majority of scholarly work has focused on Sheikh Abdullah and his role in Kashmiri politics. Indeed, because of Abdullah’s towering role in politics before and during Partition, in some works, Abdullah is credited for developments that actually happened under Bakshi’s government, including providing free education in Kashmir.109 There has been no scholarly work that has discussed Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and his tenure as prime minister in its entirety. Those that have covered some aspects of his rule or looked at the early post-accession period in Kashmir have primarily examined it through the lens of federal-state relations. Bakshi’s government is usually characterized as the first in a series of governments through which the Indian state attempted to erode Kashmir’s autonomy, a process that Sheikh Abdullah withstood, leading to the eventual “disenchantment” of Kashmiris from the Indian Union.110 Alternatively, other scholars have argued that Bakshi’s government provided the state with one of the longest periods of stability due to financial assistance from the Government of India to ensure economic prosperity.111 Yet, this stability did not last long. Most scholars conclude that the increasingly undemocratic, authoritarian, corrupt, and highly coercive nature of Bakshi’s government led once more to increasing anti-Indian sentiments in Kashmir.112

This book intervenes in the study of the Bakshi period in a number of ways. Most importantly, it seeks to disrupt the exclusive prism of India-Kashmir and/or federal-state interactions through which much of the existing scholarship on the Bakshi period has been viewed. To be sure, the overarching context of Bakshi’s need to gain legitimacy for Kashmir’s accession to India is crucial to understanding this period. Still, an exclusive focus on the “contractual relationship” keeps us from seeing the ways in which Bakshi was also attempting to implement a project of sociocultural reform that had its roots in the pre-Partition period.113 Foregrounding India’s role as a hegemonic, paternal state and Bakshi as an obedient, willing collaborator who was simply implementing the demands of the Government of India overlooks the intricacies of local politics and negotiations that traced their roots well before 1947, as well as Bakshi’s agency. In particular, I examine how Bakshi exercised and developed his own theory of the political, relying on the politics of life to procure whatever benefit he could for Kashmir and its people. Yet, these local dynamics clashed with the imperatives of the colonial occupation, ensuring that his political praxis remained insufficient and would eventually become counterproductive. His rule elucidates how a client regime was able to utilize India’s ambition for colonial expansion to assert a socioeconomic quest for modernization.

Sources and Organization of the Book

This book draws upon a wide array of bureaucratic documents, propaganda materials, memoirs, literary sources, and oral interviews in English, Urdu, and Kashmiri. I conducted my archival fieldwork between 2013 and 2014, with shorter stints in the summers of 2011, 2012, and 2016–2018. I was based primarily in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-occupied Kashmir, with short interludes at the National Archives of India and the Nehru Memorial Library in New Delhi. At the Jammu and Kashmir State Archives in Srinagar, I examined bureaucratic correspondence from the Departments of Education, Information, and Home as well as administrative reports and government propaganda materials. To bring forth diverse Kashmiri voices, I collected several published memoirs and literary works through various local libraries, bookstores, and private archives. In addition, I conducted twenty-five oral interviews with former students in local colleges and members of the state bureaucracy on their memories of the Bakshi period. In New Delhi, I examined published materials on Kashmir in the early Indian state and newspaper clippings. My initial visit to the National Archives of India in 2014 proved unproductive, as most files relating to my period were “non-transferrable,” indicative of the multiple ways in which the Indian state seeks to restrict access to information and knowledge-production on Kashmir. My second trip, in 2018, resulted in acquiring limited correspondence between the Indian government and the Kashmir state on financial integration and agricultural subsidies. However, much of the additional material remained inaccessible, a limitation I hope will be rectified for future historians.

