(Dr. Ali Mohamed Rather)
The Jammu and Kashmir State was founded in 1846.C.E, after the Sikhs were defeated in the first Anglo-Sikh war and the territories of Sikh empire situated between the rivers Sutlej and Indus and including Jammu, Kashmir, Hazara, Chamba and the frontier divisions of Ladakh and Baltistan were transferred to Gulab Singh, a Dogra Rajput chieftain of Jammu and a feudatory of the Sikh empire.
Kashmir problem is a knotty one, which has been etching her people since centuries. Though people of today do not realize its intensity in pre -1947 era barring the an incident of July 13, 1931 , which is still being commemorated as the martyrs day. Otherwise people are ignorant of all the anti-kashmiri events which took place since the Mughal rule . The taking over of Kashmir by Mughal deceitfully and their atrocities are rarely remembered by them. This is due to the fact that Kashmir History has never been taught in schools or colleges of our state. Similarly, we are ignorant about rule of Pathans and Sikhs and the atrocities committed by them upon the Kashmiri populace. If we had been aware we could have compared them to the present state of matter and thus could have realized the difference in the socio-economic condition of our society in the two eras.
We are unaware that our resources were looted by the alien rulers. The craftsmen of Kashmir lived a miserable life .The aristocracy and traders from outside made huge profits out of our resources. The condition of agriculturists was extremely miserable. They were charged huge taxes. The feudalism and Chak Dari system had ruined the poor farmer. He worked hard for the year and cultivated the land but had no food to feed his family, throughout the year. The Baigar system was another misfortune institution. It made the life of poor people miserable and there was no security of the youth. I have heard that during Dogra rule whenever any sahib ( English Man) visited any part of Kashmir, particularly non-motorable area; all the villagers on that route were directed to facilitate his travel. They had to carry the sahib in a palki and even his dog too was carried on the palki to the post, where he had to stay for the night. Also the villagers had to make arrangement for his food, etc in the tourist bungalow/ Sarai there. This was duty of all the villagers on that route till he would reach the destination.
So far as the religious freedom was concerned ,there were many restrictions. It is a well known that Sikh rulers closed the Jamia Mosque Srinagar and also prevented people from entering other Masjids. These were opened during Dogra rule. However, Dogras also made the life of peasants miserable. The huge taxes was burden on them.
This is brief of all the atrocities which people faced during the alien rule.
After independence of India and Pakistan Kashmir issue remained unsolved? What were the causes for this? We must be aware of this.
During the process of Independence of India, there was a lot of work done for the amalgamation of J&K state with Pakistan and or for independent Statehood. In this regard the some actions taken were as follows:
In a Resolution of Kisan Mazdoor Conference on September 5, 1947 it was decided to persuade all the people of state of J&K to join Pakistan. Resolution of Kashmir Socialist Party on September 18, 1947 was that state should join Pakistan and not India.
“The British Paramountacy of the States has come to an end. It has been transferred to the people. No solution has so far been found out for conceding the demands of various communities living in India. If Kashmir has to keep itself aloof from carnage and bloodshed, it should lose no time in adopting a strong and bold policy. His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur should declare Kashmir independent immediately.
A separate constituent assembly to frame the constitution for the state according to the wishes of the people, should be established at once. His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur will receive the cooperation of Muslims in carrying out this policy. Muslims form 80% of the population. They are represented by the Muslim Conference. The Muslims will welcome the Maharaja Bahadur as the first constitutional ruler of independent and democratic Kashmir.”( Press Statement: Chowdhry Hamidullah Khan President Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference 10th May, 1947)
As we are aware that India had two components prior to 1947 :British India and princely states. Kashmir was also a princely state. So as per British decision, the rulers of princely states had to decide which to join: Bharat or Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh had no intention of joining India so he asked for a Stand Still Agreement with India and Pak1. Pakistan readily agreed to the same and India wanted to have consultation with his ministers. Even trade and communication started between Kashmir and Pakistan. Pakistani flag was hoisted on Head post office Bund Srinagar. But the bad event came when Afridi tribal from Pakistani invaded Kashmir on 23rd Oct 1947. Maharaja was disturbed .He approached Pt. Nehru for help. He was asked to sign the instrument of Accession and to induct Sheikh Mohmad Abdulah in the government . The IOA was signed by the Maharaja which was readily accepted by Lord Mountbatten the governor general of India on 27th October 1947 Governor general also addressed to the Maharaja that the question of accession should be settled by reference to the people as soon as the state is cleared of all invaders.
