The video of a youth tied to the front of an army jeep driving through villages during the by-elections in the Srinagar parliamentary constituency on April 9 has provoked women and men of conscience throughout our country to raise their voice in protest. At one stroke, it has brought to the fore the utter brutality and inhuman treatment of the Kashmiri people by the Indian state.
According to news reports, Dar, a youth of Chil village in Kashmir, was picked up by an army patrol on the morning of April 9, after he had cast his vote and was on his way to attend a family function. He was cruelly beaten up with rifle butts and strapped in a semi-conscious state to an army jeep which drove through many villages for three to four hours. At various places the villagers requested the army men to release him, but they refused. Throughout the traumatic journey, the army men kept announcing over the loudspeaker in Hindi, “This is the fate that will befall stone throwers.”
This incident is reminiscent of an occupation army using its victims as human shields. That this is reflective of the attitude of the Indian state and has ite complete sanction was confirmed when Attorney General of the Government of India openly defended it. This incident occurred at the same time that the Indian state was organising the farce of “democratic” elections in Srinagar, in which less than 7% of people voted.
The people of Kashmir are completely alienated from the Indian state. They have been victims of unceasing poisonous propaganda by the Indian state that vilifies them and discredits their struggle for rights. They are constantly portrayed as “terrorists”, “Pakistani agents”, enemies of the “unity and integrity” of the country in the eyes of people in the rest of India. Outside Kashmir, in other states of India, Kashmiri students are being regularly harassed in the campuses and market places, and beaten up by mobs, for the crime of being Kashmiri.
The Indian state does not want the working class and men and women of conscience in the rest of the country raise their voice against the state terrorism unleashed against Kashmiri people. Such is the barrage of calumnies and slanders that the Indian state has spread about the Kashmiri people and their struggle, that when a retired army lieutenant general expressed his disgust and opposition to the army using a youth as a “human shield”, he was viciously attacked as an enemy of the nation and a “disgrace” to the army he served.
The Indian state rules over the Kashmiri people through its armed forces. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which has been imposed in Kashmir for the last 27 years, gives complete immunity to the armed forces and security personnel from any kind of legal prosecution, thus giving them a free hand to torture, kill, rape and plunder. Civilian governments in Kashmir, “elected” under the shadow of the gun of the army, have virtually no powers. Brute force is being used to crush the aspiration of the Kashmiri people to determine their own future.
The political problems confronting the people of Kashmir cannot be solved by treating them as “law and order problems”. The Communist Ghadar Party demands that AFSPA should be immediately withdrawn, the army should be removed to its barracks and the inhuman terror of the Indian state against the Kashmiri people ended. This is the condition for a just resolution of the problem facing the Kashmiri people.