Kashmiri bodies have always been used as a battleground for Indian forces in the region and the latest move from India comes with the looming threat of further violations.
A Kashmiri woman is stopped by an Indian army soldier as she walks on a street in Srinagar, 19 November 2003. ( Tauseef Mustafa / Getty Images )
It is day five of the forced silencing of Kashmir following the revocation of Article 370 that gave it the so-called ‘special status’. Unable to contact family, all one can do is repeatedly check social media for the slightest chance of any news escaping from home.
On the morning of August 8, while scrolling through Twitter hoping to find something to ease my longing, a news report caught my attention. “Highest Number of Searches for ‘Marry Kashmiri Girl’ Came From Delhi in The Past One Day,” the headline read, highlighting the most popular Google searches in India after the Kashmir decision.
The report also listed some tweets of Indian men talking about ‘getting Kashmiri girls’ now. Based in Delhi myself, for a moment, I didn’t know how to react. As a Kashmiri woman, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to feel. But was I shocked? Absolutely not.
A day before, a legislator from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party proudly proclaimed that bachelors in the party were welcome to go to Kashmir and marry white-skinned Kashmiri women.
The Kashmir-related misogyny rising to the top in India reproduces tropes presenting Kashmir as some sort of beautiful, feminised territory. That this hapless, beautiful land seeks a saviour is what feeds into the militarised narratives to ‘protect’ it.
The objectification of Kashmir and Kashmiri women within India’s national narrative is not new. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was known to be so obsessed with Kashmir that he would often compare it to a ‘beautiful lady’.