Discourses of insaniyat, Kashmiriyat aur jamhooriyat (humanism, “Kashmiriness,” and democracy) have resurfaced in Indian discussions on Kashmir since 2016. The phrase was originally coined by the former prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, after a visit to Kashmir in 2003, and is regularly evoked by actors across the political spectrum as central to resolving the “Kashmir issue” (Hindustan Times 2017). This piece focuses on Kashmiriyat, a contested term with disputed roots, and highlights its gendered nature. The portrayal of Kashmiriyat as a unified cultural identity draws on narratives of a “happy valley” fashioned by religious syncretism and harmony (Zutshi 2004). Yet, Kashmiriyat as a discourse has served varying political projects throughout history, and the widespread usage of the term denotes that, “Kashmiriyat acts as […] a truth beyond representation and falsification which reflects an imaginary rather than actual phenomenon” (Aggarwal 2008, 231).
Brännlund, E. (2018). A note on gender and Kashmiriyat. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 20(4), 648-650. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616742.2018.1532173