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

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Territory as Political Technology

Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir marks an important moment to reflect on how imagined territories determine everyday life as well as shape political realities.

The Delimitation Commission in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), set up after the bifurcation of the former state, officially commenced on 19 June 2021 after a long stint of inactivity. Given the muddled state of affairs that the region has been in since the revocation of Article 370, it is difficult to discern what the exact objectives of the commission are. But whether it is to correct the maldistribution of legislative assembly seats between the Kashmir and the Jammu provinces, as the centre claims, or to alter the template of government formation, which Kashmiris fear and is plausible, it clearly represents one more exercise in the long history of engineering change in the region from the outside. That a delimitation commission was not a legal option two years ago provides context to the momentous decision to revoke Article 370, bifurcate the state, and relegate it to a union territory status. At the very least, the commission’s establishment and the state’s reorganisation in 2019 bear out the role territory and jurisdiction have played in the Kashmir conflict.

Territory is usually taken to mean a circumscribed portion of land. Although territory is mostly perceived in public culture within this objective connotation, it is its subjective dimension that since the incipience of the nation state, has held more significance. Geographer Robert Sack in Human Territoriality: Its Theory and History (1984) highlighted, through the notion of “territoriality,” how territories are socially “constructed” through varying strategies of power to control a region of space. This is nowhere more pronounced than in the conflicts of territory.

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Updated On : 14th Oct, 2021
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