Ever since Burhan Wani was gunned down by the Indian Army in the Kashmir valley one year ago, the valley never returned to what New Delhi and its toady media houses call – “normalcy” and much to the anxiety of the Modi government and its puppet Mehbooba Mufti government, the Kashmiri youth- men and women equally, defied death and threats issued by the Indian armed forces and participated en-masse in what can be called the biggest Infitada in the history of Kashmir’s struggle for its right to self-determination.
Narendra Modi’s government is an ultra-right fascist government that made way to power in New Delhi by twerking to the tunes of vituperation against the Muslim community played by the RSS. For it, the mass uprisings in Kashmir becomes a blessing in disguise, as the more people the Modi regime will kill or maim, the more popularity it will gain in mainland India’s urban areas, where the BJP’s core vote bank of upper-caste Hindu elites and middle-class lives. This vote bank is totally radicalised to become what can be called a xenophobic and jingoistic mob, which hates every nationality and community except itself and those it considers racially superior – the Europeans and North Americans. This radicalised upper-caste men and women are so deeply influenced by the toxic xenophobia and ultra-chauvinism marketed by the Hindutva camp that the killing of children, old-aged men and women by the armed forces in Kashmir doesn’t hurt their conscience, rather they vociferously cheer and hoot the festival of death and blood in Kashmir. The Modi government surely finds a booster to its sadistic pleasures when it sees such jubilation among its upper-caste elite and middle-class urban voters.
Amidst this jubilation, Kashmir remains trapped as the most militarised zone in the world, which the government of India doesn’t call a conflict-zone in its international verbiage, but an area facing mere law and order problem and its mainstream corporate-controlled press calls the Kashmir issue – a proxy war by Pakistan. With the highest concentration of Indian armed forces, who are licensed to kill, maim and rape with impunity under the draconian AFSPA and the press-freedom annihilated, the people of Kashmir have understood that they have no option for peace and there is no going back until liberation. Thus, armed with pebbles, the youth of Kashmir are battling the world’s fourth largest armed force and are still determined to win this uneven war. The emotions of the Kashmiri people are at its peak and the entire state-machinery has lost its credibility and has been rendered invalid. Despite its intense repression and persecution, the Indian state-machinery is unable to daunt the spirit of the Kashmiri people who are seeking independence from India. It’s failing to subjugate the free will of the Kashmiri people under the jackboots of the army and paramilitary apparatus that the ruling clique of India received from its colonial masters.
This determination of the Kashmiri people, who are largely fighting an unorganised and spontaneous battle against the heavily armed Indian forces is largely commendable for the valour they have shown and the sacrifices that they have made for their freedom. However, from the perspective of the geopolitics of South Asia, the Kashmiri people cannot win their independence with the help of such spontaneous struggles alone, but a comprehensive political plan and a spearhead organisation are required to drive the locomotive of their independence struggle towards the goal.
The Need of an Organisation
The Hurriyat Conference is leading the mainstream struggle for the independence of Kashmir from India’s rule, while the militants, many of them inspired by the Salafist ideology, are waging an armed struggle against the Indian state-machinery, isolated from the majority of the people. There are thousands of Hurriyat supporters and activists (who belong to different outfits that form the Hurriyat Conference) in the valley and nearly 150 armed militants belonging to several militant offshoots. There are reports about the R&AW, the external intelligence agency of India, is helping some of the Salafists to raise, what is called, ISIS in Kashmir.
Among all these factions and the vertical division between hard-liners and moderates, pro-Pakistan and pro-Independence lobbies, the cause of an independent Kashmir is making rounds in a disarrayed state and the goal remains distant, despite a heightening of mass movements on the ground. Without a vanguard organisation of the people of Kashmir, an organisation that will empower the people with a revolutionary zeal and equip them with the politics that will guide them towards their goal of independence, it will be impossible to achieve any substantial victory against the Indian ruling classes, who are hell-bent to derive sadistic pleasure by repressing the people of Kashmir.
No political struggle can culminate in victory unless there is a guiding political ideology to the cause of the movement. It’s true for both Kashmir and Palestine that there is no concrete political shape of the struggles waged by the people but they are largely spontaneous, disorganised and are loosely bound by a religious doctrine that promises a better life after death, but not independence in this world. This gap is a very crucial one, which is leaking the potential of the mass movements in Kashmir, or for that matter in Palestine as well. The people of Kashmir must understand that the era of an umbrella organisation of yesteryear militants, double-dealers, Pakistani agents and Indian agents won’t take them a step ahead, but their struggle will make incessant rounds of the same courtyard of spontaneity, where the ruling classes are contended to confine them.
