On the first anniversary of the abolition of Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy by the Modi government
by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the RCIT, 28 July 2020, www.thecommunists.net
In a few days will be the first anniversary of the revocation of the Article 370 – the constitutional provision, which formally guaranteed a limited autonomy to Kashmir. Since the 5 August 2019, the region has been transformed into a huge concentration camp. People are forced to live under lockdown conditions for most of the time. In addition, there has been an internet shutdown for nearly half a year. While this has been lifted in February this year the region still suffers from severe restrictions in internet access.
Already before the revocation of Article 370, Kashmir has been one of the most militarized places in the world. In fact, the region – home of a population of 12 million people – has been occupied since decades by more than half a million Indian soldiers. Since the 5 August last year, this number has even increased.
The Indian occupation forces have accelerated its attacks on the local population. People are constantly harassed on the streets and in their homes. Numerous people are abducted, tortured or killed. A few weeks ago, a picture went viral on social media. It shows a three-year-old child sitting on his grandfather's dead body. The 65-year-old civilian had been killed before in Sopore town during one of the numerous operations of the Indian army. This picture symbolizes the horrific conditions under which the Kashmiri people are forced to live.
In addition, most pro-freedom leaders have been imprisoned. Even many moderate pro-India politicians, like former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, have been thrown into jail.
Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state. According to the last census in 2011, Muslims form the majority at 68 percent of the population and Hindus constitute around 28 percent of residents. One of the main goals of the reactionary chauvinist government of Prime Minister Modi is the “Hinduization” of Kashmir. It wants to engineer a drastic demographic change so that the Muslims are no longer a majority.
They hope to achieve this, on one hand, by a policy of revoking residency rights of the original inhabitants of the state. On the other hand, the government has started issuing 'domicile' certificates to Indian citizens from outside. Until the revocation of Article 370, local residents had exclusive land and job rights guaranteed under the Indian constitution. However since then, the government granted more than 25,000 domicile certificates to outsiders. In fact, the authorities are pressurizing Hindu employees in the public administration to apply for such domicile certificates. Those officials who fail to do so within a stipulated time period are threatened with a penalty of 50,000 rupees ($700).
This policy resembles Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people. We warned against this already in our first statement on the revocation of Article 370: “No one should be under any illusion: Modi’s revocation of Article 370 is designed to be the beginning of an “Israeli solution” of Kashmir, the only state in India with a Muslim majority. This means that the BJP’s goal is to systematically settle Hindu chauvinists in Kashmir and to expel Muslim people from the region – similar to the Zionists’ policy against the native Arab population in historic Palestine. The purpose of such a Hindu chauvinist policy of ethnic cleansing is to transform the Muslim people of Kashmir into a minority in their own state.” (RCIT: India: Defend the Kashmiri People against Modi’s “Israel-Style” Attack! 6 August 2019) In fact, Modi’s Hindu-chauvinist BJP has always been close to the Zionist state and leading figures of his Administration have openly stated that they want to implement the “Israeli model” in Kashmir. In short, Hindutva and Zionism are partners in crime!
Despite the extreme conditions of militarized occupation – there might be about one Indian soldier for every ten Muslims in the region – New Delhi has failed to break the resistance of the Kashmiri people. Since the beginning of the popular uprising in 1989, more than 100,000 Kashmiri Muslims have been killed. And since the 5 August, India’s state terrorism has become even worse. But the heroic Kashmiri people continue their resistance. Youth continue to demonstrate on the streets and clash with the occupation forces. Many join the guerrilla forces in order to resist the occupation with arms. According to the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) at least 229 people have been killed since January during more than 100 military operations across the region, including 32 civilians, 54 government forces and 143 rebels.
There can be no doubt that the Kashmiri people don’t want to live under Indian occupation. They want freedom (“Azadi!”). It is the duty of all socialists, all democrats, all righteous people around the world to support the struggle of the Kashmiri people for freedom. We repeat: Kashmir is our second Palestine! Their liberation is our liberation!
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We refer reader also to other articles and documents of the RCIT on this issue which are collected in a special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/collection-of-articles-on-the-liberation-struggle-in-kashmir/