01 Jan Length: ?paper should be about 3 pages double-spaced, using Times 12-point or equivalent font with 1? margins.? The goal in this assignment is not to summarise the readingsrather, reflect on
Length: paper should be about 3 pages double-spaced, using Times 12-point or equivalent font with 1” margins.
The goal in this assignment is not to summarise the readings—rather, reflect on them and critically analyse. The essay should substantially address and cite ideas/material from the given readings. You will need to organize your thoughts into a coherent essay with an introductory paragraph that lays out your THESIS and main ideas that support it. You need to have a focused deep analysis on one topic and NOT a summary.
how has the Indian government continued to instill fear in the Kashmiris by militarisation? How has Modi contributed to it?
–what larger theoretical point do you see emerging from these readings, beyond their specifics?
–what questions do the readings/discussion leave you with?
Canine counterinsurgency in Indian-occupied Kashmir
Mona Bhan Syracuse University, United States
Purnima Bose Indiana University, United States
In this article, we analyze contemporary discourses of counterinsurgency in relation to
dogs in Kashmir, the disputed northernmost Himalayan territory of Jammu and
Kashmir, and the site of a prolonged military occupation. We are interested in the
widespread presence of street dogs in Kashmir as both embodiments and instruments
of military terror. We consider the competing narratives of how canines function var-
iously in Kashmiri perceptions of counterinsurgency and in Indian nationalist dis-
courses. Through ethnographic and cultural analyses, we track how street dogs
appear in various cultural and public narratives as the Indian military’s “first line of
defense,” and the ways in which their overwhelming presence produces deep anxieties
about the nature and extent of the military occupation of Kashmir.
Counterinsurgency, dog terror, Military Working Dogs, Indian occupation, Kashmir,
In a deleted scene from No Fathers in Kashmir, a teen love story set against the backdrop of Kashmir’s prolonged military occupation, a gravedigger recounts events from the 1990s to a young British Muslim Kashmiri girl searching for her missing father (Kumar, 2019). “Every army camp had an interrogation room” in
Mona Bhan, 327 Eggers Hall, Syracuse University, New York 13244, United States.
Email: [email protected]
Critique of Anthropology
2020, Vol. 40(3) 341–363
! The Author(s) 2020 Article reuse guidelines:
the 1990s, where Kashmiris were tortured and killed, and then buried “quickly,” he tells her in a despondent voice (Kumar, 2019). “The dogs would get them at night,” he continues (Kumar, 2019). Dogs “had developed a taste for human flesh,” so “it wasn’t unusual to see a dog running around the streets with a hand or a foot” (Kumar, 2019). Pausing for a long time, as if haunted by the horrors of the past, he claims that the dogs of Kashmir are different: they are “not like normal dogs” (Kumar, 2019). Traumatized by his own retelling, the gravedigger abruptly leaves the site of what appears to be a freshly dug grave.
This narrative film is set in Kashmir, the world’s most densely militarized space, which has been under India’s military occupation since 1947, the year that India gained its independence and was partitioned to form the Muslim-majority state of Pakistan and the nominally secular state of India. Both India and Pakistan have since exerted their claims over Kashmir and fought four wars over it even as there has been a prolonged movement in the region demanding azadi or independence since the 1940s. In 1989, Kashmiris began an armed struggle against India’s occu- pation with moral and logistical support from Pakistan, a popular rebellion that was countered by India through the disproportionate use of military force and violent counterinsurgency tactics to silence all forms of dissent. The Indian security forces’ repertoire included enforced disappearances, custodial killings, sexual abuse and torture, and psychological warfare (Duschinski et al., 2018). India’s violent repression of Kashmiris has been buttressed with legal protections for the armed forces for their human rights abuses and, most recently, constitutional maneuvers aimed at removing Kashmir’s limited legislative autonomy, a point whose significance we return to at the end of this article.
