India Adopting Israeli Model Of Encroaching Land In Kashmir

The land grabs in the name of encroachments is India’s strategy to exclude the indigenous population of the Valley and turn it into a Hindu majority state.

Fear and anxiety creep in as the Indian government in Kashmir has deemed Kashmiris as illegal encroachers in their land. For more than 70 years, Kashmiris much like Palestinians are living within an open-air prison, heavily militarized, under the Indian occupation. In 2019, the Bharatiya Janta Party-led government already implanted changes in the land laws and demographics of the Valley. By abrogating Article 370, and Article 35 A, it revoked the limited autonomy and certain residency rights to the local population.

As per the testimonies from the residents, on June 5, the residents of Nishat on Wednesday were asked by the Patwari (local authority) to evacuate their homes in a notice of the next 15 days as they were considered as “illegal encroachers of the land”.

“The police along with the Patwari informed around 15 tribes to evict their homes within two weeks as officially the land (illegally occupied) is in the possession of Surinder,” son of Makandar told Core Middle East.

The land reforms in Kashmir, were among the first initiatives by the Sheikh Abdullah-led government, introduced in the 1950s Land estate abolition Act, placed a ceiling on land ownership at 186 Kanals (about 22 acres). Transferring land without compensation was possible since the provisions of the Indian constitution did not yet apply in the state. The Jammu and Kashmir Tenancy Act 1980 was another act that stayed the proceedings related to evicting lands. The laws were later repealed by the Indian government through a notice in October 2020 through the removal of the article.

“There is no mention of the transfer history, they need to investigate transparently, we put our blood and sweat in purchasing the land”, said one of the residents.

The notice issued to these residents mentions that Surinder is officially the owner of the entire land, however, the residents confuted in dismay and claim that the land, legally belongs to them.

We have full proof documents and affidavit stating we purchased the land, and many among us have assigned “mutation numbers” as well, a resident requesting anonymity told Core Middle East.

In March, this year, the Divisional Commissioner legislated the tehsildar to take proprietorship of three Khasras “where 15 households have built their houses”, the locals informed Core Middle East.

I have had sleepless nights, thinking how will our family survive in the face of this pandemic and now these laws; our four generations have been living here if they evict us from our homes, where are we supposed to go with my daughters? Who will shelter us? asked a mother of three.

As stated in a report by the Wire, the legislation allowed the citizens of India to buy property and land in the J&K after the “permanent residents of the state” clause was omitted.

However, the notice was issued to them on June 5, and was signed on May 25, from the served date, “12 days, have already passed”.

As per one of the residents Abrar (name changed), the land in Nishat estate is spread across 30 Kanals and 2 Marlas (a traditional unit of area) under seven Khasara with multiple houses built by the residents of from suburb areas.

Speaking to Core Middle East, Usman Khursheed, a law postgraduate from the University of Kashmir says, “India’s settler colonialism in Kashmir commenced way back in 1947, when the Dogra establishment perpetrated massacres against the indigenous Muslim population of Jammu, as part of settling Hindu population, the way Israel has displaced Palestinians, India is following the footsteps of Netanyahu.”

From Maharaja Hari Singh’s rule in Kashmir to Rashtriya Sawayam Sevak Sangh’s (RSS) Hindu-driven ideology, they have failed as the administrator, the responsibility has been shifted between multiple actors for their part in this violence, he added.

Following Israel’s model

The land grabs in Kashmir in the name of encroachments is India’s strategy to exclude the indigenous population of the Valley and turn it into a Hindu majority state.

The India-Israel relations had been strengthened in 1992. Modi’s India much like Israel has pretty much adopted the policy of “settler colonialism”. Today, India is significantly indulged in trade and numerous projects and to date, is the largest client for arms and ammunitions.

Israel gets vocally supported by the world’s largest democracy, significantly boosts its political and diplomatic purchase, especially considering the 30 countries of the UN still don’t recognize it.

Apart from this, India is a massive market for Israeli businesses and Israeli exports to India amounted to nearly $84 billion in 2019. India is also Israel’s largest client in arms sales and recently purchased a large consignment of Negev light-machine guns from Israel.

It would be hence unfair to say, the relations between India and Israel are solely confined to religious and ideological similarities.

Needless to say, Modi and Netanyahu, both share a common love for their neoliberalism and religious conservatism. And concluding from the political discourse of both the nations, their actions suffice to indicate they are heading towards extending their colonial tactics in both the occupied nations of Kashmir and Palestine. The shared socio-political climates in both countries perfectly summarize in the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai’s words, “Open markets – closed cultures”.

Kashmir too is strengthening its occupation in the Muslim majority region by implementing laws against the consent of its residents. The stories of these residents speak how determinant the Indian policy is vis-a-vis guided by Israel, their approach to evictions of homes paves way for Kashmir.

“No matter what it takes for us we will fight this battle, looking at the current situation it’s despairing to think we will win this battle, however, we have faith in Allah. And until we have the almighty’s will our house wouldn’t be evicted for an ounce in a bleary state,” added the resident.

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