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Haley Duschinski REPRODUCING REGIMES OF IMPUNITY Fake encounters and the informalization of everyday violence in

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Kashmir Valley

In India, the phrase ‘fake encounter’ refers to the extrajudicial killing of a civilian followed by the official claim that the victim was a Pakistani infiltrator killed in a legitimate military encounter with police or army forces. This article explores the widespread pattern of fake encounters in Kashmir Valley in order to shed light on the processes through which violence and terror become fictionalized and fantastic, with Kashmiri bodies gaining a heightened visibility in a falsified form within a cultural imaginary of national security interests and public safety concerns. Identifying Kashmir Valley as a state of exception, I examine how the suspension of the rule of law gives rise to new agents and hierarchies of power and authority and new patterns of criminalization and paramilitarization throughout Kashmiri society. I also consider how the informalized practices of forced disappearance, fictionalized terror, and impunity for violence are produced and reproduced through the strategic manufacturing of public consent for violence against Kashmiris throughout Indian society at large. Keywords

violence; law; impunity; exception; disappearances; justice

In early February 2007, crowds of men and women took to the streets in Kashmir Valley, shouting anti-government slogans and carrying wooden coffins in the air as they made their way through the thoroughfares and byways of the capital city of Srinagar. The scene recalled the massive crowd demonstrations in January 1990 that marked the onset of the region’s conflict ! what has alternately been called a secessionist movement, an insurgency, and a lowintensity war. At that time, Kashmiri men and women shuttered their shops and joined massive public demonstrations in Srinagar and other towns in Kashmir Valley in open support for the movement for azaadi, or independence from the Indian state. Through these demonstrations, the Kashmiri people were expressing their demand for self-determination in response to the Indian Cultural Studies Vol. 24, No. 1 January 2010, pp. 110!132 ISSN 0950-2386 print/ISSN 1466-4348 online – 2010 Taylor & Francis http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/09502380903221117


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state’s systematic pattern of disenfranchisement and denial of rights in the region. Kashmiris remember that period as a time of great excitement but also great restlessness and apprehension, with an atmosphere of uncertainty that carried the promise but also the threat of change. Some 17 years after those mass demonstrations, Kashmiri crowds again took to the streets in a collective expression of anger against the denial of justice, in this case, the longstanding pattern of state security forces killing innocent civilians in ‘fake encounters’ and burying them under the name of foreign, typically Pakistani, militants. The protests came in the wake of an explosive turn of events in which police officers, under pressure from families and local human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), publicly exhumed a series of bodies identified as ‘foreign militants’ from several graveyards in Kashmir and performed DNA tests to ascertain their true identities. The tests concluded that the bodies were not those of the foreign militants whose names they had been given in death, but rather Kashmiri civilians ! a carpenter, a perfume seller, a shopkeeper, an imam, and a state employee ! whose families had been desperately searching for them for months. Protesters carried these bodies, riddled with bullet holes, through the streets in their coffins as they urged the government to bring an end to extrajudicial killings through fake encounters and deliver justice by resolving the thousands of cases of enforced disappearances throughout Kashmir Valley. The terms ‘fake encounters,’ ‘false encounters,’ and ‘encounter killings’ are widely used in their English forms throughout Kashmir Valley to refer to the staged gun battles that constitute a distinctive cultural practice of state violence in the region. Since 1990, Kashmiri regional newspapers have regularly run stories, based on government-issued press notes, about young Kashmiri men who were ‘killed in an encounter’ between militants and troops. Kashmiris widely acknowledge that these stories describe, not instances of individuals killed while engaging in gun battle with security forces, but rather episodes of extrajudicial executions of individuals who for one reason or another were targeted for death. These killings may take place after the victim has been detained in official custody for at least a short period prior to death, or they may take place on the streets, prior to detention, as security forces or police officers or paramilitary personnel kill the individual at the moment of observation or apprehension. The extrajudicial killing is then followed by the official claim that the victim died in a legitimate military encounter with police or army forces. In some cases, the victim’s identity is altered as the body is presented, along with an array of weapons, ammunitions and other evidence of guilt ostensibly recovered from his possession, under the false name of a foreign, typically Pakistani, infiltrator, thus creating patterns of disappearances as victims’ family members search for information about their loved ones who have been buried under false names.

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Kashmir Valley is not the only site in India where fake encounters have taken place. They have been employed as a state practice in various theaters of violence throughout the country, with civilian bodies misrepresented as Khalistani fighters in Punjab, Maoist rebels in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, Islamic infiltrators in Delhi and Bombay, Muslim subversives in Gujarat, and rebel soldiers in the northeastern areas of Assam, Manipur and Tripura.1 In all of these cases, the populations in question are cast as terrorists, criminals, or some other embodiment of disorder posing a threat to the integrity of the Indian nation. State violence thus becomes legitimized through a dominant ideology of nationalism and patriotism, and through a prevailing narrative that frames the killings as necessary for ensuring the security of the state. Employed as a tactic in areas designated as ‘law and order problems,’ fake encounters reproduce themselves through a kind of magic by calling into existence the bodies of alleged infiltrators or insurgents that are needed to justify the state’s continuing suspension of the rule of law in the area. In this article, I use the state practice of fake encounters in Kashmir Valley as a window into what happens when an excepted category of people routinely encounter the arbitrary and contradictory, yet nonetheless violent, power of the state. The term ‘fake encounter’ gestures towards the spectral quality of these extrajudicial killings by conjuring the image of the encounter as a combative military engagement ! insurgents exchanging gunfire with counterinsurgents, terrorists locked in battle with counter-terrorists ! only to reveal the true nature of the moment of contact as hollow, counterfeit, and false. In this way, the concept itself calls into question the idea that the violence in the region exemplifies an oppositional conflict carried out between militant groups and state security forces. This violence, it suggests, is something different altogether: muddled, contested, and indeterminate. Fake encounters draw attention to the complicated ground realities of life in Kashmir, with surrendered militants working as police informers, special operations police forces acting in a vigilante fashion, army men participating in mafia networks, and young men carrying out extortion rackets in the name of the militancy. In this way, they shed light on the tensions and contradictions that emerge out of the disjuncture between the formal biopolitical arrangements that define and even overdetermine life and death, and the informalized realities of legalization, criminalization, and paramilitarization that constrain people’s choices and configure people’s destinies. In this article, I examine the formalized legal-political conditions that establish the state of exception in Kashmir Valley as well as the informalized repertoires of power, authority, and sociability that operate within the sociopolitical arena. I also consider the processes through which violence and terror become fictionalized and fantastic, with Kashmiri bodies gaining a heightened visibility in a falsified form within a national cultural imaginary of national security interests and public safety concerns. In closing, I consider the ways in which forced


