India imposing ‘settler-colonial project’ mirroring Israel

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SRINAGAR Experts on Kashmir say that with the new domicile laws, India is imposing a “settler-colonial project” in occupied Kashmir mirroring Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. Najeeb Mubarki, a Kashmirbased journalist said that Indian state functionaries themselves had spoken of this well-thought-out Israeli-style solution for occupied Kashmir. It is certainly a settler colonialism project with tragic consequences for Kashmiris, he said. “The Indian government has taken a page from Israel to usurp Kashmiri territories and deny its citizens their right to self-determination. It’s another settler colonialist project that will fail miserably as long as Kashmiris resist and the world stands up to it,” he maintained. “Of course, this doesn’t mean the contested, disputed nature of Kashmir is over, but the Indian state seems certain that demographic changes and creating Israeli-style ‘facts on the ground’ is its ‘final solution’,” he added. Khurram Parvez, a noted human rights activist in the occupied territory, said by virtue of India’s domicile law, outsiders are also going to be the claimants of already existing jobs, which worsens an already huge unemployment problem. “This is an act against the interests of unemployed youth. Those outsiders who get jobs due to this order will also claim the right to purchase land in Kashmir,” he said. Parvez Imroz said another amended law will grant any slum dweller a house in the territory “which is certainly something which can lead to [illegal] settlements”. A Palestinian affairs expert and Director of the Istanbul-based Centre for Islam and Global Affairs, Sami Al-Arian, in an interview said it is a blatant attempt to colonise Kashmir and populate it with new and old colonisers to make Kashmir’s indigenous citizens a minority in their own land. “The racist and unjust laws India has been enacting lately are similar to the racist laws and practices Israel has been applying in Palestine for decades,” he said. Observers say changes in the domicile law may also disenfranchise thousands of non-resident Kashmiri Muslims, as well as tens of thousands of Muslims who were exiled from the region since 1947 to Pakistan and elsewhere. Hafsa Kanjwal, a historian who teaches at Pennsylvania’s Lafayette College, said the law lends itself to “settler colonialism in Kashmir”. “This is just the beginning. Now that more Indian businesses and corporations are able to operate in Kashmir, the number of those who will claim domicile will steadily increase,” she said.—KMS

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