Letter from a Kashmiri Marxist

Sajjad Talha

Summary: A Kashmiri Marxist experiences right-wing violence outside his region, Marxist organizing, and then military repression inside Kashmir — Editors

I consider myself as a Kashmiri. But we have to write Jammu and Kashmir, India. The reasons are mentioned below as to why I consider myself a Kashmiri (however, I have reservations with identitarianism).

After completing studies in Kashmir I entered an Indian university outside the region. At that time the Campus was dominated by the right-wing forces. It was so disturbing to see the campus then. Fortunately, I and a few students (all are Marxists) have started secret meetings and debates on the campus. We came to an agreement to form a student organization to fight against the right-wing forces and dictatorial policies on the campus. In order to create awareness and open debates and discussions on the campus, we formed a Marxist Reading Circle. When we started the reading group we were only five people, right now the group has around 70 people.

With the help of the Reading Group, we finally formed a student Marxist organisation and made it public. We defeated right-wing forces in student elections as well. Also, organized many lecture series on the campus. At present, the University is dominated by progressive forces.

Not long after I completed my PhD and returned back to Kashmir, the shit started from there. It was midnight on 19 January 2019 and temperature was minus 6 when the Indian military forces raided my home. They beat me and my younger brothers for no reason. Harassed other family members, too. They checked my laptop, vandalized my books, and asked a hell of questions. When I asked them why they did beat us, raid my home, they didn’t give a reason. After a few days, they came back again but in the day time. Since then my position on Kashmir has completely changed. However, I am not a pro-Hurriyat [Kashmiri separatist – eds.] guy. I always critique them, question their methods and strategies. I also consider them as responsible for what is happening in Kashmir now.

Also, since last-August whatever I have seen and experienced, it is a hell. Basic rights and liberties of the common people have been crushed. The situation is so now you can’t raise a voice against the administration. A few days back I and two of my close ones were travelling to Anantnag to meet the doctor. Traffic was on, and the situation was somehow normal. When we reached at Batangoo, Anantnag police stopped us and told us to divert the way. When I said to them we have an urgent meeting with the doctor, they didn’t give any attention on it. Their behavior was ruthless though. The policemen were allowing some vehicles and stop others. When I saw the unfairness approach, I politely asked them that you are allowing some vehicles and stop common civilians like us. Why is it so? The question infuriated them. One of the men of the forces replied that it is our ‘wish’ and ‘raj’ [form of rule — eds.]. He also said to me that who are you to raise the question. He angrily shouted at me and said go away. I didn’t feel necessary to tell him and his associates to read the Constitution once, particularly the fundamental rights chapter. Because I knew they don’t follow the Constitution. One of them himself said that this is their raj.

Despite the state being overwhelmed with the Covid-19 pandemic, economic downfall, labor migrant crisis, the Indian state introduced new Kashmir domicile law, when Kashmiris were confined indoors owing to the then imposed lockdown to control the spread of the virus. It is a part of the process that changes the demographics of Jammu and Kashmir. It fuels anxiety and worries among people. The new laws came nearly eight months after the Modi-led regime on 5 August 2019 abrogated article 370 and brought Jammu and Kashmir directly under the federal rule for the first time since 1947. Also, stripped the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two separate Union Territories, i.e., Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Right-wingers are in a destructive mood. We are living like in a medieval era. Uncertainty prevails!

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1 Comment

  1. Christian Shaughnessy

    Very good account. The forces of violent oppression in Kashmir are on the move but the left is fighting back!

    Reply

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