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

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Insecurity, Identity and Resistance

Contours of Shia Political Discourse in Kashmir

Shias constitute an influential minority of the Kashmiri population, having a considerable influence on the nature of sociopolitical changes in the state. Ranging from external influences to contested histories, there are several reasons behind the Shias’ ambiguous political outlook regarding the overall Kashmir question. The analytical category of “perceptual ambivalence” is proposed to understand the nature of contemporary political discourse of Shias in Kashmir and their political disposition.


The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments and valuable suggestions on the first draft of this paper.

Plurality has been an intrinsic feature of Kashmiri life for centuries. This includes ethnic, religious and linguistic plurality. However, socio-economic variables and the overall political leverage of communities have kept on changing from one period to the other. This has defined not only the respective roles of communities in Kashmiri society at large, but has also been responsible for defining the parameters of politics and the way history is viewed by each of these groups. This explains why the narratives of shared history of all the diverse groups in Kashmir are so contestable and often polarising.

This disagreement runs deep in both the oral histories and their written accounts that is not only visible in the historical narrative of the majority and that of one particular minority, but this “malaise of contestability” is also prevalent in several minority histories of different communities. For example, though both Pundit and Shia historical narratives are underlined with a strong tone of victimisation, their understanding and interpretation of the same periods of history are not only in contestation with that of the majority Sunni narrative, but also in conflict with that of each other.1 This has prevented a broader consensus on the nature of Kashmir’s pluralistic history that affects its politics even today.

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Updated On : 18th Jan, 2021
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