Mr. Drabu is a former finance minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan have fought four wars since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, has been the battleground for competing, conflicting ideologies. For Pakistan, the Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir was a critical missing piece in its positioning of itself as the South Asian Muslim homeland. For India, the state became the symbol of secularism for India in its post-colonial nation-building project.
But with the rise and rise of India’s Hindu nationalists, the very idea of India is being redefined and repurposed. To assert this redefining of India as a muscular, majoritarian nation state, there could have been no better place than Kashmir: a United Nations-endorsed, internationally accepted, disputed territory with a Muslim majority fighting an armed insurgency against the Indian state for the last 30 years.
India’s governing party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, its affiliated groups and its supporters have historically seen Kashmir and its status in India as a constitutional anomaly and an ideological aberration: a sovereign within a sovereign, a constitutionally privileged, naturally well-endowed island of Muslim majority in the Himalayas. For them, Kashmir was a symbol waiting to be rebranded, the perfect geography from where to announce the rise to dominance of India’s new aggressive nationalism and unabashed majoritarianism.