Attack on AAP


It has been widely reported that on 8th January, 2014 the Hindu Raksha Dal attacked and vandalized the Aam Aadmi Party office in Caushambi (Uttar Pradesh), protesting the comments made by AAP leader and Supreme Court Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan on the presence of the Armed Forces in Kashmir. However, this form of hooligan-organized violence and vandalism in the name of hurt sentiments is not new. Over the years people have been witness to this well established pattern of violence against anyone who has dared to make a statement about the brutality and impunity of the Armed Forces, particularly where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is implemented as in Kashmir and the Northeast, as well as their presence in other parts like Central India. People have been booked under false cases, beaten and threatened. Whether it was the same Prashant Bhushan who was badly beaten up by a fanatic organization or the Bajrang Dal cadre chasing down and attacking those protesting the unjust hanging of Afzal Guru at Jantar Mantar in broad daylight and under the full protection of the police, or the vandalism at the screening of Sanjay Kak's documentary, Jashn-e-Azadi, in Hyderabad, or the hooliganism of the BJP's student wing ABVP against the rally demanding a repeal of the AFSPA in Delhi University, the message is always loud and clear. Kashmir is not negotiable. This time too it was said by Hindu Raksha Dal as they staged a protest against "AAP's stand" on Kashmir. The attackers said that Hindus are hurt because of Prashant Bhushan's statement on Kashmir which led them to stage a protest outside the party office and engage in vandalism.

Aam Aadmi Party, ironically, had already rebutted Prashant Bhushan's statement and in response clarified that Kashmir is an integral part of India, that the presence of the Armed Forces was a question of national security, that there was no question of a referendum on this issue and that Prashant Bhushan's statement in no way reflected the position of the party.

As far as the attack by Hindu Raksha dal is concerned, it is very clear that the attack was an attack on all those who stand against the impunity—the Armed Forces enjoy under draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). It was an attack to shut all those voices that stand for de-militarization. In truth such demands have not only been raised by Kashmiris but by various movements in the Northeast and in Central India.

The attack by Hindu Raksha Dal is an attack on the basic idea and values of any democratic society. It is not surprising that while both Congress and BJP formally condemned the attack they are not against the views that Hindu Raksha Dal has aired. Arvind Kejriwal was quick to clarify that AAP considered Kashmir an integral part of India. Why is it that every time a statement is made on the large-scale brutalities meted out to the people of Kashmir by the Armed Forces, the debate is hijacked as one of national integrity? If Kashmir is an integral part of India, does that make it sense to go on inflicting violence on the local people, its own citizens with complete impunity? Thousands of people have been murdered, raped and thousand more imprisoned and the rest live in constant state of fear and unfreedom. A response to this issue by evoking the jingoism of national integrity is to consciously shy away from the real question at hand—the trigger- happy Armed Forces in Kashmir that have consistently stripped the people of Kashmir of their fundamental right to a life of dignity and freedom.

It was just a couple of years ago when thousands were found in many mass graves across Kashmir, thanks to the intervention of the Jammu- Kashmir Human Rights Commission. Did they themselves decide to die together or was it the ISI that came inside, killed people and put them together in those graves? The truth is known to the people in those regions where armed forces are 'safeguarding' the nation. Each time some people have tried to raise the issue, they have been met with organized violence and the politics of vandalism of the Hindu Right.

Vol. 46, No. 31, Feb 9 - 15, 2014