In the last one year, I have often found myself going back to a conversation I had had with a Maoist ideologue. As it happened, it was he who started interrogating me about my stand on violence. ‘So, you have become a Gandhian?’ he demanded. I must confess I was a bit taken aback, not quite able to figure out the context of this poser. ‘What do you mean by Gandhian’, I kind of mumbled. Pat came his reply: ‘Well you have been making some noises lately about Maoist violence, haven’t you?’ Suddenly it all became clear. Through this ridicule, he was trying to appeal to that part of me that still remained marxist – presumably now buried in some remote past – and to resurrect it against my ostensible ‘non-marxist’, ‘liberal’ present (for which ‘Gandhian’ was some kind of a short hand code). I found myself at a loss of words. Does a criticism of the mindless and nihilistic violence of the Maoists make one a Gandhian? Is there no space left between these two polar positions? The conversation did not go very far that day but has kept coming back to me ever since.
Some intelligence agencies have also warned of a low-poll percentage. But a senior police official said: “One cannot wait for the perfect situation in Kashmir.” According to him “gentle persuasion” in rural and border areas will help improve turnout. “After all, it is not a crime to ask people to vote. In several countries, voting is mandatory,” he argues. [George Joseph, Sakaal Times]
What an admission, what a giveaway! Indian democracy never went beyond Lakhanpur anyway. Nationalists and the weak hearted, please be ready to shut your eyes and ears for the next two months. The Indian state is planning to show its ugliest face in the Valley. Get ready, get ready.
Be there or elsewhere:
Janahastakshep, PUCL and PUDR are holding a dharna on August 30 at jantar mantar from 11am to 1pm in protest against the crackdown on non violent people demanding ‘azadi’. Continue reading Indians against Indian repression in Kashmir
Arundhati Roy on the freedom struggle in Kashmir:
To expect matters to end there was of course absurd. Hadn’t anybody noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi? To threaten them with mass starvation amounted to committing political suicide.
Not surprisingly, the voice that the Government of India has tried so hard to silence in Kashmir has massed into a deafening roar. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed people have come out to reclaim their cities, their streets and mohallas. They have simply overwhelmed the heavily armed security forces by their sheer numbers, and with a remarkable display of raw courage.
Raised in a playground of army camps, checkposts and bunkers, with screams from torture chambers for a soundtrack, the young generation has suddenly discovered the power of mass protest, and above all, the dignity of being able to straighten their shoulders and speak for themselves, represent themselves. For them it is nothing short of an epiphany. They’re in full flow, not even the fear of death seems to hold them back.
And once that fear has gone, of what use is the largest or second-largest army in the world? What threat does it hold? Who should know that better than the people of India who won their independence in the way that they did? [Outlook]
(Three years back, Nepal was in the middle of a miserable war. 7 people were killed every day, mostly by the army but also by a ruthless Maoist military. An autocratic monarch ruled from his palace in Kathmandu. The street agitation led by established parties was not going anywhere. The Maoists were waging an armed struggle with control over most of the hill hinterland, as well as the strength to block supplies to the capital. There was a political deadlock among the three power centers and a military stalemate between the Royal Nepal Army and the People’s Liberation Army. Continue reading Understanding the Nepali mandate