Thousands of people across the dividing Line of Control (LoC) between Indian and Pakistani Occupied Kashmir commemorated the 20th anniversary of the execution of Maqbool Butt, a radical nationalist leader, by the Indian authorities.
Young martyr commemorated in Occupied Kashmir
These commemorative activities occurred against the background of current Indo-Pakistan dialogue on the peace process. These talks and the hype in the media has led to many hopes amongst Kashmiri workers and young people that the decades old dispute between the Indian and Pakistani ruling class could end leading to genuine national liberation for Kashmir.
CWI members in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir, do not believe that these hopes will be fulfilled under capitalism. During the commemorative demonstrations they have explained that the only force capable of winning genuine liberation is the working class, poor peasants and youth of the Asian sub-continent.
In Srinagar and other parts of Indian Occupied Kashmir a call for a ‘shutter down’ strike (a strike of all shops and commercial enterprises) was observed and protest demonstrations were organised by pro-independent groups (many of whom believe a capitalist independent Kashmir can be won).
In Pakistani Occupied Kashmir (POK), thousands of youth, school and college students, daily wage workers, and some sections of public sector workers participated in protest rallies. These rallies in POK were organised by nationalist groups the like of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (Amanullah group), National Liberation Front (Shaukat Butt), and the left nationalist Jammu and Kashmir National Awami Party (JKNAP – Jammu and Kashmir National Peoples Party) and the National Students Federation.
In some places these demonstrations were held either jointly or separately. According to reports from Kotli, Hajeera (where CWI comrades are present) youth, students and workers participated in rallies, putting forward the idea of class struggle, and the working class as the only force to solve the national question.
This day also brought about open comments against capitalism, imperialism and for a socialist alternative. Banners on the demonstrations in Kotli and Hajeera read: "We want a socialist Independent Kashmir", "US imperialist and other forces out of Iraq", "No to division – Yes to an independent Kashmir".
In Kotli, hundreds of youth, mostly school and college students, and daily wage workers, unemployed youth marched through out the town chanting slogans for
an independent Kashmir. A public rally was held at main crossroads.
Amongst other speakers, also invited by the right wing of NSF and other nationalist grouping, were from the ruling party Muslim Conference and PPP, who paid homage to Maqbool Butt.
This rally was jointly chaired by Niaz Khan who is chief organiser of NAP.
He said: "Our aim is for an independent socialist Kashmir ". While paying tribute to the struggle of the late Maqbool Butt, he said "No one has mentioned that
Maqbool Butt was inspired by the struggle of Che Guevara, the hero of Cuban revolution, who stood for socialism."
Niaz explained, "We are for peace but we have no illusions and do not trust the ruling classes of India and Pakistan to solve our problems."
Also the ex-president of JKNAP Anwar Khan spoke to the rally. He said: "It was the capitalist system in 1947 that divided the sub-continent. Kashmir was divided as a resulted and tens of thousands of Kashmiri men, women and children have perished as a result. Since 11 September 2001, imperialism has once again intervened militarily into the Middle East in Iraq. This process began in Afghanistan and Kashmir".
Niaz read out the following demands which were agreed by common acclamation at the rally:
- We pay homage to Maqbool Butt’s revolutionary struggle. We urge youth, workers and trade unions to unite and struggle for genuine liberation and against imperialism, capitalism and feudalism.
- We express our solidarity with Iraqi youth, workers and poor peasants and demand the withdrawal of US imperialist led forces from Iraq.
- Yes to peace but no trust in talks organised by the Indian and Pakistani ruling classes – for a united struggle of the Kashmiri, Indian and Pakistani youth, workers and trade unions.
- No to the Musharraf regime and its ruling puppet government in POK led by Muslim Conference and their anti-working class polices. Scrap Special Power Act and IRO 2002 and anti-democratic laws.
- No to privatisation of public services.