Crisis States Working Paper 75

Title : Of Broken Social Contracts and Ethnic Violence: the case of Kashmir
Author(s) : Neera Chandhoke
Date : December 2005

Abstract: This paper argues that the main reason for political discontent and violence in Kashmir has to do with repeated infringements of the social contract by the central government of India, often acting in tandem with the state government. This has been accompanied by erosion of the democratic space that permits articulation of political discontent. The author traces the politicisation of identity to processes that are internal to democracy and to federalism in India. The paper draws on a survey conducted in the district of Srinagar - an area chosen by using three indicators to identify high conflict districts: murders, kidnappings and riots. It considers the theoretical debates concerning nationalism and ethnicity and examines the social contract in Kashmir, both historically and more recently. It concludes by drawing out the implications of the analysis for theories on ethnic conflict.