The former Army Chief of Staff Gen. V.K. Singh, in a public speech in September, revealed that secret army intelligence outfits were regularly involved in paying off politicians in Kashmir and trying to manipulate the political situation there. According to the General, one of the recipients of such payoffs was the current Agriculture Minister and key Congress leader in the National Conference–Congress coalition government in the state, Ghulam Hasan Mir. At the same time, Gen. Singh asserted that “Not just Mir but many other politicians in J&K are paid by the Army and other intelligence agencies … I have served in Kashmir myself and am aware of it. I know which politicians have been paid during my tenures. It is not unusual.” He also added that “this is not something that VK Singh has invented… it has happened since the time of Independence.”
In other words, not just now or in the last two decades of “militancy” in Jammu & Kashmir, but right from 1947, the Army has directly funded and backed politicians to control and dominate politics and government there. The Indian State has over and over again asserted the legitimacy of its rule in Kashmir, claiming that it is only a few “terrorists” and “secessionists” that are against it. It points to the long years of military rule in Pakistan and crows about how it regularly holds “democratic” elections in Jammu & Kashmir. General VK Singh's revelations confirm what we communists have all along pointed out regarding Jammu & Kashmir and the North East in particular. This is the fact that it is the Army that controls power in these states, and the so called civilian governments that come to power in these states through periodic elections are as a rule, a charade to hide this naked army rule.
A significant revelation of the General was that the army payoffs were made through the agency of NGOs that were basically set up by the Army itself as a cover for its actions. In V.K. Singh’s own words: “Everyone in Kashmir, the police and other intelligence agencies know about the work of these NGOs and their role in keeping the people away from militant activities by organising social and sports programmes. Some of them were given money to conduct these activities.” According to the General, all this was just to “win the hearts and minds of the people”. But the question arises, if the Army just wanted to encourage harmless sports and cultural activities to win over the people, then why did it have to resort to undercover activity routed through its intelligence outfits and front organisations? Why could it not do so directly? It is clear that extremely dubious activities were being carried out by these agencies against the interests of the people of Kashmir. Through these agencies, the Indian state has recruited touts, set in motion terrorist groups, carrying out diverse range of activities to smash the unity of the people, as well as discredit the fighting forces. The army chief has also revealed that he had organised a special undercover group to infiltrate Pakistan and carry out various activities from there. In other words, what the Indian state routinely accuses Pakistan of — sending infiltrators across the border into Kashmir, is being done in reverse by the Indian state as well.
It is the deepening of the political crisis in India and the sharpening of the contradictions among different sections of the ruling class that is causing these dirty activities of the Army and the political establishment to be brought to light. Following the revelations of Gen V.K. Singh, the political establishment as a whole has tried to cover up some of the damage done. The public discussion has been sought to be directed towards either reprimanding Singh for talking without keeping in mind the interests of “national security”, or else calling for the resignation of Mir, or calling for an enquiry into the activities highlighted by the general. All of this is for the purpose of diverting the attention of the people from the real import of the general’s revelations – that is, the unrestricted power of the Army in Kashmir, and the nefarious activities it engages in both overtly and covertly against the people there.
These latest revelations confirm the absolute justness of the demands raised by the people of Kashmir again and again, for an end to Army rule in Kashmir. The people of Kashmir and democratic people elsewhere have repeatedly demanded the repeal of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives Army personnel the right to shoot, kill and incarcerate people at will. They have been demanding the release of political prisoners, the withdrawal of the Army from civilian areas, and an end to cold-blooded “encounter” killings as well as other atrocities committed by the armed forces in the state. The same demands have been raised with respect to Army rule in the North East as well. The Indian working class must actively support these demands of our brothers and sisters in Kashmir, the North East and other areas who are forced to live under the jackboots of the Army.
General Singh’s revelations also point to the real nature of Indian democracy. When it suits the interests of the ruling class, all the laws and norms of even bourgeois democracy are brazenly violated, with complete impunity. In particular, for certain areas of the country and certain communities, democratic rights are routinely trampled upon in the name of “national security”. Rule by the Army and paramilitary forces is imposed for years on end. At the same time, the façade of civilian rule and elections is maintained to cover up the gross violation of the democratic rights of the people. All Indians must ask themselves what kind of democracy this is that supports Army rule over vast areas and such blatant violation of the democratic rights of the people.