Kashmir Conflict: FAQs You Must Know
We Kashmiris feel very strongly about the way things have unfolded in Kashmir since India’s independence from British rule for the simple reasons that not only is Kashmir our homeland, but there are very few places on earth which are naturally as beautiful and scenic as Kashmir is and instead of being a major tourist attraction, Kashmir is mostly talked about in the context of being a conflict and a war-zone. We feel strongly about Kashmir and the Right to Self Determination of its people because very rarely it has happened in the modern history of mankind that thousands of people were abducted and chopped into pieces and then thrown into rivers or buried at unknown places and the saddest part is that people don’t even know about it, surely a war crime second only to Holocaust since WW-II.
Are we Kashmiris supposed to accept whatever is being thrown to our plate and not fight for what is rightfully ours just because we are sandwiched between three nuclear powers who are busy beating each other in the arms race. How sad is the fact that two countries who got freedom in 1947 after 200 year long imperialistic oppression and loot, and instead of working together for a better tomorrow they started to fight each other as soon a they were set free . We Kashmiris have become the grass of the ground where two elephants with nuclear tusks are fighting to death and the entire world is acting like a deaf and mute spectator.
Imagine an organization called Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and all they want to know is where are their 10,000 sons and all they do is peaceful demonstration in Srinagar almost every week. The fact that such an organization exists in a country like India that itself was a British colony just few decades ago is depressing and what is even more unfortunate is the indifferent attitude of most of the Indian people.
India takes pride in calling itself the world’s largest democracy, right? So shouldn’t you know what does a democracy mean then?
“Isn’t a democratic society one in which the public has the means to participate in meaningful ways to manage their own affairs, and decide their future, and free and open means of information are available to everyone.”
Look around and tell me how truthful and how reliable is Indian media today. How democratic is India in Kashmir where every voice is silenced by a bullet in the head. In these circumstances I believe it is my responsibility as someone who has spent all his life in Kashmir and seen it all, to try and propagate the truth and to do whatever I can to clear the misconceptions about the Kashmir issue, because I really believe that even though a vast majority of Indian people are so jingoistic about Kashmir, there are a number of people who genuinely do not know much about it. It is for them and for those who read and learn with a straight and open mind that we still need to tell the truth, even if the reward is “You Porkistani Agent”, “You Terrorist”, “You Jihadi” and labels like that.
It is so sad that Indian state and its stooges in Kashmir have so far been successful to portray things in a way that suits their occupation in Kashmir. In an attempt to clear up this haze that surrounds the Kashmir issue, I have listed below the refutations of the most frequently asked questions/doubts/allegations about Kashmir and their “Right to Self Determination”. The content of these FAQs is solely based on the six articles written by a young Kashmiri scholar Mehboob Makhdoomi and I am replicating it here with his due permission.
Question 1: The protests & the call for Azadi in Kashmir are Pakistan-sponsored. Why do you defend Pakistan by giving it a clean-chit?
No less than the Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh blamed Pakistan for the current street anger in Kashmir, which makes this answer all the more important. The answer is that our struggle for Azadi, officially, began on July 13th 1931, when Pakistan was not even born. This is the day, which even the current BJP-PDP coalition government officially observed as the Martyrs-day, at the Naqshband Sahib graveyard few days ago. It proves that this sentiment could not have been imported from across the border, since it was only undivided India across the border then. More so, there was no ISI, no Lashkar, no Hafiz Sayed or Pakistan Army those days.
I don’t deny that Pakistan would want to irk India on the question of Kashmir, since as per them it should’ve been the part of their country. This feeling was exacerbated when India broke Pakistan into two, in 1971. Incontrovertibly, it’s Kashmir, which they fought for, in 1947 & 1965, launching full-fledged wars against India, as rightly pointed out by Arun Jaitley in the Parliament. However, their ‘want’ would not have mattered, had Kashmiris themselves not wanted it. Pakistan would want a trouble anywhere in India, not only in Kashmir, exactly the way India would want, in Pakistan. Why don’t they succeed anywhere else in India? If you bring in religion, why is not Pakistan able to use ‘another Pakistan’ in India (in terms of population & co-religiosity) i.e. Muslims of India? They are culturally more akin to Pakistanis than Kashmiris are. Their educational level and poverty is much worse than Kashmiris, which technically, makes them more vulnerable to ‘brainwashing’. Why is not India able to do same in Pak-admin-Kashmir, if it were easy for countries to implant narratives & emotions in the neighboring countries?
