ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Communal Trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir

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In her article ‘Autonomy Demand: Kashmir at Crossroads’, Rekha Chowdhary (EPW, July 22, 2000) has rightly criticised the proposal relating the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir (J and K) into three separate units, namely, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (the first two proposed to become states and the third one to become a union territory) as alarming, and reactionary. Samar Abbas in his rejoinder ‘Kashmir: Autonomy Demand’ (EPW, December 2, 2000) shows a distinct lack of understanding of the social reality when he justifies the Kashmir study group’s proposal for the communal trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of “total communal polarisation at the ground level”. It is obvious that Abbas views the conflict in Kashmir as based on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and relates it to worldwide ethno-religious conflicts.

A historical study would reveal that communal political practices existed in Kashmir’s politics even at the time when radicalisation of the politics had taken place in the decades of 1930s and 1940s, but they had a very limited sphere of influence at that time. They had been marginalised as a result of the wider political movement of secular, democratic and progressive nature mobilised and led by the National Conference. The overall growing fragility of the institutional, ideological and economic basis of politics on the one hand and the increasing autonomy of extra-systemic political space on the other, over the last 50 years, has once again brought Kashmir at a historical conjuncture when religion seems to have acquired serious political meaning once again.

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