While the entire country and its media are busy dissecting the legality of the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, another part of India is being ripped apart on the basis of ancestry and citizenship troubles. Actually, if one looks at it, Kashmir and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam lie at the two extreme ends of the ‘Idea of India’, both in territorial and metaphorical terms, where that idea is being mutilated everyday.
While the Kashmiris have been asking for their right to self-determination to be respected in accordance with the historical commitments made to them, the process of NRC has exposed the decades’ old faultlines of ethnicity and religion, wherein people living in different parts of Assam for over generations, including those born in India, are being stripped off their citizenship rights, designated as ‘foreigners’, and dragged to Foreigners Tribunal for years.
In this context, the question to be asked is—what does ‘nation’ mean, and who is a ‘citizen’ of this country? When India unconstitutionally annexed Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution on 5th August, 2019, and sought to impose its ‘nationhood’ on millions of Kashmiris through a total communication blackout for over two weeks, does that make all Kashmiris part of India?