When Water turned red, Gaw Kadal Massacre and Lenin’s death

gaw kadal

Cartoon by Suhail H Naqshbani


This day, January 21 marks a very gory picture of history. It has seen blood flowing under Gaw Kadal Bridge in Srinagar and also marks the 96th death year of the Russian Revolutionary V. I. Lenin.

In 1914, Lenin who stood affirm on nation’s right to self-determination wrote, “…we must inevitably reach the conclusion that the self-determination of nations means the political separation of these nations from alien national bodies, and the formation of an independent national state.”

-The Right of Nations to Self-Determination published in 1914 by Prosveshcheniye.

In 1990, More than 50 people were killed by the Indian armed forces who opened fire on peaceful protestors at the Gaw Kadal Bridge in Srinagar. The army men shot the protestors on head and chest. The night before, the army had launched cordon and search operations at Chota Bazar, where they went house-to-house in “search of weapons and militants”. It arrested hundreds of youths who were neither militants nor did they have a weapon.

It is reported that men in uniform molested women, fired bullets at houses and thrashed young and child. It is needless to say that no army man was ever punished and that no enquiry has been completed till today. This happened after Jagmohan was appointed as the governor on January 19 of the first year of the last decade of the 20th century.

gaw kadal2

Cartoon by Suhail H Naqshbani

Three years back in the 1987 election, which is considered to be rigged only to defeat the pro-independence masses, caused disdain in Kashmiris. Many say that no country in the world saw rigging of elections at a scale which was seen in Kashmir. A nation’s right to freedom, momentarily, was curtailed by the power of the gun.

In the intellectual circle of India, and also in its civil society, a debate keeps making rounds. It argues that, If Kashmir becomes independent today, imperialism will gain power and hence India should hold Kashmir to prevent this. The same debate was happening amongst Lenin’s contemporaries, Kautsky and others.

Essence of imperialism lies in defining nations into oppressors and oppressed, wrote Lenin. Kautsky and other social-democrats who deceitfully evaded this definition faced Lenin’s wrath. Lenin called them “social-chauvinist”.

To call someone “social-chauvinist” meant that the person is complicit in waging an imperialist war, which discriminates against no one when it comes to killing. The Indian paramilitary killed Abdur Rauf Wani, who took 32 bullets on his chest. It changed the history of Kashmir.  Ever since, thousands of Kashmiris have been killed, raped, tortured, put into mass graves, subjected to enforced disappearance and blinded.

Lenin asks the Social-democrats of the oppressor nations to “demand that the oppressed nations should have the right of secession

It is not difficult to say whether those who deny the inalienable right to have freedom are blinded with their privileges of all sorts. May they be forever blessed with privileges, but why deny other right to breathe?

Lenin goes on to say that (if secession is not recognised), (the) recognition of equal rights for nations and of international working-class solidarity would in fact be merely empty phrase-mongering, sheer hypocrisy.”

Marx himself demanded the separation of Ireland from Britain. Secession, in accord with internationalism, has been central to anti-imperialist understanding of Lenin, which could forge an international solidarity of the working people.

Social-chauvinist, like Kautsky who at first do not recognise nations right to secession or if they do, do so in a very “hypocritical fashion”, by without, wrote Lenin, “applying it to those very nations that are oppressed by their own nation or by her military allies.”

India has sent nearly 10 lakh military men in Kashmir, armed with modern weapons to kill, maime and silence Kashmiris. The army is given special powers to arrest, torture and shoot a Kashmiri individual. If the collective consciousness of oppressor nation is not satisfied with this much blood, its judiciary can even hang a Kashmiri without giving him a trial.

Apart from human losses, loss of mobility and mental trauma, Kashmir bears the burden of heavy financial losses due to the presence of the armed men. Reports in December last year estimated that after August 5 when India abrogated article 370 and 35(A) from Kashmir, a total of ₹17,878 crore was lost. Apple, which the Indian “social-chauvinists” admire so much, was left to rot on the ground.

Leftist treading the past of Kautsky today say, “to demand “state independence” for every nation would mean demanding “too much”. “National autonomy”, if you please, is enough!

“Socialist of an oppressor nation who do not favour of freedom of secession for oppressed nations, is no socialist and no internationalist, but a chauvinist,” wrote Lenin in The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination.

Lenin died 96 years ago, today in Russia. At least his death is recorded. He has many mourners. Chingiz Aaitmatov, in his book, The First Teacher, writes, “a few young students of a small village, far away from Moscow, who had never seen Lenin, but only his damaged portrait, which showed one of his arms, injured and blood flowing on it paid tribute to their leader after, Duishen, their master informed them of Lenin’s death.”

Unlike Lenin’s death, Rauf 32 bullet has rarely got International attention. No one knew whether the water of the Gaw Kadal bridge turned red with blood or whether the bodies which were lying on the bridge were poked by the army men to see if they still had life in it or if their guns had actually killed them.

The author a JNU alumnus and an ACJ graduate. He can be reached at [email protected]




Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News