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We, the undersigned — Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi, members of all marginalised communities and anti-caste allies of India — condemn the support shown by certain Dalit–Bahujan political party leaders to the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s decision of diluting Article 370 of Constitution of India through fraudulent means. Our heart goes out to the people of Kashmir who are in a confused and panicked state ever since the union government shut down transportation and communication services in the Valley under the pretext of terror threat to pilgrims, effectively imposing an information blackout. The movement of over 46,000 Army and Air Force troops in the last one week, in addition to the 6.5 lakh–7.5 lakh force already stationed in the Valley, is alarming. We fail to understand why political parties representing Dalits, Bahujans and minorities have refused to acknowledge the BJP government’s blatantly tyrannical act of shutting down life in Kashmir.

Some individuals continue to spread the right-wing propaganda that claims Dr. B.R. Ambedkar refused to draft Article 370. Scholars who have studied Dr. Ambedkar’s works have stated time and again that there is no evidence to support this claim, and that it is a sinister rumour generated by right-wing mouthpieces. In his letter of resignation as cabinet minister, dated October 10, 1951 (BAWS Vol. 14, Part Two, Section IV), Dr. Ambedkar had staunchly supported a plebiscite because he believed that Muslims of Kashmir must be the sole decision-makers of their fate. We strongly believe that Dr. Ambedkar’s words have been used out of context to build legitimacy for the removal of Kashmir’s special status from the Constitution. A statesman of his stature would have been the last person today to support the siege of Kashmir by Indian troops.

Dr. Ambedkar’s life and writings are testimony to the fact that in any situation the chief architect of the Indian Constitution stood firmly on the side of human rights and liberty. The Constitution of India, which is considered one of the finest in the world, demonstrates the importance Dr. Ambedkar gave to people’s freedoms. The Constitution is now being torn down by the BJP government at the centre, for their ideological aims. We urge everyone to not fall for the propaganda spread by right-wing forces in the name of Dr. Ambedkar.

Moreover, it is important to note that the current situation in Kashmir is drastically different from the 1950s. Many Kashmiris have lost members of their family in the intervening decades; women have been allegedly raped by the armed forces; people have been living in fear under constant threat. This has caused an irreparable breakdown of trust between the people of Kashmir and the Indian administration. The Kashmiri people have not experienced ‘normalcy’ since the past 70 years.

But in all the euphoria generated about Indians being able to buy land in Kashmir now, the BJP government has conveniently ignored and even hidden the fact that in the states where they are domicile most Dalits are landless labourers and unable to buy any land. The Dalits are treated as secondary citizens in their villages and in cities. Further, the practice of seizing lands from Adivasis and indigenous people has been on the upswing under this government. The fantasy that the BJP government is now presenting to the marginalised people of India is nothing but a farce.

Additionally, we would also like to highlight the fact that Jammu and Kashmir was not the only state to have had special status. Under Article 371 of the Indian Constitution, eleven other states of India are accorded special status. Of these, six are Northeastern states, which are predominantly populated by Adivasi and indigenous people. We fear that the BJP government may use similar methods to arbitrarily impose President’s rule and amend the Constitution without giving due consideration to the federal principles laid out in the document; that it might brutally crush the freedoms and rights of the Northeast’s indigenous people, thereby harming their culture and dignity.

We are aware that the BJP government’s problem with Kashmir is not over ownership of land, but rather over the Muslims who live there. The opposers of Dalit–Bahujans have long used many strategies to keep Dalit–Bahujans and Muslims disunited, and we see the recent abrogation of Article 370 as a part of the same scheme. Regrettably, some leaders representing us in Parliament have supported the BJP government’s undemocratic action. With this letter we make it clear that those leaders don’t have our support in this matter. We would like to tell such representatives that they do not represent our collective voice when they fail to understand the plight of any (and every) marginalised community in the world.

