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Kashmir, socialists, and the right to self-determination

Rohini Hensman

Platypus Review 32 | February 2011

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THE BLOODSHED IN KASHMIR beginning in June 2010 gave rise to a heated debate in India concerning the causes of and possible solutions to the conflict. A meeting on 21 October in Delhi organized by the pro-Maoist Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners was entitled “Azadi (Freedom)—the Only Way.” Interpreting “azadi” as shorthand for “the right to self-determination,” the keynote speakers—writer-activist Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Islamist Tehreek-e-Hurriyat—argued that the only solution to the dispute in Kashmir was freedom for Jammu and Kashmir from India.[1] Others at the conference, such as Varavara Rao, speaking for the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and its sympathizers, concurred. But Kashmiri members of the Hindu Right invaded the conference, staging a protest and later bringing charges of sedition against the speakers. At around the same time, a parliamentary delegation was sent to Kashmir, followed by the appointment of three civil society “interlocutors” by the Indian government to speak to and obtain the opinions of all sections of the population in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Is “Azadi” indeed the only way to resolve the dispute over Kashmir? It is imperative that socialists should have a clear position on this issue, challenging all the various contending nationalisms with politics that offer the most scope for a socialist movement to develop.


Panelists at "Azadi (Freedom): The Only Way," including Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Geelani, held in Delhi in October, 2010.

Lenin and Luxemburg on the right to self-determination

The debate between Lenin and Luxemburg on the right to self-determination erupted in the first decade of the twentieth century, with Luxemburg questioning the inclusion of point #9 in the program of the Social Democratic Labor Party of Russia, which granted all nationalities the right of self-determination, including secession. While approving of point #7, which granted full legal equality to all citizens without distinction of sex, religion, race, or nationality, and point #8, which granted the various ethnic groups the right to schools conducted in their own languages at state expense and the right to use their languages at assemblies and in all state and public functions, she insisted that the attitude of socialists to nationality questions should depend on the concrete circumstances of each case, which would also change with time. She pointed out that all ancient civilizations were extremely mixed with respect to nationalities, and quoted Kautsky to the effect that the great Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim cultures were not national but international; therefore, stating that all “nationalities” had the right to form their own states was impractical. Most important, she pointed out that, “In a class society, ‘the nation’ as a homogeneous socio-political entity does not exist. Rather, there exist within each nation, classes with antagonistic interests and ‘rights’… There can be no talk of a collective and uniform will, of the self-determination of the ‘nation’ in a society formed in such a manner,” and in cases where the interests of the proletariat were directly opposed to those of the "nation" (for example, Jewish workers versus Zionist nationalists), the formula could result in imposing on workers the will of the ruling class.[2] However, she conceded that socialists were duty-bound to oppose all forms of oppression, including that of one nation by another.

In 1914, Lenin responded by claiming that, “Carried away by the struggle against nationalism in Poland, Rosa Luxemburg has forgotten the nationalism of the Great Russians, although it is this nationalism that is the most formidable at the present time. It is a nationalism that is more feudal than bourgeois, and is the principal obstacle to democracy and to the proletarian struggle.” He continued, “Whether the Ukraine, for example, is destined to form an independent state is a matter that will be determined by a thousand unpredictable factors. Without attempting idle ‘guesses,’ we firmly uphold something that is beyond doubt: the right of the Ukraine to form such a state.” Yet at the same time he conceded to Luxemburg that, “the important thing for the proletariat is to ensure the development of its class. For the bourgeoisie it is important to hamper this development by pushing the aims of its ‘own’ nation before those of the proletariat. That is why the proletariat confines itself, so to speak, to the negative demand for recognition of the right to self-determination, without giving guarantees to any nation, and without undertaking to give anything at the expense of another nation." [3] In other words, the proletariat recognizes the right of every nation to self-determination, but does not guarantee to support the exercise of that right in any particular case, especially if it happens to be at the expense of another nation. Surely Luxemburg’s formulation, that the attitude of socialists to nationality questions should depend on the concrete circumstances of each case, is clearer and more sensible!

