People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 34

August 22, 2010



“People of Kashmir are Crying for

Help from the Rest of the Country”


CPI(M) J&K state secretary and MLA, Mohd Yusuf Tarigami, has said that the people of Kashmir need help from the rest of the country in addressing their genuine grievances. He called on the government of India to initiate dialogue with all sections of the people in the valley to restore normalcy.  


Below are the excerpts from the interview given by the CPI(M) leader to N S Arjun recently in Vijayawada on the ongoing violent protests in the valley.   


(Q) There is a general perception that the ongoing unrest in Kashmir is largely engineered by Pakistan-backed anti-national forces. How far is this true?


This is absolutely not true. Not denying the fact that there may be certain elements across the border who may like such a situation to develop, the fact remains that what we are facing today is a mass upsurge. I think dubbing this upsurge as something engineered by subversive forces would not help us in meeting the requirements on the ground. How can you explain the situation where children and women are coming out on the streets and participating in the protests. The aged too are supporting these protests. There are long drawn hartals. People are defying curfews and facing the bullets. This cannot be just a subversive activity. This is, according to our opinion, a result of a massive alienation which the people of J&K have been facing. It is also due to the disillusionment which has gripped the minds of the younger generation. I appeal to my countrymen everywhere not to just dub this unrest as a terrorist oriented movement or uncertainty. They must rather understand the people's anger, dissatisfaction and the causes behind this unrest so that lessons are drawn and remedial measures taken. 


(Q) A distinct feature this time has been the large scale participation of teenagers and women in the street violence. Most of those killed so far in the police firing are also very young persons. How do you see this?


This is most surprising and also quite significant that even the youngsters are picking up the courage to face the bullets. Earlier too there was a good section of youngsters in the state who participated in the turmoil in the 1990s. But today we are seeing even children coming into the forefront of protests. If we analyse properly with perspective, I can say without hesitation it is the result of disillusionment and dissatisfaction among the people due to the wrong policies being pursued by the governments at Delhi and Srinagar. It is also due to the environment of hopelessness created by the false promises and non-responsive administration both at the state and the centre. Otherwise, you see just a few years ago there was an atmosphere of hope despite the past decades of violence in the state which resulted in so many deaths and damage to property. Some sort of peace prevailed in the valley. There was a peace process going on between India and Pakistan with certain confidence building measures taken. The road was open across the LoC and trading took place between this part of Kashmir and the other part. Basically, the people-to-people contact was going on and there were expectations that some solution can be found out acceptable to all the contending forces on this issue. But unfortunately the big terrorist attacks in Mumbai in which many of our people were killed halted this peace process. An atmosphere of hopelessness began gaining ground. So, there is a shift now from hope to despair.  


(Q) Has the economic situation and lack of jobs in the state also contributed to this despair?


Our state does not have an industrial base and job opportunities are very limited for the younger generation. Our people are dependent on agriculture. We virtually have no avenues for purposeful employment. We have to depend on  government sector for jobs. Government figures recently stated that there are around 5 lakh unemployed educated youth in the state. The chief minister promised that during his 5 year tenure around one lakh jobs may be created. But every year there would be one lakh youth joining the ranks of the unemployed. All these factors put together have contributed to the uncertainty among the youth. There is no hope for forward movement or for better prospects of leading a good life. The economic situation of the state is quite bad and this is adding fuel to the fire. All these concerns if not addressed now may lead to certain very unfortunate developments in future. So, these are genuine apprehensions of the people which must be understood by the people of the country. What is the way out? We suggest that serious efforts must be made to initiate economic reconstruction in the state with emphasis on providing jobs. Sufficient marketing opportunities for agricultural produce must be made. The central government must support this effort.  


(Q) Some are alleging that this agitation is acquiring communal tones.


As you are aware some people in our country are seeking removal of Article 370 as the best solution for the crisis. Whereas the fact is that it is the erosion  of Article 370 has created a vacuum in the state and we see the results today. It has given opportunity for those who want to snatch away Kashmir from the rest of the country. I appeal to these forces – do not try to communalise the issue. Some are propagating that there have been attacks on the Amarnath yatris and tourists. This is not true. It is not a communal issue. There are genuine grievances of the people of Kashmir and I appeal to the leadership of all national parties to address them because it is a situation which can have implications in other parts of the country. The people of Kashmir are crying for help from the rest of the country. The ruling classes have spoilt the issue further. The people must assert now, including the people of Kashmir


(Q) What is your assessment of the way both the state and central governments have dealt with the crisis?


