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Jammu and Kashmir: Original Residents are Suffering

PART I

(Source: Koshur Samachar, March 2011)

Modern history of Kashmir begins with the unification of Ladakh , Jammu and Kashmir valley into an integrated modern state of Jammu and Kashmir . Original inhabitants of Kashmir were Aryan Saraswat Brahmins also known as Kashmiri Hindus or Kashmiri Pandits. It was a great centre of Sanskrit learning and fine arts for long centuries. With the advent of Islam in 14th century, Muslim invaders forcibly converted its people to Islam, killed those who resisted and raised its temples and monuments to the ground. Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered it in 1819 from Afghans and made it a province of his Sikh kingdom. The two Anglo-Sikh wars led to the final extinction of Sikh sovereignty in the Punjab and by virtue of the treaties of Lahore and Amritsar the British, transferred and made over in perpetuity, the independent position to the Maharaja Gulab Singh and heirs male of his body, all the hilly and mountainous country situated to the east of Indus, and west of Ravi river. In consideration of this transfer Maharaja Gulab Singh paid to the British government the sum of 75 lakhs of rupees. The treaty on March 16, 1846, is known as “Treaty of Amritsar”. But the fact is, Maharaja Gulab Singh who was already controlling Jammu and Ladakh, had to wrest Kashmir valley from the unwilling hands of Governor Imam Din after a bloody battle.

Dogirath is a Sanskrit word meaning two lakes. A Rajput settlement around the  waters of two lakes the Mansar and the Siroinsar, which together give the people their name-- the Dogras. The Dogra royal line traces its descent from the ancient Kshatriyas mentioned frequently in Mahabharata. The Dogra ruler claimed that they belong to the Surya Vanshi race. It is also believed, valiant Rajputs assembled at Jammu ,the capital of the Dogra rulers, from neighboring states to defend India , against the Greek invader, Alexander.    

Ladakh is the largest district of the state. Its earliest inhabitants were Aryan population. Buddhism came from Kashmir in 2nd century and became main religion of the people till date. In the late 17thcentury, Ladakh was taken over by Tibet , but in 1834, the Dogras under Zorawar Singh, a general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh invaded and annexed Ladakh to state of Jammu and Kashmir .

The disinformation campaign led by separatists that the valley of Kashmir makes the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not true. Kashmir Valley is only a small part of the Jammu and Kashmir State . The Jammu and Kashmir State, as it emerged from the British Indian Empire after the British quit India in 1947, constituted of (a) the province of Kashmir (b) the province of Jammu (c) the frontier division of Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh along with the Dardic Dependencies of, Hunza, Nagar, Yasin, Punial, Ishkoman, Darel and Koh Gizir. The province of Jammu was larger than the province of Kashmir in area and population. The frontier division of Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh was larger than the two provinces of Kashmir and Jammu put together, though it was sparsely populated.

In Pakistan there is no confusion about the territorial content of the dispute. The Government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan have never accepted the reduction of the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir to the dispute over the Valley of Kashmir . In 1947, when Pakistan invaded the State, the invading army swept into the Jammu province and Kashmir province simultaneously, breaking through the borders of the state with Pakistan .  On 1 November, five days after the airborne troops of the Indian army landed in Srinagar , airborne troops of the armed forces of Pakistan landed on the airstrip in Gilgit opened for them by the Gilgit Scouts, the force raised by the British from among the local Muslim population to garrison the Gilgit Agency. The Gilgit Scouts joined the invading army of Pakistan and lost no time to press eastwards into Baltistan. The Muslim troops of the State army and their Muslim officers posted at Bunji in Baltistan, mutinied and joined the invading hoards. Remnants of the State army, joined by the Buddhist population of Ladakh, held the invading forces at bay till the Indian troops marched up the Zojilla pass to relieve them.

When Pakistan invaded the State in 1947, the Hindus, Sikhs and the Buddhists along with the Kashmiri-speaking Muslims, who formed the main support base of the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, formed the core of the resistance the invading army met with. However the Muslim officers and ranks in the State army, about 45 percent of its strength, mutinied, massacred their Hindu officers and comrades-in-arms in cold blood and joined the invading columns as they poured into the State across its borders with Pakistan . The Hindu and Sikh officers and other ranks of the State army, joined by the Hindus, Sikh and Buddhists, fought to the last man, to keep the invading army at bay, till the airborne Indian troops reached Srinagar.