Moreover, the armed struggle waged by a rainbow coalition of isolated militants won’t bring an iota of victory in the people’s struggle for independence, as the militants themselves are disarrayed and are fighting a spontaneous war, which is now reduced to isolated incidents of violence with no concrete political achievements. As religious theocracy also commands the militant movement, so it’s naïve to expect it to have a political vision, because most of the outfit members strive to attack the security personnel and then wants to achieve “martyrdom” for a better after-life, as promised in their religious doctrine, without caring for the cause of independence for which the larger battle is fought by the people on the streets.
Kashmir’s issue of independence is a political issue and can only be achieved by a politically inspired and guided struggle, for which the Kashmiri people must be organised under a banner of a democratic and progressive force, which will not only lead a mass struggle against the Indian military rule but also for an egalitarian and just society for the people of Kashmir, the majority of whom are working people, toiling masses of peasants, artisans, workers, etc..
To form such a political spearhead it’s important that the common people, the working people of Kashmir are politically aroused on a set of democratic ideals that will be essential to drive the locomotive of the mass struggle for freedom. The core of this politics should be centred around freedom from all type of foreign occupation, military, political and economic. It should be followed by a nationalist economic policy that will aim at overthrowing the hitherto existing semi-feudal production relation in the countryside and transform Kashmir into an economically strong nation.
Whenever a political party as such will speak about integrating the issues of economic and social justice along with the greater demand for independence, there will be a turbulence in the hitherto existing political equation and many swinging may take place over the issue of providing an egalitarian society to the people of Kashmir, once independence is achieved.
Challenges that lie ahead
The biggest challenge in building up a political party of the people of Kashmir, essentially its downtrodden and toiling people is the sanctity that the existing political formations enjoy and the way they try to dismiss the opponents of their methods and policies.
A large section of the pro-independence politicians of Kashmir, if not all, is keen to keep a dialogue channel open with India to ensure that they can always bargain a deal at the cost of the agony of ordinary people of Kashmir. This is the same reason why the Hurriyat leadership is patronised by both Indian and Pakistani ruling classes, as they not only work as watchdogs over the entire spectrum of mass movement in the valley to prevent any revolution from sparking, they also act as the safety valve of these two allies of the US, competing over the territory, by keeping the ruling classes of both countries behind the curtain in the political arena.
Naming the capitalists, the military-industrial complex of India and the US that benefits from the conflict in the valley, is a strict no-no for the Hurriyat and its affiliate organisations. None of the parties considers the US and its military-industrial complex responsible for the long-standing conflict, rather many of them seek the meddling of the US, which is a war-criminal state itself, in resolving the conflict over Kashmir.
As India is a big market for the US and also a source of cheap raw materials and labour, thanks to the neo-liberal economic regime embraced by subsequent governments since 1992, therefore, unlike the civil conflicts in other parts of the world where this war criminal intrudes and carries out genocide on behalf of one side to colonise the other side, the US remained in the backstage of the conflict and limited its role in providing arms and ammunition to both sides of the war and earned huge profits out of it. There is an important requirement of the US to keep the Kashmir valley heavily militarised at both Indian and Pakistan’s side of the fence, because of the valley’s proximity to China, which the US and its allies, including India, are trying to encircle militarily to wage a largescale war against it. Therefore, under the garb of “maintaining law and order” and “protecting the nation” slogans, the Indian state is reinforcing a huge contingent of armed forces to the valley to meet the US requirements.
No political party in the valley ever took up this issue or tried to expose the complicity of the US, Pakistan and India in keeping the valley tensed and turbulent deliberately to serve their greater interests of building an anti-China military setup. This servility towards the US and its lackeys like Pakistan and India has oiled the palms of many political leaders in the separatist camp, who dodged all weathers to stay relevant and perched on the high seats in the valley.
Kashmir, therefore, needs new leaders and essentially from the toiled section of the masses so that they can lead the people’s struggle with an uncompromising spirit and extreme determination. But to erect such a leadership, it will be imperative to reach out to the masses at the first place and then bring them on the forum of political discussion and coaching, so that the hot iron can be hit when it’s red hot. The shape of the political movement of the democratic and progressive forces will depend upon the quality of the leadership that would emerge from a series of the new type of mass struggle in Kashmir.
