Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao tells Kunal Majumder that the Naxals will support the separatist movement in Kashmir
Why did you attend the conference demanding secession of Kashmir? What connects the Kashmiri separatists to Maoists?
I feel azadi is the only way for Kashmir. Self-determination is the right of every nationality. Being a Maoist, I support revolutionary and independent movements of people. On that Marxist-Leninist principle, I support the nationality struggle of Kashmir and of the Northeast. I come from the Hyderabad riyasat. Both Hyderabad and Kashmir were invaded by India. Even the Indian Union uses the word ‘accession’ in both cases. They annexed Hyderabad on the pretext that the rulers are Muslims and the ruled are Hindus. In Kashmir, they said the king is Hindu. In both places, they played the Hindu card.
Going by your argument, should India then be split into 28 different countries?
We support nationalistic aspirations. Only those princely states that were under Delhi till 1947 and those who agreed to join the Indian Union should be in India. Nehru had even taken the Kashmir issue to the United Nations. If Kashmir was like any other state after 1950, then what is the need for Article 370? If it is a part of the Indian Union, why do you have to send the army? Why do you have AFSPA? From Nehru to Vajpayee, there have been talks on Kashmir with Pakistan, because the government knows it is a disputed issue.
How do you define azadi? Pakistan calls the part of Kashmir occupied by it as azad Kashmir.
Kashmir belongs to the people of Kashmir. Even Syed Ali Shah Geelani is asking for the right of self-determination for Kashmiris. Who is India or Pakistan to decide about what Kashmir wants? As a Maoist, I say that Kashmir should be liberated, but if the people of Kashmir decide otherwise, we will accept it.
Doesn’t asking for secession of Kashmir amount to sedition?
The right to secede is recognised by the Geneva Convention. Many countries have attained independence through plebiscite. It is not unconstitutional. I believe the only way forward for Kashmir is azadi.
What about the views of the Kashmiri Pandits? They even protested at the conference.
There were around 700 people at the conference, most of them supporting azadi. Around 200 of them were Kashmiris. The Sangh Parivar people, including Kashmiri Pandits, were not more than 70. That means the people of Kashmir are not alone in their struggle. Delhi is the common enemy of Kashmir and the struggling people of this country. Those people even threw shoes. What kind of culture is this? This is nothing but Hindu fascism.
Some reports suggest that the ISI is trying to link up Kashmiri separatists with Maoists. Is there any truth in this?
This has been around for long. There is no truth in it.
What about tie-ups between the Maoists and the separatists?
Right from the days of Charu Mazumdar, we have supported the struggle for azadi in Kashmir and the Northeast. That support remains.
Will the Maoist movement expand into Kashmir?
I can’t say. It all depends on the strength of the Maoists. We will support their nationalist movement as we see it as an anti-imperialist movement. Delhi, like I said, is the common enemy.