Was occupied Kashmir being readied for demographic change even before Article 370 was scrapped by Delhi in August last year?
Seems so. The Srinagar Master Plan 2035, approved a few months before Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status last year, holds the clue according to a report.
There are slick shopping malls. Dal Lake is shown as a conservation site with floating gardens (instead of being impinged upon by houseboats) and a Special Investment Corridor. All these within 15 years after the Himalayan Valley was annexed by India in August last year –as the world turned 24/7 and the global community watched.
Is it merely a coincidence that this vision of the Valley’s future appeared just a few months before the Kashmiri people were stripped of their constitutional safeguards?
“The silence is the loudest noise, wrote renowned Indian novelist Arundhati Roy in the New York Times as the annexation was done.
Remarkably, the 2035 Master Plan was approved barely a few months before the abrogation of Article 370 was done. It carries a clue to what New Delhi’s vision is for the occupied Himalayan valley: “Israeli settlement model”, says an observer.
The report adds that it seeks the construction of nearly two hundred thousand houses in the local planning area and the generation of over a million jobs.
The Plan foretells a migrant influx into Srinagar, according to Kashmiri observers. “It is aimed at preparing Jammu and Kashmir for the expected influx of outsiders”.
Non-native Indian citizens are now free to buy property and get government employment in occupied Kashmir –after the abrogation of Article 370 and the removal of Article 35A.
All these however can’t happen without taking away the control of Kashmir from Kashmiris through “interventions” in the name of development. “That their autonomy would be wrested away through legal and administrative changes seems to have had happened last year”, the report adds.
The 2035 Master Plan:
Planning has long been used by rulers to recast the future of a place and as a metric of development. And development, as point out, “is firmly rooted in colonial discourse and practice”.