Colonizing Kashmir is divided into seven chapters and an introduction and a conclusion, highlighting how Bakshi’s state-building sought to establish normalcy, territorialize Kashmir in the Indian imagination, create economic dependency, shape Kashmiri subjectivities and culture, and manage dissent. Chapter 1 provides a genealogy of Bakshi’s state-building project, rooted in the late Dogra period and Kashmir’s anti-monarchical mobilizations. I discuss Bakshi’s early life and political philosophy, linking it to socioeconomic conditions under the Dogras. I foreground the Naya Kashmir manifesto as the basis of Bakshi’s state-building policies. The chapter discusses the momentous events surrounding the contested accession to India and the contestations surrounding Abdullah’s government, as well as Bakshi’s rise to power.

The second and third chapters lay out the Bakshi government’s use of the “politics of life” in the realm of discourse. Chapter 2 draws upon bureaucratic directives and communication with the press, political speeches, news articles, photographs, and state propaganda materials to understand how Bakshi’s client regime established legitimacy in the eyes of non-client powers. It brings attention to the unique set of political compulsions Bakshi’s government faced on three primary fronts: within a conflict of narratives and aspirations in Kashmir, with skeptical Indian policy makers and the broader public, and in the international arena in the context of shifting political realignments during the Cold War. I argue that Bakshi’s government utilized the power of media as propaganda and maintained strict controls over the flow of information into and out of the state to project normalization, as well as progress, in Kashmir for these multiple audiences. These critical policy interventions came at a time when Kashmir was still being contested in the United Nations. Bakshi’s efforts to target Muslim-majority countries and the Soviet Union, in particular, were crucial to unraveling the “disputed” status of the region, securing India’s claims over Kashmir, and eroding the calls for a plebiscite on the international front.

Kashmir was the place to be in the 1950s and 1960s as film crews across India descended upon the state, and a record number of tourists—mostly from India—visited the Himalayan hotspot. In chapter 3, I examine tourist guides and videos, advertisements, film, and bureaucratic correspondence with Indian film companies to show how they contributed to an affective desire for both the land and its people. This colonial gaze depicted the region as fertile for adventure and at the cusp of modernization as a result of its relationship with India. At the same time, Kashmir’s sacred territoriality for Indian Hindus was mobilized through the Amarnath Yatra, which was also extensively promoted by the Kashmir government, paradoxically propagating a land that was both modern and timeless, secular and Hindu. Tourism and cinema served to territorialize India’s colonial occupation in both its secular modernizing and religious avatars and enabled an unquenchable desire of Indians toward Kashmir (and some Kashmiris) that would continue to undergird India’s rule in Kashmir.

The next three chapters situate the “politics of life” through government planning in economic development, education, and cultural reform. While they highlight how these policies attempted to entrench India’s colonial rule, they also discuss the unintended consequences and effects of these policies, both for undermining their original intent and for producing contradictions and creating empowered subjects who began to articulate their own demands. Chapter 4, which incorporates five-year plans, administrative and budget reports, political speeches, Indian and international media reports, and state propaganda materials, focuses primarily on the economic policies of the Bakshi government and draws attention to how these developmentalist policies reflected the particular political context in Kashmir. It looks at financial integration with the Indian state, the subsidization of rice, and the creation of the Banihal Tunnel. I argue that Kashmir’s political status engendered a form of developmentalism that focused more on short-term strategic interests than on long-term economic growth. As a result, the state’s economic goals of self-sufficiency were undermined as the state became increasingly dependent on the Government of India. Also, I highlight how corruption became an intrinsic component to the functioning of developmentalism in Kashmir, leading to the Ayyangar Commission of Enquiry of corruption after Bakshi stepped down from power. This chapter showcases how Bakshi’s client regime incorporated Kashmir’s economy into the larger economic body of India.

Chapter 5 uses education plans and reports, as well as college journals, memoirs, and oral interviews, to examine how the state’s education policies sought to incorporate its citizenry into the Indian social and political body. I argue that educational policy was the cornerstone of constructing a modern, secular Kashmiri subject. However, because the government targeted Kashmiri Muslims as its principal beneficiaries, the educational policies of the state, which included specific quotas for various religious communities and language policies, created tensions between and among Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits, leading the latter to bring the government’s secular credentials into question. Debates over education reflected the conflicting aims and complex interests of the Kashmir government as well as the fraught nature of intercommunal relations under both secular rule as well as a colonial occupation.