I would like to draw your attention to 1965, when Moi-Muqadas movement engulfed Kashmir. Even then Pakistan thought of initiating an armed –struggle in Kashmir, seeing anti-India feelings here. They air-dropped their men with weapons, to ignite the armed rebellion. Yes, it was Operation Gibraltar, which failed miserably, simply because Kashmiris were not ready for an armed revolt yet. This resulted in an Indo-Pak war of 1965. Kashmiris took to arms in 1989, when they themselves decided to do so. They crossed over to the other side of LoC & sought help, which Pakistan was more than willing to do. It was because they wanted it then. It was an indigenous decision. This is not to justify or rationalize Kashmir’s decision to take up arms, but simply to prove that- right or wrong- people of Kashmir do not import feelings & decisions from neighbors. And if Pakistan is using & highlighting your misdeeds done in Kashmir, I as a Kashmiri, am not responsible for that; you are. That should not rob my movement off my indigenousness. Don’t tell me I’m talking in Pakistani language; they might be talking in my language. If India host Dalai Lama or recognizes Tibetan struggle, does it mean Tibetans are actually loyal Chinese and it’s only RAW & other Indian agencies, which have constructed this narrative for Tibet? There are freedom movements, which some countries are happy about & some are not, depending on their national interest. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those who’re happy about it are its sponsors. The tens of thousands-rich & poor, employed or not- don’t come out on the roads at the behest of an external power. I & my last 3 generations, who I know, felt the same way I do, vis-a-vis our political aspiration. I reckon, even if Pakistan says what India is saying, the struggle for our rights will not change. What more proof do you want? I consider it ‘anti-national’ for Indians to resort to such political-expediencies to mislead people of India about ‘what Kashmiris want’, by ascribing it all to Pakistan. Given an extreme anti-Pakistan feeling in India, it easily sells. This way, there is no change in their Kashmir policy, which is unhealthy, not only for Kashmir but for India herself.
Question 2: Your struggle is Islamic, not about Self-determination or anti-oppression. If not, why do you shout Pro-Islamic slogans?
The answer is in a question: Why is Islam & fight against oppression, mutually-exclusive to you? This was asked in a Barkha Dutt show, by some Pandit that it’s all about La ila Illalah. Hypothetically, if the same female journalist would be attacked anywhere in Kashmir, while doing their duty, any good human- Muslim or not, would want to save her. As a Muslim, I feel this good act of fighting oppression is easier for me, since I firmly believe in Quran & the reward in the after-world. With this in mind, shouting Allah u Akbar, if I try to save her, will that make me communal? Will that justify the criminals who were trying to hurt her? Will my denial to a bribe, for fear of hell fire, make me a religious bigot? Islam lays emphasis on good deeds, which are innately wrong, with a reward. Islam is my faith and my motivation to do what I may or may not have done otherwise. We don’t wake up one fine morning & decide to attack state or any entity, just because they are Non-Muslims or there’s something called Jihad. When Mufti Sayed died or even the former President APJ Abdul Kalam died, their funeral had chants of Lailaha ilallah, can we call them communal deaths? Or would you say they should’ve been cremated to prove their secular credentials? When you hurt a Christian, he’ll cry out ‘Jesus’ by reflex, Rama for a Hindu & Ya Allah for a Muslim. In the same way, we as Muslims have been & will be chanting Pro Islam slogans, if we are oppressed. That doesn’t give anybody right to say that our struggle is communal or ‘not to end oppression’, be that in Kashmir or Palestine. Both are humanitarian issues, & for a Muslim to strive to solve human issues, with Heaven & Hell in mind, does not rob off humanitarianism from these issues. I don’t know why I have not seen anybody, not even our scholars, refuting this false binary.
Question 3: You Kashmiris are being fooled by Hurriyat leaders. Their own Children study/work in America & Europe and they make you fight on the streets. Why do you become their pawns?
