Dust of the land embodying embers of Chinar, impossible not to retain the sacred flame.
The most powerful force in the world today is neither communism, nor capitalism, neither the H bomb nor the guided missiles. It is manīs eternal desire to be free and independent. President John F. Kennedy (1957)
ACCESSION STORY - INDEPENDENT STATE OF KASHMIR
Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, inheriting the throne in 1925 was the reigning monarch in 1947. As parties to the partition process, both India and Pakistan had agreed that the rulers of princely states would be given the right to opt for either dominion or in special cases remain independent. Though the controversial article 370 of Indian constitution was very much in place that would not allow outsiders to claim 'state subject status', a systematic manipulation by successive governments imposed by India changed the demographic character by allowing Hindu population to infiltrate and settle in Jammu, the area dominated by Hindus. The intrigue could not succeed in Kashmir as these would be settlers could easily be identified due to their culture, language, race or colour. The Maharaja offered to sign a "standstill" agreement with Pakistan, which ensured continuity of supplies, trade, travel, and communication between the two. The centuries old tradition of trade, between the areas that formed Pakistan and Kashmir, had also a railway line and a road to Srinagar that made access to the valley easier.
Pandit Nehru sharing smiles with Sheikh Abdullah and Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh. Nehru truculently imprisoned the former for eighteen years and banished the latter to Bombay to die in oblivion.
Hari Singh wanted Jammu and Kashmir to remain independent. In order to buy some time, he signed a stand-still agreement, which side-stepped the agreement that each princely state would join either India or Pakistan. Initially Hari Singh tried to resist their progress but failed. So on 26 October 1947 purported Kashmir accession papers were signed and Indian troops were airlifted to Srinagar. The growing Indian clandestine political activity sent alarming bells to the newly created independent nation of Pakistan and very little could be done by Pakistan´s shocked Governor-General Mohammad Ali Jinnah whose army Chief General Douglas Gracy preferred to act on the orders received from Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten. The invasion from North-West Frontier Province in October 1947 masterminded by Major Khursheed Anwar to occupy and annex Kashmir to become a part of Pakistan lacked planning having no initial support from Pakistan army. As there already was an uprising against the Maharaja it was wrongly presumed that the going would be easy and smooth. Little did the invading planners know that Sheikh Abdullah was in command of the ground situation and the fact that beguiled Sheikh had managed to sedate the local population who in turn offered no resistance and stayed indifferent to the landing of Indian forces In Kashmir? That was most important part of the plan and without Sheikh roped in the plan would definitely fail.
Maharaja fleeing in fear reached Jammu and arranged to contact Mountbatten for assistance and the entire running to and fro by a very close confidant of Mountbatten, V P Menon made this process easy, and the Governor-General agreed on the condition that the ruler accedes to India. Once the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession that is believed to be unauthentic, Indian soldiers transported by air and road entered Kashmir and a battle ensued and the only thing Indian military managed was to stop the raiders from advancing further to more than half the state. Pakistan, apart from a third of the region, controls the Northern Areas, or historically known as regions of Gilgit and Baltistan. The United Nations was then invited to mediate and the UN mission insisted that the opinion of people of Kashmir must be ascertained, while India insisted that no referendum could occur until all of the state had been cleared of irregulars. However, Pakistan and people of Kashmir who claim that the Indian army entered Kashmir before the Instrument of Accession was signed.
United Nation resolutions to hold a plebiscite with regard to Kashmir's future has not been held on either side. The legal requirement for holding of a plebiscite was the withdrawal of the Indian and Pakistani armies from the parts of Kashmir that were under their respective occupation, a withdrawal that never did take place. In 1949, a cease-fire line separating the Indian and Pakistani occupied parts of Kashmir was formally put into effect.
The Pakistani government immediately contested the accession, suggesting that it was fraudulent, that the Maharaja acted under duress, and that he had no right to sign an agreement with India when the standstill agreement with Pakistan was still in force.
