• Dalit Bahujan Solidarity With Kashmir

    Press Release

    August 23, 2019

    Image courtesy: Counter Currents

    We, the undersigned — Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi, members of all marginalised communities and anti-caste allies of India — condemn the support shown by certain Dalit–Bahujan political party leaders to the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s decision of diluting Article 370 of Constitution of India through fraudulent means. Our heart goes out to the people of Kashmir who are in a confused and panicked state ever since the union government shut down transportation and communication services in the Valley under the pretext of terror threat to pilgrims, effectively imposing an information blackout. The movement of over 46,000 Army and Air Force troops in the last one week, in addition to the 6.5 lakh–7.5 lakh force already stationed in the Valley, is alarming. We fail to understand why political parties representing Dalits, Bahujans and minorities have refused to acknowledge the BJP government’s blatantly tyrannical act of shutting down life in Kashmir.

    Some individuals continue to spread the right-wing propaganda that claims Dr. B.R. Ambedkar refused to draft Article 370. Scholars who have studied Dr. Ambedkar’s works have stated time and again that there is no evidence to support this claim, and that it is a sinister rumour generated by right-wing mouthpieces. In his letter of resignation as cabinet minister, dated October 10, 1951 (BAWS Vol. 14, Part Two, Section IV), Dr. Ambedkar had staunchly supported a plebiscite because he believed that Muslims of Kashmir must be the sole decision-makers of their fate. We strongly believe that Dr. Ambedkar’s words have been used out of context to build legitimacy for the removal of Kashmir’s special status from the Constitution. A statesman of his stature would have been the last person today to support the siege of Kashmir by Indian troops.

    Dr. Ambedkar’s life and writings are testimony to the fact that in any situation the chief architect of the Indian Constitution stood firmly on the side of human rights and liberty. The Constitution of India, which is considered one of the finest in the world, demonstrates the importance Dr. Ambedkar gave to people’s freedoms. The Constitution is now being torn down by the BJP government at the centre, for their ideological aims. We urge everyone to not fall for the propaganda spread by right-wing forces in the name of Dr. Ambedkar.

    Moreover, it is important to note that the current situation in Kashmir is drastically different from the 1950s. Many Kashmiris have lost members of their family in the intervening decades; women have been allegedly raped by the armed forces; people have been living in fear under constant threat. This has caused an irreparable breakdown of trust between the people of Kashmir and the Indian administration. The Kashmiri people have not experienced ‘normalcy’ since the past 70 years.

    But in all the euphoria generated about Indians being able to buy land in Kashmir now, the BJP government has conveniently ignored and even hidden the fact that in the states where they are domicile most Dalits are landless labourers and unable to buy any land. The Dalits are treated as secondary citizens in their villages and in cities. Further, the practice of seizing lands from Adivasis and indigenous people has been on the upswing under this government. The fantasy that the BJP government is now presenting to the marginalised people of India is nothing but a farce.

    Additionally, we would also like to highlight the fact that Jammu and Kashmir was not the only state to have had special status. Under Article 371 of the Indian Constitution, eleven other states of India are accorded special status. Of these, six are Northeastern states, which are predominantly populated by Adivasi and indigenous people. We fear that the BJP government may use similar methods to arbitrarily impose President’s rule and amend the Constitution without giving due consideration to the federal principles laid out in the document; that it might brutally crush the freedoms and rights of the Northeast’s indigenous people, thereby harming their culture and dignity.

    We are aware that the BJP government’s problem with Kashmir is not over ownership of land, but rather over the Muslims who live there. The opposers of Dalit–Bahujans have long used many strategies to keep Dalit–Bahujans and Muslims disunited, and we see the recent abrogation of Article 370 as a part of the same scheme. Regrettably, some leaders representing us in Parliament have supported the BJP government’s undemocratic action. With this letter we make it clear that those leaders don’t have our support in this matter. We would like to tell such representatives that they do not represent our collective voice when they fail to understand the plight of any (and every) marginalised community in the world.

    We extend our solidarity to Muslims in Kashmir and all over India, who at this moment are forced to live in intense fear, under this government’s rule. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Kashmiris and for what they are being made to go through. We, the oppressed people of this country, are standing strong to fight against all injustice done in the name of nationality, religion, caste and gender by the BJP-led union government. To the Kashmiri people, we pledge our unstinting support.