Important events are briefly and chronologically mentioned as follows:
On 30th October 1947 Maharaja Hari Singh appointed Sheikh Abdullah as the Emergency Administrator for the State. This paved the way for sheikh to become the Prime minister of J&K.
In order to settle the accession which was questioned by the people of state, on 1st January 1948 India referred the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council and in this connection, on 20th January 1948 U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan was (UNCIP) set up.
It was on 5th March 1948 that Maharaja issued a proclamation replacing the Emergency Administration by a popular interim Government headed by Sheikh Abdullah.
On 21st April 1948, the Security Council passed a resolution providing for mediation by a 5-member UN Commission for India and Pakistan. (UNCIP).
On 13th August 1948,the UNCIP passed a resolution providing for (1) Ceasefire (2) Withdrawal of Pak troops and tribals followed by Indian troops and (3) Plebiscite.
On 11 December 1948,the UNCIP appointed Plebiscite Administrator. On 1st January 1949 Ceasefire was proclaimed under the UN auspices.
It was on 5th January 1949 that the UNCIP called by Pakistan to pass a resolution providing a Plebiscite Administrator for J&K. Admn. Nimitz was nominated as Plebiscite Administrator. However, he could not succeed in getting the UN resolution implemented particularly due to non-fulfillment of the resolution No.2 viz. withdrawal of Pak troops. As Pakistan did not with draw army from the POK as such plebiscite could not be conducted.
20 June 1949 Maharaja Hari Singh issued a proclamation abdicating in favour of his son, Yuvraj Karan Singh.
26 January 1950 The Constitution of India cames into effect – Article 1, under which the entire state of J&K was a part of the territory of India and Article 370, giving a special status to the State were applied to J&K.
26th January 1950 ,the Constitution (Application to J&K) order 1950 issued under Article 370. This order applied 39 entries of the Union list to J&K corresponding to the terms of the ‘instrument of Accession’ and enumerated the related provisions of the Constitution which would apply to J&K with or without modifications.
Sir Owen Dixon appointed as the first UN Representative, visited India and Pakistan in May-June 1950. He suggested a process of de-militarisation popularly known as ‘Dixon Plan’.
On 27th October 1950, All J&K National Conference passed a resolution for convening a Constituent Assembly based on adult suffrage for the purpose, inter alia, of determining the future shape and & affiliation of the state of J&K including the issue of accession to India and & to frame a Constitution for the State.
In April 1951the Security Council appointed another representative (Dr. Graham) to resolve the issue within 3 months.
August-September, 1951 Elections for the Assembly were held and assembly formed. All 75 seats were won by the National Conference. It s pertinent to mention that all the members were got elected unopposed. So in a way they were selected and not elected.
On 31st October 1951first sitting of Constituent Assembly was held.
24 July 1952 Kashmiri leaders (NC) discussed Centre/State relations with the Central Government and arrived at an arrangement known as the ‘Delhi Agreement’. On November 1952 Election for the Constituent Assembly was held for framing the Constitution of J&K. All 75 seats won by the NC. Then there started existence of acute differences of opinion between members of the Government on basic issues – political, economic and administrative-affecting the vital interests of the State; and as such Sadri Riyasat issued order on August 8th,1953 for the dismissal of the Sheikhs government and appointment of Bakhshi.
Thus the fate of Kashmir began to get dismal. After this the GOI accepted the Instrument of Accession with the condition ,given by Governor General of Free India Lord Mountbatten.,”The Government has decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. Consistently with their policy that, in case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government’s wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.”
Indian forces fought the tribal and result was the division of the state. After cease fire LOC was established. Pakistan occupied one part and other by India .
After this the S.M Abdullah was arrested from Gulmarg. The Plebiscite movement was initiated. A close associate of S.M.Abdullah Mirza Afzal Beg on 9th August 1955 declared the formation of Plebiscite Front. This was basically a wrong initiative. The important condition of Plebiscite was the withdrawal of forces from POK by Pakistan and as mentioned above Pakistan had already refused to do so. Sheikh Abdullah wanted to get opportunity to become leader of Kashmir by any mean. So he in order to woo the masses towards himself raised the slogan of plebiscite, which he knew was not possible due to Pakistan’s attitude. On this pretext India too gave up the idea of conducting Plebiscite and took steps to gradually reduce the impact of the Constitution of J&K state. India with the support of local leaders derogated the J&K Constitution and by gradual steps has been trying to put it at the same status as other states of India.
