Indian Efforts to Change the Demography of IOK

Abstract

The Federal Home Minister of the government of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr. Rajnath Singh, unveiled a plan in April 2015, to settle tens of thousands of non-Kashmiri Hindus in the Muslim dominated disputed territory of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). BJP has long vowed to settle 200,000 to 300,000 Hindus in IOK. The three disclosed and two undisclosed composite Hindu townships for the non-Kashmiris, to be made on the acquired lands of the farmers would be self-contained and heavily guarded. IOK enjoys an independent constitutional status. Article 370 does not allow non-Kashmiris to own land in Kashmir. Modi is well aware that demographics can reshape politics by redrawing the boundaries of population. The decision is akin with the Israeli style settlements in Palestine. It perpetuates the cycle of vicious and unlawful politics. In an ideologically polarised society, the identity-based animus would further gratify the Indian policy of human rights violations and denial to the right of self-determination. Muslims, by far, are a majority with 68.3 per cent of the total population followed by Hindus and Buddhists in IOK. The power of numbers entrenched in democracy would clearly enjoy alliance with prevalent black laws and gradual erosion of Article 370, if settlements are encouraged. Consequently, it would generate more instability in an effort to incorporate IOK politically, ideologically and territorially. With demographics as a crucial factor in any peace building effort, Indo-Pak peace would face uphill struggle even further.

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