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OCCC professor advocates for Justice

 (Published: 01-17-20)

OCCC professor presents to a crowd of legal officials

Oklahoma City Community College adjunct professor, Dr. Nyla Ali Khan, had the unique opportunity to address the Holloway, Ginsburg and Turner Inns of Court at the Oklahoma Bar Association. Her presentation “Revitalization of Federalism and Restoration of Civil Rights in Kashmir,” addressed the need for secularism and democracy in the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

The presentation occurred on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m., and was held exclusively for law professors, lawyers, students, and judges who constitute a sector of the national American Inns of Court organization. 

The author of several published books, articles and editorials, Dr. Khan continues to advocate for the political justice in her homeland of Kashmir, India. Dr. Khan was recently selected as a member of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team (OKGIT). Dr. Khan has her Ph.D. in English Literature and her Masters in Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of Oklahoma.

“I realized that in order to question politics that create short-sightedness I would need to get involved in advocacy work,” said Dr. Khan.

When Kashmir joined India in 1947, their only condition was they would retain autonomy, or the right to make their own laws. This autonomy was protected by Article 370 in the Indian Constitution. In August, the Prime Minister of India renounced Article 370 and split Kashmir into two federally administrated territories.

The area has since been under heavy military control, and a communications blackout was imposed. The people of Kashmir are under strict curfew. Schools are closed, the internet has been disconnected, and a large number of elected politicians who support the government have been jailed. Many have condemned the special status annulment as an attack on democracy, and unconstitutional.

By talking with the legal community, Dr. Khan hopes to emphasize the importance of the constitution and address the issue of decentralization in a federal country. Dr. Khan hopes that constitutional provisions are implemented, and fundamental rights are restored in Kashmir. She believes that the constitution acts as a strong framework for any country, and is responsible for ensuring a smooth functioning government.

Dr. Khan was the first Kashmiri-American woman to become a member of the Advisory Council for the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, and was recently selected as one of The Journal Record’s “50 Making a Difference” for 2019. She travels statewide to use her voice to advocate for the empowerment of women, education and societal change.

“Community is the courage to bridge divides,” said Dr. Khan, “Oklahoma has taught me that community is the ability to organize and mobilize for social change.”