“How many protests have you seen in Tihar jail?” CPI(M) leader and former MLA Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami retorted when asked by a reporter why Kashmiris were not coming out in numbers to protest the August 5 decision revoking the special status of Jammu & Kashmir.
“Silence is not acceptance. It will be a mistake to believe this,” Mr. Tarigami told a group of reporters at party general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s official residence close to Mandi House on Tuesday afternoon.
The four-time former MLA, who has been attacked by terrorists in Kashmir several times, said the federal basis of the Indian Constitution was under attack. “There is huge disappointment among people, the youth are also in deep distress.”
However, he stressed that violence was not an option for the people of Kashmir. “Violence in any form has to be unacceptable,” Mr. Tarigami stated. The Kashmiri leader was able to travel to Delhi for medical reasons and is probably the only one to do so since the August 5 lockdown.
Pointing out that it had been nearly 80 days since August 5, the CPI(M) state secretary said life in the Kashmir Valley was virtually paralysed — even schools and colleges were open but functioning without students or teachers.
According to Mr. Tarigami, Kashmiri leaders — whether they represented mainstream opinion or the separatist point of view — felt that they had been humiliated. He wondered why Kashmiri leaders were not consulted before taking decisions like undermining Article 370 and annulling Article 35-A.
“There is something called fundamental rights — no decision has been taken to suspend the fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people,” Mr. Tarigami stressed, wanting to know under what law he was being detained in his own house in Srinagar. “The Constitution of India is non-existent in Jammu & Kashmir today.”
Leading newspapers had become “government gazettes” in Kashmir, Mr. Tarigami said, adding that it was very difficult for journalists to do their job in the Valley. He appealed to political parties who still believed in a democratic, secular India to come out of their slumber and speak for the Kashmiri people.
Asked why there appeared to be support for the BJP Government’s decision to undo Article 370 in the rest of the country, Mr. Tarigami claimed that people had been hoodwinked by the RSS and its affiliated organisations.
The CPI-M leader stated that it was through Article 370 that the then princely state of Jammu & Kashmir had acceded to India, but the RSS and its affiliates had projected it as something detrimental to the interests of the country.
Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury said another affidavit would be filed in the Supreme Court seeking to clarify Mr. Tarigami’s status. Though Mr. Tarigami was not under detention, he was taken to his residence under police escort upon return to Srinagar previously, Mr. Yechury stated.