    Yours sincerely,

    1. Anwarul Hoda, Video Volunteers, North Goa
    2. Areeb Rizvi, Research Scholar, New Delhi
    3. Mohd Abuzar, Delhi
    4. Sangharatna Bansode, Nanded, Maharashtra
    5. Suraj Pawar, Activist, Pune
    6. Vikrant Bengale, Pune
    7. Adv Pravin Ahire, Pune
    8. Yashwant Zagade, PhD Scholar TISS, Mumbai
    9. Vaishali Gaikwad, Pune
    10. Amitabh C, Nagpur
    11. Nitin Divekar, Nashik
    12. Sumedh Pardhe, Research Scholar, Gujarat
    13. Ragini Bainalwar, Student, Nagpur
    14. Ketan Wankhede, Nagpur
    15. Sai Thakur, TISS, Tuljapur,
    16. Anupam Bam, Pune
    17. Anand Pawar, Kurduwadi
    18. Arvind, India
    19. Moggallan Bharti, Ambedkar University Delhi, New Delhi
    20. Rama Hansraj, Save the Children International, South Sudan
    21. Kopal, AUD, Delhi
    22. Vageesh Vishnoi, Students Federation of India, New Delhi
    23. Harshita, Ambedkar University of Delhi, Delhi
    24. Julie, Hyderabad
    25. Prabodhan Pol, Udupi
    26. Sarita Falcao, Mumbai
    27. Raneem, Lucknow
    28. Mohan Kumawat, Anhad Films, New Delhi
    29. Sadique PK, EFLU, Hyderabad
    30. Suyash, VBA, Pune
    31. Rayyan, Delhi
    32. Kamal Vengara, Managing Editor, com, Kerala
    33. Ijaz, Kozhichena, Kerala
    34. Fayiza, Thissur, Kerala
    35. Surekha Bharti, Research Student, Pune
    36. Saakshi Yadav, Delhi University, Delhi
    37. Santosh Sadanandan, Ambedkar University Delhi, New Delhi
    38. Md Usman Ghani Farooqui, New Delhi
    39. Waseem R S, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
    40. Poorvi Chitalkar, Indore
    41. Pritpal Randhawa, Delhi
    42. Anindita, Delhi
    43. Poorvi, Spokane
    44. Tejaswini Tabhane, Miranda House, University of Delhi, New Delhi
    45. Lakshamanan, Dalit Intellectual Collective, Chennai
    46. Benil Biswas, Dr. B. R Ambedkar University Delhi, Delhi
    47. Puja Rani, Delhi University, Delhi
    48. Avinash Kumar, JNU, Delhi
    49. Kiruba Munusamy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
    50. Sohail Hashmi, Free Lance Journalist and Film Maker, Delhi
    51. Sania Hashmi, Anhad Films, Delhi
    52. Rupali Bansode, PhD Scholar, New Delhi
    53. K Kranthi Kumar, IITB, Mumbai
    54. Sumeet Samos, BAPSA, New Delhi
    55. Deepti Sreeram, Senior Writing Tutor, Sonepat
    56. Yashica Dutt, Author and Journalist, New York
    57. Sandeep G, PhD Scholar, Mumbai
    58. Sujatha Subramanian, PhD Scholar, The Ohio State University, Delhi
    59. Bhabhani Nayak, University of Glasgow, UK
    60. Latheesh Mohan, South Delhi
    61. Shefali Saini, TISS, Mumbai
    62. Sumit Singh, Media Consultant, Delh
    63. Swati, Ghent, Belgium
    64. Parvathy, Florida State University, Florida
    65. Nidhish, Student, Goettingen University, Germany
    66. Mohd Faizan Sarwar, Hyderabad
    67. Mohan, Hyderabad
    68. Ananya Kumar, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
    69. Jennifer Fatogun, Bangalore
    70. Deepali Wighe, Student, Mumbai
    71. Aparajay, Chennai
    72. Manish Gautam, Chennai
    73. Sanjana, Jamshedpur
    74. Arati S Kade, TISS, Mumbai, Odisha
    75. Virginius Xaxa, Former Professor, Delhi University, Delhi
    76. Arun Mahanand, TISS, Mumbai, Odisha
    77. Anuja Bageshwar, Mumbai
    78. Manzoor Ahmad Rather, Research Scholar, Kashmir
    79. Vishnupriya M, Mumbai
    80. Amritha, Student, Rajasthan
    81. Abhijit Bansode, TISS, Mumbai
    82. Arkja Kuthiala, Student, Delhi
    83. Ashirwad Wakade, Student, Mumbai
    84. Disha K R, Mumbai
    85. Yamini, Delhi
    86. Cynthia Stephen, Independent Journalist and Social Policy Analyst, Bangalore
    87. Kanupriya Tiwari, Uttar Pradesh
    88. Sitamsini, Adilabad
    89. Ali Zaheer, Mumbai
    90. Bhagyesha Kurane, Student, Pune
    91. Nadeem Divekar, Maharashtra
    92. Badresh Kumar Singh, Gautam Buddha Nagar
    93. Ajmal Kondotty, Student, Kerala
    94. Abdul Rahman, People’s Dispatch, New Delhi
    95. Bodhi Ramteke, Pune
    96. Raja Vemula, Guntur
    97. Ajmal Khan, Delhi
    98. Meera Sanghmitra, Transwoman and Activist, Hyderabad
    99. Mohammad Hadi, Hyderabad
    100. Madhavi Shivprasad, TISS, Mumbai
    101. Merc, Hyderabad
    102. Vanraj Shinde, Pune
    103. Arunank Latha, Advocate, Hyderabad
    104. Philip, Delhi
    105. Kalyani Bhake, Bangalore
    106. Yeshwanth Kumar K, Bengaluru
    107. Deepak Dsouza, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
    108. Kamalakar, Hyderabad
    109. Suvasish De, New Delhi
    110. Goldy M George, Activist, Academician and Writer, India
    111. Y Jayapaludu, Gooty, AP
    112. Ashabai Thankamma, Kerala
    113. Dhivya, Delhi
    114. Murali Shanmugavelan, Researcher, SOAS, University of London
    115. Naveed, Pakistan
    116. Geetha, Feminist Historian, Chennai
    117. Arjun Banerjee, Greater Noida, UP
    118. Shruti, Stony Brook University, New York
    119. Probal Dasgupta, Rtd Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata
    120. Mridula Rao, Bangalore
    121. Rachana Desai, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
    122. Sheetala Bhat, University of Western Ontario, Canada
    123. Sujata Jha, PhD Scholar, Kamia Milia Islamia, Delhi
    124. Geekay Nair
    125. Juwon Lee, Cincinnati, OH
    126. Akash Sarkar, Delhi University, New Delhi
    127. Shiva Shankar, Chennai
    128. Vishal Kumaraswamy, Bangalore
    129. Sukhendu Mehrotra,
    130. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Film Maker and Activist, Mumbai
    131. Joshil K Abraham, Delhi
    132. Srinivasan, Civil Rights Activist, Chennai

    First published in Counter Currents.

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