Chapter 6 looks at poems, shorts stories, novels, cultural journals, and bureaucratic correspondence to explore the government’s attempts to revitalize Kashmiri culture. It reveals the role of the cultural intelligentsia in Kashmir in buttressing the state-building project and constructing a Kashmiri cultural identity. At the same time, I argue that the bureaucratization of culture produced its own contradictions in eliciting conformity and resistance, highlighting the extent to which dissent is always integral to cultural projects.

Chapter 7 examines sovereign modes of control and the unraveling of the state-building project as it generated dissent among various groups within Kashmir. By focusing on the workings of dissent and repression, I argue that the local state was at the forefront of repression against those individuals and groups that challenged the government’s stance on Kashmir’s political status. The state’s repressive practices led to an enduring state of emergency, well before the armed uprising. It was also under Bakshi that a popular and organized post-Partition indigenous resistance emerged. Groups like the Political Conference and the Plebiscite Front demanded the implementation of the plebiscite. This chapter explores how the state managed to eventually fold the leadership of both organizations into the political mainstream, highlighting once more the strategies of repression and co-option that undergird a colonial occupation. I conclude with reflections on what the case of Kashmir tells us about the present, one in which processes of settler-colonization and military occupation have brought to the fore the contestations inherent in the liberal, secular, democratic nation-state.


1. The term state of Jammu and Kashmir refers to the territory that came under Indian control after the first India-Pakistan war of 1948. It includes the regions of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh. When referring to the entire state, I use the terms Jammu and Kashmir and Kashmir alternatively. I will use the term Kashmir Valley when referring specifically to one of the regions within the state. The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, however, incorporates the regions that were under the rule of the Dogras during the British colonial period and also includes the regions that eventually came under Pakistan’s control, including Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas (today’s Gilgit-Baltistan). My use of the term Kashmiri signifies a political, not ethnic, category of those who are state subjects of the entire princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, unless I use the term Kashmiri Muslim or Kashmiri Pandits to specify ethnic, Kashmiri-speaking Muslims or Pandits (Kashmiri Hindus) in the Kashmir Valley.

2. Gopal, Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, vol. 19, 381–82.

3. Sinha, Colonial Masculinity.

4. Von Bogdandy et al., “State-Building”; Whaites, “States in Development.”

5. Von Bogdandy et al.

6. For example, Bose, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace; Behera, Demystifying Kashmir; Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir; Chowdhary, Jammu and Kashmir; Varshney, “India, Pakistan, and Kashmir”; Tremblay, “Nation, Identity and the Intervening Role of the State”; Verma, Jammu and Kashmir at the Political Crossroads. These texts, to a greater or lesser extent, seek to explain the underlying reasons for the armed uprising of the late 1980s and offer correctives on how India can “reclaim” Kashmir.

7. Duschinski et al., Resisting Occupation in Kashmir, 13–14. In their introduction, the editors describe spaces of political liminality as spaces of “in-betweenness,” defined by legal provisionality as an administered territory.

8. Rai, Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects, 4.

9. Snedden, The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir; Ali, Delusional States.

10. Noorani, Article 370, 1.

11. Bhan, Counterinsurgency, Democracy, and the Politics of Identity in India, 6.

12. Bhan, 8.

13. Bhan, 10.

14. Duschinski and Bhan, “Introduction: Law Containing Violence.”

15. In 1944, the National Conference, the leftist anti-monarchical political party led by Sheikh Abdullah published the Naya Kashmir manifesto, a plan for better educational and economic rights, as well as a responsible government in the state. The next chapter will discuss how Bakshi drew from this manifesto in his state-building policies.