In Gilgit, the Gilgit Scouts mutinied on 1 November 1947, imprisoned the  Governor of Gilgit, Ghansara Singh, killed the Hindu and Sikh military and police officials and opened up the air-strip which was built by the British for the airborne troops of Pakistan to land in Gilgit. The fall of Gilgit was followed by the mutiny of the Muslim officers and men of the State army regiment posted at Bunji in Baltistan, who joined the invading armies in their advance into Baltistan and Ladakh.

In the territories of the State, which were overrun by the invading hordes, more than 38000 Hindus and Sikhs were massacred. Thousands of women were abducted; hundreds of them committed suicide to escape capture. All Hindu and Sikh temples and shrines were burned down or destroyed to erase the last vestiges of the Hindu and Sikh culture and religion in the occupied territories. The whole Hindu and Sikh population of the territories occupied by the invading ---     army, which escaped the holocaust took refuge in Jammu . Refugees (Hindus and Sikhs), from Pakistan-occupied-Jammu & Kashmir is approximately 1.2 million and are living in 29 camps across Jammu province. The Buddhists in Baltistan who escaped the onslaught of the invading army took refuge in Ladakh. The assertion that Jammu and Kashmir presented a heaven of peace and brotherhood while the rest of India smoldered in communal violence is a myth.

After the Truce Agreement and the Cease-Fire which ended the fighting in Jammu and Kashmir in 1949, more than forty percent of the territories of the State remained under the occupation of Pakistan . The fighting in Jammu and Kashmir began with the invasion of the State by Pakistan in October 1947. The occupied territories included the district of Muzaffarabad and a part of the district of Baramullah in the Kashmir province, the district of Miprur, and a part of the district of Poonch in the Jammu province and the frontier region of Gilgit, along with the Gilgit, Agency and the region of Baltistan and the Dardic dependencies. The rest of the Jammu and Kashmir State, which lies on the Indian side of the cease-fire Line, now called the Line of Control, constitutes of the province of Kashmir,15,853sq.kms., province of Jammu,26,293sq.kms., and the frontier division of Ladakh, 39,241sq.kms.Total area is 1,01,387sq.kms.,whereas total area occupied by Pakistan and China is:1,20,849sq.kms---more than Indian territory.

After the Truce Agreement, negotiated by the United Nations and the consequent cease-fire in the fighting in the State in January 1949, the Hindus, Sikhs and the Buddhists continued to fight against the war of subversion, Pakistan waged from the occupied territories of so called ‘Azad Kashmir’ to foment Muslim distrust in the State. In 1953, the Kashmiri-speaking Muslims who had supported the accession of the State to India in 1947, repudiated their commitment to the unity of India on the ground that India had denied them the right to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir into another Muslim nation  between India and Pakistan . The Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists arraigned themselves with the forces which opposed to the Muslimisation of the State and fell into a head on collision with a new Muslim separatists movement led by the All Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front, which was founded in 1955, to ensure the implementation of the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir, envisaging a plebiscite to determine the future affiliations of the State. The Hindus, Sikhs and the Buddhists formed the main resistance to the Muslim struggle for self-determination, the Plebiscite Front spearheaded till 1975, when the Indira-Abdullah Accord was concluded and the Plebiscite Front dissolved.

The Jihad which Pakistan launched in Kashmir in 1990, to liberate Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian hold, mounted its first attack on the Hindus in Kashmir . The terrorist assault on the Hindus in Kashmir commenced in the fall of 1989, and by the summer of 1990, more than 700 of them had been assassinated in cold blood. Most of the victims were innocent people who lived in poverty and persecution in the Muslim dominated constitutional organization of the State.

Among those killed were people from all section of the Hindu Society; teachers, lawyers, political activists, media men, intellectuals, errand boys and men of small means. The massacre of the Hindus was accompanied by a widespread campaign of intimidation and threat to drive out the Hindus from the Kashmir province, burn their temples and religious shrines and homes and loot their property. By the end of the year 1990, the whole community of the Hindus in the Kashmir province was driven out of their homes and hearths. For the last two decades, during which the terrorist violence in the State has continued unabated, the Hindus have been living in exile in refugee camps and rented accommodation at Jammu , Delhi and elsewhere in the country.

