This year India has celebrated its 75th anniversary with ex­aggerated claims of triumphs and an unrealistic mantra of ac­complishments. But in reality, this Independence Day was also marred by the seces­sionist movements in the length and breadth of In­dia and the echoes of the freedom hymns broadly negating the false narrative of the Indian state. India was established as a republic with the qualities of being democratic, and secular, pledging equal treatment for all citizens, but, for many, India lacks all the essentials of an ideal democ­racy. Despite sustaining 75 years of independence from British rule, India is yet to achieve those goals which were anticipated while fight­ing against colonialism, and what the sires had struggled for. The situ­ation worsened after the incumbent BJP assumed power in the 2014 elections. Soon becoming Prime Minister, Narender Modi, tried to re-paint the canvas of Indian democra­cy with his fascist agenda by pitting one community against the other. Further, the divisive policies of the BJP and diminishing pluralism have allowed the pro-independence voic­es from all corners of the country to resonate louder. The hatred dissemi­nated in the society by the extremist leadership has further emboldened the insurgencies and separatist sen­timents in Nagaland, Manipur, Kash­mir, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Indian Punjab.

Among these separatist move­ments, the demand for secession by the people of the Indian Illegal­ly Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) is the most prominent and global as the issue was raised by the United Nations advising a pleb­iscite in Kashmir under its resolu­tion 47 in 1948 upholding the right of self-determination of the na­tives. India, however, blatantly dis­regarded the resolution of the Unit­ed Nations by augmenting its illegal occupation over the valley supple­mented by grave Human Rights vi­olations, practising draconian laws against unarmed civilians, and bar­ring independent press voices. De­spite all of its illicit tactics and bru­tal use of force, India utterly failed to defeat the demand for freedom in the Kashmir valley. The abroga­tion of Article-370 has also added fuel to the fire and expanded the in­digenous movement to an extent where it has become almost uncon­tainable. The incremental Khalistan movement is another blot on the face of Indian democracy and is fad­ing away the jubilations of the 75th Independence Day of India with the internationally reverberating de­mand for autonomy from the Indian rule and the creation of a sovereign state of their own.

The clampdown of the Indian se­curity establishment against the Sikh activists during the year-long farmers’ agitation, and the ongoing European phase of the Khalistan ref­erendum being attended by the Sikh diaspora in unprecedented numbers are proof that the federation in India is on the brink of collapse. Likewise, in vulnerable North-Western India, the situation in North-Eastern states is even more severe. The insurgen­cy in the Manipur state has become a nightmare for the Indian govern­ment which is clueless about how to tackle this ethnic and tribal rebel­lion. The rebels in the state are also demanding independence from In­dia due to the prejudiced behaviour of New Delhi. According to the facts revealed by Indian Federal Planning Commission, while the poverty in the rest of India has declined, it has amplified in five north-eastern Indi­an states including Manipur which justifies the separatist demands. The liberation war in the state has claimed more than six thousand lives including one thousand Indian troops. The resistance is still so alive as in November last year, the rebels ambushed an Indian army convoy killing a colonel, his wife, child, and four other soldiers. According to the CM of the state, the liberation cadres have also killed more than twenty non-locals since 2017.

In Nagaland, an ongoing conflict is being fought between the ethnic Nagas and the State of India. The conflict was started in 1956 by the Naga National Council (NNC) which aimed for the separation of Naga ter­rains from India and for this purpose they formed an underground Naga army. The insurgency witnessed a fresh spark in 2021 after an incident where fourteen innocent miners of Nagaland were ambushed and killed by the Indian Army soldiers of the 21 Para Special Forces army unit. The unlawful killings stimulated ex­tensive protests and resulted in the partial repealing of the Armed Forc­es Special Power Act which was en­acted in 1958. A conflict that started in Assam during the 1970s has also given birth to several separatist or­ganizations challenging the writ of the centre. The tension between the native Assamese and the Indian gov­ernment over biased dealing, polit­ical, social, cultural, and economic issues, and increased intrusion of il­legal immigrants from Bangladesh has resulted in the deaths of 12,000 United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) fighters and 18,000 others until now. Several other separatist movements in Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telan­gana, and other parts of India have shaken the hollow foundation of the Indian union and crushed the dream of ‘Akhand Bharat’ and dwindled the realm of Hindutva sympathizers. This is a wake-up call for the inter­national community and global in­stitutions to abolish the capitalist approach and act purely on human­itarian grounds by compelling the Indian state to halt its contentious policies and Human Rights viola­tions against the few remaining lib­eral voices in the country

 

Shahid Farooq Abbasi

The writer is a freelance journalist and security analyst. He can be reached at shahidfarooq

abbasi@gmail.com.