March 25, 2020
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OPINION

Kashmir: From Amritsar To Agra

Have the Kashmiris never accepted the Treaty of Amritsar which brought the valley of Kashmir into the then Jammu-Ladakh state? A take on the genesis of the problem and what can be done to resolve it.

Kashmir: From Amritsar To Agra
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The Genesis

Jammu and Kashmir as a State came into existence by virtue of the Treaty of Amritsar signed between Maharaja Gulab Singh (the Founder of the State) and the East-India Company in 1846.

The Maharaja agreed to pay a compensation of Rs.75 lacs to the East-India Company, which was imposed as a penalty on the government of Punjab headed by Maharaja Dalip Singh for having lost the battle to the Britishers.

And it was thus that the valley of Kashmir became an integral part of the then Jammu-Ladakh State.

Ladakh-Gilgit region had been united with Jammu by the unprecedented sacrifices made by about 2,000 Dogra soldiers under the leadership of a legendary General Zorawar Singh (called Napoleon of India by the Western writers of that time).

By this conquest of the Himalayan region, extending Indian boundaries upto Lahasa, Central Asia and Afghanistan, a great and strategic region was consolidated between 1836 and 1842. Zorawar died in a battlefield near Lahasa in 1842 leaving his conquest intact.

The three distinct and rich cultures with different histories, languages, and geographical entities though merged together, could never really blend into each other. The Kashmiri leadership and the intellectuals never reconciled to the spirit of the Treaty of Amritsar.

Communl Harmony Under Dogra Kings

Jammu and Kashmir remained under the Dogra rulers from Maharaja Gulab Singh to Maharaja Hari Singh for 106 years from 1846 to 1952.

The three regions of the state namely, Ladakh including Gilgit, Kashmir Valley and province of Jammu were granted sufficient self-rule by the rulers.

There was only one example of state arrogance when about 17 Kashmiries were killed in police firing in 1931 but  the Maharaja did put up a Commission of Enquiry to the satisfaction of the general public.

Among his other noteworthy contributions, the Maharaja also introduced laws prohibiting untouchability, prostitution, smoking by minors and allowing temple-entry to all, irrespective of castes.

Except some minor political turmoils, the people in the state comprising of over 84,000 sq. miles of territory lived in harmony and peace. Nearly 80% of the population was Muslim under a Rajput (Hindu) Maharaja, yet there never arose a communal conflict.

The foremost Kashmiri Muslims’ leader, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah had to change the name of his ‘Muslim Conference’ to ‘National Conference’ because of the public pressure as the Kashmiris -- both Hindus and Muslims -- had grown together under the spirit of the Kashmiriyat that blossomed with the fragrance of the message of Nand Rishi, a Kashmiri saint in whose name stands the unique shrine of Charar-e-Sharief.

Monarchy was abolished, though illegally and in violation of the Constitution of India, in 1952 through, a Presidential Order signed, though reluctantly, by Mr. Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India.

From Harmony To Discord

What internationalised the J&K issue was the complaint India lodged before the UN in 1947 against Pak aggression. The United Nations failed to take appropriate measures against the aggressor due to the support of the Western lobby Pakistan enjoyed.

Introduction of Article 370 in the Constitution of India proved an absolute obstacle on the way of full merger of the state with the rest of the country. Though accession was complete yet Article 370 never allowed a full integration.

The political, the social and legal factors which have been responsible for the present situation in Jammu and Kashmir deserve attention of the parliamentarians, the intellectuals, the historians and the actors involved in the peace-making process in Jammu and Kashmir.

To reach at the conclusion of the genesis of the Jammu and Kashmir situation, there is an important question that needs a scientific answer digging out the truth on the facts and circumstances which have made Kashmir a ‘Nuclear flash-point’ in the estimate of the Anglo-American Axis.

The fathers and grandfathers of the presently gun-holding Muslim Kashmiri (styled as militants) youth had rejected the two nation theory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah in 1947, taken up guns to resist Pak-sponsored armed infiltrators, sung the Indian national anthem on every platform of Kashmir and supported the State’s accession with the Union of India signed by Maharaja Hari Singh (26th October, 1947), the only competent authority to sign the Instrument of Accession.

They lived in peace and harmony for nearly 40 years, supported the secular character of the state, and opposed each and every communal move of a microscopic section of the Jamat-e-Islami in the Valley.

The Questions

The question I am talking about is how and why the children and grandchildren of the Muslim Kashmiri-freedom fighters who not only opted for India but also fought against Pakistani aggression each time they attacked, ended up taking up guns against India and started killing nationalist Muslims and non-Muslims.

How a Kashmiri, who never touched even a knife, came to gun down his own neighbours, mostly Muslims and the Pundits? Why was a Kashmiri Muslim youth driven to cross the most risky and difficult terrains of the LoC to Pakistan to receive arms-training, and indoctrination in fundamentalism, only to return to Kashmir to cause death and destruction to his own blood and people?

