Recently, the government of India revoked Article 370, resulting in Jammu and Kashmir losing its special status of autonomous internal administration. With the scrapping of this Article came a plethora of hue and cry over Government of India forcefully seizing the power to govern Jammu and Kashmir in addition to the fear established in the state about its demographic transformation.
A state that is now Muslim majority can turn into one with Hindu majority, given the fact that anyone from other parts of India can now buy land and settle in Jammu and Kashmir. The buying and settling are not coming with peace and prosperity, instead it is going to bring settler colonialism. In fact, scrapping Article 370 has opened the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir for Indian (Hindu) settler colonialism. Settler colonialism functions in a way of erasing and replacing the indigenous population by constantly pouring in of a settler society.
Such invasion does not have a specific date or time. It functions as a structure and not as an event. Unlike other forms of colonialism where one can see the visible violence and recognize it, settler colonialism acts like a slow poison right under one’s nose. One does not see the result immediately, but by the time the indigenous people realizes, the erasure and replacement of the indigenous population must have gone way too far. Unlike exploitation colonialism, settler colonialism does not prioritize on profiting off of resources or exploitation of labour. Settlers come to stay and grab the land, followed by slowly controlling the socio-economic and political situation, which eventually results in profiting off of the resources and exploitation of labour.
In case of Jammu and Kashmir, it is possible that most Hindus will start settling and buying lands, gradually taking over the economic control and social structure of the-then-state-now-UT, Jammu and Kashmir. Such a situation must sound familiar to the people of Manipur. The people of Manipur have been witnessing the invasion of mayang settlers over the years, who have been buying lands and properties as well as gradually taking over the economic control. The fear of getting erased and losing ourselves to the mayang settlers have also ignited the fire of resistance amongst the indigenous population as well. Look at Thangal Bazaar and the non-indigenous population of 7% in Manipur by 2011, for instance. Apart from this, the growing mayang settler population has even paved a way for one of them to be elected as an MLA from Jiribam. With settler colonialism, the mayang representatives in Manipur state assembly might increase as its population influx grows, to the extent that they might takeover the state governance. All of these is the reason Manipur resisted aggressively against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The settler colonialism has already initiated way back, but the bill is going to accelerate the process of settler colonialism as CAB allows the mayang settlers from outside India to gain citizenship in just 6 years compared to what was 11 years earlier. Sooner they become citizens, higher is the chance of them buying and occupying lands and resources.
Finally, resulting in them taking over the land - the most important aspect of settler colonialism. On the other hand, before the announcement of abrogation of Article 370, GOI created an environment of fear and chaos by announcing a false alarm of terror attack, in order to impose a military control by sending troops in addition to the existing troops, followed by cutting off all forms of communication (cellular and internet). The decision clearly showed that the GOI was aware that the people will strongly resist, given the history of resistance in Jammu and Kashmir against Indian occupation.
It was just a ploy to suppress the resisting voices and silence them into submission. Similarly, GOI can act in such a way to impose CAB by creating some kind of fear and chaos, given the history of resistance by the people of Manipur, especially the aggressive resistance against CAB last time. Shutting off internet in such a time, is not new as well. The false alarm set before the sudden announcement of abrogation of Article 370 can happen at the time of passing the CAB, since the BJP is in absolute majority this time and considering it was in their manifesto as well. At least, the opposition had a good number to reject the Bill last time, but it is a clear sweep this time. In order to contain and suppress the resisting voices of the people of Manipur, the GOI alongwith the Manipur government might cook up something. Just like the abrogation of Article 370 opens the gateway for settler colonialism in Jammu and Kashmir, the CAB helps India and its mayang settlers to gain momentum in the existing settler colonialism in Manipur.
- Published in Editorial