Why I Don’t Celebrate India Day

Kashmir may have become a union territory of India, but I will never celebrate India’s independence.

Dal Lake, Srinagar. (Wikimedia)

Bassam Shawl


August 16, 2019

This week marks the 73rd anniversary of India’s independence from Britain in 1947. Neither my family nor I have ever celebrated “India Day.” In spite of India’s recent unconstitutional revoking of Kashmir’s autonomy to make it a union territory of India, we never will. 

My parents were both born and raised in Srinagar, the capital of the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, in the 1950s. Both had ancestral roots in the region, and knew one another through the Islamic community. After having my brother in the Valley, they emigrated to the United States from Srinagar in the late 80s in pursuit of the “American Dream.” I was born in Syracuse, New York, and was the first in my immediate family to be born outside of Kashmir. My parents made it clear that we shouldn’t consider ourselves Indian or Pakistani — though they held passports from the Indian government. 

Kashmir is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. In 1947, after Partition, the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir was set to remain independent. Kashmir, led by a Hindu maharaja Hari Singh, faced its share of troubles. After an uprising of Muslims in Jammu, later involving Pakistani tribesmen who aimed to liberate Kashmir, Singh agreed to accede to India in exchange for their military support

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