Indigenous Kashmiri culture and land are being exterminated by the Indian State. Here’s why this is a cultural genocide that the world must pay attention to.
The current BJP government is continuing a 74 year long history of violent oppression of Kashmiris through systematically erasing indigenous Kashmiri culture, and stripping away public land that rightfully belongs to the people of Kashmir – much of which is being sold to private companies and billionaires. Further, settler-colonial tourism enforced by the Indian state since the stripping of Article 370 in 2019 has also been an intentional way of erasing the agency of indigenous Kashmiris. India has planned a 6 day Tulip Festival in Occupied Kashmir – bringing in citizens from different parts of the colonial state into the summer capital of Srinagar. This has enabled the normalisation of heavy militarisation in the region, environmental exploitation that comes with tourism, and further marginalizing indigenous Kashmiris from economic control over their own resources and land.
Another way settler-colonial tourism has enabled cultural genocide is through exoticism and intentional ignorance of Indian entertainment bodies in factually and accurately depicting the current repressive Indian regime and culture of indigenous communities. Panjabi actor Shehnaaz Gill recently published a music video pretending to be Kashmiri – pandering to the colonial idea to visit Kashmir. Yet, there were no Kashmiris and no military present in the video, and the outfit she wore wasn’t indigenous to Kashmir, speaking to the willful refusal to depict the truth of repression happening in Kashmir currently. Lastly, since the “reopening’ of Kashmir since its media and internet black out, public communications, like COVID-19 public health protocols, have been forcefully changed from the indigenous language and script of Urdu into Hindi despite a severe lack of usage of Hindi within the region – marking the language of colonisers and symbolic of the fascist BJP regime’s intended erasure of the culture of the region and its people.