India uses tactic of gerrymandering to divide Kashmir


Lina Bhatti

Date published: Thu, 12 August 21


New Delhi is using the tactic of electorally redistricting, gerrymandering, to dilute the presence of Muslims in Indian-occupied Kashmir. 

After the Article 370 and 35 were rebuked from the Indian constitution two years ago, it was made easier to suppress the Kashmiri population and lessen the call for self-determination. The New Delhi crackdowns have targeted Kashmiri civilians, journalists, and protesters. 

Foreign Policy reports that, “Altered demographics, when combined with a clever reconfiguration of electoral constituencies, would allow Hindu-nationalist politicians to realize their long-standing goal of installing a Hindu chief minister in Kashmir.”

The delimitation program is envisioning breaking up the electoral constituencies of Kashmir into different voter units. This division will likely give more representation to the region of Jammu, where there is a large constitution of Hindu voters, thus disenfranchising the Kashmiri Muslim vote.

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India’s Hindu nationalist government, has started to enforce federal laws and policies in Kashmir after the abrogation of the articles. The semi-autonomous government of Kashmir has seen its structures broken down at a vast speed – with the Indian government opening land ownership to non-Kashmiri citizens. This allows for the furthering of the settler colonial project of Kashmir, similar to what is happening in Palestine or East Turkestan. 

Mehbooba Mufti, the head of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democractic Party, analyzes that the redrawing of boundaries and division of seats will likely take place along communal and sectarian lines. The redrawing of these boundaries can lead to violence, as has been the case historically amongst ethnic groups who have had borders drawn over each other. 

Many news outlets have been reporting on Kashmir after the abrogation of the articles more frequently to criticize the Hindu nationalist parties and government in India. However, although Hindu nationalism is utterly harmful to the Kashmiri cause, and is a force that needs to be reckoned with, many are putting all of the blame of Kashmir into Hindu nationalism. Before 2019, Kashmir was not free. Indian-occupied Kashmir was not autonomous. It was (and continues to be) one of the most highly militarized zones of the world. Since the partition of the Indian subcontinent, Kashmiris have been suffering