Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Students Across Kashmir Erupt in Mass Protests After Security Forces Maul Dozens of Students on Saturday

-Anurag Pathak/ Rajesh Tyagi/ 17.4.2017

Kashmir is witness to a new wave of mass protests against its occupation by Indian Army, this time from its students.

The protests have been called by the Kashmir University Students Union, a lesser known student body, against brutality by the Army upon students of Government College in Pulwama City in South Kashmir.

These students were brutalized by the Army, leaving over 50 badly injured after they dared to protest against an Army raid inside the College on Saturday.

Protesting against this repression, the students of S.P. College in Srinagar, had blocked Maulana Azad Road of the state Capital, yesterday on 17th. It took no time for demonstrations to spread over first to capital Srinagar and then to the entire valley as the security forces resorted to rubber bullets, tear gas and lathicharge against the protesting students.

The mass upsurge is culmination of a chain of events where repression by the army has continued to touch ever new heights with record escalations in last few weeks that includes the merciless killing of 8 unarmed Kashmiris by the Security forces, parading a tailor tied on the bonnet of an army jeep across 9 villages and hunting down of an innocent boy by paramilitary trooper on April 10 at Budgam by-polls.

The protesting students, from colleges and even schools this time, tried to take out rallies in different parts of the Valley, but were stopped by the security forces and local police. This resulted into more clashes between the forces and the students. The protests continued to spread till last evening to other Colleges and schools including women colleges, and to other campuses in Ganderbal, Baramulla and Shopian districts. As repression failed to quell the protests, the J&K government ordered the higher secondary schools and colleges in the valley to close down.

Mehbooba Mufti and her PDP is hand in gloves with the barbaric designs of Modi government to keep Kashmir under the military yoke. Both Modi and Mehbooba are in conspiracy not only to continue the policy of military occupation of Kashmir but to escalate the hostilities upon Kashmiris in the garb of “war upon terror”.

This military policy of the Indian government is the chief source of violence and bloodshed in Kashmir. It has created the space for audacity to appeals of fundamentalist forces in the Valley.

Kashmir, the only muslim majority state left to India after partition of 47, is sandwiched since then between the geo-political rivalry of the two military states of India and Pakistan. Both lay their own claims to the territory and continue their military and spy activities in the region as protracted proxy war against each other. Both smother the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri nationality and rather annex the territory to themselves, through military might.

The rigging of elections in Kashmir by the Army is a routine that has turned all bourgeois democracy a farce in the eyes of Kashmiri people, who see no fruition of their aspirations in the legislatures so elected. All elections are hijacked by the guns of the Army, the intelligence networks and local police. These elected governments for decades have only covered up the army rule behind the smokescreen of democracy. They had nothing to offer to the people except pellet guns in exchange of guns and plastic bullets for rubber ones. They could make only pitiful demagogy, “beat, but not to death”.

These appeals however have left undeterred the routine military raids upon hamlets, mass killings and mass rapes by the Indian armed forces. Till now, around one lakh civilians have been killed at the hands of armed forces, while many more had gone missing.

The situation on the ground is almost out of control of the Indian state and its security forces. The fear of death that is instrumental in keeping the people bound down to the authoritative regimes, is almost gone from among the protestors in Karshmir, who have been facing threat to life and limbs at each step. The Indian state is failing even to maintain the semblance of democracy. The voter turnout in Budgam by-polls has remained below 2%. Fearful of apparent prospects, even major sections of ruling class are advising against holding further polls in Kashmir.

Against heavily armed, equipped and trained troops of Indian Army stand bare-hand Kashmiri protestors having only stones to defend themselves and their hamlets against the advancing troops, famous for loot, arson and rapes. For this, the reactionary right-wing media has coined the term ‘stone pelters’ accusing the Kashmiris of being paid by Pakistan for hindering the Indian Army from performing their duty. This is blatant lie! There are no groups of ‘stone pelters’. Having lost the fear in death, Kashmiri masses are braving against the guns for their life!

Indian Bourgeoisie has no real solution to Kashmir issue. Last week Supreme Court advised to replace “pellet guns” with “rubber bullets” against the protestors. The government claimed that the Kashmir issue can only be solved with consensus. Finally we see a consensus emerging among the ruling elite upon use of “plastic bullets” as a mean to pellet guns and rubber bullets. Needless to say that these plastic bullets are no less dreadful than pellet guns. Indian Bourgeoisie has to offer nothing on this count!

Peculiarity of Kashmir lies in its geographical location, in its being a buffer zone between the arch-rival political states of Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, compounded by the fact that even as a muslim majority state, Kashmir still remains inside India.