Apart from the commoners in India, this question was recently asked by the BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra in a TV debate. The straight answer to this is that the political aspiration of Kashmiris has not been introduced/taught to them, by Hurriyat Conference. The people of Kashmir strive for their own rights, out of their volition, not because Hurriyat asks them to do so. Hurriyat is a group of some Kashmiris who volunteered to lead this sentiment; this sentiment has not come ‘From them’. There is a huge difference between the two. If people were to seek Freedom because Hurriyat has convinced them to do so, then this question would’ve been valid. Hurriyat’s role is only to act as employee of the sentiment of people. And even if they were to agree with Indian policy on Kashmir tomorrow, India will only have them but not the people of Kashmir, who will, then come up with a new Hurriyat. The sentiment is paramount not the Hurriyat. So, even if India convinces us about their selfishness, it would only result in new leaders popping up. It would not lessen the quest of our inalienable rights, which is the actual motive of such questioners. Those who’re out there, protesting, stone-throwing or other acts, do so for themselves, not for any leader. It must be noted that Hurriyat was formed on March 9th, 1993, when about 50,000 Kashmiris were already dead in an armed uprising which began in 1989. This is the reason when you find some Kashmiris against Hurriyat, you misconstrue them as Pro-Indians. They are against Hurriyat because as per them, Hurriyat is not anti-India enough (anti-Indian K-policy, to be precise). This is also the reason why Hurriyat’s election-boycott call(which some people think doesn’t go against the movement) is not heeded at times, while all other calls are followed in letter & spirit. Again you misconceive that as a vote for India, since Hurriyat’s call was rejected. It only shows people do not blindly agree to everything they say.
Besides, if one person from a family dedicates his life for people’s cause and exposes himself to all the risks, he is not answerable about his children to the families, who have no contribution at all. It is not mandatory on his children to be out there too, for him to be legitimate because it is not his fight which he’s seeking support for. His individual contribution is to be appreciated. And their children are adults who make their own decisions. Those who are on the streets today risking their lives may not have listened to their parents too, who wanted them to stay indoors. This explanation was in case we agree to the factuality of the question. I think it is exaggerated. The children of main three Pro-Freedom leaders are for everyone to see. The senior one doesn’t have anyone in America or Europe and the other two have one baby girl each, less than the age of 5, who can neither study nor work abroad. So, this question isn’t that great, even from the Indian perspective.
Question 4: Since you Kashmiris keep on harping on UNSC Resolutions, do you know its Pakistan which needs to move out of Kashmir first? Why don’t you struggle against Pakistan first, instead of India?
This argument is not only used by the Indians but also by few Kashmiris in Europe working for India interests. True, Pakistan has to move out first as per the UNSC Resolution, but let India allow its implementation first. As Indian commentators themselves say that these resolutions do not fall under the category of ‘Enforceability’, it thus requires a formal cooperation of both the countries as to when to start the implementation of these resolutions. These are the international matters. Please think about it — India’s official claim, as per its 1994 parliament resolution is that ‘’the entire state of J&K is its integral part including the Pakistani Kashmir, which remains to be taken’’. In this situation, if Pakistan unilaterally backs off, India (even if it doesn’t actually want it) will have no option, but to honor its resolution with almost full majority in Parliament and control ‘AJK’ as well, or else it will go against its own constitution. UN has been offering its good offices time and again. Until India does not agree to whole idea of the conduct of the referendum in J&K, UN can do nothing nor can Pakistan. So, the question of withdrawal of Pakistan comes much later in the ‘Implementation phase’. Therefore, the first pre requisite is the joint agreement, followed by a joint request to the UN, by both the countries, to come and implement the ‘agreed upon’ resolutions, whose opposition, by the way, India has made its law. This is where the bottleneck lies. Once they approach the UN and “implementation phase’’ begins, Pakistan has to withdraw first and if it denies to comply with what it has already signed, it will be exposed and Kashmiris will have to start opposing Pakistan instead of India, then. As of now, Kashmiris are dying for the UN intervention, Pakistan is reminding UN about it every now and then, it is only India which sometimes, calls it an internal problem and at times a bilateral one and says UN can’t be allowed to intervene. How can you ask someone to act upon the Step-1 of the process, when you oppose the implementation of the same process, tooth & nail? So, anybody who asks this question should actually have Indian PMO say the same- Let Pakistan withdraw first, which would mean India agrees to Kashmir being dispute & will allow UNSC implementation. Till then, this argument is preposterous. I’ amazed to see people who call themselves scholars & analysts of international repute asking this question. What hurts even more is when nobody from our side answers it correctly.
Question 5: Kashmir has always been a part of India. How can you say it has never been so, since ancient temples still exist even in Muzaffarabad, not to talk of Srinagar? Don’t you know Islam came to Kashmir few hundred years ago & you were all Hindus before that?
