How Activism Has Changed for Kashmiri Americans

The Kashmiris who moved West have seen the fight for statehood morph from an academic movement to something far larger.

Jeevika Verma

October 11, 2019

How Activism Has Changed for Kashmiri Americans
On September 27, New York City saw the largest protest held for the Kashmir cause. (The Juggernaut)

Long contested as a region, Kashmir is wrought with undying beauty and forceful upheaval. Historically governed by outside forces — Hindu rulers, British colonizers, and then the Indian and Pakistani militia — Kashmiris have had to fight endlessly for a right to self-determination. 

Yet, for many in the diaspora, Kashmir’s statelessness had become a given. Activists from older generations banked on academia and a highly educated group of Kashmiris to elevate this discourse — until August 5, when India revoked Article 370. Almost overnight, many in the Kashmiri diaspora mobilized to collect resources and protest for Kashmir’s freedom.

“Whatever little freedom we had bargained from India was also taken away,” Dr. Ghulam Nabi Mir told me. The day was “the 9/11 of Kashmir. People remember exactly where they were that day.”

Mir, the president of Ohio-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, was a political student activist in Kashmir when he migrated to the U.S. in 1974. He remembers his early years of activism in the U.S. as dedicated but slow, with academics and experts organizing conferences or panels on Kashmir.