16 March 2012
Support the Liberation Struggles of the Oppressed Nationalities!
Countries want independence, nations want liberation and the people want revolution – Mao Tse-tung
Indian state’s continued war on the people and nationalities: Not many people in Indian are aware that the military strategies and tactics adopted by the Indian armed forces to crush the national liberation struggle of the Mizos from 1966 to 1986 was much in common with the ones used by the US on the Vietnamese people during the same time. In February 1966, the Indian air force bombed Aizawl and other centres of the Indian occupation forces liberated by the guerrilla fighters of the Mizo National Front. Apart from destroying thousands of houses and murdering many hundreds of Mizos through aerial bombardments, Indian state carried out the policy of ‘strategic hamleting’ in Mizoram – a technique which was invented and widely used by the US Army in Vietnam. Much like the Salwa Judum camps of Chhattisgarh where adivasis are forcibly kept confined after displacing them from their villages in order to cut them off from the revolutionary movement, in Mizoram hundreds of villages were destroyed and the inhabitants were forcefully clustered into camps controlled by the Indian army. During these twenty years, the Mizos suffered the worst forms of state terror and brutality perpetrated by the Indian army, paramilitary and the air force. Fake encounters, rape, burning of villages, destruction of crops and property of the people, torture, custodial deaths became the order of the day – all because the Mizos demanded their right to self-determination and independence from Indian occupation.
Though it was the first occasion when Air Force was used by the Indian state on people whom it considers to be its own citizens, this was not the first time that Indian state has used its military might to suppress the democratic aspirations of the people in the subcontinent. We must not forget that the Indian army was used against the people participating in Telangana armed insurrection during 1946-51 and also to crush the Naxalbari uprising of 1967-72. The rulers of India used its army to suppress under its jackboots the demand of the Sikhs to form a separate Khalistan in the early 1980s. An independent princely state like Manipur was incorporated into the Indian union in October 1949 by using coercion and the might of the Indian armed forces, rather than allowing the people to democratically decide their political destiny. But such authoritarian measures of the Indian state have failed to extinguish the struggle of the Manipuri people to recover their lost independence. From 1964 till the present, an armed struggle for national liberation is being waged by the people of Manipur, facing severe repression exemplified by the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama by the Indian army in 2004.
Kashmir was forcibly occupied by India in 1947, and since then is under the army rule. The Indian state never honoured the promise it made of a UN supervised referendum whereby the people of Kashmir would decide whether they form an independent Kashmir, merged with Pakistan or unite with India. To quell the Kashmiri people’s aspiration for azadi and to instil in them a sense of fear, Indian state wanted to set an example by hanging Maqbool Butt, a Kashmiri freedom fighter, in February 1984. However, rather than deterring the Kashmiris, the unjust murder and martyrdom of Maqbool Butt inspired them to take the struggle for azadi to a higher form – the phase of armed national liberation struggle. Nearly a hundred thousand people have lost their lives at the hands of the Indian occupation army till date. Like any other oppressed people of the subcontinent who have stood up for their rights against the Indian state, the Kashmiris too have undergone untold sufferings, including constantly living under brutal army repression, murder of freedom fighters and civilians, fake encounters, forced ‘disappearances’, physical and psychological torture, rape, destruction of the national economy, stifling of freedom of expression and dissent, and so one. There is no sign that having committed dastardly crimes of such proportions to keep Kashmir forcibly in the Indian union, the present Indian state will on its own allow the people of Kashmir a chance to exercise their right to self-determination.
Even on occasions when the people of various oppressed nationalities have declared their popular will to form free and independent countries of their own, the Indian ruling classes have never respected their democratic decision. For instance, in May 1951 the Nagas conducted a referendum to decide the political future of their nation, and 99% of the Nagas voted in favour of forming an independent and sovereign Nagaland. However, Indian state’s refusal to recognise their democratic aspirations and its use of coercive power to keep the Nagas under Indian hegemonic rule led to the armed liberation movement led by the Naga National Council from 1952. From 1975, National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) has spearheaded the Naga self-determination movement through armed struggle against the Indian occupation forces. The Indian rulers considered the political struggle of the Nagas primarily as a ‘law-and-order problem’, and have tried all means to deny them freedom. During the mutual ceasefire and political talks with the Nagas from 1997 till today, the Indian state has used delay tactics and the colonial divide-and-rule policy with the only aim of forcing the Nagas to give up their demand. The ceasefire agreement and the mutually-agreed guidelines of the talks are being regularly flouted by the Indian government, the collective leadership of the Nagas are being kept virtually under house-arrest and even imprisoned on frivolous charges, as in the case of Anthony Shimrey, the head of foreign affairs of the NSCN. Indian state has also tried to criminalise the Naga movement and to portray NSCN as a ‘terrorist’ group. Thus in the garb of peace, Indian state has been waging a relentless war on the Naga people over the last fourteen years.
Indian Union is a colonial formation, a prison-house of nationalities established through the use of force and intimidation, not with consent and popular will. If the two hundred years of colonial rule marks the forcible integration of many independent nationalities like the Assamese to the Indian union, 1947 marks the territorial division of many other nationalities – Kashmiris, Sikhs, Nagas, Mizos, Bengalis, etc., which have been artificially separated by international boundaries. The continued Indian occupation of Kashmir, Nagalim, Manipur and Assam, or its war on the people of central and eastern India under ‘Operation Green Hunt’ shows that the army is the cornerstone of political power of the Indian state, neither popular will nor the principles of democracy. This national oppression is maintained by the Indian ruling classes for continuing the semi-feudal semi-colonial system of extraction and exploitation of peoples’ resources. This is not the question of mere violation of ‘human rights’ as it is often reduced to be. More than that, it is the violation and denial of the collective political rights of the people. By imposing its regressive logic of ‘national integration’ etc. on the students, the draconian Lyngdoh guidelines wish us to legitmise this denial by the Indian state, and to overlook the historical crimes it has committed against oppressed nationalities. It is only by resolutely fighting against Lyngdoh that we can extend our true solidarity to the peoples and nations fighting for their liberation.
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 4:34 am