The question, at its outset, smacks of communalism, that too an absurd one. Let these self-proclaimed ‘Kashmir experts’, who otherwise boast of India’s secularism, realize that there was no nation-state called India till August 15th, 1947. It was a vast expanse of land, ruled by local Kings and then united by the British imperialism. And this entity was divided in 1947 into two nation states — Pakistan and India, which stands officially ratified by the Government of India. It got further divided when Bangladesh was born in 1971. So, when the present day nation state-India was itself born in 1947, how would Kashmir’s religious belief of 11th & 12 century, be a proof of the ‘ever Indian-ness’ of Kashmir?
By this nonsensical logic, India should trample over Nepal’s sovereignty as it still has more than 80% Hindu population. It should lay claim on Mauritius which is 50% Hindu with temples all over. It can annex Fiji from Oceania which is 35% Hindu and Guyana from South America with about 33% before it talks about Kashmir, because Hinduism was in its history. It should also not have accepted the legality of Pakistan & Bangladesh, as Hinduism once flourished in these countries too. Moreover, the basic premise of such an argument is that India is Hindu & Hindu is India. And if religion is really to determine our political destiny, as per the rationale of such a question, then does not it make more sense that such a decision be made, based on our current religiosity, rather than that of our ancestors? After all, that would be more practical as it’s our present religion which impacts our socio-politico-economic spheres of life.
Question 6: We, Pandits are the original inhabitants of Kashmir. It’s actually the land of our ancestors, not yours. I have 5,000 years of history in Kashmir. How can you claim its ownership & decide its future?
Well, I was once told by my elders about our Pandit brethren being wise & intelligent. However, when some of them make such vague assertions like the question above, I become doubtful about their intelligence. In fact, it’s just that their literacy rate was higher than their Muslim contemporaries which gave a false impression to our less-educated forefathers of their smartness. We are the same race.
Coming to the answer, after Buddhism, Kashmir became a center of Hinduism. The forefathers of almost all the Muslims of Kashmir were Hindus. History tells us that we were all Hindus, except 700 Syeds who came with Shah-i-Hamdan but again married locally. So, even their children don’t have complete Non-Kashmiri ancestry. It’s we- the current Kashmiri Muslims & Pandits, who were all Hindus, and not just the Pandits. So, where does the ownership argument fit in? Let me draw a parable. It’s like, I own a piece of land in Kashmir as a Muslim and if I am baptized tomorrow or become a Hindu, my land would no longer belong to me. It would go to the Muslims of Kashmir and I won’t even remain a Kashmiri, anymore. I wonder how the change of religion can rob me of the ownership of my land, citizenship & ethnicity. I am still the same person. All of us- 95% Muslims(except few) and 5% Pandits have a 5000 years history in Kashmir. It’s like me saying Prophet Adam (A.S) is the first human to set foot on earth. Since he was a Muslim, can I, then, claim the whole planet?
Question 7: You’re lying and spreading propaganda. What about Kashmiri Pandits, who you drove out, in 1989?
To begin with, even if I entirely agree with your version of 1989 exodus, it’s a sad, but only one chapter of Kashmir’s unfortunate history. What happened or did not happen, who was involved or who wasn’t, cannot change what happened in 1947. 1989 cannot have a retrospective effect. We are open to discuss the flight of Pandits, but it can not be used as a counter-narrative to the birth right of self-determination of all the people of J&K.
And if you seek an answer on the Pandit question, there’s no doubt that some people were targeted by JKLF militants in 1989. When I bring up Jagmohan theory, I do not mean that he killed these people; what I mean is that he gave it a communal color. The militants had a hit list of those people who were either political or influential government figures, who they had issued a warning so that they shun siding with the Indian government.This list had Muslims too. This, in no way, means to justify the killings but it needs to be clarified that the killings were political and not communal. The stark proofs of which are a) those pandits and Sikhs who never left Kashmir and coexist with us and b) thousands of Muslims who were killed during and after 1989 by the militants for their political or governmental affiliations, because of which even many Muslim families left Kashmir. Militant killings of unarmed civilians, no matter what their affiliations were, stand condemned but the communal color to these killings was given by the Governor so that all Hindus temporarily leave Kashmir and he gets an open field to kill Muslims of Kashmir to quell the uprising, which is what he did right from the next day when all Pandits left, starting from Gaw Kadal massacre to numerous others . Now, it may be politically expedient to Indians and Pandits to keep on claiming communal victimhood, based on some vague slogans raised by some miscreants, but if both sides are really sincere, we should ask for a neutral Commission to be set up on Pandit exodus, which would come up with a report on the reasons & circumstances in which they felt an urge to leave their homeland, who was responsible for creating such a threat to common Pandit that he left everything here and ran for hot and humid Jammu which was never his abode? Who were the Muslims who made a committee to stop their neighbors from leaving and how were they dealt with by the Governor? We need to come up with conclusive facts to know that whether common Muslims of Kashmir wanted Azadi or they wanted to force their neighbors to leave- which by no means is Azadi from India, and would in turn malign their movement. Why would’ve they diverted their attention to neighbors and axed their own feet? We demand that such a commission be set up and the reason of Pandit agony be found out, once and for all. The plight of both communities needs to be highlighted together not against each other, because if we start comparing, then killing of 209 Pandits stands nowhere in comparison to that of hundreds of thousands of Muslims. More importantly, our killings are still continuing and there is no end to it, in sight, which makes it absolutely incomparable to one chapter of Pandits exodus in our history.