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disappearance, fictionalized terror, and impunity for violence are produced and reproduced through the strategic manufacturing of public consent for violence against Kashmiris throughout Indian society at large.

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The exceptional state In recent years, anthropologists have increasingly turned their attention to themes of violence, law, and justice, through ethnographic analyses of political violence that focus on conflict, warfare, and state repression (for example Argenti-Pillen 2002, Hinton 2005, Mahmood 1996, Manz 2004, Nordstrom 1997, Sanford 2003), as well as studies of symbolic and structural violence that give rise to patterns of social suffering, social abandonment, and social death (for example Biehl 2005, Bourgois 2002, Farmer 1992, Scheper-Hughes 1992). These wide ranging sets of practices, scaling from the brutal savagery of mass killing to the ‘soft knife’ of routinized immiseration, cannot be considered in isolation from one another (Lutz 2002). Whether it is spectacularly visible or silenced and hidden from view, violence as a ‘complex social fact’ is a general and continuous aspect of the modern state, spinning out across multiple institutionalized landscapes with political, economic, religious, and moral implications (Pandey 2006, p. 8). Ethnographic studies of ‘social suffering’ highlight the routine procedures of health, welfare, education, and other normalizing social institutions that effectively strip people of their value and force them into positions of dehumanization, depersonalization, and annihilation (Kleinman et al. 1997). Nancy Scheper-Hughes highlights these interdependencies in her concept of a ‘genocide continuum’ comprised of a multitude of ‘small wars and invisible genocides’ carried out in the normative social spaces of everyday life, urging anthropologists to find ways of making sense of and representing the processes through which certain segments of a population become marked as ‘living dead’ whose lives can be taken by the state at will or by whim (1997, 2002). This requires attention to the interlocked juridical, political, cultural, and religious institutions that establish the conditions for violence in the modern state. Modern states claim a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence as a means of protecting law and order, controlling dissent, and achieving the end of the greater common good. As Walter Benjamin (1978) recognized, the state’s insistence on monopolizing the practice of violence is not due to the state’s interest in protecting the public, but rather to the state’s interest in protecting its own claim to rule of law, as violence operating outside of the law threatens not the state, but the very existence of law itself.2 This fundamental fact leads to what Aretxaga (2000, p. 44) calls a ‘terrible ambiguity’ as violence and law blur together at the heart of the state, giving rise to a dissolution of perceived boundaries between the legal and the

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extra-legal, and the licit and the illicit. This terrible ambiguity makes itself felt through various disciplinary, regulatory, and enforcement practices that are exercised differentially across a range of citizenry, creating social (as opposed to spatial) landscapes of cores and peripheries that are shot through with power and violence. ‘Margins,’ write Das and Poole (2004, p. 4), ‘are a necessary entailment of the state, much as the exception is a necessary component of the rule.’ Giorgio Agamben has clarified these issues through his work on the problem of sovereignty and the exception. He elaborates this argument through reference to the figure designated by Roman law as homo sacer, an individual who because of crimes committed could not be murdered or sacrificed, but could be killed with impunity (Agamben 1995/1998). Employing this figure metaphorically, Agamben argues that the logic of homo sacer constitutes the ordering principle of modern states, which operate through the exercise of sovereign power areas designated as ‘exceptions’ that constitute a particular ‘juridical situation’ in which inhabitants are stripped of their rights, reduced to ‘bare life,’ and submitted to the sovereign power of the state (Agamben 2003/2005). States of exception may take the form of concentration camps in Nazi Germany, Japanese-American internment camps in World War II, and detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay in the current War on Terror, to name just a few of the sites presented in Agamben’s writings. Modern totalitarianism is defined through the establishment, in such states of exception, of ‘a legal civil war that allows for the physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into the political system’ (Agamben 2003/ Agamben 2005, p. 2). Agamben makes the critical point that the state of exception is a necessary component of the state of law and the practice of empire. The state of exception as a legal no-man’s land is not an anomalous space situated outside of the domain of politics, but rather an integral part of it. ‘At once excluding bare life from and capturing it within the political order, the state of exception actually constituted, in its very separateness, the hidden foundations on which the entire political system rested’ (Agamben 1995/1998, p. 9). This is the central paradox of the state of exception: it is the point at which the law provides for its own suspension and violation, and thus is preserved by something beyond it. The sovereign thus simultaneously finds himself inside and outside of the juridical order. Within the state of exception, the sovereign becomes absolute and unreferenced, requiring neither legitimacy nor legality for external justification. ‘The state of exception,’ de la Durantaye (2005, p. 182) writes, ‘is the political point at which the juridical stops, and a sovereign unaccountability begins; it is where the dam of individual liberties breaks and a society is flooded with the sovereign power of the state.’ The logic of human rights, based on a set of assumptions about the relationship between the


