06/10/2019 by socialistfight
By Ian Donovan
On 5th August the extremist Hindu-chauvinist Indian government of Nandendra Modi revoked, by Presidential Decree, article 370 of India’s Constitution, which previously guaranteed the autonomy of Kashmir and Jammu, and article 35A. The latter restricted migration to Kashmir and property ownership by non-Kashmiris in the autonomous territory; its purpose was to stop Hindu chauvinist colonisation.
This autonomous Himalayan region, with a Muslim majority, a Hindu minority and a smaller Buddhist minority, was part of the larger Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, which was split largely between India and Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947, also with a smaller portion incorporated into China, which is not directly relevant to the India-Pakistan disputes over Kashmir.
This division was on condition that Indian Kashmir would have considerable autonomy on all local and residential matters, while following India on relations with the outside world, defence etc.
That was abolished at a stroke by Modi, who then sent in many thousands of extra troops, whose levels are now over 900,000, to suppress Indian Kashmir’s population of only 8 million. Communications including phones and internet were cut off, local politicians and trade unionists dragged into detention or put under house arrest, and Kashmir has been sealed off from the outside world ever since.
Kashmiris abroad with relatives and friends in the country have often been unable to communicate with them, and have no idea about their safety.
What has come out though is news of the mass roundups of people, including many young teenagers – some as young as 14 – having been interned. Some reports say as many as 13,000 young people were detained in the first weeks after Modi’s decree. There are reports of widespread torture, and some of the boys seem to have been effectively ransomed by the regime – families having to pay up to 60,000 rupees (£678) for their return.
At the same time despite draconian curfews and dire warnings to the people not to leave their homes, Al Jazeera has reported up to 20 protests a day against Modi’s actions, leading to clashes with Indian police and troops, many injuries and an unspecified number of deaths.
Modi’s regime has been in power since 2014, the product of neoliberal reaction as manifested in India. As everywhere, capitalist attacks on social gains and free market economics have led to the impoverishment of large numbers of urban and particularly rural working class people and the despair has led to divisions, chauvinism and the rise of reactionary demagogues.
This is particularly dangerous in the Indian subcontinent given that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, and they have twice already gone to power over Kashmir, in 1947 and again in 1965. The policy of Indian governments for decades toward Kashmir has been through repression to whittle away at Kashmir’s autonomy in practice, while keeping the formal articles in the constitution.
There have been numerous national movements seeking to reassert that autonomy, and the demand for independence of Jammu and Kashmir has an obvious democratic content that socialists are obliged to support, given that decades long suppression, even prior to the removing of autonomy by Modi.
The revocation of article 35A is particularly sinister given Modi’s affinity with Zionism, as far from being any sort of xenophobic measure, it was designed to counter the very real fear of large-scale, organised Hindu settlement of the sparsely populated, mountainous territory given India’s huge population: it is very easy to conceive that Kashmir’s Muslim population could become an oppressed, colonised population like the Palestinians given the kind of state-aided settlement that the Hindutva nationalists want. The Muslim 5 Pillars news portlet spelt it out:
“The problem for Muslims of Kashmir and Pakistan is that the re-conquest of land is also an integral part of the Hindutva vision. It views the historical Indus valley/river civilisation as part of Hindu India. The historical centres of this civilisation are claimed to be Mohen je daro and Harappa in Pakistan.
Whilst in Kashmir, the priestly Kashmiri Hindu Pandit caste (or Kashmiri Brahmins) claim to have a pre-Muslim historical claim and pre-independence right as Hindu rulers with Muslim subjects.
In the context of the rise of this Hindu supremacist ideology, the forced integration of Kashmir into “Hindu rule” in India was inevitable. What happened a few days ago will be viewed by the Hindu supremacists through the lens of a ‘Hindu Reconquista’ of Kashmir.”
India out of Kashmir and Jammu! For the right of Kashmiri independence for all people in Kashmir where the population desires it!
The extremist Hindutva (Hindu nationalist, Hindu fundamentalist) regime of Modi is turning the entire country into a hellish place for non-Hindus in general. Another manifestation of this is what is happening in Assam, where 1.9 million of the Muslim population have had their citizenship removed, been rendered stateless and are threatened with mass deportation to Bangladesh. They are unable to prove that they lived in India prior to March 1971, coinciding with Bangladeshi independence from Pakistan and the 1971 India-Pakistan war.
The device for doing this is something called the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Those who cannot prove this: in a country with large scale poverty and illiteracy, often poor records and no state legal support for often poverty-stricken people who have to pay huge amounts in lawyer’s fees, is frightening. The regime is already in the process of creating large scale internment camps for up to two million people, and the plan is to expel them to Bangladesh. However Bangladesh is unlikely to accept them; the future for these people could be very grim.
Furthermore the Modi regime plans to extend the NRC India wide:
“In April, the BJP’s official Twitter account quoted party president Amit Shah as saying, “We will ensure implementation of NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except [Buddhists], Hindus and Sikhs.” Muslims were conspicuously absent from the list. In language reminiscent of U.S. President Donald Trump’s, who has referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “animals,” Shah referred to migrants by saying, “infiltrators are termites and we will weed them out when we come back to power.” https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/08/india-nrc-assam-modi-muslims-citizens.html
All this is the outcome of India’s semi-colonial capitalism and fake ‘democracy’ that impoverished the working class and the poor rural dwelling population, which have nevertheless sought ‘modernisation’ in the most barbaric form: following chauvinist demagogues who claim to be able to enrich the dominant Hindu population at the expense of minorities.
Three quarters of a century of petty reformism at local and provincial level by India’s ‘Communist’ Parties, with the occasional flurry of guerillaism, have left the Indian workers movement seemingly impotent in its face. Only the struggle to create a new revolutionary Marxist party, through programmatic struggle and debate, can begin to re-arm the masses to fight back against the hell that India has become today for the oppressed. ▲