Question 8: How can you bring up the UN Resolutions, when Pakistan has already signed Simla agreement with India, in 1972, making Kashmir a bilateral issue and the UN resolutions, superfluous?
This question has multiple refutations which breaks such a fallacy to smithereens. Indians- its Politicians, Media & Intelligentsia, ostensibly speak on Kashmir without doing their home-work. They’re used to receive applauses for empty rhetoric when it comes to Kashmir. I would want them to open the website of their own Ministry of External Affairs & read the text of Simla Agreement (Web Link: Simla Agreement July 2, 1972 ). The first clause of the objective no. 1 reads as follows: “that the principles & purposes of the charter of United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries.’’ So it begins by honoring the UN Charter without any exception. So, Simla reinforces the role of United Nations in the context of Pakistan & India, with Kashmir being no exception. The 2nd Clause, which India extrapolates, thus restricting Kashmir to bilateralism, indeed talks about solving issues bilaterally, but the sentence doesn’t end before it leaves the window open for other ways, by adding “or any other means’’. The Clause is as follows: “That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means, mutually agreed upon between them.’’ Now, we know that Simla agreement neither excludes the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, nor does it limit Kashmir to bilateralism.
Well, this was one dimension to disprove the Indian claim about Simla agreement. Another angle to discredit the theory is more important, especially for those who know International Law. It runs counter to a standing principle of international relations which is set out in Article 103 of the Charter of the United Nations (accepted by every Member of the United Nations, including India & Pakistan). The Article says: “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail”. So, no agreement- unilateral, bilateral or multilateral, about the issue for which resolutions have been passed by the UN, can supersede the UN resolutions. So, even if Simla agreement were to mean what India says, which by the way is not true either, it has no legal standing in front of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Now, to prove my interpretation of India’s misinterpretation of the said agreement overpowering that of the UNO,right, I looked it up on the United Nations website. The website has published an interview of Major General Young Bum-Choi, who was the Head of Mission & Chief Military Observer of the United Nations Group in India & Pakistan (UNMOGIP), in 2013. He said & I quote ‘’ The Shimla agreement does not supersede the UNMOGIP mission here until any other UN resolution terminating the mission is issued’’. (Web Link: http://www.unic.org.in/display.p... ). In fact, if the two countries ever resolve Kashmir on their own, they have to jointly approach the UN, and then if other member countries agree, a new UN resolution will have to be passed, to over-power the previous ones. Till then, nothing at all can impact the sanctity of the Security Council resolutions.
India’s insistence of Simla also shows their insecurity with the idea of UN resolutions. Had India not been the one to block its implementation & had Pakistan really been on a wrong side as per the UN, as is claimed by India & answered previously in this FAQ series, India wouldn’t have shied away from the UN by falsely claiming that Simla has superseded it, which is a travesty of law & of the Simla agreement as well.
Even if, any Kashmiri is not aware of these legalities, he could simply argue that he was not a party to Simla agreement and that his right to self-determination, guaranteed by the United Nations can not be done away with non-Kashmiris, be that Pakistan or India. Therefore, it’s not a binding on us.
As a last resort, if Simla were really to be a bilateral compulsion, even then India violates it by calling Kashmir its Internal issue. When you tell them UNSC, they say international dimension is old and Simla’s bilateralism is new. When you talk of Simla’s bilateralism, they say it’s our internal issue, and that J&K is same as UP & MP. This shows political dishonesty of India vis a vis Kashmir and proves that it’s wrong & self-contradictory on every single argument. Neither can they win legally nor have they won morally, all they have done is to have a part of J&K militarily.