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individual and the state, does not make sense in this floodzone of sovereign power. Agamben’s political theory outlines the highly formalized biopolitical arrangements through which the state publicly acknowledges the disposability of certain categories of the population and relegates them to the domain of citizens who are also non-citizens, those individuals whose bare lives hang precariously in the balance on the peripheries of legal order and national life. It also suggests that the institutional political-legal apparatus that provides for the allocation of rights to life and death sets the condition for the emergence of complicated and fractured social configurations in the excepted and excluded non-state sphere. The dissolution of the boundary between the legal and the illegal, and the licit and the illicit, gives rise to alternate economic and political arrangements including mutations and fault lines in patterns of discipline and regulation, meanings and formations of citizenship and state!citizen relationships, and entrepreneurial enterprise. These deeply entangled networks of relations call to mind Thomas Hansen’s provocative concept of ‘repertoires of authority’ ! those agents and hierarchies operating beyond distinctions of state and non-state institutions under conditions of exception that define and delimit the capacity to make decisions, to adjudicate, to govern, and to punish (Hansen 2005). Attention to these informalized political and economic realities sheds light on the alternate arrangements of power and violence that shape people’s lives in these margins of the sovereign state. These emergent repertoires of power and authority produce regimes of impunity. In human rights discourse, impunity refers to a condition in which perpetrators are immune to or exempt from punishment for their crimes committed.3 It is also a consequence of the unlimited flow of sovereign power, as powerful quasi-state agents enact violence without accountability due to their position simultaneously inside and outside of the rule of law. Lesley Gill (2004, p. 138), in her ethnographic account of patterns of imperialism and impunity in the Americas, defines impunity as ‘the ability to operate without fear of punishment’ and also ‘an aspect of power’ that marks the process of social differentiation through a continual process of definition and redefinition. In her analysis, impunity is a strategy for demarcating a certain kind of political, economic, and social ‘order’ that benefits the state while creating conditions of misery for ordinary people who find their social worlds transformed through social violence, economic hardship, and political terror. Similarly, Rita Arditti (1999) argues that the culture of impunity that has flourished in Argentina in the aftermath of the ‘dirty war’ years constitutes a form of violence by effectively redirecting responsibility for the ‘disorder’ that continues to characterize social life away from the military regime and toward poor and marginalized communities. In this way, impunity constitutes a ‘structural element of Argentine reality,’ perpetuating an unequal distribution of power and the exploitation of workers (Arditti 1999, pp. 160!161).

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As these analyses demonstrate, impunity, institutionalized yet informalized, and operating as a routine procedure across multiple institutional fields including law as well as politics, produces a form of ‘disordered order’ that is necessary for the processes of subjection and domination (Taussig 1992). In subsequent sections, I turn attention to the actualities of everyday sociopolitical relations in order to shed light on how new forms of violence, terror, and impunity emerge as part of the shifting and sliding relations of loyalty, solidarity, and enmity among ordinary participants in Kashmir Valley.

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Conditions of impunity Kashmir Valley is a region on the social margins of the Indian state, in the sense that it constitutes what Carolyn Nordstrom (2004, pp. 34!39) refers to as ‘the shadows,’ places existing as part the formal state but also excluded from it, such that the violent realities of everyday life, and the legal and extra legal networks that support them, are caught up in layers upon layers of invisibility. Such shadow zones do not erupt as aberrations or anomalies, but rather are situated historically within sets of institutionalized political and cultural processes that constitute national life. Although the violence that currently exists in the region is typically dated to 1990, the events of the past 18 years may also be read as one phase of a more longstanding pattern, dating at least to the turbulent nationalist anxieties of Partition in 1947, of marking Jammu and Kashmir as a special region that is an integral part of the Indian nation and also necessarily a threat to it, a site on which to establish the geographical boundaries of national territory as well as the metaphorical borderlines of national identity through the practice of social control. Throughout the entire period of the subcontinent’s post-colonial history, the region has been designated as a state of emergency in a myriad ways, for example, through the central government’s institution of special acts and the maintenance of a strong army presence in the region.4 Patterns of sustained disenfranchisement and marginalization have entrenched Kashmiri collective feelings of alienation from the Indian state. In order to understand the state practice of fake encounters, it is necessary to know something about the political history of the region. The entire area of the territory historically known as Kashmir is currently divided into several portions, with one section administered by Pakistan, another section administered by India, and a smaller third section administered by China. This paper focuses on Kashmir Valley, which is one region (along with Jammu and Ladakh) in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). As one of several hundred princely states during the period of British colonial rule in South Asia, Kashmir, which had developed its own distinctive mode of regional nationalism, did not fit easily into either the secular nationalist vision of the


