Mayday was celebrated with renewed vigor in Kashmir on both sides of the dividing Line of Control between India and Pakistan, at a time when US imperialists and its allies continue to kill innocent Iraqi youth, workers and children.
Demonstrations and rallies took place against the background of renewed killings by the Indian army of innocent Kashmiri women, workers and young people in Indian Occupied Kashmir during the Indian general election campaign.
The PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) coalition government led by chief Minister Mufti Sayyed which came into power in October 2001 in Indian Occupied Kashmir, has continued to attack the working class and the poor by implementing IMF, World Bank’s neo-liberal policies of privatisation and down-sizing.
Various workers organisations, trade unions and left groups including the Employees Joint Action Committee, CPI (M) and others organised May Day rallies in Srinagar, Jammu and condemned the anti-worker policies of the Mufti Government amidst increased violence in the state at a time of elections.
At the same time in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir (POK) where the ruling Muslim Conference government led by Sikhandar Hayat Khan has continued vicious anti-working class policies, as is the case of Musharraf regime in Pakistan, demonstrations were also organised.
Hundreds of public sector workers in POK have lost their jobs under the Special Power Act during the last few months while contradictions amongst the ruling elite have sharpened further exposing the ruling politicians’ incompetence in solving the basic needs of the masses.
May Day was celebrated throughout POK by public sector workers’ organisations and the left nationalist National Awami Party (NAP) and National Students Federation (NSF) in the towns of Mirpur, Kotli, Muzaffarbad, Poonch and Hajeera.
In Kotli, around 150 people including public sector workers, unemployed youth, college and school students, daily wage workers participated in a rally organised by supporters of the CWI in Kashmir, and activists of NAP and NSF. The protestors raised slogans in favor of “workers democracy”, “Down with US imperialism”, “Scrap special power act – No to Anti-workers policies’, and “US imperialists out of Iraq”.
While speaking at the public meeting held to commemorate May Day, Niaz Khan Chief Organiser of NAP paid tributes to the martyrs and condemned the anti-workers policies of the Muslim Conference government.
Malik Qayyum district secretary general of APCA (All Pakistan Clerk Association) emphasised the importance of workers’ solidarity. He said anti-working class policies meant that the Special Power Act was being used against workers in name of corruption and demanded that such laws be scrapped.
He expressed solidarity with the Iraqi youth workers and condemned US imperialists for killing innocent people. Amongst others speakers included NSF secretary general, and Zulfikar Malik (LF).
In Hajeera of college youth, public sector workers from education, health, local council and the local chapter of transport workers held a rally to commemorate International Workers Day organised by ‘May Day Committee’ an initiative of CWI supporters, NAP and NSF activists.
The rally marched through the town, shouting slogans such as “Workers of the World Unite…Long live socialist revolution”, and “Long live socialist Kashmir’.
Speakers paid homage to the martyrs of the 1886 strikes in Kashmir and vowed to struggle against capitalism and imperialism and for working class rights. Speakers said that the US war against the Iraqi masses was for oil interests, demanded the withdrawal of foreign troops and expressed solidarity with Iraqi youth and workers and poor peasants.
As regards to Kashmir and the sub-continent, speakers said that capitalism was incapable of solving the national question as the example of Palestine shows. The only force capable of overcoming national and class oppression was the mass of working class and the youth on both sides of the LoC in Kashmir, India and Pakistan through a united struggle.