Question 9: This Cry for Azadi is limited to Kashmir. Why do you forget it’s not just Kashmir. What about Jammu & Ladakh?
Before we talk about it, may we kindly implement ‘The J&K Migrants Resettlement Act 1982’, which has been twice passed by the state legislature. Then we can see whether it’s only Kashmir or even Jammu who have similar aspirations. Even without bringing back those Jammuites, who were killed en masse and others forced to leave, the Jammu province which has Doda, Bhaderwah, Rajouri & Kishtwar, also share Kashmir’s sentiment. Jammu is not just Jammu city or Udhampur & Katra. As far as Ladakh is concerned, it’s population is only 2,92,000, equal to few localities of down-town Srinagar. It doesn’t mean their rights should be trampled but the way Kashmir is being dwarfed to somehow show the smallness of Pro-Freedom constituency in J&K, these facts burst the artificial bubble created by these evasive politicians. Even within Ladakh region, which has Kargil & Leh district, 56% people identify themselves with the movement. It’s just that they are geographically cut-off from the valley and as I said are very few in number, inhabiting very large land mass. On top of that, if AJK & Gilgit-Baltistan were to be added, there would hardly be anyone in erstwhile J&K, who wouldn’t identify himself with the cause. And if my analysis is wrong, and India really believes that it’s a small number of people or just the Kashmir valley, which cries for Azadi, let them allow a referendum in entire state of J&K & even Pakistan-administered Kashmir, to let people decide their political destiny. We don’t seek plebiscite for the valley alone. The fact that they aren’t ready for it shows that they know the reality and are only raking up our division into Kashmiri-non-Kashmiri, Shia-Sunni, Gujjar Bakerwal, etc. But to expect such a democratic solution from the ‘world’s largest democracy’ seems like asking for a moon. One day, it will happen, God Willing!
Question 10: Do you know it were the Tribesmen (Kabilis), sent into Kashmir, by Pakistan, which caused India to enter Kashmir, in 1947?
Kashmir’s historiography on this issue leaves little doubt about the fact that Hari Singh wished to stay independent or at least flirted with the idea. Had that not been the case, he should have decided to join either of the two dominions well before August 14th, like other princely states did. Had he acceded to Pakistan, India wouldn’t have got time to sabotage it and had he acceded to India, Pakistan didn’t even exist to interfere.
The fact that he let go of straight-forward options, proves he was either indecisive or wanted to stay independent. Pakistan did not worry about Kashmir, since it was a ‘blank cheque’ in its pocket, in the words of Jinnah. On the contrary, Nehru’s anxiety about Kashmir’s inclusion in India didn’t let him rest, especially the fact that Hari Singh did not like Indian National Congress. Therefore, he decided to come to Kashmir to secure the release of Sheikh Abdullah, who was serving a 3-year jail-term for ‘Quit Kashmir movement’, from 1946.
It’s interesting to learn the importance of Sheikh Abdullah in Nehru’s eyes vis-à-vis Kashmir’s accession to India. However, Lord Mounbatten, the Viceroy of India, objected to his visit and instead offered himself for the job. He came to Kashmir on June 18, 1947, for a 4-day trip.
Hari Singh avoided him to the extent that no proper discussion could take place. At one instance, he even complained of Colic to cancel the meeting. This failed trip was followed by another trip of Mounbatten’s chief of staff Lord Hastlings Ismay, which again failed to make sure that he doesn’t declare independence.
Nehru got infuriated with the outcome and even wrote to Mountbatten, complaining that his endeavors did not bear any results. Unnerved by the impending independence of British India and its division into two states, he once again wanted to go himself, only to be stopped by Sardar Patel this time. He, instead, considered MK Gandhi to be ‘lesser of the two evils’ to go to Kashmir. Campbell Johnson in ‘Mission with Mountbatten’ comments on this anxiety as follows:
“Both Nehru and Gandhi have been very anxious that the Maharaja of Kashmir should make no declaration of independence.”
