In between Living spaces: Expansion and extinction?
Kashmir's economic dependence creates political dependency and vice versa. It means a cycle of dependency created the creed and generation of weak multitudes who may easily and comfortably give-in into any craft of dominant narrative.
Muzammil Ahad Dar
Lebensraum is signifying Hitler’s policy of expansion to create living spaces for Germans in the adjacent European countries. The indigenous population was displaced in respective geographical areas/regions. Besides geographical attributes, Hitler has racial considerations and political motivations too. The belief in German superiority and extremely menial view of other racial or religious identities demonstrated the political motivations of expanding the wings of his empire.
In the recent past, Israeli settler policy demonstrated more efficient socio-political engineering to wipe out the indigenous Palestine population. With time, since the inception of Jewish settlements in the Land of Palestine, living spaces of Palestinian continuously shrunk and Zionists expanded the size of Jewish territories. The territorial and settler expansion of Zionists has had justifications and legitimacy sought from legal, theological and political doctrines. Ismail Farouqui’s book on ‘Islam and Problem of Israel’ has elaborated on this theme very eloquently and honestly.
The concept of Lebensraum (living spaces) has illuminated my mind to develop assumptions regarding the probable demographic contamination of Kashmir and geographic curtailments towards Kashmir after the revocation of article 370 and special status. Reducing the status of state to a UT has further smoothened the way for rightwing political trajectories in Kashmir. The living spaces will be expanded and extinguished on racial cum religious grounds simultaneously. The legitimacy for predatory motives of the dispensation will be derived from the local oligarchy and the collaborators as pawns in the populist empire. Legal and socio-political engineering will provide an easy way of perpetuating the designs of the dominant discourse. Theologies would manufacture public opinion in the rest of the country. The predatory rightist political architecture has started its inception in multiple ways, like the recently framed parliamentary act of giving immunity to the military in acquiring land on will and wish. The other examples may follow accordingly.
Living Spaces Expanded
The peripheral valleys and meadows like Toshamaidan, Doodpathri, Pahalgam, Baltal, will be reserved as living spaces for influential classes of India. The influentials like Businessmen, Political elites, Bureaucrats-civil and military. The entry for common masses will be restrained and special road connectivity will be constructed barren of any access for common Kashmiri. Readers must know that a year before highways were restricted entirely and reserved for military movements. With the government aid and assistance backed by businessmen, these places could be developed as heavens on earth. It is a step towards reclaiming Hindutva glory, as you should know that Dogra Raj is believed to be the first of its kind, a practical example of Hindu Rashtra. Dogra Raj treated the majority Muslim community as inferior subjects deprived of a dignified life. Mridu Rai has elaborated on the subject in her book ‘Hindu rulers and Muslim Subjects’ very well.
The living spaces of upper castes and elite classes will be more racial than religious in its organization. The big marbleized temples and seven-star hotels and palaces could be the racial standards one can assume. Luxurious, sumptuous life culture will be followed by clergies, business elites and governmental or political elites alike.
The lower caste Hindus, who are working as skilled or non-skilled labourers in Kashmiri villages, will be facilitated and encouraged to stay among and live besides common Kashmiri. The home settle policy announced by the dispensation is one such trial. Lower castes will not find any spaces in the living spaces created for luxuries of the upper class and upper castes.
Living Spaces Extinction:
The common Kashmiri will be confined, in fact, concentrated to their villages and urban habitat. Their movements will be curbed. A physical fear and psychological trauma will be instrumental in restraining the Kashmiris freedom. Kashmiris will be further deprived and demoralized by making them dependent. In the name of development, the glamorization that took place for the last few decades, which people of Kashmir enjoy, is all dependency syndrome. Prof. Nissar (retd) of Kashmir University in one of his lectures delivered in the Centre of Central Asian studies has discussed the Kashmiris dependency syndrome. Kashmir’s economic dependence creates political dependency and vice versa. It means a cycle of dependency created the creed and generation of weak multitudes who may easily and comfortably give-in into any craft of dominant narrative.
However, a complicated phenomenon is rising with the living spaces of Kashmiris. A division is emerging based on differing social-civic existence creating differing perceptions. Within a single community, two different societies and social systems are emerging. In the outward manifestation, the two societies may share the same Kashmiri identity. However, the divide based on access to socio-political power, leverages and advantages will construct a religion characterized by two narrations. One who has access to the above and who do not have will structuralize an Islam of haves and have not’s. Interpretations and interpolations in cultural and religious customs and practices will follow to legitimize one’s construction of religious ethics and values and denigrate the other. Because the Islamic haves would be enjoying all liberal democratic privileges, however, their mindset and attitude will remain feudalistic. Though being physically natives in Kashmir but differing in perception and persuasion from common masses, they will constitute the influential minority. Their socio-political privileges and access to modern life will make it easy for them to grab positions and power in the system. The common masses have evolved a different perception and persuasion of life for being a deprived and demoralized Kashmiri. An elaboration of how decision making in the governmental institution is getting insensitive to common interest and requirements of masses is discussed by Prof. Suhas Palshikar in the lecture series Democracy and dialogue (available on youtube). Organized chaos will lead to the conflict and clash between two simmering socio-religious societies of the same community.
The third attribute of the living spaces of Kashmir’s would be that skilled & unskilled migrants laborers from Bihar or Bengal. Most of these laborers are lower caste Hindus; therefore, they will not get any accommodation other than some menial jobs in the living spaces constructed on peripheral meadows and valleys of Kashmir for upper castes and elites.
All the above attributes have a convenient interaction and exchange on utility bases on the parameters set by influential people. This exchange and interaction will serve racial utilitarianism. How and why we have to understand the dichotomy.
The clashes and conflict of interests among simmering Kashmiri societies will help the dominant narrative of elite statecraft to manipulate rules and regulations against Kashmiri people. The legitimacy is always from the local establishment who parasitically enjoy the perks and pays. Meanwhile, the Kashmiris disempowered and broken will voluntarily surrender and submit for any dictum. The people of Kashmir would be pushed to do menial jobs and as an instrument of pleasure for the upper castes. The elaboration for the same could be studied from Christophe Jeffrolte’s book Hindu Nationalism.
Observing their deplorable socio-political conditions, the Muslims may protest, make mass uprisings against the dominant statecraft and policies. However, staying distant in peripheral living spaces, the influential classes’ will be immune from any consequences. They will provoke lower castes who are working within the living spaces of Kashmiri-Muslims. Lower caste factions may be exploited and apprised against Kashmiri Muslims. Immunity will be guaranteed for them on similar parameters as it was given to ‘Ikhwan’ during the 1990s. The resultant clashes will give influential’s opportunity to fabricate the same as communal clashes in front of the national and international community. The local bureaucrats and other officers will serve as collaborators in this entire conundrum. Expecting any resistance is a herculean task. Pay commission and perks, strict laws and horrible punishments will discourage any manifest dissent on the part of ordinary Kashmiris.
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