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India or the religious nationalist vision of Pakistan (Varshney 1991). The princely Maharaja’s decision to accede to India at the time of Partition was accompanied by a promise for a plebiscite that has never been implemented, leaving Kashmiris with deeply ingrained feelings of frustration with the very premise of Indian rule in the region. Kashmiris today use the language of self determination as a way of demanding an opportunity to express their collective will in relation to their own political future. Over the 60 years since Partition, the Indian state has responded to this complex social, political, and legal problem through militarization, repression, and indiscriminate violence, including, at various times, the denial of democracy, the manipulation of elections, and the jailing of political leaders (Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee et al. 2001).5 These practices culminated in 1987 with the rigging of the parliamentary elections, an act that Kashmiris perceived as a blatant denial of justice. As tensions escalated in the late 1980s, secessionist groups began to employ violent tactics as part of the struggle for self-determination, and security forces responded by cracking down on the entire society in 1990.6 Since that point, the situation in J&K has been framed in public as well as scholarly discourse as an instance of insurgency/counter-insurgency conflict necessitating the suspension of constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms in order to contend with, in the language of the Indian state, the exigencies of the ‘extraordinary law and order situation’ there. In early 1990, a state of emergency was declared in Jammu and Kashmir through the passage of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Modeled on a 1942 British ordinance designed to contain the Indian Independence movement during World War II, the AFSPA has been in existence in India since 1958, when it was introduced as a short-term measure to authorize army deployment in response to an armed rebellion in the northeast territories of Assam and Manipur.7 Since then, the AFSPA has been introduced in specific instances when the state or central government declares a targeted region to be in such a ‘disturbed and dangerous condition’ that the use of the armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary to prevent secessionist or terrorist acts. It grants extraordinary powers to security forces personnel, including authority to shoot individuals who are suspected of breaking the law and disturbing the peace, and to destroy structures suspected of harboring militants or arms. The language of AFSPA is instructive: it empowers security forces personnel to ‘fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force in the disturbed area’ if that officer believes it necessary ‘for the maintenance of public order.’ In these justifications for lethal violence, the special act invokes a distinction between order and disorder that paradoxically justifies the legal suspension of the law on the basis of the need to preserve the law itself.

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By emphasizing the idea that the state enacts violence as a necessary means to the justified end of protecting public interest, these constructions reproduce the notion of the state as a political entity that possesses a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force in the implementation of law and order. This vision of the relationship between violence and law assumes the existence of a clear boundary between the ordered world of the law and the disordered world of the outlaw, the criminal, the subversive, and the terrorist. Kashmiris are framed as such outlaws, clandestine and shadowy figures existing outside of the purview of the state but continually threatening to cross the boundary of legal jurisdiction and challenge the state from within. The AFSPA essentially transforms the ‘dangerous and disturbed region’ of Kashmir Valley into a theater of warfare, a hot zone inhabited exclusively by combatants whose lives can and must be destroyed in order to protect the public in a period of emergency. This distinction between the ‘ordered’ world of the state and the ‘disordered’ world of the non-state sets the condition for the impossibility, de facto and de jure, of bringing state agents to justice for their acts of violence. In fact, Indian law and the special acts legislate de jure or legal impunity through provisions that shield military personnel and civilian officials from prosecution for human rights abuses. For example, the AFSPA provides public servants with effective impunity from civilian prosecution by stating that ‘[n]o prosecution, suit, or other legal proceedings shall be instituted, except with previous sanction of [the] centre, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.’ Beyond this, there is a pervasive de facto or political impunity that indicates a lack of political will to prosecute state agents whose actions ! custodial killings, human shields, torture, long detention without charge or trial, rape ! exceed the terms established by the AFSPA. As I argue later in this article, such actions are justified, through narrative framings that emphasize themes of order and disorder, as necessary for the protection of the greater common good of the Indian citizenry.

The lethal machinery of the Indian state Through these conditions of exception, India maintains a massive state-security apparatus in Kashmir Valley, consisting of more than half a million troops, including military and paramilitary personnel of various units including the Indian Army, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and Rashtriya Rifles, the Indian Reserves Police Force (IRPF) the Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP), as well as vigilante structures such as the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the police, the reformed militant militia (ikhwan) run by the Rashtriya Rifles, and the armed


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members of the Village Defense Committees (VCDs). The high ratio of troops to civilians makes Kashmir Valley one of the most heavily militarized areas in the entire world. Srinagar city is mapped according to armed patrol units, sandbag posts, concrete and barbed wire bunkers, and military checkpoints for pedestrians and automobiles. Outside of the capital city, the presence of armed security forces is pervasive, with army and paramilitary forces appropriating public schools, private hotels, cinema halls, government offices, orchard lands, and abandoned houses.8 Kashmiris are required to carry official identification cards with them when traveling in public, and they are subject to interrogation and search at any time. As I argue elsewhere (Duschinski 2009), this intense militarization of society creates the feeling of an occupied zone, producing a collective feeling of alienation from the government, as well as a sense of humiliation and loss of dignity. Kashmiris live in the midst of what Linda Green (1999), writing about Guatemala, calls a ‘culture of fear’ charged by a constant and pervasive fear of arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances. Since the beginning of the conflict, the state has pursued a vigorous ‘catch and kill campaign’ through which security personnel kill militants extrajudicially, upon capture. This policy has been carried out openly, without pretext or disguise. In a comment made to The New York Times in the early years of the conflict, a senior security official said, ‘We don’t have custodial deaths here. We have alley deaths. If we have word of a hard-core militant, we will pick him up, take him to another lane and kill him and then take him to the police control room, where we release the body’ (Gargan 1993). This frank admission of extrajudicial killing calls to mind other instances in which state brutality has been publicly displayed without compunction or condemnation. Writing in the late 1960s, Jean Amery (1980, p. 23) expressed concern over torture photographs taken by the South Vietnamese Army depicting their own brutal treatment of Vietcong captives in the Vietnam War: ‘The admission of torture,’ he wrote, ‘the boldness ! but is it still that? ! of coming forward with such photos is explicable only if it is assumed that a revolt of public conscience is no longer to be feared.’ As Amery suggests, such comments reflect, not boldness, but rather shared knowledge that the actions in question are legitimized by an institutionalized system of impunity. In her analysis of torture at Abu Ghraib, Michelle Brown (2005, p. 975) highlights the idea that the US administration’s handling of the production and circulation of photographic evidence of torture is disconcerting ‘not simply because of the absence of an open, adversarial justification, but because of the larger absence of any perceived need for one.’ In Kashmir, as in Vietnam and Abu Ghraib, state violence is not a secret to be buried or a policy to be justified; it is part and parcel of the way in which sovereignty is practiced in relation to shadow communities in the social and territorial margin of the state.

