February 04, 2024

TN: Platform for People's Unity Calls for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza

G Udayakumar

THE Tamil Nadu Platform for People's Unity organised a seminar on Palestine and Kashmir issues in North Chennai on January 10, at Vani Mahal near Jeeva Park Tondiarpet. Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, convenor of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration in Jammu and Kashmir, was the main speaker. S Kumar, coordinator of Chennai Makkal Medai, chaired the event, and Saravana Tamilan extended a warm welcome. Introductory speeches were given by Bala Raman of the Indian National Congress, Balamurugan of Bharath Jodo Abhiyan, and Basheer Ahmed of the Masjid Federation.

During the seminar, Yousuf Tarigami asserted that the events in Palestine were not a conventional war but a genocide. Despite the tragic loss of his only son to the genocide, Al Jazeera's chief displayed remarkable resilience by returning to work the next day, symbolising the unwavering spirit of Palestine reporters amidst multiple family tragedies. The distressing reality in Palestine involves the loss of thousands of children's lives at the hands of Israel, challenging the appropriateness of labelling it as a war and highlighting it as undeniably a genocide.

This is not a clash of religious ideologies but a manifestation of global power dynamics. America's involvement, using its veto power to prolong the Palestine conflict, is notable. Encouragingly, the American people are taking to the streets, urging an end to the war. Central to these issues is the historical legacy of the British government. The problems originate from the British empire's decision to transfer control of Palestine to Israel, leading to the gradual displacement of Palestinians from their ancestral lands during the Israeli occupation. The BJP government's shift in support towards Israel contradicts India's traditional stance, as advocated by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Vajpayee, favouring the Palestinians. Urgently, the ongoing war must cease to prevent further Palestinian casualties.

Addressing the Kashmir issue, Yousuf Tarigami stressed the need to maintain collective optimism. The BJP's attempt to blame Gandhi and Nehru for the problem is unfounded, as Gandhi advocated for inclusive independence beyond religious, caste, and linguistic divides.

The BJP's assertion of Savarkar's role in India's independence contradicts his multiple mercy petitions to the British government, raising questions about their stance. The BJP is against national integration and people's unity. And, labelling Kashmiris as extremists overlooks the region's historical commitment to communal harmony; there was an absence of riots during partition, unlike the massive massacres in a part of Bengal and Punjab region.

At independence, Kashmir was not initially part of India due to the Hindu king's reluctance. After negotiations, Kashmir was integrated into Indian Union, under Article 370. Even Shyama Prasad Mukherjee supported this special status. Despite Dr Ambedkar's and other leaders efforts in constitution-making after debate, the BJP government aims to dismantle both the constitution and Article 370, using religion to divert attention from critical issues like youth unemployment.

The removal of the elected government in Kashmir, abolishment of Article 370, and the division into two union territories were justified for ending extremism and promoting peace. Yet, the actual outcomes involve the arrest of opposition leaders, heavy military presence affecting Kashmiris, communication blackouts, and a democratic deficit. Surprisingly, there has been minimal protest from other parts of India.

Why hasn't there been an election in Kashmir four years after its dismissal? They are aware they might not win if elections are held. Suspending and removing 146 MPs from parliament and unilaterally passing bills without opposition discussion contribute to the continued erosion of democracy, secularism, and federalism.

After the removal of Article 370, Left and Congress MPs protested, and DMK MPs supported which is appreciable. Tarigami conveyed his solidarity with the Tamil people's struggles after a recent cyclone and heavy rain, criticising the central government for apparent lack of assistance during the calamity.

Speakers at the seminar included Professor Jawahirullah, president of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, P Sampath from CPI(M), and Father MC Rajan.  M Balasubramanyam from TNPP Unity gave the vote of thanks.

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