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Report

Convention and protests on Kashmir in Punjab

Harsh Thakor

A massive political campaign has been undertaken in Punjab by a joint front of 11 organizations condemning the repealing of acts 370 and 35 A and supporting the right of Kashmiri people for self-determination. They comprise the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (Ugrahan), the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa), the Punjab Students Union(lalkar), the Naujwan Bharat Sabha, the Pendu Mazdoor Union (Mashal), the Hosiery workers Unicostate Moulder and steel workers Union and the Karkhana Mazdoor Union. Meticulous preparations are being made for a major conference and march in Chandigarh to be held on September 15th.We must salute the revolutionary democratic movement in Punjab for rising to the very hour.

Most inspirational preparatory rallies and marches have been launched illuminating the torch of resistance  by the Lok Morcha Punjab in Barnala and Bathinda and by the Punjab Students Union(Shaheed Randhawa) in campuses of colleges in Sangrur, and Bathinda and by the BKU(Ugrahan) and Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union in regions of Sangrur, Faridkot, Bathinda and other parts of the Malwa region. A joint front action Committee of 11 organizations in Sangrur also mobilized almost 700 persons in a conference. In Ludhiana the Punjab Students Union (lalkar) and the Karkhana Mazdoor Union have also organized qualitative gatherings. Even if not quantitatively large all these meetings had immense qualitative impact which is significant. What is heartening is the great response in the toiling sections of Punjab and the manner they grasped the revolutionary democratic significance of the Kashmir issue to their problems as a whole. The work amongst the student community who historically have played a vanguard role in anti-imperialist movements. Also has great relevance the gatherings were conducted giving due respect to the political consciousness of the masses and speakers related the issue in the very language of the masses. The meetings ignited the flame of resistance to make the convention in Chandigarh a major success like sowing scattered seeds. All democrats should hope that such a spark turns into a prairie fire all over India.

Various democratic organizations of Punjab earlier decided to stand in solidarity with national struggle of Kashmiri people! Eleven various democratic mass organizations of Punjab formed “Solidarity Committee for National Struggle of Kashmir, Punjab” to express solidarity with the struggle of Kashmiri people and oppose the oppressive steps being taken by the Indian state to crush their struggle. Peasants, agrarian and industrial workers organisations, students and youth organizations declared to hold state-wide mass demonstrations culminating in the big protest in the capital Chandigarh on 15th September. The committee has called upon all the justice loving people of the region to bear true to their glorious legacy of standing for people’s rights by coming forward for solidarity with their neighbouring brethren. Releasing a press statement from the committee, peasant leaders Jhanda Singh Jethuke, Kanwalpreet Singh Panju and Industrial workers leader Lakhwinder said that before 1947 Kashmir was a separate province. At the time of temporary alliance with the Indian state during 1947, the Indian rulers had promised the Kashmiri people to hold the referendum to decide by themselves their own future. But the Indian state backtracked from this promise and since last 72 years have occupied the Kashmiri land through military force. It was then only that section 370 was incorporated into the Indian constitution giving Kashmir a special status and certain special autonomy rights in certain matters. But the Indian rulers, interested in forcefully annexing Kashmir, had made this section hollow by time and again tempering with it. But now the BJP has culminated this devilish intention of forcefully keeping the state occupied by terminating the section. Also, by eliminating the section 35-A the Indian state has opened the doors for corporate loot by allowing the Kashmiri land to be sold/purchased by non-Kashmiri’s. Furthermore, in order to intensify its oppressive rule, it has broken up the state into Union Territories. Getting people’s referendum was a far cry, the BJP didn’t even ask the self-elected Vidhan Sabha and neither the people of the country were given any hint of it, in fact it was a sudden transformation of Kashmir into an open prison, imposition of Section 144 and other restrictions! Even now, the disruption of phone and internet services since last three weeks and people imprisoned, tells us a lot about Centre’s “democratic” decision. The seven lakh plus army was increased further, thousands including local leaders were thrown into prison or kept under house arrest and confinement. The media is being stopped from sending live reporting about the situation. But all this won’t stop the anger and resistance of the Kashmiri people, it will only be tempered more and intensified. Despite such hard restrictions, Kashmiri’s have been on streets protesting and acting as usual hundreds have been injured with pellet gun firing. Committee has expressed the view that BJP government is using communal-fascist tactics to suppress the people’s movements in order to safeguard its political power and serve the interests of its corporate masters. BJP has intensified the fascistic attack since its re-election. And for this communal-fascistic mobilisation, the Kashmiri’s are being used as a pawn and blind nationalism is being advanced. Hysteric anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan atmosphere is being created to divert the people’s attention from real issues. The communal-fascistic.... this planned fascistic attack is being felt by various sections of society including Dalits, Muslims and Kashmiri’s. Acts like UAPA are being passed to term any anti-establishment struggle as anti-national. The attack on Kashmiris is in fact an acceptance of the fact that Indian government has proved to be utter failure to deal with the Kashmir situation. This failure is resulting in even more frustration and oppression of Kashmiri’s. Rapes, fake encounters, political murders, mass graves - the story of brutalities on Kashmir is very long. The leaders of the committee expressed that the atrocities being committed on the people of immediate neighbour is of grave concern for the democratic mass movement of Punjab. There has been a glorious tradition of this regions revolutionary movement in championing the cause of the downtrodden of the world and we need to uphold that tradition again. Committee leaders said that during the solidarity protests it will be demanded that Indian state put an immediate stop to all the repression and give the right to self-determination to Kashmiri’s, to revoke the decision to scrap section 370 and 35-A and make J&K a Union Territory, to out an end to all the restrictions imposed on Kashmir right now, to immediately release all the political activists arrested, to scrap draconian laws AFSPA and PSA.

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Frontier
Sep 8, 2019