Yasir Irshad in Kashmir

From In Defense of Marxism, “The Kashmiri Intifada

“The corridors of power from Srinagar to Delhi and from Islamabad to Washington have been shaken by the uprising of Kashmiri youth. For the past ten weeks, major parts of the valley have seen widespread protests, strikes and unrest. Everyday life has been brought to a standstill in most districts including Srinagar by this forceful movement. And the attempts to crush the movement on the part of the state apparatus are adding fuel to the fire.

The present movement began on June 11 when police fired on protesters in Rajori Srinagar, which resulted in the death of a young man. The police fired tear gas shells right into the protesters which hit a 17-year old student, Tufail Mattoo, in the head and killed him. The news of this gruesome murder provoked a series of protests in Srinagar and cities and towns of the Indian-occupied part of Kashmir. The police immediately imposed a curfew. But despite the curfew two thousand protesters came onto streets on June 12 and demanded legal action against the culprits responsible for the murder within 24 hours. The police and administration used the curfew and brutal repression to control the situation and arrested many protesters.

These acts flared up the uprising even further. On June 14 there was a general strike and there were numerous protests against this barbarism. In some places the youth broke the curfew by force to hold protests and 7 youngsters were critically injured in the clashes. In more than two months the Indian Army and Kashmir Police have killed 70 people in their attempts to curb the movement. These figures are vigorously disputed by the youth in the movement. In the face of arrests, curfews, and barbaric state repression the movement that began on June 14 still continues with the same fervour.”

“The Indian army posted in Kashmir has special unlimited powers allowing them to question people on the basis of doubt, arrests without warrant, home searches at any time, and other draconian acts.”

“Protests against this military repression have become a daily routine of the Kashmiri masses and youth. This military repression is more naked in the countryside where homes are searched at night and inmates humiliated. Men are tortured and women are raped and those who resist are shot.

While there is Indian military naked aggression against the people of Kashmir, the social, economic and industrial infrastructure of Kashmir has been completely shattered by two decades of violence. There is almost no industrial infrastructure. Unemployment is endemic. According to a Chatham House (a UK think-tank) report published in June 2010, 83% of people on both sides of the Line of Control think that Kashmir’s biggest problem is unemployment.”

“According to an estimate, there are 350,000 Kashmiri students in different Indian educational institutions. In the educational institutions, and generally in India, the Kashmiri youth are considered to be anti-India and trouble makers and thus face discrimination.

This discrimination is so widespread that Kashmiris almost get no jobs in the government sector and very few in the private. The number of job seekers going to the Middle East, Europe and America has also gone down since the turn of the century, mainly due to the crisis and crisis of world capitalism, and especially after the 2008 crash it has almost ceased.

In this situation the majority of Kashmiri youth after completing their education are unable to find any jobs and return to their homes. Already there is a huge number of educated unemployed in Kashmir. The unemployed youth returning from India bring back with them a burning desire for freedom. Their journey back is full of thoughts that the discriminatory attitude they had faced in India is the result of Indian occupation of their land. They think that if they achieve freedom all their problems including unemployment can end. These are the conditions which have given immense courage and vigour to this movement of Kashmir’s youth.”

Stone throwing is becoming the weapon of choice for the Kashmiri youth movement.

“The BBC Urdu website published the views of one of the youth in the protest movement on stone throwing on July 17:

“Majid, 15, is a resident of Maysmah, which is one of the most sensitive bazaars of Srinagar. His close friend 17 years old Abrar was shot and killed recently in front of his eyes. Abrar took his last breath in Majid’s lap. After this incident Majid has left his education and joined the movement. Majid says ‘I have seen with my own eyes that the policemen killed Abrar intentionally. I have left my education and the only way for me is stone throwing’. There are thousands more like him whose hearts are filled with a passion of revolt resulting from state brutality. Kashmiri youngsters say, ‘The Indian army violates the constitution in their own country but they are decorated with medals and awards and when we protest against this violation we are labelled as terrorists. It seems that the government wants us to become stone throwers. The worst thing is that if you are a stone thrower the police will beat you, but if you are not one, the police will beat you so much that you will certainly become one’.”

“The youth in the movement don’t trust any party or leader. All political parties and tendencies have lost their efficacy, from the religious fundamentalists to the pro-India parties and from so called national liberationists to pro-Pakistan groups. With the exception of the pro-India National Conference, Congress and BJP, all factions of the APHC, Liberaton front and Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP have announced their support for this movement, but the youngsters do not accept their leadership and do not agree with their policies and programmes.”

“The government of Kashmir has used the state’s oppressive machine with extreme brutality to crush the movement starting on June 11. A hundred and fifty thousand police and 40,000 paramilitary troops are being ignominiously defeated by the young stone throwers. When this force of 190,000 police and paramilitary troops failed to crush the movement, despite measures such as curfews, arrests, torture and murders, the ruling class admitted its defeat and called in the army on July 6 to control the situation. A 30,000 strong Rapid Action Force has been deployed in Srinagar.

The youth has justifiably understood that the deployment of the army is their success and a defeat for the state. Against the hopes of the rulers, this sense of victory has given a renewed hope and passion to the youth and they have come forward with renewed spirit against the army rather than being afraid.

However, the army has been much more brutal in its methods of repression. On July 7 a state of emergency was declared and all media was blocked. The curfew passes of media persons were revoked and their movement was prohibited. Newspapers were not allowed to publish and the duration of news on the TV was reduced from one hour to ten minutes. SMS service on mobile phones was also blocked across the valley.

Also a savage spree of arrests was started, based on the video footage of past protests. This rampage by the state authorities shows that they are losing control of the situation. An indefinite curfew across the valley was thus imposed and 1500 youngsters were immediately arrested including many boys of 13 and 14 years.

This was the first movement in Kashmir since 1947, whose story was consciously blacked out by the Pakistani state and media. This fact shows that the movement of Kashmiri youth and its character is a challenge to the ruling classes of the subcontinent and their decaying capitalist system and the rulers and the media of both states are in an undeclared alliance to kill the movement.

However, all this repression has failed to crush the movement.”

“The experiences of the movements and sacrifices have clarified the goals for the new generation. They have realised that the real meaning and aim of freedom is an end to hunger, poverty, disease and unemployment. One of the fundamental aims of their struggle is the withdrawal of Indian forces and an end to state oppression. They have learnt from experience that Indian imperialism cannot bring any improvement in their lives. Poverty and impoverishment have always been on the rise here.”

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