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This system produces a conceptual slippage as all Kashmiris are cast as potential militants and governed, not through law, but through force. Agamben (2003/2005) invokes the equation force of law to indicate the extent to which force becomes transformed from a means to the end of law, into law itself. In this way, sovereign power operates through pure force. This contraction and cancelling out of law gives rise to a zone of undecideability in which categories become blurred: the state is regulated and also unregulated, licit and also illicit, just and also corrupt. This idea was recently captured by an editorial in Kashmir Times that asks ‘whether we have the police force for protecting the edifice of law or for breaking it, for preventing murders or for committing some, and for protecting the weak from the powerful or for helping the latter in carrying out their selfish designs’ (May 1, 2007). The legal suspension of the distinction between legality and illegality in the name of public order gives rise to checkpoints, encounter killings, human shields, and the mismarked graves of the disappeared. The problem of extrajudicial killings has been highlighted by relatives of the disappeared working with human rights organizations to promote accountability and rule of law. In 1994, Parveena Ahangar, a Kashmiri woman whose son disappeared after being picked up by security forces, formed the Association of the Parents of Disappeared People (APDP) to document and raise awareness about the problem of disappearances. There are no accepted or authentic numbers representing disappearances in Kashmir Valley, with government figures ranging from 60 to 1074 to 3744, and NGO figures ranging from 8000 to 10,000 (Public Commission on Human Rights, 2007, pp. 96!99). The APDP sets the number at approximately 7000. Politicized debates about the number of the disappeared focus on whether the ranks of the disappeared include individuals who joined the militancy by willfully leaving their families to cross the Line of Control (LOC), the military control line that functions as the de facto border, for weapons training in Pakistan. These debates are important within the framework of human rights practice for establishing an evidentiary record of state repression in the region, but they can also have the effect of deflecting public attention towards the numbers and away from the very real terror and fear experienced by families who are subjected to regimes of impunity. For the families of the disappeared, waiting ! for the return of a loved one, for news about his fate, or for justice in the form of state transparency and accountability ! is truly the defining characteristic of their lives in the margin (Stevenson 2007, p. 141). In recent years, these human rights organizations have become increasingly vocal in their demands for justice, and for the withdrawal of special powers from the army and paramilitary forces. Larger political processes in the state may be opening space for these forms of dialogue to take place. The leaders of India and Pakistan initiated a sustained and serious ‘composite dialogue’ in 2004 on all contentious issues between the two countries, including the ‘core


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issue’ of Kashmir. The peace process has yielded several concrete results, notably a ceasefire along the LOC since 2003. Despite these developments, the everyday informalization and paramilitarization of violence remain largely unchanged for Kashmiri people, under the conditions established by the AFSPA and other complementary special acts. The contradictory and arbitrary patterns and hierarchies of power, authority, and violence continue to operate within the state of exception, and they remain firmly entrenched through a dominant set of ideas supported by public consent and popular consensus in India at large. I examine these ideological mechanisms in the following section.

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Containing state violence How does the state legitimize such institutionalized and informalized violence amidst and against its own citizens? In seeking to answer this question, I follow Philip Abrams (1988) in approaching the state, not as an all powerful centralized entity, but rather as the reification of an idea, what Aretxaga (2003, pp. 400!401) calls a ‘fictional reality,’ that operates through ideological coercion by masking, or fictionalizing, state terror and then legitimizing it in the name of public interest. In this way, state terror in its stark reality (the extrajudicial killing of a Kashmiri civilian) is effectively rendered invisible and then re-formulated and re-presented as a new reality (the encounter killing of a Pakistani infiltrator) in a heightened mode of visibility through public accounts, including media reports as well as scholarly representations, that emphasize a distinction between the ordered and safe domain of the state and disordered and dangerous world of the non-state. Writing on this ‘politics of invisibility,’ Carolyn Nordstrom argues that such master narratives reproduce the dominant discourse of the state by casting violence as ‘the province of rational militaries and mostly rational soldiers controlling the dangerous elements and explosive fissures inherent in human society’ (Nordstrom 2004). In this section, I consider the ‘terror talk’ surrounding fake encounters in Kashmir in order to explore how patterns of sovereign violence become rendered invisible along the boundary line between legality and illegality (Taussig 1992). In early February 2007, a series of dramatic revelations concerning fake encounters in Kashmir Valley triggered a wave of national media attention to the issue of state violence in the region. As these dramatic events unfolded throughout the month, English-language mainstream news sources in India covered the story heavily, producing daily updates on key events in a sensational manner that called to mind the spectacle and suspense of a Bollywood film. The articles blurred fantasy and reality as they revealed networks and connections, spotlighting the role of villainous cops, rouge soldiers, strongmen and power players, secrets and aliases, caches of arms and