India and Pakistan fought several wars on the issue of J&K but all in vain. Kashmir issue has become valueless and other issues between them have begun to arise. So finally Kashmir remained less important issue between Pak and India. It has also been noted that India and Pakistan have always been interested in their mutual affairs. For example the Indus water treaty has been signed at the cost of resources of J&K .The rivers within J&K are utilized exclusively by India as well as Pakistan and J&K remains without any direct benefit from these rivers. We are aware about the difficulties we have been facing due shortage of power supply exclusively due to Indo-pak’s Indus water treaty. The rivers flowing within our own territory are of no use to us. There are many such instances where we have been put to national disadvantage by both India and Pakistan. Furthermore our identity is lost as they are amalgamating our state within their own identity.
The Kashmir has been politically exploited by her own people and the foremost among them has been her own leaders . All political dynasties have played role in the political exploitation of the people. All the so called leaders changed their patrons from time to time. They all followed same pattern as Sheikh did. Sheikh was strong opponent of Pakistan and Jinnah sb, merely to get the head-ship of state. But in 1953 when India threw him out and was put behind bars and he with the help of his associate Mirza Afzal Beg linked himself to Pakistani patron-ship by raising the slogan of Plebiscite. The same pattern was followed by Mirwaiz dynasty. The other leaders like S.A.Geelani etc were initially in different fields and later came one way or the other in to politices;viz Geelani a teacher came into main stream politics through Jamati Islamia by becoming member of J&K Legislature assembly and is presently the protagonist of the pro-Pakistan movement.
The secessionist leadership in Kashmir include two ideologies :pro-Pakistan and pro-freedom. Thus people too are divided into two ideologies and this is not a useful indicator. The GOI is not in favour of any support to Pakistani concept. The mention of Pakistan in slogans, symbols etc by the proponent of pro-Pakistan ideology is clearly a step which invokes penal cognizance against the offender. On the other hand slogan of freedom is less offensive.
Can pro-Pak slogan be an effective instrument in Kashmir movement? The state of Jammu and Kashmir does not inhabit Kashmiri Muslims only. There are diverse religious and cultural groups within Kashmir. Further ,there are three regions with further diversity. The people have diverse sentiments, emotions and wants. How can an ideology be forced upon all others, which is based on two nation theory rather two religious theory? So there is need to take the ethnicities, religiosities , sentiments and interests of all these inhabitants into consideration, when looking for the future of the region’s politics.
Now if we have to think about any political future of our state, how can we ignore the other people who dwell there? So taking democratic decisions is indispensible when we want to decide about the political future of State.
Now what should be our method of getting sovereign status for the state?
As is clear from the above discussion that the state came into Indian lap due to faults of our own leaders. They gave priority to their own interests and benefits at the cost of nation. Indian state using clever tactics is leaving no stone unturned to integrate J&K into her domain. So it is not easy to liberate it from the clutches of India and it needs a tactful way to let loose the grip. The violence, proxy war etc is not a suitable tactic for it. The best way is academic and political methodology with pragmatic approach.
- We must initially assure India that this issue is between people of Jammu & Kashmir and India and has nothing to do with Pakistan.
- There is no need of third party intervention.
- We must be permitted to follow the political matters of state as per constitution of J&K . Also we must be permitted to make suitable changes in our constitution as per our aspirations on democratic principles. There is need to elect a fresh constituent assembly, which will study the constitution and make suitable changes in it to suit the latest political aspirations of the people of J&K.
- Position of state as on October 26, 1947 must be restored. In this connection the nomenclature and structure of the executive of the J&K must be reshaped. It can be same as it was done by maharaja or some other form as suitable. Other administrative matters should be handed over to state (neo-sovereign) of J&K.
- There should be no change in LOC till decision is taken about Pak controlled Kashmir. The people of POK must be given political and moral support to fight for their cause in Pakistan, if need arises.
1.Kashmir-Pak Standstill Agreement Telegram from Prime Minister, Kashmir State, to Sardar Abdur Rob Nishtor, States Relations Department, Karachi dated12th August)
(Note: News Kashmir does not necessarily subscribe to Author’s view)