Don't make Kashmir a graveyard: CPM leader Tarigami

CPI(M) leader Mohd Yousuf Tarigami. (Photo: Twitter/@cpimspeak)

Yousuf Tarigami, the first Kashmiri politician in detention to reach Delhi after a Supreme Court order following CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury's habeas corpus petition, is back in the capital for a health check-up. Though there is no bar in his movement in Kashmir, he says, he is virtually in house arrest in his residence as he is not allowed to go out or allowed visitors. He was also not allowed to come to Delhi to attend CPI(M) Central Committee meeting in Delhi earlier this month. DH's Shemin Joy met four-time MLA in Delhi for an interview.

Q. You are back in Delhi again after spending almost a month in Srinagar. You had returned to Kashmir following your medical check-up. What is the situation in Jammu and Kashmir now?

A. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir, is very painful. It is unbelievable for those who have not gone through something like what is happening in Kashmir. My opinion is that by all standards, Kashmiris are going through a scenario which is terrible in our history. The situation if not contained, I have a firm belief that it might lead to something worse for the rest of the country. It will have very serious implications, serious consequences for the future of the country, for the polity and for the ethos as well. So that is why once again, I appeal to the countrymen, to all the shades of opinion, to take note of the seriousness of the situation which has been prevailing in Kashmir.

Q. Is there a chance for improvement in the situation?

A. For almost past 80 days, life is virtually paralysed. Schools, universities, colleges are open but without students and teachers. We have seen turmoil earlier as well. In the last 30 years since 1989, a blood bath is going on. We have seen lot of violence, lot of destruction. But the shock and distress that we are now facing is unprecedented in the sense that Kashmiris, irrespective of their division – whether it is mainstream or separatists – feel humiliated and betrayed today. I am talking about the whole community, whether those who have stood by the country's unity, those who have sacrificed, those who have faced bullets and those who have not been part of the mainstream, all feel humiliated and betrayed today. See, here lies the seriousness of the situation, here lies the danger of the situation.

Q. What do you expect from the rest of the country?

A. All shades of opinions in Kashmir have lost faith in the present dispensation in Delhi. Nobody can have any illusions about the policies being pursued by the BJP government today. If this is the course the government of India is allowed to take in the future, I tell you one thing, you have to make the government accountable somewhere. That is elementary for the democratic functioning of a government. Article 370 was arbitrarily abrogated, Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir has been dismantled, the state itself has been dismembered.

The government is claiming that they are integrating Kashmir with the rest of the country. I don't know what will be my fate when I return to Srinagar. Many are under detention or in house arrest while young boys are languishing in jails, which their parents don't know about. At least, the provisions of the Constitution should have worked in Jammu and Kashmir today. There is something called fundamental rights, and I think the Parliament has not yet decided to keep the people of Kashmir away from the provisions of the Constitution. Shouldn't I have the fundamental right to express my pain? Shouldn't I know the reasons of my very detention? These are worries, concerns. Somewhere, the Constitution of India does not exist today because of the whims of the leaders who are ruling the country today. Now they are saying people are ready to suffer. It is like martial law where only one party functions while the rest will have to stay with their hands folded.

Q. What is your demand?

A. We don't have faith or trust in the present government. We appeal to people and parties who are committed to secular democratic ethos of the country to come out of the slumber before it is too late. We are not asking anything but to raise your voice against the attrocities being committed by the government vis-a-vis the citizens in Jammu and Kashmir.

You are claiming there is normalcy, there is no bloodshed and nobody has been killed. Even in graveyards there is silence. Don't make my Kashmir, our Kashmir a graveyard. We are still confident and hopeful. We have faith that our brothers and sisters in the rest of the country will come to our rescue, they will raise voice for restoring what is due to us so that they don't push the country into a mess. The decision taken on August 5 (scrapping Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two union territories) has to be taken back. Our plea is in front of the people. That is our real court, our big court. We are hopeful that we will get justice from this real, big court.

