ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kashmiri Nationalism of the 1970s

The Term Kashmiriyat

The term Kashmiriyat has come to signify a centuries-old indigenous secularism of Kashmir. However, it is of comparatively recent origin, first used in the mid-1970s. This article throws light on the factors which necessitated its creation and how its use has evolved to signify the majoritarian infl ections of thatsecular ideal. By acknowledging the historical context of the term itself, we may be able to attend to the subtle implication of our exercise to retrospectively apply it to earlier historical contexts.

Today, the term Kashmiriyat is widely accepted in the discourse on Kashmir. It normally signifies the sociocultural Kashmiri identity, which is often considered indigenously secular. As a key term in the always heated discussion on Kashmir, however, the term has been smeared with various kinds of political nationalism and sub-nationalism. Amid the fixation of such political meanings to it, the term’s historical context and the process of its conceptual transformation have often been neglected. Recent scholarship on Kashmir has emerged to turn the tide and interrogate Kashmiriyat as a historical entity (Rai 2004; Rao 2008; Zutshi 2003). This article, picking its cue from such scholarship, attempts to locate various historical contexts of Kashmiriyat in its concept and term (especially the genesis of the term), for its trajectory informs the qualitative transformation of Kashmiri nationalism during the 20th century.

1 Definition of Kashmir in the Mid-20th Century

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