Power and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Benefitted India’s Position in Kashmir

Conference: The Asian Conference on Asian Studies (ACAS2022)
Title: Power and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Benefitted India’s Position in Kashmir
Stream: Indian and South Asian Studies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Leoni Connah, University of Manchester, United Kingdom


This conference paper will consider if the Covid-19 pandemic gave India an opportunity to extend its control over Kashmir’s disputed territory. During a period of lockdown and curfews, we will explore the ways in which Narendra Modi’s administration used this time to redefine domicile law in Kashmir, extend its influence, and quell any dissent. Using interviews with local Kashmiris, the notion of ‘settler colonialism’ will be explored to understand the impact that the pandemic has had on the autonomy of Kashmiris. The extent of the impact will be considered by looking at the ways in which human rights abuses have increased since the start of the pandemic. Issues that were prevalent before, including the banning of communication and internet, have worsened both since the start of the pandemic and since India increased their control in the region. However, the paper will also consider if Modi’s extended control has actually benefitted Kashmir’s infrastructure and has reduced the levels of violence on the ground. Kashmir’s story is riddled with complexity and it is the purpose of this paper to unpack this in more detail. Finally, the paper will consider what the future of Kashmir might look like if Indian control continues to increase, whether that be a positive one, or a future fraught with uncertainty.

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