On the  intervening night  between 25th to 26th of January 1998, the terrorists committed a heinous crime by killing 23 innocent, unarmed Kashmiri Hindus at Wandhama which includes 10 women, 4 children and amongst whom 13 months infant who was pumped 18 bullets! Some of them were burnt alive in a house.  Another barbaric, inhuman and brutal killing took place at Chatta-Singpora on 20th March 2000, where about unarmed 40 Sikhs, men, women and children were killed. Complaints have been filled before National Human Commission, New Delhi , along with other killings which have taken place but no action has been taken so far by the commission to apprehend the culprits and punish them.

No settlement on the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir can be reached, so long the dispute is treated as a Muslim problem confined to the Valley. The right to life and freedom of the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists and their aspirations are as factoral to a peace-settlement on Jammu and Kashmir as the right to life and freedom of the Muslims and their aspirations are. The interests and aspirations of the Hindus, Sikhs and the Buddhists, who constitute nearly half the population of Jammu and Kashmir, are central to any settlement reached between India and Pakistan.

PART II

(Source: Koshur Samachar, May 2011)

Distortion of the history of the partition of India, false propaganda and lies, shroud the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India in 1947, as well as the exclusion of the State from the Indian Constitutional organization by virtue of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in 1950.

 

The creation of two Dominions of India and Pakistan was restricted to the division of British India and the separation of the British Indian provinces of Sindh, Baluchistan, North-west Frontier Province, the Muslim majority contiguous regions of the province of the Punjab, the Muslim majority eastern region of the province of Bengal, along with the Muslim majority regions of the Hindu majority province of Assam. The princely States, which formed an integral part of the British Indian Empire, were not brought within the scope of the partition plan.

 

The Indian Independence Act did not lay down any provisions in respect of the procedure for the accession of the princely States to the two dominions and the terms on which the accession would be accomplished. After the 3 June Declaration of 1947, the States Department of the Government of India was divided into two sections: the Indian Section which was placed under Sardar Vallabhai Patel and the Pakistan Section which was placed under Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar of the Muslim League. The task of laying down the procedure of the accession of the States to India was entrusted to the Indian Section and the task of laying down the procedure for accession of the States to Pakistan was entrusted to the Pakistan Section. The Indian Section drew up an Instrument of Accession for the accession of States to India, so did the Pakistan Section for the accession of States to Pakistan. The Instrument of Accession enshrined the procedure and the terms in accordance with which the rulers acceded to either of the two Dominions.

 

The Instrument of Accession drawn up by the Indian Section laid down two sets of terms and procedures, one for the larger princely States and the other for the smaller princely States. States were provided no option, except to accede to India on the terms and conditions laid down by Indian Section, or to accede to Pakistan on the terms and conditions laid down by the Pakistan Section of the Indian States Department. All the larger princely States which acceded to India, including Jammu and Kashmir, signed the same standard form of the Instrument of Accession and accepted the terms it enshrined. The Instrument of Accession enshrined acceptance by the rulers of princely States to unite their domains with the Dominion of India on terms and conditions and in accordance with the procedure laid down by it. The princely States were never recognized by the British as independent entities. They formed a subsidiary structure of the British colonial organization of India which was subject to the British Crown. The lapse of Paramountcy did not alter their status. The Instrument of Accession signed by the rulers of the princely States, including Jammu and Kashmir, stipulated the unification of the States with the two successor States of the British Empire in India. The transfer of power in India underlined the creation of only two successor States of the British Indian Empire: the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The lapse of the Paramountcy put the States on the inevitable course which led them to accede to either of the two successor States.

 

The rulers located within the geographical boundaries of the Dominion of Pakistan, acceded to Pakistan. The ruler of Kalat, who was opposed to the accession of Kalat to the Dominion of Pakistan, was smothered into submission by the Muslim League with the active support of the British, included Bahawalpur as well. All other princely States were situated in the geographical boundaries earmarked for the Dominion of India. The State of Jammu and Kashmir was contiguous with both India and Pakistan. Its borders stretched along the boundaries of the Dominion of Pakistan in the West and South-west, while its borders in the East and South-east rimmed the frontiers of the Dominion of India. The ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, harboured no illusions about the accession of his State to Pakistan and eagerly awaited a clearance from the Congress leaders, who had secretly advised him not to take any precipitate action in respect of the accession of his State, till Hyderabad and Junagarh were retrieved.

