State Repression, Political Dissent, and the Struggle for Self-Determination in Naya Kashmir

Thursday, January 3, 2019: 4:30 PM
Waldorf Room (Hilton Chicago)
Hafsa Kanjwal, Lafayette College
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Kashmiri state government, under the leadership of the second Prime Minister of Kashmir, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad, embarked upon progressive socio-economic reform. In order to consolidate its political authority and empower the local populace, the state government attempted to implement the socialist and secular ideals of the “Naya (New) Kashmir” program, which had been consolidated in the pre-Partition period. Concurrent to this progressive reform project was a policy of political repression, one that undermined the purported ideals of Naya Kashmir. This paper explores how local state repression of political dissent was central to state-formation in the post-1947 Kashmiri state. It seeks to examine the repressive practices of the state government as well as the scope for dissent and political activity under Bakshi, and the interplay between the two. How do we understand the nature of state repression in the early postcolonial period? How did political actors dissent in an age of state repression? What did dissent entail in the context of the political developments in Kashmir? And most importantly, how did repression impact the aims of Naya Kashmir? I argue that repression was primarily a purview of the local state, and not the central Indian government, and dissent, in turn, revolved around a set of local concerns and rivalries. The presence of both amounted to an enduring state of emergency under Naya Kashmir, ultimately undermining the progressive state building project.
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