Maharaja Hari Singh´s refusal to accede to either dominion created a wedge between Indian leaders especially Nehru, Patel and the Maharaja. This led to a different strategy adopted by Nehru and the caucus around him and it was decided to sideline Maharaja and win over Kashmir´s upcoming leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah instead. Sheikh Abdullah by then had emerged a strong political leader but due to his lack of political maturity fell a prey to Nehru´s machinations and faltered. Maharaja fearing pressure from NWFP who entered Kashmir agreed to join India by signing the controversial Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947. Kashmir was provisionally accepted into the Indian Union pending a free and impartial plebiscite. This was spelled out in a letter from the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, to the Maharaja on 27th October 1947. In the letter, accepting the accession, Mountbatten made it clear that the State would only be incorporated into the Indian Union after a reference had been made to the people of Kashmir. In the last days of 1948, a ceasefire was agreed under UN auspices; however, since the plebiscite demanded by the UN was never conducted, relations between India and Pakistan soured.
The UN Security Council on 20th January 1948 passed Resolution 39, establishing a special commission to investigate the conflict. Subsequent to the commission's recommendation, the Security Council ordered in its Resolution 47, passed on 21 April 1948, that Pakistan retreat from Jammu & Kashmir and that the accession of Kashmir is determined in accordance with a plebiscite to be supervised by the UN. In a string of subsequent resolutions, the Security Council took notice of the continuing failure by India to hold the Plebiscite, and Pakistan never left the part of the Kashmir they occupied as required by the Security Council resolution 47. The Government of India holds that the Maharaja signed a document of accession with India on October 26, 1947. Pakistan has disputed whether the Maharaja actually signed the accession treaty before Indian troops entered Kashmir.
This not being enough for Kashmir ordeal, in the mid-1950s the Chinese army entered the northeast portion of Ladakh. By 1956-57 they completed a military road through the Aksai Chin area to provide better communication between their Muslim province of Xinjiang and western Tibet. China has occupied Aksai Chin since 1962 and in addition to this; unfortunately, Trans-Karakoram Tract was ceded by Pakistan to China in 1965.
Hari Singh in 1949 left Jammu and Kashmir, and yielded the government to Sheikh Abdullah, backed by Nehru. Since then, a bitter enmity has developed between India and Pakistan and three wars fought between these new nuclear powers over Kashmir have made this a volatile situation having dangerous consequences. The growing dispute over Kashmir also led to an uprising by local population against India and rise of militancy in the state to fight the Indian rule. The year 1989 saw the intensification of conflict in Jammu and Kashmir as more than one hundred thousand men, women and children are slaughtered for a mere crime of asking for freedom from foreign rule.
The Maharaja made an Order on October 30, 1947 appointing Sheikh Abdullah the Head of the Emergency Administration, replacing it, on March 5, 1948, with Interim Government with the Sheikh as Prime Minister. It was enjoined to convene a National Assembly "to frame a Constitution" for the State.
Sheikh Abdullah had no cards to play when he concluded an Accord with Indira Gandhi and became Chief Minister on February 24, 1975. At the outset, on August 23, 1974, he had written to G. Parthasarathy: "I hope that I have made it abundantly clear to you that I can assume office only on the basis of the position as it existed on August 8, 1953." Judgment on the changes since "will be deferred until the newly elected Assembly comes into being".
Alastair Lamb in his 'Birth of a tragedy' comments on the political situation in Kashmir "The tragedy of Kashmir, and all its ramifications and consequences, must stop. No person with the modicum of concern for human rights can contest this proposition. What is disputed, of course, is how the horror can be ended."
That Maharaja of Kashmir; Sir Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India; and the popular upcoming leader of Kashmir, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah ratified the Accession document and;
The plebiscite or Right of Self- Determination as per the understanding reached with a commitment to Last Viceroy Lord Mountbatten or UN Security Council Resolutions is null and void due to the reason that Kashmir held various local elections to choose their elected government and representatives. So, no need for a plebiscite, and
As per the UN Security Council Resolutions, Pakistan must vacate its occupation of the area of Kashmir and also minimal presence of Indian troops for a plebiscite, if at all, to be held,
and finally. the present uprising in Kashmir is nothing but Islamic terrorism helped, aided and abetted by Pakistan from across the border.
At the outset; the Accession Document signed by Maharaja Sir Hari Singh is considered highly controversial as many quarters believe that no such document was ever signed. In this connection Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw (erstwhile Army Chief of India) observed throwing light on the claim saying:
I was in the Palace when V P Menon, Mahajan (Mehr Chand) and the Maharaja were discussing the subject. The Maharaja was running from one room to another..I did not see Maharaja signing it(accession document), nor did I see Mahajan. All I do know is that V P Menon turned around and said, Sam weve got the accession.
