Prime Minister Modi visited Kashmir on Saturday, 7th November 2015. This visit was preceded by a brutal crackdown by the armed forces of the Indian state for over a week.
Thousands of police and military forces were deployed on the streets to avert a planned million-strong march against the central government. Political leaders critical of the Indian state were put under house arrest while thousands of their supporters were rounded up and arrested. Mobile phone and internet services were also suspended across the whole Kashmir region to prevent people from being able to coordinate protests. As in the past, whenever Prime Ministers have addressed rallies in Srinagar, the stadium was filled with Armymen and government employees to give an impression of public participation.
With the police lockups and jails of the valley overflowing with the youth of Kashmir, the Prime Minister made a big show of announcing an “economic package” for the state. The people of the state have pointed out that even the relief promised by the government in the wake of the disastrous floods that devastated the state last year have not been actually delivered.
Modi had not a word to say about the continued brutal violation of human rights and the most basic rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people, by the Indian state and its armed forces and security agencies, in the name of countering “cross border terrorism”. Why should the Kashmiri people be expected to rejoice and welcome the Indian Prime Minister?
The Prime Minister’s visit was a message to the Kashmiri people that the Indian state will continue on the course of suppressing the national aspirations of the Kashmiri people through force of arms.
Kashmir has been under army rule for decades. The hated Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which has been in place for over 26 years gives complete immunity to the armed forces to commit the most bestial crimes against the people. Tens of thousands of people especially youth have been killed by the security forces, hundreds of women have been raped and molested in the course of this brutal suppression.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar condemns the brutal suppression of the Kashmiri people by the Indian state.