Lenin’s confused (and confusing) formulation was made worse by his implicit acceptance of Stalin’s later monocultural definition of a “nation”: “A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” [4] Such a formulation suggests that socialists should support the right of any group with a common language, territory, economic life, and culture to secede and form a separate state. This is the confusion that led many socialists, including Trotskyists, to support the right of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to form a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka, regardless of the fact that it led to massacres, the  ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Sinhalese, the murder of socialists, and tore apart workers who had successfully put up a united resistance to a predatory state in 1953. [5] It is also what prevented Indian Communists from mounting a principled campaign against Partition, as we shall see.

In Lenin’s more mature formulation of 1916, he linked the right of self-determination to the struggle for democracy and against colonialism and national oppression. He explained,

[J]ust as socialism cannot be victorious unless it introduces complete democracy, so the proletariat will be unable to prepare for victory over the bourgeoisie unless it wages a many-sided, consistent and revolutionary struggle for democracy…. The proletariat of the oppressing nations… must demand the right of political secession for the colonies and for the nations that “its own” nation oppresses…. The Socialists of the oppressed nations, on the other hand, must particularly fight for and maintain complete, absolute unity (also organizational) between the workers of the oppressed nation and the workers of the oppressing nation…. [And in the case of ] the semi-colonial countries, like China, Persia, Turkey, and all the colonies… the bourgeois-democratic movements have either hardly begun, or are far from having been completed. Socialists must not only demand the unconditional and immediate liberation of the colonies without compensation—and this demand in its political expression signifies nothing more nor less than the recognition of the right to self-determination—but must render determined support to the more revolutionary elements in the bourgeois-democratic movements for national liberation in these countries and assist their rebellion—and if need be, their revolutionary war—against the imperialist powers that oppress them.[6]

Luxemburg did not realize the importance of supporting bourgeois-democratic revolutions in the colonies, but she did agree it was necessary to oppose the oppression of one nation by another. Lenin, initially preoccupied only with counteracting nationalism in oppressing countries, eventually took on board Luxemburg’s fear of the danger of supporting reactionary, anti-socialist, and anti-democratic forces in oppressed countries, and conceded that unity between workers of the oppressed and oppressor nations must be maintained.

Is this debate at all relevant today, in a largely decolonized world? There are still countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine where socialists must demand immediate and unconditional liberation, but even in these countries, support should be given only to the “more revolutionary elements in the bourgeois-democratic movement for national liberation.” As for secession from a bourgeois-democratic state, one might speculate that where a community is being persecuted in such a state, the preferred option for socialists would be to wage a united struggle against the political forces perpetrating that persecution, supported by socialists internationally; only where such a struggle is impossible might it be necessary to support the right to secede, and even then, support should be given only to a group that stands for democracy. Both Luxemburg and Lenin would have been aghast at the thought of socialists supporting the nationalism of a fascist group like the LTTE. Let us not forget that both were opposed to all forms of nationalism, which posit a false unity of interest between workers and capitalists, while inducing workers to kill and die fighting workers of other nations in the interests of their own ruling class. Nationalism that is linked to a particular ethnic, linguistic, or religious group is even more reactionary, because it destroys solidarity between workers within a country as well. Its forcible homogenization of those within the group and “othering” of those who are different make it a fertile breeding-ground for fascism.

The most important conclusion is that interpreting “the right to self-determination” as the right to form a separate nation-state, and then converting support for it into a timeless imperative, valid for all time and in all circumstances, is completely un-Marxist. At a certain point in history, around a hundred years ago, it was proclaimed—and challenged—as a way of combating nationalism among the workers of oppressor nations. The common ground shared by Lenin and Luxemburg, which socialists can still stand on today, comprises opposition to nationalism and oppression, and support for all those struggling for democracy and workers’ solidarity.

Independence and partition

The Kashmir issue cannot be adequately addressed without grappling with the Left’s own history, since at critical junctures key fractions of it more or less actively supported the demand for partition of British India into two states, India and Pakistan (later divided into Pakistan and Bangladesh), and it is from this that the question today derives. A detailed analysis of the causes of Partition is beyond the scope of this article, but some observations can be made. Initially, leaders of the dominant anti-imperialist organization, the Indian National Congress, allowed dual membership with the Hindu Mahasabha or Muslim League. Only in December 1938 did it reverse itself and characterize these organizations as “communal.”[7] Both the Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League believed that Hindus and Muslims constitute separate nations, and eventually both helped organize the bloodbath that preceded Partition. While Congress ideology was secular, it neither recognized the danger nor did enough to combat it. Indeed, Gandhi’s ambiguous attitude towards mixing religion and politics might have contributed to it. Using images like “Ram rajya” (the mythical golden age during the reign of the Hindu god/king Ram) to rouse the Hindu masses, and support for Khilafat (a movement led by reactionary clerics for restoration of the Sultan of Turkey as Caliph following Turkey’s defeat in World War I) to rouse Muslims, he might have reinforced the fascistic forces that still plague India and Pakistan to this day. Such politics conspired with the British attempts at encouraging communal divisions.

What about the Communist Party of India? It rejected the reactionary “two-nation” ideology, but got fatally confused by the “right to self-determination.” In the resolution passed by its Central Committee in September 1942, it declared that:

Every section of the Indian people which has a contiguous territory as its homeland, common historical tradition, common language, culture, psychological makeup and common economic life would be recognized as a distinct nationality with the right to exist as an autonomous state within the free Indian union or federation and will have the right to secede from it if it may so desire…. Thus, free India would be a federation or union of autonomous states of the various nationalities such as the Pathans, Western Punjabis (dominantly Muslims), Sikhs, Sindhis, Hindustanis, Rajasthanis, Gujaratis, Bengalis, Assamese, Biharis, Oriyas, Andhras, Tamils, Karnatakis, Maharashtrians, Malayalees, etc….

Such a declaration of rights in as much as it concedes to every nationality as defined above, and therefore, to nationalities having Muslim faith, the right of autonomous state existence and of secession, can form the basis for unity between the National Congress and the League. For this would give to the Muslims wherever they are in an overwhelming majority in a contiguous territory which is their homeland, the right to form their autonomous states and even to separate if they so desire. In the case of the Bengali Muslims of the Eastern and Northern districts of Bengal where they form an overwhelming majority, they may form themselves into an autonomous region in the state of Bengal or may form a separate state. Such a declaration therefore concedes the just essence of the Pakistan demand and has nothing in common with the separatist theory of dividing India into two nations on the basis of religion.[8]

Thus a dogmatic application of Lenin’s confused formulation regarding the right to self-determination combined with Stalin’s definition of a nation led the CPI to praise the “just essence of the Pakistan demand” instead of resolutely opposing the formation of a nation on the basis of religion.

The Kashmir dispute

At Independence, there were hundreds of Princely States that were given the option of joining either India or Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir, which was contiguous with both, was one of them. Soon after the formal declaration of independence on August 14–15, 1947, tribesmen invaded and started looting and killing non-Muslims. Since the majority of its population was Muslim, it was expected to join Pakistan, but its Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, signed an instrument of accession to India. This allowed the Indian army to enter the state to chase out the invaders. In 1948, the UN called for an immediate ceasefire and a plebiscite under its own auspices to allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide for themselves whether they wanted to be part of India or Pakistan. The plebiscite never took place, at first because Pakistani forces did not withdraw, later—and repeatedly—because India refused to cooperate. So hostile military forces of the two countries remained facing each other across the Line of Control [LoC], and the state of Jammu and Kashmir has remained occupied and divided, with blatant violations of the democratic rights of its people by both occupying powers. From the late 1980s, the security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir have had a shameful record of rape, torture, and murder. The impunity imparted by laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act and the Disturbed Areas Act has encouraged such criminality by making it all but impossible to prosecute security force personnel who commit these crimes, while the high density of these forces on the ground also increases the likelihood of human rights violations.


The front page of the Hindustan Times from 28 October, 1947.

One response by Kashmiris has been to fight for a separate state, independent from both India and Pakistan; for example, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front was formed in 1977, with the agenda of creating a secular, democratic, federal, independent state of Jammu and Kashmir.[9] But this movement in general, and the JKLF in particular, are badly divided, with allegations that its leaders are flirting with or even controlled by the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and India.[10]

Indian nationalists, most vociferously represented by the Sangh Parivar but also present among sections who claim to be more liberal, are undoubtedly a major part of the problem.[11] Their assertion that Kashmir is an integral part of India—as though India’s national boundaries are god-given and any questioning of them is blasphemy—serves to mask from view the horrific atrocities committed against Kashmiris by the Indian security forces. Their allegation of sedition against speakers at the Azadi meeting for questioning this dogma, and their hysterical outburst against the government-appointed interlocutors for suggesting that any solution to the problem requires the involvement of the government of Pakistan, make it clear that they are not open to argument.[12] Pretending that Kashmir is not disputed territory and simply breathing fire and brimstone at anyone who acknowledges the conflict is a manifest, if semi-conscious, strategy of those who seek to perpetuate that conflict.

The Pakistani nationalist stance mirrors the Indian nationalist one. Thus Kashmiri separatists of Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir “were kept away from the process of elections by a stipulation of Act 74, which states: ‘No one can contest elections of any kind in AK without taking oath of allegiance to Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan’… Because of this clause nationalists of Azad Kashmir were kept away from the elections and Pakistan has built a strong pro Pakistan structure which aims to minimize the influence of nationalists in all walks of life.”[13] As in the case of the Indian nationalists, there appears to be little concern for the democratic rights of Kashmiris.

Kashmir and the Indian Left

The Left itself in India has no unified position on Kashmir. This became clear in the course of the debate that followed the meeting on “Azadi.” The keynote speaker invited to represent the Kashmiri people at this meeting was Syed Ali Shah Geelani, whose politics has all the elements of ethno-religious nationalism. As Yoginder Sikand points out in a recent article on Geelani's book, Kashmir: Nava-e Hurriyat, for Geelani "Muslims are a community/nation (qaum) wholly separate from the Hindus." Sikand continues,

[Geelani] equates India with Hindus, overlooking the fact that India’s Muslim population outnumbers that of Pakistan. He projects Muslims (as he does Hindus) as a monolithic, homogeneous community, defined by a singular interpretation of religion, and bereft of cultural, ethnic and other divisions. He depicts Muslims as radically different from Hindus, and as allegedly having nothing at all in common with them.[14]

This is an extreme right-wing ideology, which, as Geelani himself recognizes, shares the "two-nation" theory with Hindutva.

This reactionary authoritarianism is underlined by the activities of another member of this tendency, Asiya Andrabi, and her organization Dukhteran-e-Millat, members of which have thrown acid and paint in the faces of women to force them to wear the veil. Andrabi warned separatist leader Abdul Ghani Lone of dire consequences for asking foreign Islamist militants to stay out of Kashmir, and urged militants to take action against him.[15] When Lone was murdered by Pakistan-backed militants,[16] it is not surprising that his son Sajjad blamed the ISI[17] and Geelani was chased away from his house.[18] Other Kashmiri separatist leaders were terrorized into silence. Only very recently has this silence been broken, with open admissions that separatist leaders who were earlier claimed to have been killed by the Indian state were actually murdered by militants.[19]

How could anyone on the Left provide a platform to someone with such a reactionary agenda as Geelani’s (a mirror image of Hindutva), or even share a platform with him as Arundhati Roy has done? Why should he be considered a leader of the Kashmiri independence struggle at all when he colludes with one of the states (Pakistan) occupying Kashmir, given that just across the LoC, the main enemy of Kashmiri nationalists is the Pakistani state? Indeed, in the statements of the pro-Maoist section of the Indian Left, there is not even an acknowledgement of the Kashmiris on the other side of the LoC fighting for freedom from Pakistan, nor is any attempt made to extend solidarity to them or to Pakistani socialists fighting against Islamism. This is what allows them to associate the slogan of “Azadi” with someone like Geelani, who, from the standpoint of Kashmiris across the LoC, stands for their continued enslavement.[20] Roy, questioned about sharing a platform with someone implicated in killings of other separatists, justified it with the bizarre argument that even Nelson Mandela, who was serving a 27-year jail sentence imposed by the Apartheid state when in 1977 that same state murdered Steve Biko, was somehow responsible for the latter’s death![21] It did not occur to her that silencing by murder and terror those whose views are different is the hallmark of authoritarian politics. Nor does this writer recognize the Orwellian aspect of killing leaders protesting against foreign interference in the name of “freedom” and “self-determination.”

The premise of the section of the Stalinist Left that associates itself with Geelani is unconditional support for all parties fighting for the right of nations to self-determination in the sense of secession, regardless of their politics, and acceptance of Stalin’s definition of a nation: “The root of the Kashmir conflict is not oppression but identity. Kashmiris don’t see themselves as Indian.”[22] Thus “nation” is defined in terms of “identity,” presumably encompassing a common language, territory, economy, culture, and history, as in Stalin’s definition. According to this view, the people of Kashmir constitute a nation, and are therefore entitled to self-determination, defined as the right to form their own nation-state. The desire and right to fight for a separate nation-state are given in their feeling that they are different from Indians, and this would be so even if they were not oppressed by the Indian state and enjoyed all democratic rights (which, of course, is not the case at present).

However, even in terms of a dogmatic application of Lenin’s formula, there is a problem here. Minority communities in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, who constitute around one third of its population, wish to remain with India,[23] and some of these, like the Ladakhis, would themselves constitute “nations” according to Stalin’s definition. So Kashmiri “self-determination” would come at the expense of another “nation” or entail further partitions on ethnic lines. It is revealing that supporters of a Kashmiri state do not even ask themselves why Ladakhis—who belong to an ethnic and religious (Buddhist) minority, and cannot therefore be accused of Hindu majoritarianism—so emphatically reject “freedom” from India. This suggests that these communities feel safer in secular India than they would in a separate Kashmir that they fear would be Islamist. Surely this calls into question the monolithic Kashmiri “identity,” as a result of which “Kashmiris don’t see themselves as Indian”?

Left supporters of Kashmiri Azadi reply that Geelani would probably shift over to support for an independent Kashmir under popular pressure, and this is conceivable. What is not conceivable, however, is that he would abandon his Islamist vision for Kashmir, which is shared by many others, as the slogans chanted in demonstrations suggest.[24] But he is only one current out of many, the answer goes: “Let a Constituent assembly decide what the people want!”[25] This is dangerously naïve, not least because theocrats do not believe in constituent assemblies. When the Left in Iran (the largest in the Middle East) jumped on Khomeini’s bandwagon, they no doubt had the same illusion. But Khomeini used a broad-based popular movement against the Shah to come to power, and then proceeded to decimate the Left. As Maziar Behrooz, the author of Rebels with a Cause: The Failure of the Left in Iran, points out, the loss of women’s rights was the most palpable consequence of the Islamic Revolution.[26] A similar outcome in Kashmir cannot be ruled out if a section of the Left in India insists on jumping on the Islamist bandwagon by inviting Geelani to be the spokesperson of “Azadi” and describing him as “the tallest, most respected leader of the Kashmiri independence struggle."[27] If this is true, what does it say about the Azadi movement?

Another position on the Left rejects identity as a basis for secession and sees democracy as the only justification for it. By contrast with the first tendency, which provides unconditional support to any group claiming to fight for the right to national self-determination, the second group provides support that is highly conditional and selective. Conditional on the premise that a separate state is demanded by the vast majority of the population in the territory claimed, and on the promise that it will result in less oppression and bloodshed, and in greater freedom, equality, and democracy. Selective in the sense that even where the vast majority want to be free of foreign occupation, as in Afghanistan, reactionary, authoritarian groups like the Taliban would not be supported. “Self-determination” should mean the right of people to determine their own lives, and the Taliban most emphatically does not stand for that. There are groups in Afghanistan like the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, which have chosen the courageous option of fighting against both the U.S./NATO occupation and the Taliban, and it is such groups that should receive support. Tamil democracy activists decided they had to oppose both the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE: a difficult and dangerous option, but the only one that allowed them to fight for democracy and workers’ solidarity.

The requirement that socialists of the oppressed country maintain complete unity between organizations of the proletariat in the oppressed and oppressing “nations” has been complied with by hundreds of thousands of workers in the Jammu and Kashmir Trade Union Centre, which is affiliated to the New Trade Union Initiative, an independent Left trade union federation with its headquarters in India. The NTUI, in turn, supports the demands of Kashmiri workers.[28]

Moving forward

While Indian socialists are under no obligation whatsoever to support Kashmiri “self-determination” based on appeals to “identity,” there is a more elementary meaning of “azadi” expressed in numerous fact-finding reports and the better newspaper reports from Kashmir—namely, freedom from oppression by the Indian state—and they are duty-bound to support this demand. One atrocity after another without any justice in sight is a recipe for barbarism.[29] The heart-rending appeal to the people of India by the father of one of the boys killed by Indian security forces recently—“Please feel our pain”[30]—should lead to a broad-based campaign demanding the repeal of legislation that allows the security forces to commit human rights abuses with impunity. The Left should spearhead the campaign in India for the punishment of security force personnel who have committed such crimes, including those with command responsibility. Such a campaign must also press for a drastic reduction of the presence of security forces, the release of political prisoners, and freedom of movement and trade across the LoC.

The campaign should include the demand for the demilitarization of Kashmir on both sides of the LoC. Demanding demilitarization on the Indian side alone is neither realistic nor even desirable, if it facilitates the activities of foreign militants like those who killed Lone. Such a campaign would require working with socialists in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Pakistan itself as demanded by the principle of internationalism. If it is successful, and the military and militants on both sides of the LoC back off, the people of Jammu and Kashmir would have the space and opportunity to discuss, debate, and negotiate among themselves to see if they can agree on a vision of Kashmir that is accepted by the overwhelming majority.

To sum up: The section of the Indian Left demanding unconditional support for the right of the Kashmiri “nation” to self-determination, in the sense of secession from India, remains narrowly India-centric (although anti-India, not pro), and fails even to acknowledge that Kashmir will not be “free” if India withdraws because it is also occupied by Pakistan. Moreover, such unconditional support requires that Islamist elements also be seen as worthy of support, ignoring their extreme right-wing character, or the fact that they stand for a Kashmir as oppressive as the present dispensation.

By contrast, a more internationalist section of the Left sees that the imbroglio in Kashmir is part of the tragic legacy of Partition, and cannot be resolved unless that whole legacy is addressed. It rejects “identity” as the basis for state-formation, and insists that a viable Kashmiri state must convince its minorities in advance that they will enjoy security, equality, and democratic rights; sacrificing democracy to "self-determination" is surely a contradiction in terms. Undoing the damage done by Partition would involve a sustained drive to eradicate Hindutva, Islamism, and communalism in India, Pakistan, and Kashmir; it would include the difficult and dangerous struggle to establish a secular, democratic state in Pakistan. In addition it would require a critique of nationalism and militarism throughout the subcontinent. A South Asian Union with open borders, based on equality and democracy both within and between its constituent states, would create a context more conducive to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute than the current situation, and this is a goal that socialists throughout the region can work towards.[31] |P

[1]. "Minutes of the seminar on Azadi: The Only Way." Kafila (27 October 2010). <>.

[2]. Rosa Luxemburg, "The National Question," in The National Question: Selected Writings by Rosa Luxemburg, ed. Horace B. Davis (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976). Originally published in 1909. Available online at <>.

[3]. V. I. Lenin, "The Right of Nations to Self-Determination," in Collected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972) vol. 20. Originally published in 1914. Available online at <>.

[4]. J. V. Stalin, "Marxism and the National Question," in Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954) 2: 303. Available online at <>.

[5]. I have taken up this issue at greater length in my article "The Role of Socialists in the Civil War in Sri Lanka," Platypus Review 13 (July 2009). </2009/07/01/the-role-of-socialists-in-the-civil-war-in-sri-lanka/>.

[6]. V.I. Lenin, "The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination," in Collected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1974) vol. 22. Originally published in 1916. Available online at <>.

[7]. Sucheta Mahajan, Independence and Partition: The Erosion of Colonial Power in India, (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2000), 207. "Communal" is used here in the Indian sense of using religion as the primary marker of identity, with varying degrees of hostility to people of other religions.

[8]. A transcript of this resolution is available online at <>.

[9]. See <>.

[10]. See, for example, Shabir Choudhry, "Why I said Good Bye to JKLF?," (24 July 2008). <>.

[11]. The "family" of right-wing organizations around the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which includes the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is known as the "Sangh Parivar." I shall also use the term "Hindutva" for the right-wing political ideology espoused by these organizations and "Islamism" for the political ideology of similar organizations in Pakistan, in order to distinguish these ideologies from Hinduism and Islam.

[12]. "BJP slams Kashmir interlocutors for Pakistan remark," <>.

[13]. Shabir Choudhry, "Jammu and Kashmir National Democratic Alliance – a step in right direction," (15 November 2010). <>.

[14]. Yoginder Sikand, "Jihad, Islam and Kashmir: Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s Political Project," Economic and Political Weekly 45, no. 40 (2 October 2010): 125-134. <,_Islam_Yoginder_Sikand.pdf>.

[15]. Kavita Suri, "Painted Veil," The Statesman (17 July 2002). < >.

[16]. Rasheeda Bhagat, "Abdul Ghani Lone: A moderate, rational voice silenced," The Hindu Business Line (23 May 2002). <>.

[17]. Prem Shankar Jha, "With Us, Or Not At All," Outlook (3 June 2002). <>.

[18]. D. Suba Chandran, "Assassination Of Abdul Ghani Lone What Lies Beneath" (29 May 2002). <>.

[19]. “Militants, not govt. forces, killed top separatist leaders, admits ex-Hurriyat chief," Daily News and Analysis (3 January 2011). <>.

[20]. Shabir Choudhry, "'I have faced Pakistani oppression and intimidation': Shafqat Inquilabi" (27 November 2010) <>.

[21]. Shoma Choudhary and Arundhati Roy, "An independent Kashmiri nation may be a flawed entity, but is independent India perfect?," Tehelka 7, no. 44 (3 November 2010). <>.

[22]. Shivam Vij, "Dilemmas of 'Right of Nations to Military Occupation': A Response to Rohini Hensman," Kafila (17 November 2010). <>.

[23]. Sikand, "Jihad, Islam and Kashmir," 131.

[24]. See, for example, Arundhati Roy’s article "Azadi: It’s the only thing the Kashmiri wants. Denial is delusion," Outlook (1 September 2008). <>. Here she at least has the honesty to admit that some of slogans disturbed her.

[25]. Vij, "Dilemmas."

[26]. "30 Years of the Islamic Revolution in Iran," Platypus Review, Supplement to Issue 20 (February 2010). </2010/02/18/30-years-of-the-islamic-revolution-in-iran/#_open>.

[27]. Vij, "Dilemmas."

[28]. See, for example, the report in the NTUI’s journal Union Power (November 2009): 2. <>.

[29]. See, for example, Bela Bhatia, Vrinda Grover, Sukumar Murlidharan and Ravi Hemadri, "Report No.1: Attack and killing on Pattan hospital premises," Kafila (15 November 2010). <>.

[30]. Nirupama Subramanian, "Feel our pain, say Kashmiris," The Hindu (24 November 2010). <>.

[31]. There has been a movement—variously called People’s SAARC, South Asian People’s Summit, and, most recently, the South Asian People’s Assembly—committed to creating a South Asian People’s Union free of all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination both within and between countries, opposed to militarism and with freedom of movement within the region. Such a development would help to create a context in which the Kashmir dispute could be resolved, and would also facilitate cross-border workers’ organizing in the South Asian region. See "Special Report on Assembly Toward Union of South Asia," Union Power (April 2010) <>.


  • Posted 8 years ago

    Very well written article, which again brings up the dilemma of left in Indian Subcontinent (it would be better if we can call it India. Left is divided and confused between nationalism, theocratic ideas, and other ideological misconceptions. It also brings out that question if nationalism is a blessing or a curse in post colonial era.

    by naveed on February 18, 2011 4:04 am

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