Lord Mountbatten visited Kashmir in June, 1947 and in a conversation Mountbatten suggested to Maharaja that he should join Pakistan.
I dont want to accede to Pakistan on any account, Hari Singh answered. Well, Mountbatten said, it is up to you, but I think you should consider it very carefully since after all 90% of your people are Moslem. But, if you dont, then you must join India. In that case, I will see that an infantry division is sent up here to preserve the integrity of your boundaries.
No, replied the Maharaja, I dont wish to join India either. I wish to be independent.
So history proved Maharaja to be on the right and his tough stance for staying independent would have changed the course of history saving thousands of innocent lives. Unfortunately the die was cast to lay the foundation for more than a billion people to nurse a festering wound for decades. A serious dispassionate and objective effort must be made to probe into reasons that led to removal of Sheikh Abdullah from seat of power as interim Prime Minister, on August 9, 1953.
Initially, the intention of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, it is perceived, cannot be doubted as on several occasions he reiterated his declared position to Sheikh Abdullahs person, people of Kashmir, the international community and more importantly to the United Nations Security Council to grant the right of self determination to the State of Kashmir. To this effect, one of his (Pandit Nehru) several statements can be quoted to reveal his intention as on July 6, 1951 he said:
People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future.
The umbilical cord tightly in place of two bosom friends was smashed to smithereens and again it is vitally important to probe into the reasons creating a breach of trust and parting of ways. The history of Kashmir had to be re-written and the caucus of Kashmiri bureaucratic elite surrounded Pandit Nehru to remind him of imaginary threat to 4% Kashmiri Brahmans from Muslim majority Kashmir. The group succeeded to inveigle Pandit Ji in believing a far fetched possibility; though Kashmir, all along, had been peaceful under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah with a popular slogan on every Kashmiri Muslims lips SHERI KASHMIR KA KYA IRSHAD HINDU MUSLIM SIKH ITIHAD (Sheikh Abdullahs avowed slogan, unity of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs) compared to whatever on the day was happening beyond Udhampur in Jammu Province.
Sheikh Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beg, Maulana Masoodi and Moti Ram Bagda joined the Constituent Assembly of India. Negotiations began in earnest on Article 370. N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar tried to reconcile the differences between Patel and Abdullah. A text, agreed on October 16, was moved in the Constituent Assembly the next day, unilaterally altered by Ayyangar. "A trivial change," as he admitted in a letter to the Sheikh on October 18. Patel confirmed it to Nehru on November 3 on his return from the United States. Beg had withdrawn his amendment after the accord. Abdullah and he were in the lobby, and rushed to the House when they learnt of the change. In its original form the draft would have made the Sheikh's ouster in 1953 impossible.
The State's Constitution was overridden by the Delhi's orders. Its basic structure was altered. A Governor nominated by the Centre replaced the head of the State elected by the State legislature. Article 356 (imposition of President's Rule) was applied despite provision in the State's Constitution for Governor's rule (Section 92). This was done on November 21, 1964. On November 24, 1966, the Governor replaced the Sadar-i-Riyasat after the State's Constitution had been amended on April 10, 196 5 by the 6th Amendment in violation of Section 147 of the Constitution. Article 370 was used freely not only to amend the Constitution of India but also of the State. On July 23, 1975 an Order was made debarring the State legislature from amending the State Constitution on matters in respect of the Governor, the Election Commission and even "the composition" of the Upper House, the Legislative Council.
GIVEN their record, whenever Kashmir is involved, how can anyone ask Kashmiris to welcome Union institutions (such as the Election Commission) with warmth?
This was a political accord between an individual, however eminent, and the Government, like the Punjab Accord (July 24, 1985); the Assam Accord (August 15, 1985); the Nagaland Accord (November 11, 1975); and the Mizoram Accord (June 30, 1986) - e ach between the government and the opposition. It cannot override Article 370; still less sanctifies Constitutional abuse. It bound the Sheikh alone and only until 1977.
This was explicitly an accord on "political cooperation between us", as Indira Gandhi wrote (December 16, 1974). On February 12, 1975, Abdullah recorded that it provided "a good basis for my cooperation at the political level". In Parliament on March 3, 1975 she called it a "new political understanding". He was made Chief Minister on February 24, backed by the Congress' majority in the Assembly and on the understanding of a fresh election soon. Sheikh Abdullah's memoirs Aatish-e-Chinar (Urdu) record her backtracking on the pledge and the Congress' perfidy in March 1977 when she lost the Lok Sabha elections. It withdrew support and staked a claim to form a government. Governor's Rule was imposed. The Sheikh's National Conference won the elections with a resounding majority on the pledge to restore Jammu and Kashmir's autonomy, which was also Farooq's pledge in 1996. The 1975 accord had collapsed.