The dogs evoked in the scene from No Fathers in Kashmir described above are street dogs1 and are constructed as an informal ancillary force of the Indian Army insofar as they are described as cleaning up the military’s human rights violations in the 1990s by literally devouring the evidence of mutilated limbs. Since then there has been a shift in the status of street dogs relative to the military occupation of Kashmir. Where in the 1990s street dogs were perceived as loosely associated with the Indian forces, in the 2010s the army has anointed them as soldiers in their own right. For example, an article posted on the Indian news and entertainment site, Rediff (2016), extols the counterinsurgency virtues of Military Working Dogs (MWDs) in Indian-occupied Kashmir, and dubs them “the mute sentinels of Kashmir.” Rattling off the various responsibilities of MWDs, which include acting as guards, detecting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and tracking suspected militants, the article introduces readers to individual dogs: Trigger, Tractor, Sam, and Caesar. In the midst of these German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Labrador Retrievers, the breeds most often employed by the Indian Army, we learn of Jojo, a Bakarwali dog, a breed which is found locally, mostly in “hilly areas” (Kaul, 2016).2 Kaul (2016) implies that Jojo’s origins are humble; he is an ordinary street dog who has been recruited into the Indian mil- itary to disperse “violent demonstrators.” Indeed, according to politically conser- vative Indian websites dedicated to animal rights, Indian street dogs are among the
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world’s “most intelligent” and are therefore deployed in large numbers by the Indian security forces to tackle Maoist “naxals” in troubled regions and the “terrorists” in Jammu and Kashmir (Jaagruti, 2010). (The basis for this assessment of the Indian street dogs’ intelligence is never given, suggesting that it expresses national pride rather than an actual evaluation of canine aptitude.) One such website warns against treating Indian street dogs as a health and safety “nuisance,” and urges its readers to reframe dog-inflicted violence as a befitting response towards “untoward people,” mostly Kashmiris, who pose a threat to India’s ter- ritorial integrity (Jaagruti, 2010). As “the unsung heroes in the war against terror in Kashmir,” street dogs become India’s saviors while Kashmiris are animalized, reduced to their bestial instincts that are most starkly expressed, according to Indian commentators, during Kashmir’s frequent street protests and violent attacks on India’s security forces (ul-Hassan, 2015).
In this article, we analyze how street dogs become extensions of India’s coun- terinsurgency war against Kashmiris through the multiple roles they play for the military, including as guard dogs, assault dogs, trackers of suspected insurgents, and IED detectors, and to instill fear in prisoners and the wider population. We explore how the Indian police and military forces, as well as several animal rights groups, frame street dogs as defenders of the Indian nation and its territorial integrity. Public discourses invoke concern over animal welfare to cement India’s occupation of Kashmir and reinforce pre-existing power differentials between Indians and Kashmiris based on religious and racial identities. Such con- tingent and unfolding alliances between the Indian animal rights movement and a deepening Islamophobia situate Kashmiris as civilizationally inferior and, hence, undeserving of fundamental human rights. We also argue that the occupying logic of a military state aligns with neoliberal virtues of pet care that have become seamless extensions of a Hindu ethic of inclusivity amidst an increasingly polarized religious context in India. In other words, appeals to animal rights and “canine citizenship” mask virulent and violent forms of Hindu nationalism, which are reinforced and enacted on a quotidian basis against Kashmiris (Uddin, 2003).3
Our intent in this article is to analyze the circulation of the figure of the street dog in both ethnographic interviews with Kashmiris and the numerous blogs devoted to canine welfare for what they reveal about the comparative valuation of life under military occupation.
The recent turn toward animal studies in anthropology has shown the remark- able ways in which categories of human and animal are “not inevitable or universal but shaped in particular contexts” by differently positioned actors (Mullin, 2002: 390). Instead of treating dogs and humans as mutually distinct entities, we take cues from multispecies ethnography to show the “effects of [human] entanglements with other kinds of living selves,” and their implications for what it means to be human in fraught political contexts of racism, slavery, mass incarcerations, geno- cide, occupation, and war (Kohn, 2007: 4). Animals have long been incorporated into projects of empire building, their material capacities deployed, and at times enhanced, to remake borders and impose imperial visions of sovereignty
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(Kosek, 2010). At times, such as along the US–Mexico border in Arizona, dogs join vultures and other desert-animals to scavenge the dead bodies of Mexican migrants, scattering their remains and making it impossible to track or document their deaths (De Le�on, 2015). For Radhika Govindrajan (2018: 3), the concept of “relatedness” captures the multiple ways “the potential and outcome of a life always and already unfolds in relation to that of another,” and highlights how conceptions of species autonomy and the attendant boundaries between human and animal are perpetually negotiated and in a state of constant flux. In the case of Kashmir, the concern over street dogs, and the liberal humanitarian appeals to save them, attain meaning only against the denial of fundamental human rights to Kashmiris. The categories of canine personhood and Kashmiri personhood are dialectically produced under the prevailing conditions of a military occupation.
