On National and International Situation

government is again trying to push the idea of setting up a National Counter Terrorism Centre on the lines of the NCTC in US. Armed with the arbitrary provisions of UAPA, such an agency will give extraordinary powers to the IB, and by implication also to its American counterpart, FBI, to arrest and harass anybody without any transparency or accountability. The Unique Identification (UID) project, launched with the involvement of corporations including US companies with close linkages to the US intelligence agencies, will facilitate intrusive surveillance on citizens, and will make available sensitive personal information databases to Indian and foreign intelligence agencies and corporations. Defence of democracy in India today demands above all an urgent repeal of all such draconian laws and increasingly extra-judicial repressive measures.

11. Faced with growing popular opposition, the scam-tainted and thoroughly discredited UPA government is trying to manage its crisis by appeasing the BJP, the most glaring example being the hanging of Afzal Guru carried out most secretively without even informing his family and without giving him the due opportunity to question the rejection of the mercy petition. In the context of Kashmir, this unjust hanging, carried out two days before the 29th anniversary of the execution of Kashmiri leader Maqbool Bhat, has immeasurably deepened the sense of alienation of the Kashmiri people. In the overall context of Indian politics, this act of appeasement can only be likened to the Congress capitulation to the BJP’s Ayodhya campaign which had led the Sangh Parivar to get away with the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Defying a concerted campaign by the Congress and the BJP and the dominant media to whip up a celebratory frenzy over the hanging of Afzal Guru, the revolutionary democratic opinion in the country has courageously exposed the ominous political implication of the execution. The incident has also rightly strengthened the demand for India to abolish the death penalty or at least honour the UN resolution to uphold a moratorium on death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.

12. Militancy has long been touted as the rationale for the Indian
State to justify military deployment and AFSPA in Kashmir. Since 2008, however, this claim stands completely discredited, with the Indian State and security forces in Kashmir facing a series of popular mass protests by ordinary Kashmiri people – following the Amarnath land row (2008), the Shopian rape-murders (2009) and against the killings of 115 civilian protestors in firing by security forces on funeral processions and protest marches in 2010. These protests have had an especially large presence of women protesters. Youth arrested for stone pelting have been booked under the draconian Public Security Act. Fresh evidence has emerged, corroborating the existence of mass graves, which point to extra-judicial killings of Kashmiri youth picked up and ‘disappeared’ by armed forces. The UPA Government’s much-touted process of sending a team of interlocutors could not prove to be much more than window-dressing. Kashmiri students and youth have always been vulnerable to victimisation by intelligence agencies, but following Afzal Guru’s hanging, there have been instances of organised attacks by Hindutva groups on young Kashmiris outside Kashmir even as protesters have been gunned down by the armed forces within Kashmir. We must stand by the aggrieved people of Kashmir at this hour of anger and pain, support their fight for democracy and justice, for withdrawal of AFSPA, and affirm their rightful aspiration for self determination.

13. With the ruling classes pushing the country into an all-encompassing crisis and declaring a veritable war on the livelihood and rights of the common people, the people everywhere are up in arms against the governments and their policies. Presiding over the most scam-tainted government ever in Indian history, the Congress has steadily lost ground. The BJP too has been exposed to be equally corrupt and consequently the loss faced by the Congress has not exactly translated into gains for the BJP. Yet, in states where there is no major presence of any third force and electoral politics revolves primarily around the Congress and the BJP, either the BJP has continued to retain power (as most notably in Gujarat) or the Congress has staged a comeback in spite of its otherwise shrinking profile (as witnessed in recent elections in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh).