Almost three years ago when Mr. Omar Abdullah was elected as the chief minister of Kashmir, more than sixty percent of the state’s eligible voters took part in that election, it was a happy moment for the Indian state and the country’s main stream media, who after a long time had something to brag about loudly. This resounding participation was unprecedented at least for the last three decades. In fact the truth is even the Indian establishment did not know what the reason was for the new level of voter turnout in the valley, though they falsely asserted that the Kashmiri’s have finally decided to accept the “Indian democracy”. Once again the Indian ruling class and its slavish media have completely failed to understand what Kashmir has yet again proved; Kashmiri psyche is beyond India and it can no more imagine to keep it under oppression.
110 people have lost their lives in the last three – four months alone while peacefully protesting (peaceful by Kashmiri standards given its violent past) against the Indian army’s occupation of the valley. People of Kashmir have protested the Army excesses without taking to violence, suffering enormously in the recurrent curfew situation. This almost leaderless movement led mostly by youth have completely sidelined the the so called separatist leaders, but this has not prevented either the mainstream Indian media to demonize the movement as being led by the separatist leaders (Hurriyat )& backed by the ISI. In the sixty year struggle for Kashmir’s freedom,women, children and men of all ages, have lost their lives. Even in the so called “normal” and “peaceful” times the harassment of the people of Kashmir goes unabated.
Brutal Military Occupation
Kashmir Valley has been under brutal military occupation since a popular insurgency erupted against the Indian Rule in 1989. The once serene and lovely Kashmir Valley euphorically called as the ‘paradise on earth’ with its gorgeous mountains and rivers, which inspired generations of poets to eulogize its beauty, has now become a Valley of Blood. At least 40,000 people have been killed since insurgency began in 1989, according to conservative official estimates. Unofficial estimates are well over 80,000-half of them are civilians. Thousands of Indian soldiers have been killed and it costs billions of dollars to keep the security forces in Kashmir.
Even according to official Indian government figure (Press Trust of India Sources) which tend to be conservative in the number of civilians killed by the security forces and mostly exclude thousands of custodial killings, 2477 civilians had been killed by Indian security forces between 1990-98; 6673 civilians and 1593 security personnel had been killed by the militants including 982 Hindus and Sikhs. According to J&K Govt’s official release, number of people missing since 1990 runs over 3000, it must be mentioned that the Kashmiri Pandits who have borne the brunt of this bloody conflict as well have suffered enormously – from the period of the mid 1980’s, they were forced to quit the Valley in a massive exodus in 1990 and many of them still languish in the refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi.
Kashmir’s nationality question be it in the areas “governed” by the Indian establishment or the part “ held” by the Pakistan’s regime does not have the sanction of the people of Kashmir. Both the administrations treat the Kashmiris with impunity. In fact the continuation of Kashmir “problem” is very much in the interest of the elites in both the countries. There are attempts by the Geo-political strategists to force a “solution” by creating a buffer zone in the midst of these two warring capitalist powers, but what they do not want is to create a situation where the free will of the Kashmiri people can be exercised. All the vested interests in the region are threatened by the fact that the heightened political consciousness of the Kashmiris would settle for nothing less than the ‘Azadi’ (freedom) from all the oppressors around; India, Pakistan and China which has also gobbled up Kashmir.
The only solution the India government has at hand is to talk of “talks”, but what they fail to understand is that, there is nothing to talk about as long as India is not prepared to end its military occupation of Kashmir. It is not prepared to shed its baggage of being ‘Doubting Thomas’ as for as Kashmir is concerned, it wants to play the card that it is a “stable democracy” and there are more Muslims living in “secular” India than the “theocratic” Pakistan. The utter failure to recognise the people of Kashmir and the Kasmiriath ( Kashmiri’s way of life based on secular Sufi traditions) as a distinct nationality with the existence of even natural geographic sanction is something of an ostrich like position. The futile talks that India offers time and again when even its Armed forces fail to change the resolve of the people of Kashmir for freedom is just a ploy to kill time expecting the popular resistance to peter out.
AFSPA must go!
Thanks to the talent and expertise of Indian democracy in squandering chances, today the same people who enthusiastically voted and reposed their faith in the electoral process yet again, to find a solution through dialogue have been forced to take to streets. Mothers holding babies in their hands have come out to the arena of struggle for freedom and against oppression, children as young as seven are battling out in the streets with mere stones against the might of the Indian forces. The writing is on the wall, the notorious Indian armed forces and the Central Reserve Police Force must leave the valley, draconian AFSPA must be repealed forthwith.
Freedom and peace is the minimum that the People of Kashmir need now, none of the capitalist powers in the region and their masters in the west would accept the fundamental demand of the Kashmiris for the right of self-determination. Only the united struggle of the working class of India, Pakistan and China on the programme of a voluntary socialist confederation of the sub-continent can bring such a revolutionary change to all the nationalities struggling under capitalism, landordism and authoritarianism.
The democratic socialist forces coming under the banner of Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) based and active in 40 countries around the world, with forces in the region – New Socialist Alternative (India), Pakistan Socialist Movement (Pakistan), United Socialist Party (Sri Lanka) and China Worker (China) fighting against Capitalism, Landlordism and Imperialism will actively campaign to assist the struggle of the Kashmiri people for freedom against national oppression.
Gabriel – New socialist Alternative, Chennai
From Jan. 1989 to October 31, 2010
Total Killings 93,505 Custodial Killings 6,976 Civilians Arrested 118,607 Structures Arsoned/Destroyed 105,884 Women Widowed 22,744 Children Orphaned 107,392 Women gang-raped / Molested 9,980