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

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Kashmir: A State of Exception

The eminent political philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, characterised the State of Exception as a paradigm of government. He argued that “one of the elements that make the state of exception so difficult to define is certainly its close relationship to civil war, insurrection, and resistance.” According to Agamben, “modern totalitarianism can be defined as the establishment, by means of the state of exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into the political system.”

In our reading, Kashmir is an ideal case of state of exception. The phenomenon of enforced disappearances emerged in Kashmir after the outbreak of armed conflict post 1989. During its operations against combatant Kashmiris, the security forces have resorted to different forms of human rights violations like extrajudicial executions, custodial deaths, custodial torture, rapes and enforced disappearances. It is reported that people from different spheres of life and different age groups — 10 to 70 years — have disappeared after their arrests. Hundreds of unidentified graves, believed to contain victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses, have been unearthed in Kashmir.

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