Socialist Worker

Kashmiris take to the streets over Modi’s racist crackdown

Issue No. 2667

A protest in solidarity with Kashmir in London last Saturday

A protest in solidarity with Kashmir in London last Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The Indian government’s crackdown in Kashmir, on the border between India and Pakistan, is leading to resistance on the streets.

Sporadic demonstrations in the capital Srinagar erupted after Friday prayers last week.

Troops and heavily armed police reacted by firing live rounds, tear gas and projectiles into the dense crowds.

Hard right Indian prime minister Narendra Modi shut down all communication in the state in the hope that such scenes wouldn’t reach the outside world.

But BBC footage smuggled out of the area shows large and militant demonstrations demanding freedom amid the cackle of gunfire and clouds of smoke.

Millions of people in the disputed region are under a military curfew enforced by troops and heavily armed police.

Supplies of food in the few shops that have opened are now very low.

Modi’s government has stripped India’s only majority-Muslim province of its limited autonomy as part of a plan to fully incorporate Kashmir into the Indian state.

That state increasingly regards Muslims as the “enemy within”.

Modi said removing Article 370, which gave Kashmir special status and powers, would be a blow against “terrorism”.

In reality Modi’s move is a result of racism and comes straight out of the Donald Trump playbook.

Investment

Trump’s Middle East plan involves repression of the Palestinians, together with promises of investment if they accept Israeli domination.

Modi’s offer to Kashmir is similar.

Accept rule from India and military domination, cease all resistance—and as a reward there will be economic development in the region.

Already right wing Hindu businessmen are promising factories if only Kashmiris can be brought to heel. But that is not likely to happen.

People protested against the Indian government in several British cities last week (see below). There are more than a million people of Kashmiri origin in Britain.

Protests took place in London, Bradford, Manchester and Birmingham.

Kashmiris have been fighting for self-determination since 1947, when Britain withdrew from India.

As part of the withdrawal, Kashmiris’ land was handed to India as part of a Partition that carved out the new Pakistani state.

Hundreds of thousands of overwhelmingly young people have died fighting for self-determination since.

Modi’s repression risks reigniting the armed rebellion that dominated the region for most of the 1990s.

It also raises tensions elsewhere in India where rule by the central state is barely tolerated.


Protests across Britain against Modi

Some 400 people protested in Bradford last Saturday. Placards denounced Modi as a terrorist.

Around 150 people joined a Kashmir solidarity protest in Sheffield last Thursday against India's hard right BJP government's brutal military occupation.

Demonstrators condemned Boris Johnson's Tory government's silence over the attack and continuing arms sales to India.

A protester in Bradford in solidarity with Kashmir

A protester in Bradford in solidarity with Kashmir (Pic: Neil Terry)


In London over 200 people protested outside the Indian High Commission on Saturday.

Iram from Kent said, “There’s no way of finding out if our friends and families are OK.”

Nadeem has been unable to get touch with his wife and children. “The whole valley is in complete lock down,” he told Socialist Worker.

“TV, WhatsApp—everything is blocked.

“There is some network in hospitals, but my cousin who’s a doctor said they’ve been threatened if they leak any details of injuries.”

Labour MP Afzal Khan joined the Manchester protest. Kashmiri women’s groups joined a protest in Birmingham.

Protest in solidarity with Kashmir - Thursday 15 August, 5pm, Trafalgar Square, London. Go to Stand With Kashmir Protest on Facebook

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