A suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district of Jammu & Kashmir killed 41 paramilitary personnel on 14 February 2019 and brought a paradigm shift in India’s mainstream political discourse. This attack took place when an SUV, laden with more than 350 kg explosives, rammed into a 78-vehicle-long convoy ferrying 2,500 CRPF men from Jammu region to Kashmir on Jammu-Kashmir Highway triggering the massive explosion. It’s alleged that a 19-year-old local militant drove the car to execute this attack, which is one of the largest militant attacks on the armed forces in the valley during the three decades of insurgency.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet members, the leaders and vice-leaders of the BJP, the RSS-led Hindutva fascist ecosystem, the opposition parties, including the Congress, along with the corporate-controlled mainstream media, resorted to a jingoistic mood that’s reserved for moments like this soon after the blast, and everyone started uttering chauvinist jargon to politically and economically capitalise the bloodshed of paramilitary personnel in Jammu & Kashmir.
While the Modi regime, which is also ruling Jammu & Kashmir through their lackey governor, SP Malik, didn’t take much time to announce that the Pakistan-based Islamist fascist terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad is responsible for the attack, they also took potshots at the democratic and anti-fascist forces who question the Indian government’s occupation of Kashmir and its brutal atrocities against the Kashmiri civilians.
Soon after the attack, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a directive for the television channels, ordering them to desist from broadcasting any content that’s critical of the government by terming such content as “anti-national”. This was a clear sign that the Modi regime wants to gag the pro-Kashmir and anti-fascist voices, and even control what the media would say on the issue of militant attack.
Senior BJP leaders and ministers started advocating stripping off the political rights of those who support the rights of the Kashmiri people, oppose India’s military occupation of Kashmir, talk about human rights or value the democratic aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
Minister of State for PMO Jitendra Singh told the news agency ANI that those who advocate for the human rights of the Kashmiri people should be stripped off their rights and punished for the militant attack. His jingoistic rhetoric echoed the views of the entire Sangh Parivar, whose men, on one hand, demanded a military strike on Pakistan to avenge the militant attack, while on the other hand, started spitting venom against the anti-fascist and pro-democratic voices that question the Indian ruling classes and expose their complicity in the gruesome atrocities committed against civilians in Kashmir.
For a moment it seemed like the militant strike allegedly done by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad through a local Fidayeen guerrilla has actually given a new lease of life to the Modi regime, which was until yesterday cornered on growing unemployment, the Rafale Jet Scam, economic hardships of the farmers and the working class, cuts in education and for splitting the society into communally antagonistic camps through its divisive and vitriolic propaganda.
As the Congress and all other parliamentary opposition party threw their weight behind the Modi regime unconditionally, this alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad attack looked exactly like another boon for the BJP 17 years ago, when the same organisation was alleged to have executed an attack on the Indian parliament building at a time when the Vajpayee-led NDA government was battling the accusations of Coffingate Scandal in which former defence minister George Fernandes was an accused. Soon after the parliament attack in 2001, both warring sides united to inveigh against the Kashmiri people’s struggle for their right to self-determination.
If this farcical repeat of history wasn’t enough, Modi’s kowtower Hindutva fascist mainstream media outlets joined the chorus, amplifying their coarse war cry to drum up support for the crisis-ridden regime. The most vocal lackeys among them like Times Now, Republic TV, Zee News, etc, started blowing the trumpet demanding a war with Pakistan and, repeating the fascist verbiage of the RSS and BJP leaders, they too demanded that those who oppose the government on its Kashmir policy, human rights violation, military dictatorship and its pro-US and pro-Zionist Israeli policies, must be stripped off their rights.
These lapdogs of the regime, who aren’t ashamed of calling for gagging of common people’s democratic rights, audaciously identify themselves as journalists and live a lavish life with the crumbs thrown at them by their political and corporate masters. The louder one beats the drum of RSS’s version of “nationalism”, the more are the crumbs they get from the regime. This competition to be at the top of the most favoured lackey of the Modi regime has triggered a competition within these corporate media entities.
During these discourse, during this phase of unconditional servility shown to the Modi regime and the military establishment, no sane, democratic and anti-fascist voice is allowed to express their views through blanket self-imposed censorship by the mainstream media. Even a lot of so-called alternative media portals have adopted a nonchalant position to save their skin from the chauvinist thundershower.
It’s a despicable moment when the critical voices are gagged in a self-styled — “world’s largest democracy” — so that the official standpoint of its government on an important issue isn’t put to question. The line between press and government PR had faded a long time ago, now it’s even impossible to distinguish what was the territory of critical and fierce journalism, and what was of PR and propaganda.
Still, it’s imperative that questions are asked to the government about the root cause of this conflict in Kashmir. Why a draconian, anti-democratic and terrorising act like AFSPA is in force in Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur and other conflict-zones if the Indian rulers believe in democracy, discussion and distribution of power? Why even after seven decades of the conflict Kashmir remains heavily militarised — the highest military to civilian ratio in the world — till date? Why, despite the Modi government’s chest-thumping claims about annihilating home-grown militancy, a large part of the youth are joining the militancy? Why the number of civilians, irrespective of their age, gender or locality, killed is increasing year-upon-year in Kashmir ever since the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s former commander Burhan Wani in 2016? Why the youth of Kashmir are vociferously opposing the Indian rule since 2009 than at any other point in time?
