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Anger continues to mount over imposition of direct rule in Kashmir
Scott Jones, East London Socialist Party
Thousands of Kashmiris and those of Kashmiri descent protested outside the Indian High Commission in London on 15 August against the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir's 'special status' and other brutally repressive measures by India's right-wing BJP government led by Narendra Modi.
Protesters came from as far away as Nottingham, Oldham, and other areas around the country to form a noisy, angry demonstration. Along with their coaches, they shut down central London streets around the commission.
They welcomed the Socialist Party's support and snapped up our newspapers, placard and leaflets, as well as discussing the Kashmir national question with us.
Several left contact details to join the Socialist Party and took photos with our placards. Many gave their details on our sign-up sheets to organise a network for further action.
Our leaflet contained a statement and demands by members of our international organisation, the Committee for a Workers' International, in India and Pakistan which calls for defence of democratic rights, including self-determination for the people of Kashmir.
We discussed with protesters about the need for action and organisation by ordinary working people in Kashmir and the sub-continent as organisations like the United Nations (which is dominated by the major capitalist powers and has repeatedly failed to protect oppressed people since its founding), as well as the capitalist Pakistani government, cannot protect the rights of Kashmiris.
The scrapping of Article 370 of India's constitution - which conferred nominal autonomy on Indian occupied Kashmir - and the imposition of a military curfew, making hundreds of arrests, along with blocking the internet and other communications, illustrates Modi's ruthless drive to use Hindu nationalism to secure his role.
Prior to this imposition of direct Indian government rule in Kahsmir, Modi's BJP government has been trampling over linguistic, national and democratic rights both in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. This is partly to act as a diversion from the increasing economic and social problems in India.
Socialist Party members also highlighted how scrapping Article 35A will open up Kashmir's natural wealth and resources to be looted and exploited by capitalists.
Three wars have been fought between India and Pakistan over control of Kashmir since India's independence in 1947. Today these two states possess nuclear arsenals and have repeatedly fought armed skirmishes along the line of control dividing Kashmir.
The London protest was historic in terms of its size and the mix of different groups and people on it. As well as Kashmiri's from Kashmir itself and the UK there were Pakistanis and some Indians, mainly Sikhs from the Punjab. All were angry about the Indian government's actions but also the silence from the media and government in Britain about what is really going on.
- See 'Kashmir crisis: Stop the attack on democratic rights' on socialistparty.org.uk and the Joint statement from New Socialist Alternative (Indian section of CWI) and CWI supporters in Pakistan on socialistworld.net