November 10, 2019

Sitaram Yechury at Oxford Union Debate

Harsev Bains

AT the Oxford Union, in a prestigious head to head debate, Sitaram Yechury opposed the motion as an Indian patriot against the suspension of article 370, the impact of the suspension in Kashmir and the manner in which it was done. The debate was held on October 29.

The motion was defended by one of the vice presidents of the BJP, a former MP, Baijayant Panda.

The debate attracted a lot of publicity and was surrounded by controversy before it started. A number of eminent academics and intellectuals from Britain and abroad publicly petitioned the vice chancellor at Oxford University to prevent the debate from taking place as no Kashmiri was taking part in it.

The opening statement came from Mr Panda, where he set out the government’s position as a positive and courageous move to integrate Kashmir with India. He went on too describe the steps taken being in the interest of the people, where according to  Panda things were now back to normal.

Sitaram Yechury responded by brandishing the copy of the Constitution of the Republic of India and the governing articles which he and his fellow lawmakers took oaths to defend.

To wild loud cheers, Yechury decided to remove the elephant from the room by formally stating that he wished that the Central Committee Member of his Party from Kashmir,  Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami should ideally be speaking against the motion, but unfortunately Tarigami like his fellow Kashmiri elected leaders including former CM’s and MP’s were under virtual house arrest and restricted free movement.

Yechury further stated that the Supreme Court had to be petitioned and habeas-corpus filed to allow Tarigami to receive urgent medical treatment after which, he(Tarigami)  immediately returned to be with the people in Kashmir.

Yechury went on to define the human rights violation  and attacks  on civil liberties of Kashmiri people with the denial of democracy, liberty and freedom and  the removal of the elected legislative assembly. He described the decisions taken by the governor of Kashmir and the BJP government suspending article 370 as unconstitutional. This move by the government is under Supreme Court review. Lives of the Kashmiri people are disrupted, schools and shops remain closed; cell phones are only now functional with limited access for communication even for urgent family messages. This has caused widespread alienation especially among the youth. The generally accepted rule of jurisprudence, where one is innocent until proven guilty, is reversed in Kashmir.

Sitaram Yechury provided a chronological factual analysis for the accession of Kashmir, the agreement with the government of India, its application and the misinformation surrounding the word temporary in reference to article 370. Yechury said that there was always a clear understanding that this would be replaced by a permanent article in the course of time. He also highlighted a number of other states with specific references in the constitution. There is denial of agricultural land purchase to Indian people in states like HP, Haryana and Uttrakhand. These specific conditions applicable remain acceptable to the BJP in the states ruled by them. It is evident from the actions by the government that they seek integration of Kashmir but not Kashmiri’s. A whole set of facts and indices comparing the development and progress in Kashmir compared to the often quoted Gujarat were placed by Sitaram Yechury to which the defender of the motion had no answers.

The visit by selected rightwing Euro MEP’s(members of European Parliament) to Kashmir, was described by one of the questioners as a foot shooter by the government in its bizarre attempt to gain international acceptance for their unconstitutional action, which no Indian patriot can surely accept.

Interestingly, but not surprising from the loud prolonged applause for the opposition to the suspension of article 370, dissolution of the sate assembly and the elimination of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the normal vote at the end of the debate to gauge opinions was not held. One can only conjecture about specific reasons but all those in the hall knew why.

The pamphlet distributed on the Betrayal of Kashmir setting out the CPIM position further strengthened and reinforced the narrative of the left and the long term solution for the prevailing situation in Kashmir and her people.


During a long awaited tour, Sitaram Yechury has taken time out to interact with the Indian Diaspora in Britain.

Sitaram Yechury held a number of gatherings beginning in West London on October 28th, where he directly addressed the fake news and anti India propaganda that targets and portrays the Left as anti-national. Yechury clearly defined the Left’s narrative and alternative proposals to the new liberal agenda and the rightward shift in political developments in India.