Being a Kashmiri in Delhi. Experiencing Long-distance Nationalism
Armed combatant and leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani was killed by the Indian Army in July 2016. This killing triggered a new phase of insurgency in Kashmir. In the Valley, the local populace started mobilizing against the Indian State in the name of azadi, (freedom). In such volatile context, the production of the national sentiment of the Kashmiris is documented from a distanciated perspective. Frontiers of the national group are explored from New Delhi, as well as the logics of differentiation and otherification of the Kashmiri group towards the Indian one. Kashmiri nationalism therefore more clearly appears in a negative definition (what a Kashmiri is not) than in a positive definition (what a Kashmiri is). The slight and incremental slip of the meaning of azadi demands is at the heart of Kashmiri nationalism. From an original demand for greater autonomy within the Indian Republic, demands of azadi now refer to the independence of the Valley – yet there are nuances that will be studied. They also convey an utter rejection of “Indianess” whether national or citizen. In that respect, New Delhi’s negating the political aspect of the mobilizations that are taking place in the Kashmir Valley has dramatically fuelled the national sentiment of the Kashmiris. The current insurgency that started in July 2016 has sped up the pace of the process. Despite the escalating tensions in the Valley, New Delhi keeps refusing to consider the political dimension of the local social movements, be they violent or peaceful. That is the reason why, beyond Kashmir and Kashmiris themselves, studying the political demands of the Kashmiri population does shed a light on the functioning of the Indian nation and the Indian state.