The BJP has a close ideological tie-up with the US and the CIA, who have founded and funded the Salafism-driven Islamist fascist terrorist organisations operating out of Pakistan and Afghanistan. After the US-funded Mujahideen militants defeated the erstwhile Soviet forces in Afghanistan, a large number of those puppets were used to divert the genuine people’s struggle for Kashmir’s salvation towards a disarrayed state.
It was the BJP-supported Janta Dal government (National Front) of VP Singh that once sent the notorious Jagmohan as the governor of Jammu & Kashmir, which led to a series of macabre sectarian atrocities against the Kashmiri people. The exodus of the minority Kashmiri Pandit community by creating a paranoia, after the killing of 219 members of the community, was also a handiwork of the notorious Hindutva fascist thug who considered Kashmir as his fiefdom and reigned as a tyrant for many years before becoming a BJP lawmaker and minister.
Though all parliamentary parties of India, including the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that work as New Delhi’s pawns in the valley, more or less share the blame of being complicit in the crimes against humanity in the Kashmir valley, the major onus falls on the shoulder of the BJP and the Congress, the two favourites of the Indian ruling classes.
Under their rule, through their proxies like the NC or the PDP with which either aligned some or the other way to retain control over Jammu & Kashmir in these three decades, more than 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed, wounded, disappeared and thousands of women have been raped by the Indian forces. Living as a Kashmiri in the Kashmir valley has become a curse for the people and they’re more prone to be killed by the Indian armed forces than a Palestinian Arab resisting Zionist Israeli aggression on their homeland.
From the infamous Kunan Poshpora mass rape to the Gawakadal, Handwara, Zakoora and Tengpora, Hawal, Sopore, Bijbehara, Kupwara, etc, massacres in which more than 300 people were killed by armed forces, Kashmir bears the humiliating bruises of macabre atrocities committed against humanity on itself even to this day. No press of India, no civil society members of the mainstream and not even any parliamentary party, irrespective of their hue, speak on behalf of these aggrieved Kashmiri people.
While the bait of resolving the Kashmir issue by discussion has always been dangled before the Kashmiri people by the Indian government, just like the Pakistani reactionary rulers dangle the bait of their much-sought “Azadi” before them, the lack of any serious engagement to resolve the long-standing justified demand of the right to self-determination has forced a lot of disgruntled youth to the fold of militancy over the last many years.
As the former PDP-BJP coalition — an oxymoron indeed — unleashed mayhem and bloodshed in the valley after winning power, militancy blistered in the valley at an epidemic proportion drawing a large part of the youth. Militant attacks have become frequent and so are the ambushes by the military. The whole valley is engulfed in a state of mindless and gruesome violence, which even took away sane voices like the former editor of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari.
In such a gloomy situation, an attack on the paramilitary convoy becomes a rallying point for the upper-caste elite and the middle class urban Hindus, who have been supporting the BJP for their shared xenophobia and love for IMF-World Bank-prescribed neo-liberal economic agenda. They cheer for the government, bay for the blood of the Kashmiri youth and unconditionally supports military rule to suppress the aspirations of the people of the valley. This is the section of the society that the mainstream media serves, it’s the section for which the stories are created and political optics are developed.
It’s no wonder that those who enjoy orgasmic pleasure from the bloodshed of innocent Kashmiri civilians, protesting youth and children, will go mad over the recent militant strike against the CRPF convoy and will support the Modi regime’s free press gagging initiative out of their love for fascism and bigotry.
The Hindutva fascist camp will be able to rally a large number of such crooks from the exploiting classes and even some from the exploited sections of the society. Yet, though they will be displayed to assert the Modi regime’s popularity and the unconditional support it enjoys, the truth will be something underneath the sheen of the muslin that the saffron camp will use to hide the uncomforting facts.
A large number of poor people of the country, the Dalits, the tribal people, the oppressed communities and nationalities know well that the Modi regime will try to divert their attention from their struggle for socio-economic equality, justice and salvation by using chauvinist rhetoric. The dosage of jingoism that the privileged elite and urban middle class will easily gulp will be puked out by the exploited and oppressed people as any war, so-called “surgical strike”, killing of Kashmiri people or jailing of dissenters will actually go against their interests: employment, food, healthcare, social justice and security.
Thus, even as the Modi tries hard to capitalise this recent militant attack on CRPF convoy at Pulwama to instigate a rumbustious mob of hyper-nationalist mobsters throughout India, to incite communal riots and anti-Kashmiri sectarian violence — the farmers’ struggle for higher MSP for their crops, loan waiver and land reforms, the working class’s struggle for minimum wages, eight-hour work, end of contract labour system, end of outsourcing, right to unionise, right to social security, etc, the struggle of the students and youth for employment and higher subsidies and grants in education will tighten the noose around this utmost fascist, anti-people and anti-national regime.
War, jingoism and hyper-masculine chauvinism may be a temporary rescue measure for the BJP and Modi, in the long run, it’s the people’s struggle for their rights and power that will inevitably overthrow the unjust system that the Hindutva fascists are trying to consolidate and brutalise the people with.