CREDIBILITY OF "INCREDIBLE INDIA"
International Forum for Justice and Human Rights:
- 5084 people have been arrested
- 500 have been detained under (Public Safety Act)
- 30 schools have been set ablaze in last five months
- 250 to 275 militants operating in the Valley
Pandit Ji fell into a trap and took a somersault to hatch a conspiracy of sedition and treason against Sheikh Abdullah which became a turning point forcing Indian establishment to resort to schemes or intrigues deciding future of Kashmir relations as per the whims, wishes and directions of this elite group. Sheikh Abdullah, a towering personality, a crowed puller, a political messiah of Kashmiri masses was sidelined and replaced by poodles and puppets kept in power through rigged elections and each time deployment of army to conduct such elections meant more deaths.
In the spring of 1953, Pandit Nehru was made to believe that Sheikh Abdullah was playing with the idea of creating an independent sovereign nation of Kashmir as he met visiting US Democrat leader Adlai Stevenson and if that happened 4% fellow Kashmiris either would have the option to migrate to India or get annihilated. And charging him (Nehru) up emotionally was reminded of his ancestral heritage and culture of his forefathers that eventually would become a history.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, initially, seemed sincere towards Kashmir but the caucus of harldliner Hindu fundamentalist forces around made him to think otherwise, in this connection Pandit Nehru, in the Lok Sabha (Parliament) on June 26 and August 7, 1952 said:
"I say with all respect to our Constitution that it just does not matter what your Constitution says; if the people of Kashmir do not want it, it will not go there. Because what is the alternative? The alternative is compulsion and coercion...""We have fought the good fight about Kashmir on the field of battle... (and) ...in many a chancellery of the world and in the United Nations, but, above all, we have fought this fight in the hearts and minds of men and women of that State of Jammu and Kashmir. Because, ultimately - I say this with all deference to this Parliament - the decision will be made in the hearts and minds of the men and women of Kashmir; neither in this Parliament, nor in the United Nations nor by anybody else,"
To describe August 9, 1953 action taken by Pandit Nehru at the behest of elite privileged Kashmiri group, Dr. Karan Singh, the Yuvraj (Crown Prince) of Maharaja Hari Singh says: The history of the Indian sub- continent would have been "different" if the then Maharaja Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah had come to an agreement on the State soon after accession. Hari Singh had maintained a "dignified silence" over the events that took place in late 1940s and his "one statement could have deeply embarrassed the Indian government. Hari Singh had agreed to go to exile after signing the Instrument of Accession agreement with India and Sheikh Abdullah wrote a letter to him saying that despite all happenings "he would be a loyal subject" to him. "Had Maharaja Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah been able to come to an agreement, the whole history of the sub-continent would have been different. Unfortunately, that did not happen. My father was exiled and Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed (as Prime Minister). I dismissed him. I have to admit."
The two arguments that Maharaja signed the Accession and Sheikh Abdullah ratifying it fall like a pack of cards as it did not take, the people at helm, long to exile Maharaja and imprison Sheikh Abdullah. On the day when Sheikh Abdullah was removed, then popular leader of Kashmir, an estimated fifteen hundred people died in indiscriminate firing, crushing uprising with an iron hand put last nail in the coffin of total alienation from India.
The sham elections held for the last sixty five years have always been used to mislead the international community and Kashmiris felt cheated on all occasions and the degree of anger took a leap. Kashmiris believe that these elections were rather a need of the successive governments in New Delhi to maintain credibility of Indias democratic values that she has been struggling to uphold.
Elections, even if fair, cannot be an alternative for a plebiscite, a referendum or a right of self determination promised and conducted under the supervision of some UN body. Kashmiris believe that wars cannot be a solution as India cannot win the part held by Pakistan nor can Pakistan win the area held by India and Kashmir cannot be held as hostage to the argument that Pakistan should vacate the area occupied or vice-versa as that leads us back to square one.