16. Trouillot, Silencing the Past, 9

17. Trouillot, 9.

18. The term politics of life comes from Neve Gordon’s conceptualization of Israel’s attempts to “secure the existence and livelihood” of its Palestinian inhabitants. See Gordon, Israel’s Occupation, 2.

19. Here, I am drawing from literature of Michel Foucault’s use of governmentality and disciplinary and biopower modes of control, which are what enables the “politics of life.” Foucault defines governmentality as “the ensemble formed by institutions, procedures, analyses and reflections, the calculations and tactics that allow the exercise of this very specific albeit complex form of power.” Governmentality targets the national body politic. Biopower is a type of governmentality that increases the organization of the population in order to increase productivity; it is reliant on “a form of power concerned with the fostering of life rather than the command over death” (the latter using necropolitics, a concept developed by Achille Mbembe). Disciplinary power “constitutes individuals and objects as authors of knowledge and power, but it does so with a specific goal in mind—the creation of docile workers and obedient citizens.” See Barclay, Outcasts of Empire, 21–33. However, as Emily Yeh argues, “The rise of biopower does not replace sovereign and disciplinary modes of power. Rather, all three modes are applied in different combinations at different times, and reinforce rather than contradict each other.” See Yeh, Taming Tibet, 13.

20. Trisal, “In Kashmir, Nehru’s Golden Chains.”

21. Kashmir scholars have discussed the role that development plays in obscuring colonialism. Nitasha Kaul has referred to the notion of coloniality as development as “econonationalism,” where “supposed liberatory ideas are rhetorically deployed to mask a dehumanizing subjugation.” See Kaul, “Coloniality and/as Development in Kashmir”; Zia, “The Haunting Specter.”

22. Pandits is the term used for Kashmiri Hindus, who are upper-caste Brahmins that follow a regionally specific form of Shaivism (known as Kashmiri Shaivism). As a religious minority, Pandits remained under 5 percent of the total population of the Valley during Dogra rule and declined after 1947. Historically, they served as an administrative, bureaucratic class under the various rulers and were better educated and more privileged in obtaining employment than Kashmiri Muslims. After 1947, many Kashmiri Pandit bureaucrats were closely aligned with India’s national project in Kashmir.

23. Abdullah, The Blazing Chinar, 420.

24. In this book, references to “Indian states” do not include the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but rather those states that effectively became a part of the Indian Union and were not an “international dispute.”

25. A number of Kashmiri Pandits also opposed Kashmir’s accession to India, including Prem Nath Bazaz and Pandit Raghunath Vaishnavi. On the whole, however, Kashmir Pandits overwhelmingly supported the accession.

26. For a detailed examination of the different trajectories of Ladakh and Jammu, see Chowdhary, Jammu and Kashmir.

27. Intelligence reports by the Indian government in the waning months of Sheikh Abdullah’s rule also suggest this. Ministry of States, Kashmir Section, Government of India, “Intelligence Reports Re: Muslim Affairs in JK State,” file no. F.8 (6)K/53, National Archives of India.

28. Bhan, Counterinsurgency, Democracy, and the Politics of Identity in India, 9.

29. Misri, “Disabling Kashmir,” 76–77.

30. Osuri, “Imperialism, Colonialism and Sovereignty.”

31. Shohat, “Notes on the “Post-Colonial,” 102.

32. Duschinski and Bhan, “Third World Imperialism and Kashmir’s Sovereignty Trap,” 323; Joseph Massad, “The ‘Post-colonial’ Colony”; Junaid, “Tehreek History Writers of Kashmir,” 264; Anand, “China and India.”

33. McDonald, Placing Empire, xiv.

34. Osuri, “Imperialism, Colonialism, and Sovereignty,” 3–5.

35. Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, Routledge Handbook of Critical Kashmir Studies, 319.