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ammunition, and other similarly dramatic plot points. The public response to the fact of fake encounters was largely managed and contained by these representations, and as in earlier cases of exposure of state atrocities,9 public attention soon subsided as the story moved out of the glare of the media spotlight. What follows is my reconstruction of the story that emerged in these national media sources at that time. On December 8, 2006, a 33-year-old carpenter named Abdul Rehman Paddar disappeared during a trip from his home village of Larnoo in the district of Anantnag to Srinagar city. His family lodged a complaint with the police station. As the police probed into his disappearance, they found that his mobile phone was being used with a new SIM card by an individual living in the town of Hajan, in the district of Baramullah. The mobile phoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new owner informed police that he had received the phone from Assistant Sub-Inspector Farooq Guddu, a key member of the SOG counter-terrorism police task force in Ganderbal, in Srinagar district. Upon questioning, Guddu confirmed that a police team had kidnapped the carpenter in the outskirts of Srinagar, transported him in a police vehicle to Ganderbal, and killed him the next day. The policemen then buried the body at Sumbal, a town in Baramullah, and filed a report stating that the SOG and CRPF had killed a Pakistani commander named Mohammad Ibrahim, alias Abu Hafeez, of the Lashkare-Toiba. The report indicated that they had recovered an AK-47 rifle, three magazines, 36 round of ammunition and a grenade from the victim. The police arrested two high ranking officers, Ganderbal police superintendent Hans Raj Parihar and his deputy Bahadur Ram. Parhiar had previously been publicly identified as responsible for the alleged custodial killing of a Kashmir University photographer named Fayaz Ahmad Beigh, who disappeared after being picked up by the SOG in 1997. The High Court in the state had directed the government to register a case against him in 2003, but no action had been taken. It was the first time that such high ranking officers had been arrested in this capacity in Kashmir Valley. As investigations continued, the officers in custody provided details of several additional fake encounters that security forces had carried out under their charge. One case involved Nazir Ahmad Deka, a perfume vendor who disappeared on February 16, 2006. He was shot the next day by several members of the Rashtriya Rifles, who claimed to have killed an unidentified terrorist and recovered a Kalashnikov rifle, a pistol, and ammunition from the body. Police later recovered the victimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perfume briefcase in the home of Farooq Guddu. Another case involved Maulvi Showkat Kataria, a cleric working as an imam in a mosque in Srinagar, who disappeared on October 4, 2006. On October 5, he was killed by several members of the SOG and Rashtriya Rifles, who claimed that they had shot Abu Zahid, a Karachi-based terrorist from Lashkar-i-Toiba in an ambush operation. In another case, a cloth merchant named Ghulam Nabi Wani was kidnapped from one of the main


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market areas in Srinagar in a vehicle without a registration plate. He was kept in an SOG camp for 12 days and then killed in a fake encounter on the night of March 14. The Rashtriya Rifles and SOG issued a report stating that they had killed Zulfikar, a Lashkar hitman, and recovered some arms and ammunition from the body. The final case involved Ali Muhammed Paddar, a small-time government employee who disappeared on March 7, 2006. He was killed and dismissed as an unnamed foreign militant. After learning the details of the five fake encounters, the police supervised the exhumations and identifications of the five bodies from several graveyards in Kashmir in early February. DNA tests confirmed the identities of the disappeared men. It is interesting to note the way in which this story contributes to a larger narrative, already institutionalized in society, about the legitimacy of state violence in Kashmir Valley. The news stories frame the events as the work of a handful of criminals acting on their own, outside of the context of the ‘extraordinary law and order situation’ of the region. The killings are presented as ‘a series of cold-blooded murders of innocent civilians’ (Swami 2007c) carried out by ‘a rogue police and army ring’ (Swami 2007b). The language of the stories suggests that these forms of state violence are unusual and anomalous: Abdul Rahman Paddar, a carpenter of Larnoo Kokernag in south Kashmir had gone missing on December 8 last year from Batamaloo locality of Srinagar. His family lodged complaint with Police, who during investigations stumbled on startling evidence that Paddar had been killed in a fake encounter by SOG and had been buried as a Pakistani commander Abu Hafeez of Lashkar-e-Toiba in Sumbal. The arrest and interrogation of two SOG men, ASI Farooq Ahmad Guddu and senior grade constable Farooq Ahmad Paddar involved in the carpenter’s killing, led the police to the shocking exposure of four other persons having been killed in the same fashion. (‘Fake encounter case . . .’, 2007) Of course, these events are neither shocking nor startling to Kashmiris, who are intimately familiar with the realities of custodial deaths, alley deaths, and fake encounter killings in their everyday lives. The articles elaborate on specific perpetrators who capture the spotlight, most notably Farooq Ahmad Paddar, a constable in the SOG who is ‘alleged to be the main character in planning the killing of Paddar’ (‘J&K police exhume body . . .’ 2007). Frontline reports that Farooq, despite his handsome and firmjawed appearance, is ‘the face of evil’ who ran weapons for Islamic terrorists, served jailtime, and then re-entered society as an SOG informant to provide information on his ‘one-time terror colleagues’ (Swami 2007a). Abdul Rehman Paddar, the carpenter, knew Farooq Paddar well and had given him a substantial sum of rupees (Rs. 75,000) in exchange for helping him