Tyler Wall (2014) has analyzed how police dogs “animalize the force of law” by functioning as literal weapons of the state and inflicting violence on “disobedient” populations, an ever expanding category of people that includes racialized bodies, dissident subjects, terrorists, and protesters. In Kashmir, the power of canines cannot be separated from the legal impunity that the Indian military enjoys for their routine human rights violations and its prolonged war on Kashmiri people (Wall, 2014). Dogs embody the force and bestiality of the state as they become vectors of militarized violence through the mauling and killing of Kashmiris; they represent the pervasiveness of control and containment meant to undermine peo- ple’s resistance against the Indian state. As we describe later, Kashmiris continue to resist characterizations of their civilizational backwardness by drawing attention to their “dwindling quality of life and diminished humanity” through protests that showcase street dogs and simultaneously expose the differential valuation of humans versus dogs in Kashmir (Khan, 2014: 256). Kashmiris have appropriated canines as a metaphor for the brutality of the state as evidenced by the pervasive- ness of urban graffiti demanding “Indian dogs return to India.” In such invoca- tions, Amit Baishya (2018: 5) states, “the feral otherness of the colonial occupier is equated and rendered coextensive with a familiar example of feral animality.” Indian street dogs, in sum, acquire multiple meanings, simultaneously encompass- ing associations with militarized violence, a virulent version of neoliberalized Hinduism, and spirited resistance to the national security state.
The dogs of war
India has one of the largest programs in the world to train and deploy MWDs; these canines assist troops in detecting explosives, sentry duty, and tracking of suspected “militants” (Times of India, 2016). MWDs have been deployed to dif- ferent parts of India, including Kashmir, where many people now view dogs with suspicion and hostility (Allsopp, 2011: 19–20).4 Dogs have three acute physical senses which make them particularly useful in warfare: they have a much more developed sense of classificatory smell (e.g. they can group smells into categories such as “friendly and dangerous”); they have better night vision and a larger field
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of vision than humans (250 degrees); and they have a heightened sense of hearing and are able to detect a higher range of pitch (Allsopp, 2011: 14–15).
Moreover, dogs can be trained to attack, making their teeth a literal embodi- ment of power and turning them into weapons of the state. By “violently seizing flesh deemed threatening to order,” Wall (2014: 4) observes, “trained dogs” instan- tiate forms of state violence that are continuous from ancient warfare to its modern counterpart, and, in effect, become “instruments of organized coercion and blood- letting.” In an interview to a prominent Indian newspaper, the Inspector General of India’s Central Reserve Police Force claims that “dogs give a combat unit more teeth” against what he calls “insurrectionists” (Chakrabarty, 2010).The targets of such official canine violence all too frequently have been defined by the racial and ethnic logics of state power, as B�en�edicte Boisseron (2015: 18) analyzes in relation to African Americans in the United States. She explains that not only has “white collective consciousness in the Americas . . . been imposing images of ferocious dogs on black men,” but slave owners in the past and police in the present have also used large dogs to harass and coerce African Americans. In South Asia, where religion and ethnicity are often conjoined, the struggle for territorial sovereignty has rendered Kashmiri Muslims as the object-choice for canine violence by the Indian security forces.5
In vocabulary that eerily resembles the US military’s description of MWDs, Indian military officials also refer to their canine members as “force multipliers” (Chakrabarty, 2010). The Indian Army has about 1,200 MWDs, many of whom are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, and along the Line of Control (LoC), to detect mines and IEDs and track suspected militants (Times of India, 2016).6 Apart from their general contributions, army officials particularly emphasize MWDs as a vital aspect of maintaining military control of Kashmir. Colonel N.S. Kanwar, the commandant of the army’s veterinary hospital in Srinagar, attests that “Where humans have failed, dogs have excelled in anti-insurgency operations. In Kashmir, every operation is led by a dog and a handler” (Mushtaq, 2003). “It is the dog and his handler who face militants first,” a military dog trainer avers: “One cannot imagine how many lives these dogs save” (Mushtaq, 2003). Such statements con- tribute to the sense, among many Kashmiris, that canines constitute the army’s first line of security against dissident Kashmiris.
