The students of Jamia Millia Islamia on Friday registered a strong protest against the “preposterous” invitation extended by the University to the incumbent Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to inaugurate J&K hostel.
In a statement, the students said that they perceive that conferring this “honour and magnanimity” to CM Mehbooba Mufti and Rajnath Singh is a “scurrilous” attack on the integrity and culture of the University.
They said that their conscience does not allow them to welcome Rajnath Singh and Mehbooba Mufti—a person who “purports” to be a representative of the people of J&K but whose consistent effort has been that the people should change their aspirations and succumb to the demands of the “Indian state”.
“For the last seventy years, the political situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been a blot on the democracy in India. Successive Indian governments have committed mistakes in their quest to control a territory where people have for all these years expressed their desire, through various means possible, to break free from the “idea of India” and imagine a future of their own—but the people of J&K have had to bear the heavy costs of these mistakes,” the students said in a statement.
The statement further reads that in order to further their control over the territory, India has used all means at its disposal—divide and rule, massive propaganda campaigns within J&K to confuse and mislead the people, equally humongous disinformation campaigns against J&K’s struggle for self-determination in India and abroad, trying to buy the populace with promises of economic prosperity, demographic changes and, when all else failed, a brutal, “bloody counter-insurgency” programme against the people to try and make the costs of defiance prohibitive. “Installing puppet local governments through the flimsy charade of ‘elections’ has been one of the foremost tools of India’s rule in J&K. Mehbooba Mufti is the latest addition to a long list of rulers in J&K who help India to control Kashmir against the will of Kashmiris.”
“But in their heart of hearts, the people and government of India know that the struggle in Kashmir is a just one. For this reason (and perhaps because it haunts their conscience), those opposed to Kashmir’s freedom in India try to raise myriad spectres, from the of lack of coherence in the political narratives in J&K, the internal divisions within the state, cross-border interference from Pakistan, to the forced migration of Kashmiri Pandits. Yet such arguments only end up making the case for self-determination stronger. No people can be denied freedom citing the absurd reason that they do not understand what it means; nor is it prudent to suggest that an entire society—children, adults and senior citizens—can be brainwashed by an external power. Only a free people can be held accountable for their actions, which is not possible as long as Kashmiris continue to be denied the right to self-determination,” the statement reads.
By refusing to recognize the unalienable right of Kashmiris to decide their own future, the statement said, India has only managed to lose its own moral compass. “Politics based on the principle of might is right ultimately comes home to roost.”
It further said that BJP, the ruling party in India and an alliance partner of PDP in J&K, has been hand-in-glove with Mehbooba’s government in the “killing of more than a hundred Kashmiris in 2016 alone”, and the blinding of hundreds more, by Indian armed forces. “In India, BJP has given a free hand to Hindu groups to operate with impunity resulting in mob lynching of Muslims and Dalits and giving rise to an atmosphere of fear among social, gender and religious minorities. They have criminalized all forms of dissent, forced University spaces into submission through administrative coercion, attempted to delegitimize political ideologies that do not adhere to their idea of nationalism, adopted anti-poor economic policies and helped the capitalist class in increasing their clout in media and business. This is not the India of our dreams,” the statement added.
“We, as students with a critical outlook, want to reclaim and proclaim a better idea of India. Territorial aggression and display of military strength are not values which define our ‘idea of India’. Commencement of a new conversation on Kashmir in India is at the very heart of that reclamation, for in recognizing the right to self-determination of the people of Kashmir, India will gain no territory, it may even lose some, but in doing so, it would have upheld its values and renewed its pledge to democracy, equality, truth and justice. The moral core of the country would have been restored. India must redeem itself by doing justice with Kashmir,” the students concluded in the statement.