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secure a permanent job with the police force. Unable or unwilling to secure him the job, Farooq lured the carpenter to Srinagar, where a police team kidnapped him, drove him to Ganderbal, and killed him the next day. Farooq was involved in the other killings as well. After Nazir Ahmad Decka’s disappearance, Farooq approached his wife and offered his assistance as a police officer. He extracted money from her over a period of time, supposedly to finance his travels to various towns and cities in search of the missing man, and to bribe officials to search for him. In the media reports, Farooq Paddar’s role is central. This singling out of Farooq and a handful of other perpetrators as guilty parties obscures the extent to which the criminalization and paramilitarization of the police force have become systemic realities in Kashmir Valley. Farooq Paddar is a policeman as well as a criminal, a protector as well as a murderer, an informant as well as a perpetrator of harm. The nature of his hold on power is not the exception but the rule in Kashmir Valley, where decisions about life and death are weighed and manipulated by such quasi-state agents who are densely networked into community life through layers of loyalty and betrayal, and whose ability to traverse spaces inside and outside of the law indemnifies them from punishment while enabling them to maximize their power and personal gain. Such figures do not enact violence strictly in the name of the state, but they are enabled and empowered by the legal-political conditions of the exception, and their actions constitute the disordered order that is necessary to designate the region dangerous and disturbed. The media reports also focus considerable attention on the question of motive. Why did the police and army men carry out these killings of innocent Kashmiris? The answer that they provide is simple: awards and promotions. The Hindustan Times reports that ‘[t]he outrageous acts were aimed at getting out-of-turn promotions and cash rewards’ (‘Army to probe J&K fake encounters’ 2007). The Hindu writes that the accused ‘were driven to murder by the prospect of professional advancement and cash rewards’ (Swami 2007b). Similarly, The Times of India describes ‘[t]he sinister designs of law enforcers turning predators to collect bounties’ and explains that ‘even senior cops were organising fake encounters to collect bounties and add stars to their epaulets’ (‘J&K cops held . . .’ 2007). High ranking police officials offer a similar interpretation of events. Deputy General of Police Gopal Sharma remarked in an interview: We have arrested the senior officers after they were found prima facie involved in staging fake encounters and killing civilians for cheap publicity, promotions and cash rewards . . . It was, in fact, our force which discovered that some of our men have committed the wrong and took cognizance of the matter and arrested the erring police officers. (‘J&K cops held . . .’ 2007)


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These representations contain the violence of the state, and make it knowable to the Indian citizenry, by framing it as murder committed for professional gain. Such reports reproduce hegemonic state discourse by distinguishing between the ‘acceptable’ violence enacted by state agents in the name of national security, and the ‘unacceptable’ violence enacted by state agents in the name of personal advantage. The former is deemed legitimate under the law, while the latter is cast as murder within a legal framework. These media narratives do not address the extent to which killing for awards and promotions has become institutionalized into the structural conditions of everyday life in the region, opening opportunities for quasistate actors to augment their power and wealth while also providing the ‘evidence’ necessary to justify continuing repression of civilian communities. In her analysis of a similar set of conditions in Colombia, Leslie Gill (2004) describes how the military boosts its kill numbers through a process known as legalization, which involves dressing civilian corpses in fatigues and identifying them as guerillas to justify continuing repression of the peasantry. ‘Human rights,’ she notes, ‘disappear under this brutal production logic’ (2004, p. 159). This process of legalization similarly operates as an integral strategy of warfare in Kashmir Valley through the fictionalization of civilian victims as fake infiltrators and fake terrorists. State agents who kill civilians in order to receive bounties and stars are acting, not outside of the law, but rather inside of its interstices and folds, within a system that effectively legitimizes violence and terror against and among Kashmiris in the name of the national effort to protect public safety and public order. This system is enabled by the legalpolitical conditions of exception, and it is embedded in the heart of the modern state.

Conclusion: The social production of lines of legitimacy Agamben (2003/2005, pp. 2!3) notes that the state of exception, which appears ‘as a threshold of indeterminacy between democracy and absolutism,’ bears a close relationship to instances of civil war, insurrection, and resistance. In this manner, the legal civil war established by the AFSPA functions in the Indian cultural imaginary as what Allen Feldman (2004) calls a ‘securocratic war’ ! a temporally open-ended campaign that seeks to counter imputed territorial infiltration, contamination, and transgression in the name of public safety. Building on Appadurai’s analysis of ‘intimacy gone awry’ during episodes of ethnic conflict (1998), Feldman argues that the public safety apparatus focuses its gaze upon the ‘sleeper body,’ a ‘secret sharer and social intimate who harbors covert violence, disease, spatial delimitation, religious alterity or alternate economic practice’ (2005, p. 209). The continual retrieval and display of this profiled sleeper body ! the infiltrating terrorist, the

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weaponized border-crosser, the transgressive jihadi ! in the public domain legitimates the security apparatus and justifies the indefinite nature of the conflict. As Achilles Mbembe notes, ‘power (and not necessarily state power) continuously refers and appeals to exception, emergency, and a fictionalized notion of the enemy. It also labors to produce that same exception, emergency, and fictionalized enemy’(2003, p. 16). Kashmir Valley as a political emergency zone is defined through this process of fictionalization. Maintaining these legal-political warscapes of violence and terror ultimately requires the production of a broad constituency of bystanders among the general citizenry who refuse or lack the political will to recognize disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial killing targeting specific groups as illegitimate forms of state brutality and violence. This general consensus is built by manufacturing violence towards certain segments of the citizenry marked as others and cast outside of the boundaries of the political community. These patterns of othering direct violence and brutality along what Liisa Malkki (1995, p. 88) calls ‘necrographic maps,’ conceptual schematizations of bodies and identities that ‘help construct and imagine ethnic difference.’ In such situations, popular opinion holds that the ‘law and order’ of the state necessarily entails control of these schematized segments of the population through imprisonment, institutionalization, disenfranchisement, deportation, or destruction (Nagengast 2002). Through this process, the public collectively agrees, sometimes overtly, often tacitly, that these marked individuals are not human, not worthy of rights, and not participants in the shared project of the nation-state. Their deaths are deemed legitimate and acceptable, and necessary for the security of the nation. How do societies collectively come to agreement on where to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable patterns of state violence? Carole Nagengast (2002) argues that the boundaries of acceptable violence are demarcated through ‘small inoculations of evil’ that immunize the public at large to more widespread patterns of brutality and repression. Such episodes of acknowledged evil are prompted by charges of anti-state violence, real or imagined, that are then used to validate state repression of ever-expanding spheres of the population, such that they ultimately establish the justification for widespread patterns of violence against Kashmiris in general. In this way, the suspension of rights to Kashmiris becomes part of common sense, entering into public discourse in a way that builds public consensus around who and what is suspect, who and what should be repressed, and what form state control should take. This in turn builds the political will not to convict or hold accountable state and quasi-state agents who employ brutality, excessive force, murder, or other human rights violations against marked minorities in the population. The line of legitimacy shifts such that the sudden disappearance of a Kashmiri civilian is rendered invisible while its fictionalized double, the