We extend our solidarity to Muslims in Kashmir and all over India, who at this moment are forced to live in intense fear, under this government’s rule. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Kashmiris and for what they are being made to go through. We, the oppressed people of this country, are standing strong to fight against all injustice done in the name of nationality, religion, caste and gender by the BJP-led union government. To the Kashmiri people, we pledge our unstinting support.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Anwarul Hoda, Video Volunteers, North Goa
  2. Areeb Rizvi, Research Scholar, New Delhi
  3. Mohd Abuzar, Delhi
  4. Sangharatna Bansode, Nanded, Maharashtra
  5. Suraj Pawar, Activist, Pune
  6. Vikrant Bengale, Pune
  7. Adv Pravin Ahire, Pune
  8. Yashwant Zagade, PhD Scholar TISS, Mumbai
  9. Vaishali Gaikwad, Pune
  10. Amitabh C, Nagpur
  11. Nitin Divekar, Nashik
  12. Sumedh Pardhe, Research Scholar, Gujarat
  13. Ragini Bainalwar, Student, Nagpur
  14. Ketan Wankhede, Nagpur
  15. Sai Thakur, TISS, Tuljapur,
  16. Anupam Bam, Pune
  17. Anand Pawar, Kurduwadi
  18. Arvind, India
  19. Moggallan Bharti, Ambedkar University Delhi, New Delhi
  20. Rama Hansraj, Save the Children International, South Sudan
  21. Kopal, AUD, Delhi
  22. Vageesh Vishnoi, Students Federation of India, New Delhi
  23. Harshita, Ambedkar University of Delhi, Delhi
  24. Julie, Hyderabad
  25. Prabodhan Pol, Udupi
  26. Sarita Falcao, Mumbai
  27. Raneem, Lucknow
  28. Mohan Kumawat, Anhad Films, New Delhi
  29. Sadique PK, EFLU, Hyderabad
  30. Suyash, VBA, Pune
  31. Rayyan, Delhi
  32. Kamal Vengara, Managing Editor, com, Kerala
  33. Ijaz, Kozhichena, Kerala
  34. Fayiza, Thissur, Kerala
  35. Surekha Bharti, Research Student, Pune
  36. Saakshi Yadav, Delhi University, Delhi
  37. Santosh Sadanandan, Ambedkar University Delhi, New Delhi
  38. Md Usman Ghani Farooqui, New Delhi
  39. Waseem R S, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  40. Poorvi Chitalkar, Indore
  41. Pritpal Randhawa, Delhi
  42. Anindita, Delhi
  43. Poorvi, Spokane
  44. Tejaswini Tabhane, Miranda House, University of Delhi, New Delhi
  45. Lakshamanan, Dalit Intellectual Collective, Chennai
  46. Benil Biswas, Dr. B. R Ambedkar University Delhi, Delhi
  47. Puja Rani, Delhi University, Delhi
  48. Avinash Kumar, JNU, Delhi
  49. Kiruba Munusamy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  50. Sohail Hashmi, Free Lance Journalist and Film Maker, Delhi
  51. Sania Hashmi, Anhad Films, Delhi
  52. Rupali Bansode, PhD Scholar, New Delhi
  53. K Kranthi Kumar, IITB, Mumbai
  54. Sumeet Samos, BAPSA, New Delhi
  55. Deepti Sreeram, Senior Writing Tutor, Sonepat
  56. Yashica Dutt, Author and Journalist, New York
  57. Sandeep G, PhD Scholar, Mumbai
  58. Sujatha Subramanian, PhD Scholar, The Ohio State University, Delhi
  59. Bhabhani Nayak, University of Glasgow, UK
  60. Latheesh Mohan, South Delhi
  61. Shefali Saini, TISS, Mumbai
  62. Sumit Singh, Media Consultant, Delh
  63. Swati, Ghent, Belgium
  64. Parvathy, Florida State University, Florida
  65. Nidhish, Student, Goettingen University, Germany
  66. Mohd Faizan Sarwar, Hyderabad
  67. Mohan, Hyderabad
  68. Ananya Kumar, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  69. Jennifer Fatogun, Bangalore
  70. Deepali Wighe, Student, Mumbai
  71. Aparajay, Chennai
  72. Manish Gautam, Chennai
  73. Sanjana, Jamshedpur
  74. Arati S Kade, TISS, Mumbai, Odisha
  75. Virginius Xaxa, Former Professor, Delhi University, Delhi
  76. Arun Mahanand, TISS, Mumbai, Odisha
  77. Anuja Bageshwar, Mumbai
  78. Manzoor Ahmad Rather, Research Scholar, Kashmir
  79. Vishnupriya M, Mumbai
  80. Amritha, Student, Rajasthan
  81. Abhijit Bansode, TISS, Mumbai
  82. Arkja Kuthiala, Student, Delhi
  83. Ashirwad Wakade, Student, Mumbai
  84. Disha K R, Mumbai
  85. Yamini, Delhi
  86. Cynthia Stephen, Independent Journalist and Social Policy Analyst, Bangalore
  87. Kanupriya Tiwari, Uttar Pradesh
  88. Sitamsini, Adilabad
  89. Ali Zaheer, Mumbai
  90. Bhagyesha Kurane, Student, Pune
  91. Nadeem Divekar, Maharashtra
  92. Badresh Kumar Singh, Gautam Buddha Nagar
  93. Ajmal Kondotty, Student, Kerala
  94. Abdul Rahman, People’s Dispatch, New Delhi
  95. Bodhi Ramteke, Pune
  96. Raja Vemula, Guntur
  97. Ajmal Khan, Delhi
  98. Meera Sanghmitra, Transwoman and Activist, Hyderabad
  99. Mohammad Hadi, Hyderabad
  100. Madhavi Shivprasad, TISS, Mumbai
  101. Merc, Hyderabad
  102. Vanraj Shinde, Pune
  103. Arunank Latha, Advocate, Hyderabad
  104. Philip, Delhi
  105. Kalyani Bhake, Bangalore
  106. Yeshwanth Kumar K, Bengaluru
  107. Deepak Dsouza, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  108. Kamalakar, Hyderabad
  109. Suvasish De, New Delhi
  110. Goldy M George, Activist, Academician and Writer, India
  111. Y Jayapaludu, Gooty, AP
  112. Ashabai Thankamma, Kerala
  113. Dhivya, Delhi
  114. Murali Shanmugavelan, Researcher, SOAS, University of London
  115. Naveed, Pakistan
  116. Geetha, Feminist Historian, Chennai
  117. Arjun Banerjee, Greater Noida, UP
  118. Shruti, Stony Brook University, New York
  119. Probal Dasgupta, Rtd Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata
  120. Mridula Rao, Bangalore
  121. Rachana Desai, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
  122. Sheetala Bhat, University of Western Ontario, Canada
  123. Sujata Jha, PhD Scholar, Kamia Milia Islamia, Delhi
  124. Geekay Nair
  125. Juwon Lee, Cincinnati, OH
  126. Akash Sarkar, Delhi University, New Delhi
  127. Shiva Shankar, Chennai
  128. Vishal Kumaraswamy, Bangalore
  129. Sukhendu Mehrotra,
  130. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Film Maker and Activist, Mumbai
  131. Joshil K Abraham, Delhi
  132. Srinivasan, Civil Rights Activist, Chennai

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks that’s the India our ancestors preferred to temporarily tie up with.
    Being Kashmiri

  2. Pingback: Mary Scully Reports