Several foremost Hurriyat leaders and ‘militant killers’ who had taken the oath to uphold unity, integrity and sovereignty of India while contesting elections to the State Assembly and to the Parliament in the recent past, have now turned enemies of India.

The so-called chief of Hizbul Mujahideen Sayed Salahuddin sitting in Pakistan had contested against NC minister in 1987 and won, yet was declared defeated and sent to prison.

About 24 candidates of the Muslim United Front including Sayed Ali Shah Geelani and Abdul Ghani Lone, could not enter the Assembly because of the electoral fraud committed by ruling NC.

Four Panthers Party candidates met the same fate in Jammu province.

Abdul Ghani Lone was elected four times, Ali Shah Geelani thrice, to the Assembly and each time they swore in the name of Constitution of India. Today they are the leaders of the terrorists and the fundamentalists seeking secession.

Answers to these questions only can reveal the genesis of the present situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Political Mayhem

There has been political blackmail of the people by the ruling cliques sponsored and imposed by the masters sitting in the North and the South Blocks.

Maharaja Hari Singh who acceded the entire state to the Union of India with full support of his people, 80% of whom were Muslims, was forced to leave the state in 1949 and later dismissed unconstitutionally and in violation of the terms and conditions of the Instrument of Accession. This led to a bloody uprising in Jammu region under the banners of Prajaparishad.

Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah who stood as an undaunted leader of the Kashmiri Muslims to denounce two nation theory of Jinnah and supported the State’s accession with Union of India was dismissed in August, 1953 at the instance of no less a democrat than the Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru under the signs and seal of Yuvraj Karan Singh.

The Sheikh, Mirza Afzel Beig, and dozen of their legislators remained in detention for nearly 2 decades. Governments were installed and scrapped at the pleasure of the masters of Delhi. 

Bakshi Gulam Mohammed, appointed chief minister in place of the arrested Sheikh Abdullah, was dismissed by Nehru after 12 years of his rule and then humiliated by engineering his defeat in parliamentary elections that followed, only to please his enemies. He died in humiliation. This was the reward from Delhi. 

Mir Quasim was divested of his portfolio of Chief Minister in 1975 only to re-employ Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah as Chief Minister. What happened to Mir Quasim is another story.

Nearly one million Kashmiri Muslim youth joined the funeral of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah shouting, "La-Illah-Il-Illah, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah". The slogan if interpreted correctly would not please any Muslim. But that was a charged emotion of the Kashmiries on the death of Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah’s body was wrapped in tricolour. Mrs. Indira Gandhi the then Prime Minister joined Sheikh’s last journey. I myself was a part of that procession.

Who could imagine that those very Kashmiri youth after 5-6 years, shall attack the Sheikh’s Mazaar itself?

Delhi's Machinations

The electoral process in Jammu and Kashmir has always remained under the shadow of the power that be in Delhi. Right from 1951 to 1977, the elections remained a farce and were manipulated only to shut up and bolt the doors to democracy.

It was only in 1977 that free and fair Assembly polls were held when Mr. Morarji Desai was the Prime Minister. I, too, was elected in that election for the first time to the Assembly.

Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was misled by his own party leaders to promulgate the Public Safety Act, which empowered the government to arrest political activists and detain them without trial. I was the first victim of this draconian law and remained under detention for more than 3 years as an MLA during Sheikh Abdullah’s rule from 1977 to 1982.

After his death, whatever was left in the name of democracy and rule of law was crucified by the successive governments. Dismissal of Dr. Farooq Abdullah in June 1984 by the then Governor, Mr. Jagmohan proved a disaster. The same old story was repeated which was earlier enacted in 1953.

Sheikh Abdullah’s son-in-law known as one of the most corrupt and arrogant politicians was imposed by Delhi against the will of the people of the Kashmir Valley. His dismissal and re-imposition of a coalition government of National Conference and Congress under Farooq Abdullah proved counter-productive yet again.

Farooq Abdullah in 1987 Assembly polls displayed his naked lust for power by blatantly rigging the polls through his officials and state machinery. 24 elected MLAs of the Muslim United Front were declared defeated. Among these candidates, many took up the guns and became militants. Many of those are still holding guns against India.

This was another factor that is counted among the number of the entries in the genesis of Jammu and Kashmir situation. Elections were rigged, democracy was demolished, corruption became the rule of law and those who stood up against the tyranny of the state were accused as anti-nationals and secessionists.

The judicial system failed to deliver justice. I can quote hundreds of examples of those who suffered at the hands of the draconian laws and arrogance of the state. The judiciary almost turned to be an organ of the state administration.

[The judgement of the Supreme Court in my own case in 1984, (1985) SCC 677) awarding compensation of Rs.50,000/- from the state government headed by Mr. Jagmohan’s favourite Chief Minister for my illegal arrest and wrongful confinement provides an eye opening account of the genesis of the J&K situation.]

Pakistan

The two-nation theory made Pakistan desperate as the doctrine collapsed and met its waterloo on the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.