Victimisation of Kashmiris at the hands of the big-bourgeois government at New Delhi has an apparently communal side too. Army contingents are carefully selected and the officer core with deep apathy to muslims are deliberately deployed in Kashmir. The right-wing press is given free hand to carry out venomous propaganda coloring muslims as anti-national. This policy however, is not an innovation of saffron BJP, but is the legacy of all successive right-wing governments that had ruled in New Delhi and Srinagar one after the other since 1947.

In the raging anger of the masses against the reactionary political policy of ruling elites, however, the communal and fundamentalist forces have also sought an opportunity to seek support for their sectarian agenda of mobilizing the masses around religious faith and they have succeeded to an extent. The Islamic fundamentalist forces have found a foothold in Kashmir. Today, the Islamic fundamentalism inside Kashmir and Hindu fundamentalism outside, derive justification and support from each other.

The real casualty under the axe of this war of two national states driven by the forces of religious fundamentalism, is the poor toiling mass of Kashmir, it’s youth, it’s working class.

Pre-empting even an attempt at peaceful solution, recently the Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, declared in no ambiguous terms, in an interview “We will not entertain any compromise with stone pelters”. By stone pelters they obviously mean the protestors!

None of the political parties including the ruling BJP-PDP, the opposition NC or Congress has issued any official statement condemning the unwarranted violence and bloodshed by the security forces in the valley.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the PDP and the BJP campaigned against each other on issues such as removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which demand PDP cleverly restricted to ‘Peaceful Areas’, the status of Article 370, and resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits. Regardless of their seemingly oppositional views on these issues, both parties entered into an opportunist coalition the “Governance Alliance” betraying the poll mandate. Their pledge to bring “good governance, economic development, peace and stability to the region” used as a cover up for the opportunist alliance, fell apart in no time. Ground realities reveal the other truth. After coming to power of the BJP-PDP coalition in Kashmir, the violence and bloodshed by the Indian armed forces has increased manifolds. This violence obviously finds its echo in resistance from the masses in protests.

The communal partition of 47, that has led to forced squeezing of different nationalities, including Kashmiris, into a Muslim Pakistan and an India with apparent Hindu coloration, lies at the root of the Kashmir issue.

The stifled national aspirations of different nationalities on both sides of the Indo-Pak border, run counter to the loud claims of both client states of imperialism, Indian and Pakistan. This aspiration of popular masses in Kashmir as elsewhere in India, to constitute themselves into an independent and free nation is most genuine democratic expression against strangulation of nationalities in 1947, by use of brute force, into multi-national client states of imperialism-India and Pakistan. The more this aspiration is suppressed through military means, the more it gets reinforced and expressed through mass protests etc.

However, given the rule of capitalist powers in New Delhi and Islamabad, the prospects of any national liberation on both sides of the border, are left completely unrealisable, more in 2017 than in 1947.

The only way forward is the revolutionary overturn of these capitalist powers through a socialist revolution. Till this channel to revolutionary flow is opened, the reactionary, sectarian, religious elements will continue to thrive in the blocked waters and exploit the genuine aspirations of Kashmiris, and mislead them with farcical slogans of 'Azadi'. Even this 'Azadi' trumpeted by Islamic fundamentalists, would be elusive like that of Palestine or Bangladesh in the present scenario of South Asia. While supporting the right of self-determination of Kashmiris and that upto secession, we must underscore that this demand has already steamed out itself of all progressive content in history and promises nothing for toiling mass of the people in the conditions of imperialism.

The big-business elite rulers of both countries, as they remain aligned to big world powers and aspire for regional domination against each other, can only add fuel to the tensions in Kashmir to advance their own narrow interests. The religious-communal strife upon which the bourgeois regimes in India and Pakistan have thrived, gets ever new lifeblood from these reactionary provocations in Kashmir.

While the most genuine national aspirations of Kashmiris, provide the impetus to mass protest in Kashmir, there are other different stakeholders in issue. Apart from the rival ruling elites of India and Pakistan, seeking domination in the region and hold on territories, there are big powers that support and fund the local players directly. Then there are sections of local bourgeoisie that aspire to escape the dominance of New Delhi, not for any freedom but for a direct connection to imperialist centre. They are at the helm of Azadi movement. There can be no denial that all major Islamic groups in the valley are directly funded and supported by the rival intelligence agencies of India and Pakistan.

Apart from these narrow and reactionary vested interests of sections of the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie, the international working class, that includes both Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri sections, has its own class interests and  political program for Kashmir that in the first instance recognises that the problem of Kashmir emanates from communal partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947. Secondly no resolution to Kashmir issue can be found in a region divided into rival states of India and Pakistan not even through Azadi of Kashmir. Instead, we have to fight for mobilisation of the proletariat and the youth for rejection of this reactionary partition of 47 and re-unite the sub-continent through a revolution from below, as part of socialist revolution in South Asia and the World as a whole.

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