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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Autonomy and Minority in Kashmir

In October, 1947, when Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India., the ruler of the State, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the same standard form of the instrument of Accession, which the other major Indian States signed. The accession of the State to India was not subject to any exceptions or pre-conditions to provide for any separate and constitutional arrangements for the state. Neither Nehru, nor Patel gave any assurance to Hari Singh or the National conference leaders that Jammu and Kashmir would be accorded a separate and independent political organization on the basis of the Muslim majority character of its population.

The demand for a separate political organization of Jammu and Kashmir, independent of the constitutional organization of India, was made by the National Conference leaders, when India and Pakistan accepted the Cease-fire in the State in 1949 and more than one-third of its territories were left under the occupation of Pakistan. The National Conference claimed rest of the state for the Muslim Nation of Kashmir.

The Conference leaders, indulged in double-talk, which later became the main feature of their political outlook and while on the one hand they accepted that they supported the accession of the Jammu and Kashmir State to India, they proclaimed the Muslims of the Sate as a Muslim nation in India, which had a right to freedom and choice to determine its future, irrespective of the instrument of Accession Maharaja Hari Singh had signed. Many of the Conference leaders openly claimed that the right of self-determination, embodied by the United Nations resolution, left the choice open for Muslims of the State to determine its future affiliations and the Muslims would in no case abnegate from the rightful obligation to exercise it. The Conference leaders, accused the Hindu communal forces in India, which sought to merge the state into the Indian constitutional organization to end the Muslim majority character of its population and bring about its subjection to the dominance of the Hindu majority in India.

The Indian leaders were perhaps unable to perceive the real motives behind the damage and the duplicity of the conference leaders caused to the public mind in the state. Whereas the Muslims were gradually awakened to the awareness of a new future, which promised a second Muslim homeland to them in Jammu and Kashmir, after the creation of Pakistan, the Hindus and the Sikhs as well as Buddhists in Ladakh, were quickly led to the realization of their doom, which a second partition of India would unfold. In the Muslim homeland of Jammu and Kashmir, they would meet no better a fate than the Hindus and Sikhs had met in Pakistan and in the occupied Kashmir.

After a long deliberation a settlement was finally reached between the conference leaders and the Indian leaders. The Delhi Agreement of July 24, 1952 between Sheikh Abdullah and Jawahar Lal Nehru defined the relationship between the Union and Jammu and Kashmir. The agreement stipulated that Dogra rule would be abolished and the ruler would be replaced by an elected head of the State, who would be recognized by the President of India. The Jammu and Kashmir State would have separate national flag, a separate official language, and a separate national emblem. It was also agreed that the residuary powers would remain with the state and constituent Assembly would frame a constitution for its governance.

The Hindus in Jammu constituting a majority in Jammu province protested against the Delhi Agreement, which they claimed amounted to the exclusion of the state from the Indian constitutional organization. The Praja Parishad reactivated its cadres for a civil disobedience movement, which they pledged to launch if the government of India did not put an end to the wide spread political uncertainty which prevailed in the state and integrate it with rest of the country. The Parishad emphasized that India was one nation and Jammu and Kashmir state, an integral part of Indian nation, could not be governed by separate constitution, by a separate flag and have a separate President.

Article 370 of the constitution was included in the temporary and transitional provisions of the constitution of India. Evidently, the special position accorded to the Jammu and Kashmir State was presumed to be of a temporary nature and subject to change. It was, in fact, an act of limitation imposed on the application of the constitution of India to the state, after the state was included the first schedule of the constitution. The state was included in the First Schedule independent of Article 370.

The conference leaders were particularly opposed to non-application of the provisions of the constitution of India with regard to citizenship and fundamental rights to the state.

They disapproved of all forms of safeguards on the pretext that such safeguards would frustrate the resolve of the interim government to undertake economic, political and social reforms in the state. The reasons for conference leaders to resist the application of fundamental rights to the state were, however, different.

The right of equality and right to protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, the right to freedom of faith and right to property enshrined by the constitution of India conflicted with the Muslimisation of the state, the interim government had embarked upon right from the time it was installed in power.

After the interim government was instituted, and the Conference leaders secured undisputed mastery over the government of state, they initiated several measures, which had a devastating effect on the Hindus and other minorities.

I. The conference cadres, under the cover of land reforms, to dispossess the Hindus of their land put a widespread land-grab into operation.

II. All interests in property, industry, trade and commerce, transport etc. were extinguished in the name of nationalization of property to establish a class-less society, but in reality to exclude the Hindus and other minorities from Industry, trade, transport and commerce and forge a new, politically motivated Muslim middle class.

III. An undeclared moratorium was placed on the entry of the Hindus and the other minorities into the employment of the state, to rectify the communal imbalances alleged to have been fostered by the Dogra regime.

IV. The moratorium was extended to the admissions of the Hindus and the other minorities to educational institutions, grant of scholarships and nominations to institutions of higher and technical education outside the state.

V. Hindus and other Non-Muslims were removed from any responsible positions, which they held, to exclude them from all decision-making bodies of the state government.

VI. Islam was virtually recognized as the official religion of the state and all rational commitment to secularism was interpreted in terms of the ‘principles of religious tolerance’ Islam enshrined.

During the years that followed, the secessionist movement in the state gathered greater strength. A whole generation of the Muslim youth was socialized to the Muslim quest for freedom from India and the unification of the state with Pakistan. The autonomy of the state, envisaged by ‘Article 370’ provided the political context, in which Muslim separatism was recognized as a legitimate expression of Muslim aspirations to freedom.

The demand for ‘greater autonomy’ after 30 years of the Kashmir Accord between the Late Smt. Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah on February 24, 1975 has once again brought into sharp focus the machination and double talk of National conference. The Hindus and the Buddhists expressed sharp disapproval of any compromise with the National Conference on the issue of autonomy. The Hindus of Kashmir, smoldering in exile, denounced the conference demand for the restoration of 1953, status, as a tactical maneuver to prepare the ground for the separation of the Kashmir Valley and Muslim Majority regions of the Jammu Province from India, for which the inspiration came from several western powers. Interestingly, the Muslim secessionist forces and militant organizations expressed subdued disapproval of the demand of ‘greater autonomy’ reiterating their claim for self-determination, expressing doubts about the ultimate advantage, the autonomy of the State would provide to them.

The Creation of an Autonomous state of Jammu and Kashmir, placed outside the political organization of India, will go half way to substantiate Pakistan’s claim on Kashmir with terrorists guns booming in the background. India will, sooner or later, be forced to accept a settlement, which is acceptable to Pakistan.

Kashmiri Writers Chaman Lal Gadoo
  

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