The cultural meanings associated with the proliferation of street dogs in Kashmir’s towns and villages in the past decade must be understood in relation to Kashmir’s prolonged occupation by at least 738,000 military personnel who are currently deployed along the contested LoC and in Kashmir’s towns, cities, and villages (IPTK and APDP Report, 2015).7 The threat by the military is com- pounded by an estimated 90,000 stray dogs in Srinagar alone, and approximately 1 million in the entire valley (Umar, 2012). Dogs are a ubiquitous presence in Kashmir. You see them near military bunkers, around mounds of trash that the municipality lets accumulate on the streets, on the lanes and alleyways leading up to apartments and houses, and also seated on cars and trucks. As a Kashmiri journalist reports, “The canines have been storming its streets, chasing cars, pulling
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down bicycle riders and often attacking pedestrians and school children” (Umar, 2012). In a five-year period, between 2008 and 2012, officials recorded approxi- mately 80,000 dog bites and 20 rabies deaths (ul-Hassan, 2013). Statistics such as these have led the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission to deem dog attacks a “violation of human rights” (Umar, 2012). For Kashmiris, the fact that street dogs often congregate in and around military cantonments, bunkers, and checkpoints facilitates their close association with MWDs. If formal MWDs “animalize the force of law,” street dogs informalize state terror while intensifying the culture of state impunity in Kashmir (Wall, 2014: 2). Street dog-inflicted vio- lence functions as a supplement to that unleashed on Kashmiris by MWDs, sanc- tioned by the state and protected through legal provisions which guard the armed forces from prosecution.
While a generalized fear attends street dogs among Kashmiris, they are cele- brated on the Indian mainland in ways that confirm local suspicions that these canines are tools of counterinsurgency. In an article posted online at Jaagruti, the anonymous author alerts readers to the dangers of Maoists, or “red terror,” who draw their inspiration from terrorists in Kashmir (Jaagruti, 2010). The author explains that the Maoists have launched a targeted killing campaign against India’s street dogs, because these loyal canines dare to “bark at the terrorists at night,” thereby, alerting the police and military to the presence of insurgents (Jaagruti, 2010). The article celebrates street dogs for their bravery and intelli- gence, while applauding them for being the nation’s loyal sentries. “Hail the Indian street dog,” the author proclaims, for its tireless and selfless service guard- ing neighborhoods; far from being a nuisance, the Indian street dog, which the terrorists want to see dead, is an abiding symbol of service and patriotism (Jaagruti, 2010).
These sentiments are echoed by numerous Indian Army officials, whose praise for the street dogs’ assistance in counterinsurgency campaigns blurs the distinction between them and MWDs. A retired army officer, Habib Rehman, reveals that every army picket from the LoC in the north-west to Arunachal Pradesh in the north-east has adopted a local “mongrel” to act as a watchdog (Karlekar, 2011). These canines, as Lt-Col. N.K. Airy points out, are “quick to train, easy to main- tain,” and do not require a large capital investment (Karlekar, 2011). More impor- tantly, they have the ability to discern between troops and local civilians, on the one hand, and strangers, on the other.8 It is not entirely clear whether he believes that the dogs perceive the differences between troops and local civilians because of their innate canine abilities or if he thinks that these dogs can see race or ethnicity, or even sense ideology. The naturalization of loyalty to India that these dogs supposedly demonstrate has shaped much of the public and military discourse in India around street dogs in Kashmir.
