September 22, 2019

Paradise Destroyed

MOHD Yousuf Tarigami, member of the Central Committee of the CPI(M) is the first political leader from the valley of Kashmir to have been able to come out of detention after the intervention of the Supreme Court. A habeas corpus writ petition was filed by Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Party in the SC to produce Tarigami. However, the SC asked Yechury to visit Tarigami and file an affidavit in the SC regarding his health. After filing of the affidavit, the SC allowed Tarigami to visit Delhi and undergo treatment in the AIIMS. We, from Loklehar were able to interview him during his stay in Delhi. Following are the extracts from his interview given to Rajendra Sharma(RS) from Loklehar, which was later translated to English for People’s Democracy.

RS: What is your take on the decision of the central government to abrogate Article 370?

MYT: This attack has been initiated in J and K, but isn’t limited to it and shall not affect only J and K. It is an attack on the Indian democracy, humanity and our constitution. Awareness needs to be created about this seizing of our secular republic and our people. All the powers resisting this attack must come together.

RS: Was it not perceived in the valley that such a decision is being mooted by the government?

MYT: There were predictions that the central government is intending to do something big and this was not just indicated with the huge and increased deployment of security forces but also the way Amarnath Yatra was halted midway a few days ago. It was asserted that this was done for security but as it revealed itself, this was not true. This was unprecedented, Amarnath Yatra being one of the biggest symbolic representations of the peaceful friendship between communities in Kashmir. In fact, a lot of local people there depend solely on this yatra for their livelihood, and this pilgrimage had not been stopped even when terrorism was at its peak in the valley.

Though this time unnecessary hype was created first about the whole event, and then a kind of curfew in the name of safety was imposed, on the one-sided movement of Kashmiris during it, which was opposed by many parties including ours. These oppressive restrictions in the name of security still persist.

So many tourists were made to vacate their hotels in arbitrarily and forcefully made to board the buses; many migrant workers were also forced to leave at once. All these signs had led to an environment of fear in the valley already. During this the presence of security forces was first increased by 10,000 then 25,000.

RS: BJP considers abrogation of Article 370 as part of the national agenda, what do you think?

MYT: This is BJP-RSS agenda this cannot be national agenda. National agenda would have been to make Kashmir feel empowered and integrated into the republic and to increase trust among secular Indians to strengthen bonds between them including Kashmiris.  Instead of winning over this trust from Kashmiris they are being humiliated by the central government.

The challenges before 35A and 370 were under observation in the Supreme court, in which our party was also participating. Whereas Modi government 1 never came in their defence to the court and while no decision had been arrived at by the apex court, without consulting the stakeholders in J and K, the people there the government imposed its own decisions there.

RS: BJP claims that Article 370 was temporary in nature and should have been abrogated long ago?

MYT: At the time of Modi government 1, their alliance with PDP which was clearly made to increase their influence in the valley has culminated in robbing Kashmir of its hope of integrating fully into the Indian republic at its own terms. We must not forget that while the then Raja in 1947 wanted a separate state it was the secular people of J and K who withstood the tribal intrusions from Pakistan even then and hence made J and K stay with in India. The special provisions for this state had emerged from this unique situation then, though RSS had always wanted to destroy this bond of Kashmir with India for which they have now put the entire integrity of India at stake.

In 2016 at an all-party meeting that PM Modi had called I had asserted that the disassociation of Kashmiris with India is alarmingly growing. As remedial measures I had suggested talk to them, gain their trust. But what did they do instead- turn the state into a prison and stop any possibility of any communication.

The impermanence of 370 is claimed but it was to be used as a bridge to strengthen the integration. Ex-PM late Narsimha Rao had said that the limit of this autonomy is the sky and NDA-PM, late Vajpayee had himself given slogans like – Insaaniyat, Jamhuriyat,Kashmiriyat.

And now turning the tables entirely while the popular slogan sabkavikas has been extended to sabkavishwas, is this the way to get that vishwas/trust? What happened on August 5 and is happening even now is it justified? How to believe this?

RS: What is the political situation in the valley?

MYT: Democracy has been stifled, no political activity is allowed, all communication has been stopped, movement has been stopped/ restricted and the national security adviser is pretending all is well. Kashmir is losing its patience, it is feeling alienated from the rest of India. People cannot connect to relatives, friends, family in the rest of India. The people of Kashmir have been imprisoned. Try granting this kind of “special status” to any other Indian state. It is an attack on the entire country’s freedom; political leaders are not being allowed to enter the state.

RS: There is a question often asked that the plight of Kashmiri pandits is not addressed by the mainstream political parties in the valley?

MYT: Of course the suffering of the Kashmiri pandits is not unrecognised, but is this the way to get them back to the valley; wouldn’t they all have returned by now? They can only be brought back by strengthening bonds between communities, bonds of Kashmiryat and not by communal polarisation.

RS: Anything else you want to say?

MYT: I salute all the people and institutions and parties standing by the people of Kashmir in this difficult time. I am thankful to our leader Sitaram Yechury who went thrice to Srinagar, took a petition to the Supreme Court and at last got me to Delhi for medical treatment.

We have seen a range of difficulties in Kashmir, a long period of suppression and discrimination; Kashmiris can be beaten, trodden but they won’t give up. This is a path to destroy this country not integrate it. It is a danger to the secular socialist republic that India is, and all like-minded organisations and people must join forces to resist it.