Hindu nationalist trolls have boasted about finding wives in Kashmir after BJP government stripped the region of constitutional protections.

Since India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unilaterally scrapped Article 370 of the Indian Constitution - a law that gave Kashmir semi-autonomous status -many Indians are eyeing anything and everything that’s Kashmiri.

That includes Kashmiri women.

There is a complete communication clampdown in the valley, which prevents residents from accessing the internet, little do they know what is in the offing for them. 

As #Article 370 trended globally, there was a sharp increase in bizarre online posts asserting Hindu supremacy and claiming ownership of women. The posts reeked of objectification with many across India fantasising about marrying ‘white skinned’ Kashmiri girls. Some were even equating property with women. 

According to Huffington Post, TikTok, in particular, was full of desperate Indian Hindu men asserting ‘victory’ by claiming that they could now ‘get girls’ from Kashmir. There has been a surge in similar content on Facebook and Twitter.

Some even took it offline. While addressing a gathering about Article 370, Vikram Singh Saini, a politician from the ruling BJP, said the party workers were “excited” by the change as they can now marry “fair girls from Kashmir”. His statement was met with applause.

The scrapped constitutional provision was a formalisation of the then independent princely state's 1947 accession treaty with India.

The law, Article 370 of the constitution, forbids Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs, and securing education scholarships.

Critics of such a measure say that in doing away with Article 370, New Delhi hopes to change India-administered Kashmir's Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu residents.

In the last few days, the top searches on Google were ‘Kashmiri women’ or ‘how to marry Kashmiri women’. ‘Kashmir girl pic’ topped the Google trend list in India. 

The sexist social media posts and searches represent a brazen display of Hindu nationalist male chauvinism towards Kashmiri women. Many right-wingers celebrated the idea of ‘getting’ a Kashmiri woman as if they are objects with no agency.

Many analysts argue that misogyny is deep-rooted in Indian society. Right-wing trolls seized the moment after the BJP announcement to direct their hatred towards Kashmiri women. As celebrations over the acquisition of Kashmiri land and obtaining Kashmiri women merged, the lines between patriarchy and patriotism became blurred.

Most of these trolls enjoy political patronage, with many members from the ruling BJP, including the prime minister following them online.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies