Rural India faces many calamities be it natural disasters, corporate acquisition of forests, lands and village commons, or migrant workers walking back hundreds of kilometres from hostile cities due to pandemic lockdowns. In Odisha on the eastern coast, the macabre theatre of capital’s insidious appropriation of agricultural land and village commons is being resisted bravely once again by villagers of Dhinkia of Jagatsinghpur district in collective barricading from the clutches of state-supported Jindal Steel Works Utkal Limited.
A totalitarian control over histories and a calculated manipulation of meanings have been instrumental in India’s narrative warfare. Its armed and administrative forces have actively pursued the destruction of historiographic and material evidence of the Kashmiri past.
However, there exist ‘witnesses’ that reject the Indian imagination, refuse to grant it any legitimacy, and rule out any possibility of submission to its apparatus of regulation. These ‘witnesses’ attest to the multiple struggles of Kashmir’s pasts and preserve the evidence of its demands from the future. They undermine the colonial design by engaging in a negotiation of power where they reimagine the Kashmiri body, Kashmiri history, and the Kashmiri everyday. Subverting the threat of erasure and elimination, the ‘witnesses’ promise life in their sense of continuity, renewal, and resilience.”
We must respond to the provocation of the fascists with sober strategic resistance, and build solidarity across different regions and communities. There is no reason to believe that the interests of the different vulnerable communities – be it small nationalities, religious minorities, tribals, dalits, refugees and migrants – cannot be addressed together. It is not necessary that they will have to be posited against each other. Through wider dialogue and conversations, such questions can be addressed adequately, as per the best democratic traditions of our country. Instead, what is being done by the RSS/BJP today is to play a cynical game of pitting one community against another, instrumentalising the grievances of one community to trample upon the rights of another, and naked State repression to control. Together, we will not let this game continue. What they fear most is the coming together of the oppressed and the subjugated. With empathy and solidarity with each other, we will defeat the evil designs of the Hindutva forces.
Something like above would have read as the brief academic profile of thirty-two-year-old Dr. Mohmmad Rafi Bhat till Sunday May 6, 2018. Now, he shares…
Much has been made about the absence of large-scale protests by farmers against demonetization, as if farmers could march in the streets at the time of harvest, leaving their crops untended. On this topic, the journalist Ugale told me that some farmers had contemplated dumping tomatoes outside the collector’s office, but then changed their minds, thinking: “Even if we protest, what will we achieve?” Ugale trailed off and then, in a somber tone, concluded: “Helplessness and apathy, that’s what I see everywhere.”
Young Kashmiri women know the public space is theirs to keep and rightly so. When they raise their middle finger at the occupation, their heads are held high in knowing that standing up to oppression in all forms of expression does not diminish their dignity. It is clear that these women do not need to be called from the Masjid pulpits, but that they have arrived of their own accord. And they have come to stay.
I was in my fourth grade in 1990, the year when Kashmir shut for 198 days, then for 207 days in 1991, 148 in 1992 and 139 in 1993, and so on. I grew up in all those tough long years. All my life I have lived here in Kashmir through the thick and thin of the situation. I grew up in curfews, crackdowns, identification parades; through the menace of the omnipresent bunkers and at the mercy of the fingers always ready on the triggers of SLRs. And throughout this time, I was educated to see, experience, understand and realise where the truth of the circumstances lay. All the young outstanding artists, doctors, engineers, lecturers, journalists and other achievers we have today have all grown up through the same troubled ’90s, the decade that saw the severest of curfews, shutdowns and crackdowns.
Ashwin looks at the Action Plans prepared by the Narmada Valley Development Authority in the 1990s and analyzes the ambition of a developmental project and the way a planning document looks at Project Affect Persons and at activists involved in the anti-dam struggle.