India and Pakistan have to sit across the table and decide on a modus operandi for such a plebiscite or referendum. Kashmiris plea that everything right or wrong has been tried to put across their point seeking their legitimate rights but nothing seems to work. A lot of blood has already been spilled and a sparsely populated Kashmir cannot afford anymore killings.
Kashmirs large majority believes that relation with India would not be at a point of no return if Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had allowed politically firm Sheikh Abdullah to continue with developed understanding and refused to succumb to the pressure of the notorious bureaucratic elite group.
1989 saw a violent uprising against India, people of Kashmir taking up arms and the resultant loss of two generations numbering more than one hundred thousand people dead (Indian official figure as sixty thousand dead), hundreds of rapes, thousands disappeared consumed in torture chambers and millions worth of a huge number of properties turned into a mound of rubble.
PEACE INITIATIVE MISUNDERSTOOD BY INDIA
Howard and Teresita Schaffer (Kashmir's fuse alight)
"Much has been written by Europeans on the subject of this beautiful country since Bernier told the world of 'Cashmere' the Paradise of the Indies, and even the languid orientals, supposed by some to be incapable of appreciating beauty of scenery, are moved to admiration when they see Kashmir. In their language the valley is an emerald set in pearls; a land of lakes, clear streams, green turf, magnificent trees and mighty mountains - where the air is cool, and the water sweet, where men are strong, and women vie with the soil in fruitfulness."
An impression created by mischief mongers that Muslim rulers of Kashmir converted people using force and also desecrated or destroyed places of worship belonging to the majority Hindu and Buddhist community. It is illogical to think that any Muslim ruler would make a few million Muslims to migrate and drive the local population out. The fact remains that the call of Islam heeded by huge majority rejected idol worship and would not need the idols any more. In this connection M L Kapur in his book ´History of Jammu & Kashmir´ talks about Muslim rulers and makes a special mention of Sultan Sikandar (1389-1413) who banned gambling, drinking of wine, dancing of women and the practice of Sati among the Hindus. In matters of religion also, Shah Mir and most of the successors were perfectly tolerant, and made no distinction between their Hindu and Muslim subjects. Qutb-ud-Din 1373-89) even used to offer prayers at the Hindu temples.
INDIAN STORY:: JUSTIFICATION FOR OCCUPATION
The people of India are generally perceived to be sympathetic to the plight of Kashmiris and believe that holding on to Kashmir is a political mistake and believe Kashmiris to have the legitimate right to choose their future as was promised to them by the leaders of India and United Nations resolutions. The people are also aware that huge resources are being diverted to defence rather than improve the situation of more than sixty percent population living below the poverty line. Apart from turning the valley into a concentration camp with nearly a million troops armed to teeth, the situation becomes clear with just one example among many others. The leaders of scores of hindu fundamentalist organisations, Sang Parivar, Bajrag Dal, Hindu Mahasabha and many others travel to the valley to fly Indian national flag and sing national anthem in Lal chowk(red square) of Srinagar, the capital city. This all is done by imposing a curfew and putting the entire population behind doors so that they can demonstrate and prove to the people of India that "Kashmir hamara hai" (Kashmir is ours). A special reference can be made to hindu fandamantalist Murli Manohar joshi's trip on January 26th 1992 and this has been going on since October 14, 1947. The global political scene changed dramatically after 9/11 and it did help India to put Kashmir question on the back burner and a hope that the passing time might create an atmosphere of normalcy using a carrot and stick policy. India also received some help by managing to divide the political forces in Kashmir and because of the wrong approach, divided opinion among "leaders" any political progress is hampered and again Indian strategy, it seems, is working by receiving this indirect help. A glimmer of hope is envisaged due the current global political situation when USA is extending its sphere of influence throughout Europe and its control on the economic resources is becoming firmer day by day. In this context, it is very important for rest of the world community especially third world countries to create an economic block of their own to be able to survive in future. It has become vitally important for India, Pakistan, China and Russia to lead this new block and in future this would guarantee to create a peaceful conducive atmosphere and allow people to live in a friendly environment. This all can be achieved if Kashmir is left alone by both India and Pakistan. As parties to the partition both India and Pakistan had agreed that the rulers of the Princely states would be given the right to opt either for India or Pakistan or in special case to remain independent. United Nations Organization in its resolutions of Jan 20, 1948, 1939 and April 21, 1948 insists that the opinion of Kashmiris must be ascertained.