Another big challenge before a democratic force that will strive to represent the majority of the people of Kashmir is its credibility before all sections of the Kashmiri poor, as Kashmir is not homogeneous but a heterogeneous society with vivid cultures and lifestyles co-existing with each other since a long period of time. Defining the struggle of Kashmir in a monochromatic way will be a gross error. The political party that will strive to become the vanguard of the broad masses of Kashmir must be able to gauge the temperaments of different communities, cultures, nationalities and people living in Kashmir and come up with a comprehensive policy that will provide holistic development to all these sections of the economically deprived and weak sections.
The rich and the upper-middle class of Kashmir society was never a trustworthy ally of the people of Kashmir in their pursuit for an independent nation. However, it’s this class that owns all resources in the valley, controls the political outfits through their grip over the leadership and are generally called the decision-makers for the valley. These classes have devoted enough resources and energy to maintain the status quo in the valley as it prolongs their political importance and keeps them relevant in the ongoing affairs in the valley. A party of the broad masses must have to trash these collaborators and opportunists and make the poor and the ordinary people the decision-makers and leaders of the movement, which cannot happen unless the party can brave a severe storm of opposition and dodge all types of sabotages that the privileged section of the society would do to retain their dominance.
The final challenge will be to win over the political support from the broad masses of India, i.e. the working class and peasantry of the country, who are repressed and exploited by the same classes that enslave people of Kashmir, Nagaland or Manipur. The struggle of Kashmir has continued without much support from the broad masses of India, who are continuously taught that the political struggle of the people of Kashmir is actually a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist war to keep them aloof from supporting Kashmir and its people. It’s important that the political party of Kashmir must explain its goals and vision to the people of India and wean them from the camp of the Hindutva fascism, which aims at misleading the people and getting their acts of violence endorsed by the people. Once the large section of the Indian toiled people, the workers and the peasantry are shown that the Kashmiri people don’t want to live under Indian occupation and that the Indian ruling classes that persecute Kashmiri people also exploit the poor people of India, kills tribal people in Chhattisgarh-Jharkhand-Odisha, shoots at farmers in Madhya Pradesh and fires the notorious pellet gun on agitating farmers in Maharashtra.
If a solidarity movement of the workers and peasants of India can be waged in favour of the people of Kashmir then the path to unite these two entities fighting against a bulwark of reaction will uncover before the people and that will be a bad news for the likes of Modi and his coterie, who are trying hard to safeguard the Indian ruling classes, the foreign monopoly and finance capital, the feudal landlords and the comprador capitalists.
The Road Ahead
The road ahead is tortuous and in many areas, it has a treacherous course. Traversing through this road to the goal is not impossible but it’s possible if there is a firm determination to achieve it and there is a resolution to never give up. The Indian ruling classes, the Pakistani establishment, the US military-industrial complex and their lackeys and lapdogs in the valley will do everything possible to deter the growth of a progressive and democratic revolutionary struggle of the working and toiling people for independence.
To take the initiative of building a party of the people and to achieve the goal of independence, there must be a consensus built among the people, the working people, regarding the necessity of such a party in view of the present scenario and the discussion over why the present apparatus to achieve the goal of independence is incompetent must be raised throughout all platforms available.
Unless the mass opinion is built strongly in favour of a democratic and progressive struggle for independence, the struggle of the people of Kashmir will remain disarrayed. In these circumstances, the politically advanced and the revolutionary section of Kashmir must take a call on building the party for democracy and independence and they must exert their influence and prove their point to the people of Kashmir with patience and perseverance.
The struggle to emancipate the people of Kashmir from the yoke of Indian and Pakistani colonisation will be a prolonged one and its possibility to be victorious is linked with the outcome of the democratic struggle of the people of India, Pakistan and the overall global scenario. However, as the democratic aspirations of the people of Kashmir are justified, therefore, despite several initial setbacks and treacherous backstabbing, the movement will certainly achieve victory under the leadership of a progressive and democratic organisation in the long run.
The journey of the people of Kashmir towards their collective goal of freedom will be a barefoot journey on thorns and burning charcoal, which only a skilled and visionary political leadership can manage to successfully cross without causing too much damage to the people who will follow the path. The future of Kashmir, its people and its independence depends on who will take the charge of building the revolutionary struggle under the leadership of a vanguard organisation of the poor and downtrodden people, who are repressed by both Indian militarist rule and the political infidelity of those who took up the beacon of Kashmir’s independence to only deceive the broad masses.