Pakistan’s survival as a fanatic state is in danger as long as India continues a secular state. Pakistan has been using nearly 30% of its resources to arm, finance, abet and support the mercenaries from across the border to sabotage peace in Jammu and Kashmir and create communal fiasco in order to destabilise India as a secular state.

The two hostile doctrines are also one of the factors responsible for the present situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Alienation

Kashmiri Muslims, no doubt, remained ignored in various fields of development and representation to various institutions and in the departments manned and controlled by the Union of India in Jammu and Kashmir. The Muslims, the Dogras and the Ladakhies could not find any place in these central-run departments.

The central money which was flooded from the centre to the state for the development of the people did not reach them. The people of the state were not provided any incentive to interact with the national mainstream in the field of culture, politics, science, sports and other such areas.

This led to widening the gap between the people and the administration on the one hand and the people of the state with the rest of the country on the other. The political hierarchy at the centre ignored the genuine aspirations of the people of the state and left them at the mercy of the state wolves resulting into chaos, anarchy and distrust.

Discriminatory Neglect

The Ladakhies and Jammuwalas were taken for granted in the name of false sense of nationalism. The most sensitive and urgent problems of the refugees from POK and Pakistan residing in Jammu region were not attended to at all. Nearly 100,000 Hindu refugees (Mostly Harijans) from Pakistan have been without any citizenship rights though they were legally settled by the government of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah 1948.

Neither Parliament nor Indian judiciary has cared to redress their most genuine grievances.

Two successive commissions appointed by the state government, each headed by a former Chief Justice of India had made recommendations for the removal of the discrimination against the people of Jammu and Ladakh regions. Both were ignored.

Recommendations made by the government Wazir Commission in 1982 to set up three additional districts in Jammu province, namely, Kishtwar, Riasi and Samba have been ignored by the National Conference Government.  That is one of the reasons that led the Doda Youth to take up guns against the state.

There has been a record of discrimination in the field of development, recruitments at the gazetted and non-gazetted level, allocation of funds against Jammu and Ladakh.

The 50 years’ history has shown that Kashmir has always dominated the political hierarchy in the state and the Muslims of Jammu too have been principle victims of the state repression who constitute 30% of the population in Jammu province.

The recent act of the state government by recommending trifurcation of Jammu province through its unilateral autonomy resolution has aggravated the conflict and boosted the morale of the fundamentalists aided and sponsored by ISI.

The Kashmiri leadership has never reconciled to the spirit of the Treaty of Amritsar that brought Jammu province including POK (which Pakistan calls as Azad Kashmir) within the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This is natural because the 'Kashmiris' as such constituted only 21.5% of the total population of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed on 16th August, 1947 under the Maharaja.

Anglo-American Axis

What needs to be done to resolve the situation is the fundamental issue not only for the people of India but for all peace loving nations of the world. The Anglo-American Axis has always been hostile to India’s growth as a big power. Describing Kashmir as a ‘Nuclear flash-point’ reveals their agenda in the sub-continent.

The proposition of the Dixon Plan to divide Jammu and Kashmir on communal lines by creating a so-called Greater Kashmir by uniting the Valley with the Muslim majority areas of Jammu that are situated on the Northern side of the Chenab River is still active in the minds of the Anglo-American Axis.

That is the dangerous doctrine being supported by the USA through their agents. This reflects the ultimate agenda of the USA vis-à-vis Himalayas. The USA is adamant to establish their military base in the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Ladakh) to watch their interest on the Chinese borders.

USA’s interest in Pakistan is strategic, in India a market and in the West Asia, oil.

They have succeeded in establishing their military bases in the Arab lands and waters. They now are working to reach Gilgit-Ladakh region.

This is the main background for establishing an independent buffer state of Kashmir to create a comfortable bedroom for the Anglo-American Axis in South-East Asia.

It is important to note that Gilgit region remained under the lease with the British government from 1935 to 1946. That is why they understand the strategic importance of this part of Jammu and Kashmir better than many.

Grievance Redressal

What needs to be accomplished to heal the wounds of the suffering people, is a pertinent question which needs to be addressed to all the principle actors as well as victims of the situation.

The short-term measures to restore confidence of the people need to be taken at war footing for the redressal of the genuine and urgent grievances of the people. Schools, medical clinics, rural development projects, bridges and other public welfare schemes need to be brought on the working level.

To fight growing isolation of the public from the political process, the political and the social activists should start an aggressive programmes to interact with masses.

Nearly 500,000 Kashmiri migrants need to be rehabilitated in the Valley by ensuring them physical, social and financial security by the state.

This requires involvement of the people of the Valley through social interaction and political will. Nearly 150,000 migrants of Doda, Udhampur, Rajouri and Poonch Districts suffering at different places of Jammu should immediately be rehabilitated by providing them same facilities which the Kashmiri migrants are entitled to.

The electronic media should adopt a positive and constructive role to help create awareness among the people against the dangers posed by the militants and the terrorists to the very culture and identity of the people.

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