Perhaps most importantly, military officials maintain that street dogs who have been trained in policing can avoid being recognized as army dogs; they can “pass” as fixtures of the local environment even as they patrol the streets for insurgents. All of these factors have contributed to the popularity of street dogs among
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military officials and police authorities (Karlekar, 2011). In fact, the Indian mili- tary began, in 2017, to recruit “desi” (local varieties) dogs, particularly the Mudhol hound, into its ranks, dispelling the notion that desi dogs were “too independent minded to become disciplined professionals” and presenting these dogs as a “hardy alternative” in the face of the declining genetic diversity of service dogs globally (Bureau, 2019). The references to “passing” and “genetic diversity,” a code for miscegenation, demonstrate how the military occupation racializes sentient beings under its purview. The first batch of Mudhols was to be sent for “validation and testing” in Jammu and Kashmir before being permanently drafted into the Indian military (The Hindu, 2017). Important to bear in mind is that Mudhol dogs are considered “dogs of honor,” a title that recognizes their physical characteristics – a “slender body and graceful features that include elongated skull and a tapering muzzle” – as well as their fierce loyalty and bravery, attributed to their association with Hindu-warrior kings such as Chhatrapati Shivaji, a Maratha king celebrated by Hindu ideologues for his resistance to Muslim Mughal rule in Maharashtra.9
Indigenizing canine recruitment into the military therefore fits well within the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-hyped “Make in India” policy, which encourages local manufacturing, to mark the emergence of a resurgent India (The Hindu, 2017). The parallels between Indian manufacturing and the recruitment of “Indian” dog breeds into the military, or as pets, are striking insofar as they both rely on the assertion of a nativist pride and loyalty, and claims to liberate India from its dependencies on foreign interventions, both human and animal (The Hindu, 2019). Associations between Mudhols and resistance to the British in the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny further fortify their status as canine patriots (Menaskinakai, 2017). Much like Indian manufacturing, the militarization of desi dogs also relies on claims of India’s national resurgence, which contributes to the legitimization of Modi’s brand of xenophobia that combines a toxic blend of masculinity with an emboldened Hinduism. Modi has used the exaggerated repre- sentations of Mudhol dog patriotism to discipline what he and his party members derisively call India’s tukde tukde gang, a progressive group of student leaders and their political allies who dare to criticize Modi’s divisive and violent policies against India’s minorities. In a dig against Rahul Gandhi, the President of the Congress Party, for his show of support for the tukde tukde gang, Modi urged him to shun his “uneasiness” with nationalism by “learn[ing about] patriotism from Army’s Mudhol Hound Dogs” (Outlook, 2018). Mudhol dogs have thus emerged as the gold standard of Indian patriotism and the flag bearers of India’s new political dispensation that crushes democratic dissent, or ridicules it, by branding it anti-national. While Mudhol dogs are India’s honor dogs, embodiments of “royal” breeding and physical grace, other indigenous Indian dogs sometimes referred to as the “Indogs” are also increasingly hailed in India’s dog-loving cir- cuits as “smart, friendly, and agile,” despite having suffered years of contempt and ridicule (Agarwal, 2019). In such assessments, however, the conflation between Indogs and India’s street dogs is discouraged, since the street dog continues to be construed as the racial other, a mixed-breed or mutt that threatens the purity of
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the indigenous Indian dog. The indigeneity of dogs therefore also relies on a racialized scheme in which the street dog is deemed an Indian loyalist even as it remains racially inferior to the purebred Indogs. Such racialized hierarchies between dogs also stabilize distinctions between human insiders and outsiders in a context where Hindu-ness and indigeneity have become fundamental require- ments for Indian statehood and citizenship. Despite the entrenched racism and xenophobia, Indian animal rights activists repeatedly invoke the care for animals as a Hindu ethic to animalize human Others for whom canine populations embody the ferocity of the state.