36. Osuri, “The Forms and Practices of Indian Settler/Colonial Sovereignty in Kashmir.”

37. By “modes” or “mechanisms” of control, I draw from Neve Gordon, who argues that these do not include just the “coercive mechanisms used to prohibit, exclude, and repress people, but rather the entire array of institutions, legal devices, bureaucratic apparatuses, social practices, and physical edifices that operate both on the individual and the population in order to produce new modes of behavior, habits, interests, tastes, and aspirations.” See Gordon, Israel’s Occupation, 3.

38. Osuri, “The Forms and Practices of Indian Settler/Colonial Sovereignty in Kashmir,” 342.

39. Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” 27.

40. Ghosh, “Solidarity-Givers of India and Destiny of the Kashmiri Tehreek.”

41. Junaid, “Death and Life under Occupation,” 166.

42. Baruah, In the Name of the Nation, 32.

43. Falk, “Afterword,” 222; Duschinski and Bhan, “Introduction: Law Containing Violence.”

44. Junaid, “Death and Life under Occupation,” 172.

45. Duschinski et al., Resisting Occupation in Kashmir, 2; Duschinski and Bhan, “Introduction: Law Containing Violence,” 6–7; Zia, Resisting Disappearance, 54.

46. Hussain, The Jurisprudence of Emergency.

47. Duschinski and Ghosh, “Constituting the Occupation,” 1.

48. Duschinski and Ghosh, 1.

49. Bhan and Duschinski, “Occupations in Context.”

50. Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, “Critical Kashmir Studies,” 7.

51. Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, 7.

52. Rowe and Tuck, “Settler Colonialism and Cultural Studies”; Bhandar and Ziadah, “Acts and Omissions.”

53. Mushtaq and Amin, “‘We Will Memorise Our Home,’” 3012.

54. Mushtaq and Amin, 3017.

55. Rashid, “Theatrics of a ‘Violent State,’” 224.

56. Mushtaq and Amin, “We Will Memorise Our Home,” 3017; Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, “Critical Kashmir Studies,” 10.

57. Mushtaq and Amin, 3023; Nabi and Ye, “Of Militarisation, Counter-Insurgency and Land Grabs in Kashmir,” 62.

58. Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” 387.

59. Wolfe, 390

60. Hallaq, Restating Orientalism, 214.

61. Hallaq, 215.

62. Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” 388.

63. Kauanui, “‘A Structure, Not an Event’”; Barakat, “Writing/Righting Palestine Studies.”

64. Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, “Critical Kashmir Studies,” 10.

65. Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” 401.

66. Junaid, “Death and Life under Occupation,” 161.

67. Mbembe, “Necropolitics.”

68. Bhan, Counterinsurgency, Democracy, and the Politics of Identity in India; Bhan, “Infrastructures of Occupation.”

69. Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus.

70. Haley Duschinski, personal correspondence with author, May 31, 2022.

71. For other studies on state-building and legitimization in occupied or politically liminal spaces, see Feldman, Governing Gaza; Yeh, Taming Tibet; Gordon, Israel’s Occupation.

72. Mamdani, Neither Settler nor Native.

73. Namakkal, Unsettling Utopia, 8.

74. Prashad, The Darker Nations, xvii.

75. Haley Duschinski, personal correspondence with author, May 31, 2022.

76. Prashad, The Darker Nations, 12

77. Baruah, In the Name of the Nation, x.

78. Baruah, ix–7; Purushotham, From Raj to Republic, 2; Anderson, The Indian Ideology.

79. A notable exception is Bérénice Guyot-Réchard’s work on the India-China border in the Himalayas. She describes the “intimate entanglement between the imperial and the national [that] has shaped China’s and India’s expansion in particular ways,” as well as the ways in which India’s “long freedom struggle and professed unity-in-diversity ideal coexist with imperial strategies towards Kashmir or Nagaland.” See Guyot-Réchard, Shadow States, 3.