Gandhi came to Kashmir ending July and met Hari Singh on August 1st, (13 days prior to Pakistan’s Independence Day). Although, what transpired in that meeting was not known, but the fact that the father of his nation, who had never got time to visit Kashmir earlier, left Delhi at such a crucial juncture, to see Hari Singh and influence him about accession, is quite axiomatic. In fact, London Times later reported this on October 25 as follows:
“The Union of India has been taking a lively interest in the subject and indications are that the Hindu Maharaja of Kashmir, Sir Hari Singh, has lately been much influenced by representations made by Gandhi who visited Kashmir three months ago and by other congress leaders.”
Now, if this perception could travel to England, it would’ve been stronger and palpable much earlier in Pakistan. Interestingly, consequences of Gandhi-Singh meet began to send all the wrong signals to Muslim League. Hari Singh was finally influenced and a joint plot began to show results. Just 9 days after this meeting, on August 10, Prime Minister of Kashmir Ram Chander Kak who had no penchant for India, was dismissed and Janak Singh was brought in, who was later replaced by Pro-India Mehr Chand Mahajan.
On August 12, identical telegrams were sent by the Prime Minister of Kashmir to Dominions of India and Pakistan to enter a Standstill agreement, which would have maintained Kashmir’s independence, until a final decision was taken. Pakistan signed it but India refused, making its intentions clear. India’s refusal jolted Pakistan. The main objective of India fructified on September 29, when Sheikh Abdullah was released only after 16 months, even though he was serving a 3-year prison term.
Just after 2 days, on October 2, Abdullah addressed a rally in Hazuribagh saying, “Till the last drop of my blood, I will not believe in Two-nation theory.” The next day, on October 3, 1947, NC working committee met under the presidency of Abdullah and decided to support accession with India, while people’s sentiments could be gauged by the fact that they had smashed windowpanes of Gandhi in Baramulla to protest his visit.
Even Jagmohan in his book ‘My Frozen turbulence in Kashmir’ (pg.83) mentions these two events (replacement of RC Kak & release of Abdullah) and even adds that road link between Jammu and Pathankot was strengthened, a scheme to construct boat bridge over river ‘Ravi’, but says he doesn’t see anything wrong in it. Also, a Telegraph line was initiated between Jammu and Valley.
Then, under the influence of Mounbatten, the chairman of the boundary commission Sir Cyril Radcliffe awarded the only Muslim majority district-Gurdaspur to India, which was India’s only road link with Kashmir. The British author, Alastair Lamb, points to the presence of Patiala troops (Indian forces) in Kashmir, well before October 22; and I was amazed to see Jagmohan in his book not denying this, by justifying it saying “Maharajah in Kashmir was not precluded from obtaining troops from wherever he liked’’.(Pg 821)
Then, there was a popular rebellion against Hari Singh in Poonch, which was being inhumanely quelled by the authorities. The Muslims from the other side wanted to join people. Since Pakistan had already signed the ‘Stand-still agreement’ with Hari Singh, it could not have entered its troops, like India did in Hyderabad and Junagadh.
This is why it could be believed that Pakistan facilitated the tribals and volunteers, to invade Kashmir, although some historians opine that Government of Pakistan was unaware, saying stress circumstances were created for Hari Singh by India and tribal raid was engineered.
Interestingly Army Chief of both the countries of Pakistan and India were British officers. They say that there seems to have been some understanding between two chiefs. As mentioned by Devi Dass in his book “Kashmir in search of future”, the Indian army Chief knew three days in advance about tribal raid.
Whether Devi Dass is right or not, India was vigorously pursuing to annex Kashmir; and tribal raid, to my belief, was not the reason for accession. New Delhi had already made inroads in Kashmir and would have annexed it anyways. So, as far as my study is concerned, to say that the Tribal raid was the precursor for Indian intervention is Kashmir, is historically inaccurate.
Question 11: We do not buy this argument of atrocity & barbarity on Kashmiri civilians being any reason for them to resort to violence. Had that been so, why didn’t Kashmiri Pandits pick up guns & began shooting people, after their exile?
This question is being regularly put forth in the wake of new age militancy in Kashmir, where it has been brought out by the Indian journalists that they are not a brainwashed lot, but have a history of state excesses being inflicted on them, which somewhat rationalizes, if not justifies their act of resorting to militancy. A huge section of Kashmiri Pandits, who are Islamophobes in general & against Kashmiri Muslims in particular have come up with this counter, which has found resonance in RSS circles & has been well received by the BJP spokespersons, especially Nalin Kohli who justified a sedition charge on a Kashmiri in Chhattisgarh on the same premise, in one TV debate, insinuating that sedition charge shouldn’t radicalize the said youth.