Q. There seems to be support for the government moves on Kashmir. Why is it so?

A. Unfortunately, things as they exist today in the country, the situation has undergone a change. The Sangh Parivar for so many years have campaigned on certain issues like the Article 370. Sangh Parivar has misrepresented issues before the people as if Article 370 is a clause which was promoting terrorism, which did not allow the integration with the mainstream, which has virtually divided people and denied fruits of development. The fact is otherwise. I must repeat that Article 370 has been incorporated in the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly. This article has emerged out of long-drawn negotiations. When raiders came, when Pakistan was openly claiming their authority over Jammu and Kashmir, when the British were vacillating, Maharaja Hari Singh was not quite sure about accession to India, it is at that point of time that negotiations were held by the popular leadership of Jammu and Kashmir with the leadership of the country. This was a unique situation. It was in this scenario that the Maharaja agreed for accession with certain conditions. This was how Article 370 was drafted and incorporated.

Unfortunately since then, this was posed as a separate entity by Sangh Parivar, something like which is not part of the Constitution. It was pictured as something detrimental to the interests of the country and there was no effort from the democratic polity barring the Left to explain it to the people that it is through Article 370 that Kashmir got acceded to India by rejecting the two-nation theory propounded by Mohd Ali Jinnah. From day one, this has been the plan, the propaganda by the RSS-led Sangh Parivar aimed at dividing and hoodwinking people. Unfortunately, they have succeeded for the time being. People through their experience one day will realise that what is under attack in Jammu and Kashmir essentially is federalism and basic structure of Constitution. This regime is trying to make it unitary by attacking, undermining the very basic concept of federalism. It is because of this erosion of autonomy that alienation has taken place and emergence of extremist trends have taken place.

Q. Do you think youth in Kashmir will take guns?

A. See, we cannot be sure about how the future will turn out. But certainly there is huge disappointment. There is no doubt that youths are in deep distress. We are worried about the future ahead. But we will certainly appeal to the people of Kashmir, particularly the youth, whatever be the provocation from authorities, whatever be the Constitutional fraud committed, violence doesn't remain an option. We should not fall into the trap of those who want to isolate us, get us defeat us. The real strength lies in unity and democratic and peaceful protests.

Q. Jammu and Kashmir will be bifurcated into two union territories on October 31. How do you see it and what is its impact on livelihood?

A. Kashmir is crying. Constitutional provisions have been damaged. Tourists are not coming here. Guest houses have been turned into jails. What do we have? We are helpless. We have two-three sectors. One is carpet industry. You see for yourself. Go to Kashmiri shops in Delhi and see for yourselves. What is the situation of weavers who are working in Kashmir? Everything is shut. They are not getting raw material. Lakhs are working in this industry. Daily labourers are in peril. Shops are closed. Another is tourism sector. Before August 5, Amarnath yatris were sent out saying there are terrorist threats. We were hoping that some people would get livelihood because of the yatra. Tourists who were staying in hotels were dragged out. Now government is saying we have withdrawn advisory and they should come back.

Q. Why there is no protests in Kashmiri streets?

A. How many times you have seen protests in Tihar jail? You should visit Kashmir and see the situation.

Q. There are reports that Kashmiris are protesting in a new way, some sort of civil boycott. How long will it continue?

A. When a tragedy takes place, nobody asks when will you stop crying. We are disappointed. It is a big tragedy, it is not poetry. All shades of opinion in Kashmir has lost faith in the dispensation in Delhi.

Q. What is the way forward?

A. The BJP government says 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' and now they have added 'Sabka Vishwas'. Kashmir has become the laboratory of this 'vishwas'. They took this decision on Kashmir without consulting anybody. Do they dare to hold elections to Assembly? If you are confident, conduct the polls and put a motion in the House on the issue of Article 370. When Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh were bifurcated there were days of debate, consultations but nothing on Kashmir. The debate in Parliament was for just four or five hours. This tragedy should have been shared by the country. Unfortunately, it was not. I am disappointed.

Q. There are moves by the government to bring Pandits back to Kashmir. How do you see that?

A. It was a big tragedy. Pandits did not go out of Kashmir on their will. They will have to come back with dignity. That will be the day of Eid and Diwali for Kashmir.

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