A Formula 4 Race Against Time: The Politics of Settler Colonial Time

March 27, 2024


Photo Credit: Basit Zargar


The Formula 4 race event staged in Srinagar on March 17, 2024, was heavily promoted by indian officials and media as a historic milestone symbolizing Kashmir’s rapid development and integration under indian rule.



This event was organized in collaboration with the J&K tourism department and the race featured drivers from across india competing on a track along the Dal Lake. However, lurking beneath the high octane spectacle is this reality, that india tries very hard to hide but also one that exposes the temporal politics underpinning india’s settler colonial occupation of Kashmir.


Just days before the race, an elderly Kashmiri man was brutally killed after being deliberately run over by an indian armed forces vehicle in Bandipora district. The incident, which sparked local outrage but garnered little coverage in the media, clearly shows how Kashmiri lives, deaths, and truths are systematically erased and devalued to maintain india’s façade of normalcy and progress in the region. This selective focus on the Formula 4 race while ignoring the ongoing oppression in Kashmir exemplifies india’s attempts, as a settler colonial occupying force, to impose a singular, hegemonic timeline that presents Kashmir’s integration as an inevitable reality. By this little to no coverage of Kashmiri stories and perspectives, this approach of the indian state aims to normalize its territorial claims over Kashmir and suppress any dissenting voices or resistance movements.


The race, along with other much touted megaprojects like the Smart City Mission in Srinagar, represents india’s efforts to overwrite Kashmiri realities and futures through a manufactured narrative of linear development. By dictating Kashmir’s trajectory and erasing its history, the indian state seeks to colonize not just the territory but also the time of Kashmir. These spectacles and schemes, projected as harbingers of progress, actually entrench india’s control and tighten its grasp on all aspects of Kashmiri life.


The illusory nature of this progress narrative, however, was laid bare when the newly revamped Poloview market, showcased to G20 delegates as a symbol of Kashmir’s modernization, was submerged by floods in July 2023. Touted as the first pedestrianized shopping hub in Kashmir, the market’s submergence in the flood exposed the shallowness of india’s developmental promises. Its much vaunted underground drainage and electricity systems proved ineffectual against a bout of normal rainfall. The failure of these systems, which are usually touted as markers of development, mirrors the fragility of india’s claims and grip on the region.



For Kashmiris navigating daily harassment, and a stifling military presence alongside such hollow spectacles, india’s gestures of progress and prosperity ring increasingly false. The flood ravaged Poloview market, meant to epitomize a “Naya Kashmir,” instead revealed the cynical politics underlying the occupier state’s grand visions – an eye-catching but flimsy veneer pasted over a grim edifice of control and exploitation. The dissonance between the hype around events like the Formula 4 race and the lived realities of Kashmiris reveal how temporal politics is/are wielded as the weapon of occupation. And by projecting a unilateral vision of Kashmir’s future premised on erasing its past, india seeks to dissolve Kashmiri identity into a homogenizing chronology where its rule is an unalterable fact. While Kashmiri identity and history, rooted in alternative temporalities of memory, experience, and aspiration, is suppressed and delegitimized under india’s settler colonial occupation.



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Stand With Kashmir (SWK) is a Kashmiri-driven independent, transnational, grassroots movement committed to standing in solidarity with the people of indian-occupied Kashmir in ending the indian occupation of their homeland and supporting the right to self-determination of the pre-partition state of Jammu and Kashmir. We want to hear from you. If you have general inquiries, suggestions, or concerns, please email us at info@standwithkashmir.org.


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