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sudden appearance of a terrorist infiltrator, is invested with special meaning as an act of enemy aggression requiring a retaliatory response. These lines of legitimacy are socially constructed and institutionalized, and they are directed at those who are poor, vulnerable, subaltern, or otherwise susceptible to processes of ‘othering.’ In India, Kashmiris are not the only segment of the population who are seen as threatening the vision of the nation that the security forces are claiming to defend. Other marked communities include various disenfranchised groups ! religious minorities, ethnic communities, tribals, dalits, agricultural workers, and slum dwellers ! who are cast as criminals, lawbreakers, subversives, or potential terrorists and thereby subjected to ‘everyday, normative experiences of reification, depersonalization, and acceptable death’ (Scheper-Hughes 2002, p. 373). These populations are targeted for persecution and execution in the name of protecting the state from enemies within. Viewing these systematic actions against targeted populations on a continuum of genocidal violence sheds light on how India and other modern states exercise sovereign power by eliminating segments of their own citizenry in the name of the greater common good.

Acknowledgements First and foremost, the author thanks Kashmiri community members, especially human rights lawyers and activists, who so graciously and patiently shared their stories and perspectives to make this research possible. The author is grateful to the following colleagues for offering very useful critical commentary on earlier drafts of this article: Victoria Bernal, Michelle Brown, Diane Ciekawy, Elizabeth Collins, Chris Fahl, Bruce Hoffman, Lisa Howison, Ruhi Khan, Richard Kraince, Cynthia Mahmood, Ann Tickamyer, Edna Wangui, and Risa Whitson, and two anonymous reviewers at Cultural Studies. All shortcomings in this article remain the sole responsibility of the author.

Notes 1

Human rights organizations have provided extensive documentation of faked encounter killings in various parts of India. See Human Rights Watch (2008b) on Manipur, PUCL (2003) on Bihar, Human Rights Watch (2008a) on Chhattisgarh, and Amnesty International (2007) and PUCL (2004) on Gujarat. Human Rights Watch (1999) highlights fake encounters targeting Dalits in relation to the Naxalite threat. The 2006 Annual Report of the Asian Centre for Human Rights (2007) documents fake encounters in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Punjab, Tripura, and Delhi, in addition to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). On encounter killings, PUCL (2007) states that ‘according to National Human Rights

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Commission all over the country (barring Jammu and Kashmir) 83 people died in encounters with police in 2002!03 while in 2003!04 there were 100 deaths. The number reached 122 by 2004!05. Uttar Pradesh maintained an upward trend with 41, 48 and 66 deaths respectively in three years followed by Andhra Pradesh that had 41 deaths during this period. Even a peaceful state like Uttrakhand reported 12 encounter deaths in these three years.’ Specifically, Benjamin writes that ‘the law’s interest in a monopoly of violence vis-a`-vis individuals is not explained by the intention of preserving legal ends but rather by that of preserving the law itself; that violence, when not in the hands of the law, threatens it not by the ends that it may pursue, but by its mere existence outside the law’ (Benjamin 1978, p. 281). The amended Set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Through Action to Combat Impunity, submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on February 8, 2005, defines impunity as: ‘the impossibility, de jure or de facto, of bringing the perpetrators of violations to account ! whether in criminal, civil, administrative or disciplinary proceedings ! since they are not subject to any inquiry that might lead to their being accused, arrested, tried and, if found guilty, sentenced to appropriate penalties, and to making reparations to their victims.’ An example is the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention and Suppression of Sabotages Act of 1965. It is important to note here that Jammu and Kashmir maintains ‘special status’ under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Over the decades, there has been a pattern of constitutional changes designed to erode the provisions that frame the ‘special status’ of the state. A particularly notable event took place when the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) carried out the kidnapping of Rubiyya Sayeed, the daughter of the newly-elected Home Minster in the Indian government. Indian security forces responded to the kidnapping and other escalating acts of violence by carrying out a brutal house-by-house search operation on the night of January 19. When Kashmiris gathered together in the streets of Srinagar to protest against this warrantless ! and therefore illegal ! state action the following day, state security forces opened fire on the demonstrators, killing at least 35 people. Human Rights Watch (2006) cites this act of state repression as the turning point in the conflict, emphasizing that no known action has been taken against the security force officers who ordered and conducted the shootings, and that no public inquiry has been taken in regards to the incident. The AFSPA is a critical mechanism through which the colonial technology of jurisprudence of emergency has been written into and embedded within the normative structure of the post-colonial state. For further reading, see Hussain Nasser’s (2003) discussion of the way in which the British colonial


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government in ideology and practice utilized the rationale of supreme necessity not covered by regular law as a justification of legal exceptionalism. Dilnaz Boga and Aliefya Vahanvaty portray the Indian army occupation of schools in the Kashmir countryside in their film Invisible Kashmir (2005). This was not the first time that public attention had turned to these issues. In the Pathribal case, the army claimed to have killed five ‘terrorists’ who they said were responsible for massacre of Sikhs in Chittisinghpora, on the arrival of then US President Bill Clinton on March 25, 2000, to New Delhi. The killings were later revealed to be fake encounters. Several similar stories have captured brief media attention in recent years.

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