They have virtually bungled. Just one and half year ago people participated enthusiastically in the elections with over 60 per cent voting. All of us were quite sure about the good days in the future. But those electoral gains could not be consolidated. And for this, the blame lies both with the state and central governments. Otherwise it is difficult to explain how the same youth who voted enthusiastically one and half year ago are now up in arms. This situation has been created because of the insensitivity of the leadership at Delhi and Srinagar. I feel they should have initiated  dialogue not only with the mainstream parties but also with those who are not in the democratic process. They should have initiated dialogue with Pakistan also. In my opinion dialogue is the answer to terrorism. Do not oblige the terrorists by not talking to Pakistan. All these talks would've narrowed down the differences and removed dissatisfaction. But the governments have failed to do so.  


(Q) But the government of India is insisting on restoration of normalcy in the state as a condition for holding talks.


It is quite unwise and unrealistic. Don't put conditions when you talk to your people. Already 50 young people have lost their lives. Both the governments must be made accountable for these deaths. That is why we have been demanding a credible commission of inquiry. If you want to overcome the crisis, the causes of the unrest must be removed. You may suppress the people and control the agitation today but if you don't address the issue in its proper form and manner, you will only be postponing the crisis. How can we be sure that it will not erupt again. This has been happening. So, our suggestion to the central government is that it must do justice to the cause of unity of the country by coming to the rescue of the people of Kashmir who are suffering. Talk to them and find out some amicable solution.  


(Q) How do you look at the role of the security forces in this crisis?


Security forces have been asked to perform certain duties. But unfortunately certain elements of the forces are not functioning within the framework of those duties. Otherwise how would there be custodial deaths. Before the start of this agitation, three innocent youngsters were picked up and killed. First it was announced that they were terrorists but later after investigation, they were found to be innocent. So, will not such actions create uncertainty and dissatisfaction among the larger sections of the people? A few years ago in Anantnag district there was a Pathripal incident in which  five youngsters were  picked up and gunned down dubbing them as terrorists. After a hue and cry, CBI inquiry was conducted and it found the youth innocent. It is not a question of opposing the security forces but there must be action against the guilty in such cases. Even in the recent agitation, 50 persons have been killed by the security forces. So, we have been demanding a credible inquiry into the circumstances of these killings also. We know they are facing very difficult situation but they have to exercise maximum restraint.  


(Q) What has been the role of the Huriyat factions in this agitation?


There are different factions of Huriyat. Some of them are under detention while some have been released. The fact remains that they are an important opinion which should not be ignored. They have to be talked to and involved in the process of finding out a solution. In the past some attempts have been made by the government but in a half-hearted manner. We suggest now that let there be a parliamentary committee which can enter into sustained process of dialogue with such forces who are yet to enter democratic mainstream. What we expect from them (Huriyat) is to be more responsible so that people do not suffer.



(Q) What in Party's view needs to be done to handle the current situation?


Immediately, let the prime minister of India speak to the people of Kashmir in the parliament itself and tell them that whatever wrongs have been committed, the nation as whole will look into those wrongs and make corrections. He must also express grief and  sorrow over the sad deaths in the recent past. Secondly, a credible mechanism must be evolved to look into the genuine grievances of the people of Kashmir. Thirdly, release all the leaders and youngsters who have been arrested in the recent agitation and give them an opportunity. Some avenues for a better life through employment must be made.  


As part of confidence building measures, steps must be taken for ensuring less infiltration from across the border and reduction of terrorist violence. There must also be reduction of security forces, at least in areas where there is no terrorist activity. Also, telephonic contact with the other part of Kashmir has to be restored. Today, one has to come out of Kashmir in order to make calls to people in the other Kashmir while they can call us. Such things create avoidable mistrust. The government of India must strengthen the process of overcoming such mistrust.