To begin with, we don’t agree with the theory of Kashmiri pandit exile in a way BJP or Panun Kashmir describes it. One may refer to the questions 6 and 7 of this FAQ series for that. And even if we agree with their facts & figures, it’s inequitable to compare the two, given that we still see no end to our miseries. Let’s agree for the sake of argument that they (alone) were wronged by some elements from the majority community, that too on communal lines (which I disagree with), they had no need to pick up guns & shoot down their alleged perpetrators (Kashmiri Muslims) en masse. Their state forces began their killing spree on the next day of their departure from the valley. They annihilated about 100,000 of Kashmiris, enacted enforced disappearances, committed rapes & staged encounters & jailed thousands. And they are still doing it with no end in sight. In fact, this was the reason why the state wanted Pandits-their co-religionists out for a while so that they could rehabilitate them on our graveyards. Unfortunately, our graveyards did expand exponentially but their plan to build palaces on it backfired. The number of teenagers we lose in one summer puts even their exaggerated atrocities to shame. Where is the need for them to pick up the gun and kill Kashmiri Muslims, when troops armed with draconian laws are already let loose on the entire population? In fact, almost all the Pandits I’ve interacted with (giving benefit of doubt to those who I don’t know) relish each & every killing here & take sadistic pleasure out of our grief. They are extremely radicalized without a shred of humanity, always ready with their traditional ‘what-aboutery’. They justify everything in the name of 209 killings of Panidts in 1989, which were political in nature and not communal and this number of 209 intentionally excludes thousands of Muslim political killings as well to give it a communal color. I don’t know when their blood-thirst would end. This argument is null & void & absolutely irrational & far from reality, as the need for them to wield arms does not even exist.
Question 12: Your Maharajah Hari Singh signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ with India on the 27th day of October 1947, which made Kashmir a part of India. Why do you then say it’s not?
If one reads this entire question series of FAQs, it would be clear as to what lead Hari Singh to do so. Nevertheless, to avoid any repetition, let’s answer it as succinctly as possible. One, Alistair Lamb has logically proven how Hari Singh was on his way to Jammu on the October 27th & could not have been there to sign the accession-deed on the said day, which renders the arrival of Indian troops in Kashmir, to be in contravention with the contemporary legalities. Two, as I’ve proved earlier that India was already all set to take over Kashmir by pressurizing Hari Singh, and Patiala troops were in Kashmir well before the tribal attack from Pakistan, which was actually a reaction to the Indian National Congress’s influence on Hari Singh to usurp this Muslim-majority region, which was considered to be a ‘blank check’ by the Muslim league. Three, I’ve also given reference to the Indian author saying since the army generals of both the countries were British, they had a communication with each other and that the tribal raid was engineered to pressurize Hari Singh for the accession since he was thought to be aiming at independence. This remains a possibility. Four, Hari Singh was already at war with his people since 1931 and left Kashmir before signing accession, which means he had no authority to decide the future of his hostile population. Five, even then the accession was limited to Defense, Foreign affairs & Communication. And that the final decision was to be made by the people of J&K. Six, the United Nations stepped in after that and the matter became an International issue who’s right to self-determination was guaranteed by the world & both-India & Pakistan were its signatories.
Apart from these reasons, the major loophole of this question is here: The Pre-1947 India consisted of two components — the British India and the Princely states of India (565 in number). At the time of division of the British India, these princely states were also given a choice to join either of the two dominions. On paper, they also had an option to stay Independent, but in reality, it was not to be. All of them decided their political destiny except three — Junagadh, Hyderabad and Jammu & Kashmir.
In Junagadh and Hyderabad, the Muslim rulers ruled the Hindu majority, while in Kashmir, a Hindu ruler ruled a Muslim majority. If the will of the ruler was paramount, Junagadh and Hyderabad should have either gone to Pakistan or stayed independent, as was decided by their rulers; but if the will of the people were to prevail, then Kashmir should not have gone to India. It’s simple logic.
However, the will of the rulers of Junagadh and Hyderabad was trashed by Delhi and forces were sent in to annex these territories and rulers incarcerated. While in the case of Kashmir, they have the audacity to tell us that our ruler who we had already launched a ‘Quit Kashmir Movement’ against, had sealed our fate with India. What hypocrisy!
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Read, learn the truth and then judge for yourself and help raise awareness about Kashmir for no cause is bigger than fighting the injustice.
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