Kashmir and Indian Communists

Those who opposed Quit India movement during Indian Freedom Struggle can’t be expected to support the ongoing Quit Jammu & Kashmir movement

Mr Prakash Karat General Secretary, Communist Party of India described Kashmir situation as extremely serious and discarded the policy of Indian State to shower bullets against stone pelting youth of Kashmir.

He asked Government of India to recognize special status of the state and treat it “as a special case”. In an interview to Kashmir Times he portrayed Home Minister of India Chidambaram behaving as a viceroy rather than the home minister of a democratic state. He also stressed the need for a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan and pro-freedom parties of Kashmir. But all these words of concern relating to Kashmir lost their meaning once he expressed his views that autonomy for J & K is the solution of the Kashmir dispute.

In spite of being a dynamic comrade and taking strong positions on various issues facing India, Mr Karat didn’t embark upon a paradigm shift in context of Kashmir. This despite the fact that Moscow  and Beijing have ceased to be Vaticans for Communist parties and  there is no scope for Communist Parties remaining hostage to strategic interests of Former Communist dominions.  Failure of Communist Parties of India to take a forth right stand on Kashmir in line with aspirations of Kashmiri people is rooted in their past that has been essentially anti-Kashmir. Communist Parties of India in the beginning attracted dedicated and sincere workers. Subsequently, elite from exploiting classes joined communist movement and assumed its leadership. The masses which they exploited previously as feudals and capitalists started to get exploited by the same people as leaders of working classes. No wonder Maoists and Naxalites in east India target CPI and CPM as well perceiving them as instruments of status quo. Leaders of the Communist parties were used by Indian state to lobby with Russians and Chinese for their support towards its Kashmir policy. As a result of communist lobbying, Russians declared accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India to be legitimate in 1955 on visit of Bulganian and Kruschew to Srinagar. Subsequently Soviet Union blocked implementation of UN Resolutions pertaining to Right of Self-determination for Kashmiris through use of veto in UN Security Council. In 1956 Chinese followed the suit and for a while supported accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India to be legitimate.  The Chinese policy, however, changed subsequently as a result of Indo-China conflict of 1962 and Indian receptiveness to Dalai Lama. They became supporters of Right to Self-Determination for Kashmiris. Chinese support culminated into meeting between Sheikh Abdullah and Chinese Prime minister Chou En Lai in 1967 at Algiers. Sheikh Abdullah was detained soon after his arrival from Algiers.   

Upto 1965, no Indian Party was allowed to have its branch in Kashmir.  Communist Party of India in 1965 for the first time set up its unit in Jammu thus became a collaborator in facilitating coercive assimilation of the state with India. State Unit of CPI (M) is viewed as an extension of intelligence agencies by masses.  Though communists came to power in West Bengal as a result of alienation of Muslims from Congress after 1965 Indo-Pak, the war led to large scale arrest of Muslims throughout India. Muslims who traditionally voted for Congress shifted their loyalties towards opposition. As a result of this shift communists made big strides towards power in West Bengal in 1967 election with Muslim support. But this shift didn’t in anyway help in elevation of socio-economic development of the community.  Muslims of Bengal, according to Sachar Committee, report are at lowest position throughout India in terms of economic and social development. It was communist Brahmin intrigue unleashed and conceptualized by D P Dhar Indian Ambassador to Soviet Union in 1971 that led to dismemberment of Pakistan and segregation of Bangladesh from it.

Conceptually, communists of India have been trapped in an error of generalization equating Hindu radicalism and Islamic radicalism as instruments of imperialism. This assumption is still adhered to despite the fact that it is Islamic radicalism which is confronting the US imperialism after the end of the Cold War. Same has been their error in context of their approach towards religion. Marxian paradigm viewed religion as opium for the people. Marxian view was based on Euro-centric understanding of history where Catholicism had definitely been an instrument of exploitation. They applied this notion to all religions and failed to come to terms with religion as an instrument of struggle against exploitation and tyranny. This remains true about Islam which created a revolution even during autumn of communism under the leadership of Imam Khomeini. Communism has vanished as a global political power on account of its failure to reinterpret its doctrines in varying circumstances of space and time plus the corruption that infested it as a result of its tryst with power.

Communist parties in India too remain vulnerable to this fate if they are unable to change.   Communist power in India is already experiencing autumn with unprecedented loses in local body elections of Bengal. Kashmir cause has survived communist hostility in past. It is surely going to survive as long as Kashmiri masses remain dedicated to it. The type of devotion and sacrifices Kashmiris are rendering for their right of self determination will surely bear the fruit irrespective of the fact whether Indian Communists support it or not. Those who opposed Quit India Movement during Indian Freedom Struggle can’t be expected to support the ongoing Quit Jammu & Kashmir movement.

Author teaches in the Department of Law, University of Kashmir and can be mailed at showkat_hussain@rediffmail.com