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

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Our Deadly Burden

South Asia will truly decolonise only when it overcomes the toxic legacy of our colonial borders.

India and Pakistan celebrate their Independence Days as we write these words. Unfortunately, 66 years later, this day reminds us as much of our freedom from colonialism as it does of our continued enslavement to the burdens bequeathed by the departing imperialists. The persistent bloodletting on our borders, the militarisation and consequent brutalisation of the people living along the borders and the role of unsettled borders in fuelling national chauvinism are but the most obvious of consequences.

In the last one year alone, India has had militarised disputes on borders with China as well as Pakistan. While the former did not, thankfully, lead to any loss of life, the border with Pakistan has seen gory incidents of beheadings, sniper attacks and landmine explosions. All this while formally there is a ceasefire between both the countries and clear rules of engagement are in place. The civilians, for their part, live under the constant threat of death, injury and destruction of farms and property. Entire districts have seen their normal life disrupted for generations, such that the insecure, violence-prone and unstable conditions have become the new normal. The situation on the India-Pakistan border (and ceasefire line) is perhaps the worst in south Asia, though others too – India-China, India-Bangladesh, Pakistan-Afghanistan, etc – have torn apart historical communities, cut social and economic ties, and disrupted the movement of people.

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