The dehumanization of Kashmiris and canine personhood
In contrast to the receptiveness towards street dogs exhibited by the Indian police and military personnel, and also by India’s top leadership, conservative blogs assert that “terrorists” – namely, Kashmiri, Maoist, and Punjabi insurgents – urge local communities to engage in mass killings of street dogs (Karlekar, 2010, 2011). Whether to consider the street dog a friend or a foe, in effect, has become yet another index by which to denigrate Kashmiris, who are figured as inferior moral beings on account of their willingness to eliminate stray canine populations. In the hierarchy of cultural value, Kashmiris are constructed as inhabiting a status lower than dogs, evident in the dehumanizing treatment and cruelty they experi- ence at the hands of the Indian military and the derisive discrimination they face from Indian civilians more generally. One need only recall the actions of an Indian Army major, who after gratuitously beating a young Kashmiri man, strapped him to the front of a jeep to act as a human shield against stone throwers. The young man’s name was scrawled on a piece of paper affixed to his chest and a soldier blared a warning to bystanders, informing them that this was the “fate” awaiting stone pelters (Yasin and Berry, 2017). The immobilizing of the young man by tying him to the jeep evokes the tethering of dogs by ropes; his status as a human shield announces that his life matters only insofar as his body, alive or dead, protects those of the security forces from harm. Shortly after this incident, the responsible army major was awarded a military honor for what army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand describes as “sustained efforts in CI
Two historic developments undergird the simultaneous dehumanization of Kashmiri Muslims and the emergent concern over animal welfare: changes in
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attitudes to dogs connected to neoliberalism and the political maturation of Hindu nationalism. One consequence of the liberalization of India’s economy in the early 1990s has been an explosion of new arenas for the consumption of goods and services, including pet-related markets. The drive for conspicuous consumption has changed the nature of the relationships between Indians and dogs. Prior to the opening of the Indian economy to foreign investment, most individual house- holds did not have canine pets; more often than not, street dogs were loosely “adopted” by neighborhoods.10 These canines occupied a liminal space outside of domestication but not fully separate from it. As Krithika Srinivasan (2019: 3) explains, “food waste generated by human co-inhabitants” provides the primary sustenance for street dogs while their vehicles and buildings offer shelter. She notes that although street dogs are not feral, in the sense that they often seek human companionship, these canines exercise considerable autonomy in their day-to-day lives (Srinivasan, 2019: 3–4). The dependent autonomy of street dogs has resulted in a relationship with humans characterized by the everyday intimacies of living in a shared space. Yet even as such intimacies still color the relationship between the two species, new forms of social differentiation have emerged in the last few decades, resulting in additional complexity in the human–animal dynamic already overdetermined by India’s military occupation of Kashmir.
Economic liberalization has created new subjectivities materialized in particular forms of consumption. Pet ownership has become one constituent of middle- and upper-class Indian identity, as these classes began to acquire pure-bred dogs such as beagles, labradors, and boxers, and started to buy services and stuff for their canine companions (Mukherjee, n.d.; see also Bradley and King, 2012).11 The correlation between rising incomes, pet ownership, and new arenas for consump- tion is an essential aspect of the expansion of pet ownership and evolving attitudes towards dogs into new regions of the world (for an analysis of the expansion of Western attitudes towards pets under neoliberalism, see Nast, 2006a, 2006b). For our purposes, it is important to acknowledge the social differentiation that has occurred between canine pets and street dogs. The former are increasingly figured as members of the family in a version of canine personhood whereas attitudes towards the latter vary, spanning the range from considering them pariahs to their being worthy objects of rescue by the burgeoning Indian animal rights move- ment (for more on canine rescue, see Bose, 2020). Significantly, many animal rights groups, along with the Indian police and military, are transforming the liminal status of street dogs by recruiting them into counterinsurgency wars as agents of national defense and security. Rather than being “animals on the edge,” street dogs are central to the political configuration of nation and territory (Fortuny, 2014: 272; Mikhail, 2015).12 That is to say, the fluidity of identity and quasi-autonomy that characterized street dogs earlier has given way to the fixing of their identities into functionaries of the security apparatus. Insofar as the meanings assigned to dogs and their treatment are contingent on historical, geographical, and contextual factors such as the nature of the state and military occupation, the degree to which they are accorded canine personhood and rights is not static or stable and can
Bhan and Bose 349
change in the future. The antipathy that many Kashmiris feel toward street dogs is
not so much an engrained cultural att
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