80. Baruah, In the Name of the Nation, 43.

81. Chakrabarty et al., From the Colonial to the Postcolonial, 7.

82. Chakrabarty et al., 7.

83. Mongia, Indian Migration and Empire, 5.

84. Kanjwal, “The Violence on Kashmir.”

85. Dar, “Dear Prof. Chatterjee.”

86. Zia, “Sanctioned Ignorance and the Crisis of Solidarity for Kashmir,” 355.

87. Junaid, “Tehreek History Writers of Kashmir,” 254.

88. Junaid, 255.

89. Junaid, 255.

90. Zutshi, Kashmir: History, Politics, Representation, 5.

91. For an example of this framing, see Chatterjee, “Kashmir is the Test Bed.” About the term internal colonialism, Goldie Osuri argues that it is based on an understanding of uneven development and still assumes the unity of the nation-state or that the borders of the nation-state are a given even if it is “colonizing those within.” Osuri, “Imperialism, Colonialism, and Sovereignty,” 5. For further critiques of this conceptualization, see Junaid, “Tehreek History Writers of Kashmir,” 263.

92. Varshney, “India, Pakistan, and Kashmir.”

93. Chowdhary, “Kashmir in the Indian Project of Nationalism,” 154.

94. Junaid, “Tehreek History Writers of Kashmir,” 263.

95. Needham and Rajan, The Crisis of Secularism in India.

96. Bhargava, “The Distinctiveness of Indian Secularism.”

97. Khalidi “Hinduising India: Secularism in Practice”; Zamindar, The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia; Sherman, Muslim Belonging in Secular India; Gyanendra Pandey, “Can a Muslim Be an Indian?”; Umar, “Constructing the ‘Citizen Enemy’”; Anderson, The Indian Ideology, 140–51.

98. Ganguly, “The Crisis of Indian Secularism.”

99. Mahmood, Religious Difference in a Secular Age, 2.

100. Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, vol. 17, 76–78.

101. Junaid, “Tehreek History Writers of Kashmir,” 259.

102. Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, “Critical Kashmir Studies,” 10.

103. Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, “Critical Kashmir Studies.”

104. Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, “Critical Kashmir Studies”

105. Bhan, Duschinski, and Misri, “Critical Kashmir Studies,” 260.

106. Sherman, Gould, and Ansari, From Subjects to Citizens; Siegel, Hungry Nation; Menon, Planning Democracy; De, The People’s Constitution; Sherman, Muslim Belonging in Secular India; Ansari, Life after Partition; Haines, Building the Empire, Building the Nation; Prakash, Menon, and Laffan, The Postcolonial Moment in South and Southeast Asia; Toor, The State of Islam; Daechsel, Islamabad and the Politics of International Development in Pakistan.

107. An important corrective to this body of work is the recently published monograph What Happened to Governance in Kashmir by Aijaz Ashraf Wani. Wani examines the policies and strategies adopted by the Indian state and the local Kashmiri governments to grapple with the multiple problems of state-building and argues that in an actively contested state like Kashmir, democracy and governance are always guided and controlled.

108. Feldman, Governing Gaza, 17. In an essay in Himalaya, I explore this tension of Kashmiri Muslims who joined the bureaucracy in the aftermath of Partition and how it did not necessitate their acceptance of Indian rule. Kanjwal, “Reflections on the Post-Partition Period.”

109. Giving Sheikh Abdullah the credit for implementing the policy of free education is a recurring theme in a number of works. See Akhter, Kashmir Women Empowerment and National Conference, 142; and Wani, “Political Assertion of Kashmiri Identity,” 138.

110. Bose, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, 68.

111. Chowdhary, Jammu and Kashmir, 80; Behera, State, Identity, and Violence, 107–8.

112. Behera, State, Identity, and Violence, 114. Bose, Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, 72; Chowdhary, Jammu and Kashmir, 34. Sumit Ganguly describes Bakshi’s government as showing “scant regard for tolerating honest dissent, [squelching] civil liberties, and [engaging] in widespread electoral malpractice.” See Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir, 43.

113. Bose, Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, 68.