Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) is deeply concerned over the recent unilateral decision by the Government of India to repeal large parts of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution (which granted special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir) , and break up the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.
We condemn the immoral, unconstitutional and illegal means being adopted by the Modi-led Government in suppressing political freedom and in ignoring the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the people of Kashmir. The abrogation of the moratorium on the ownership of land in Kashmir by non-residents is particularly worrying as it could lead to land-grabbing by wealthy corporations and individuals from other parts of India. This move by Modi-led BJP’s government is yet another step in turning India into a Hindutva fascist state.
It is completely unacceptable that India has acted in such an undemocratic manner under the administration of Narendra Modi, and unilaterally locked down the Kashmir valley with a surge in security forces. Curfew has been imposed in the region, while internet and phone services have been blocked. Hundreds of political leaders and civil society activists are under arrest. Many people including teenagers have been picked up in midnight raids with the purpose of creating fear and intimidating the local population. There were reports that the security forces suppressed the people who protested in Srinagar on 9 August 2019 with pellet gun fire that injured several people. The Indian government has turned the whole of Kashmir into a prison at the moment.
As India’s Modi is seen to be representing the Hindus and Pakistan the Muslims in Jammu Kashmir, jingoistic rivalry is tearing the country apart because of these narrow political agendas. This will only spur violent reactions amongst the people of Jammu Kashmir along religious lines and deepen the divisions already created by ethnic and religious jingoism prior to the current period. It will also heighten inter-religious tensions in the rest of the subcontinent. The world expects better than this from India, the world’s largest democracy, and a leader of the non-aligned movement! Many countries are similarly multi-ethnic and multi-religious in this post-colonial era. Majoritarian rule based on ethnic or religious chauvinism definitely isn’t the way to build a better world.
Thus we urge the Indian government to:
- Restore immediately the Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution;
- Respect the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir;
- Involve the people of Jammu and Kashmir in any decisions on the status or future of Jammu and Kashmir. Avenues for democratic participation of its people should be preserved and enhanced.
- Release all political detainees in Jammu and Kashmir immediately as well as end house arrests of political activists;
- Lift all bans on freedom of expression and protest in Jammu and Kashmir;
- Lift the gags on journalists in Jammu and Kashmir;
- Restore Immediately all communications – including landline telephones, mobile phones and internet – in Jammu and Kashmir.
We express our solidarity with the people of Jammu-Kashmir in defending their democratic rights and call on the people of India to speak up against the narrow jingoistic nationalism displayed by the Modi government.