 

Pakistan had no special claim to Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of the Muslim majority composition of its population. As already mentioned, the Muslim League strongly opposed any suggestion to recognize the right of the people of the princely States to determine the future of the States. It was only when Pakistan failed to grab Jammu and Kashmir after it invaded the State in October 1947, and the Indian military action frustrated its designs to swallow Hyderabad and Junagarh, both States located deep inside India, that Pakistan raised the bogey of self-determination of the Muslims of the State of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of their numerical majority.

 

The Instrument of Accession was executed by the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State on the terms specified by the Dominion of India. Neither the ruler of the State, Maharaja Hari Singh, nor the National Conference leaders played any role in the determination of the terms the Instrument of Accession underlined. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and many National Conference leaders were in jail when the transfer of power in India was accomplished by the British. Sheikh Abdullah was released from jail on 29 September 1947, about a month and a half after the British had left India.           

 

Three days after his release, the Working Committee of the National Conference met under his presidentship and took the decision to support the accession of the State to India. The decision of the Working Committee was conveyed to Nehru by Dwarka Nath Kachroo, the Secretary General of the All India States Peoples’ Conference, who was invited to attend the Working Committee meeting of the National Conference as an observer. Kachroo was a Kashmiri Pandit who had steered the movement of the All India States Peoples’ Conference during the fateful days in 1946-1947, when partition and the transfer of power in India were on the anvil.

 

Interestingly, the National Conference leadership kept the decisions of the Working Committee a closely guarded secret. Within a few days after the Working Committee meeting, the National Conference leaders sent secret emissaries to Mohammad Ali Jinnah and other Muslim League leaders. While Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah held talks with a number of Muslim League leaders of the Punjab, who had come to Srinagar after his release, he sent two senior most leaders of the National Conference, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq, to Pakistan to open talks with Muslim League leaders. Jinnah spurned the offer of reconciliation the National Conference leaders made and refused to meet the emissaries. Sadiq was still in Pakistan when Pakistan invaded the State during the early hours of 22 October 1947.

 

Hari Singh upturned the whole gameplan of Pakistan. While the invading army spread across the State, Hari Singh sent his Prime Minister, Mehar Chand Mahajan to Delhi to seek help to save his State from the invasion and offered accession of the State with India. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had already reached Delhi. He made no secret of the danger the State faced and asked Nehru to lose no time in accepting the accession and ensuring the speedy dispatch of Indian troops to the State. The instrument of Accession was taken to Jammu by V.P. Menon, where it was signed by the Maharaja. Menon then rushed back to Delhi and got the Instrument accepted by Mountbatten. Next day, the air-borne troops of the Indian Army reached Srinagar.

 

Maharaja Hari Singh laid no conditions for the accession of the State to India. The National Conference leaders were nowhere in the process of the Accession of the State, to lay down any condition for the accession of the State to India. The Congress leaders including Nehru made no promises to the National Conference leaders. The terms of the Instrument of Accession were not altered in any respect by the Viceroy. Neither Nehru, Patel, nor any other Congress leader gave any assurance to the Conference leaders about autonomy or Special Status of the State. In fact the National Conference leaders did not make any such demands at any time, while the process of accession was in progress.

 

National Conference leaders demanded the exclusion of Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian constitutional organization in the summer of 1949, when the Constituent Assembly of India was in the midst of framing the Constitution of India. This was the time when foreign power intervention in Jammu and Kashmir had just begun to have its effect on the deliberations of the Security Council as well as the developments in the State. Pakistan refused to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories of the State and distorted the facts regarding the accession of the State.

 

The princely states were not required to execute any Instrument of Merger.  The State Department of India laid down a procedure for the integration of smaller princely States into administratively more viable Unions of States. To complete the procedure of this integration, the State Department drew up an Instrument of Attachment, erroneously described as an Instrument of Merger. The major Indian States, including Jammu and Kashmir, were not required to sign the Instrument of Attachment. Moreover, the Instrument of Accession had no bearing on the integration of the States into the Indian Constitutional organization.  The Instrument of Accession was a political instrument and the accession of Jammu and Kashmir was a political act, which had international implications as it formed a part of the process of the creation of the State of India. As such, the Instrument of Accession executed by Maharaja Hari Singh was irreversible and irreducible, irrespective of the circumstances and events in which it was accomplished.

 

The demand of ‘Greater Autonomy’ by vested interests after 35 years of the ‘Kashmir Accord’ between Smt. Indra Gandhi and Sheikh Mohammad Abduallah on February 24, 1975 has once again brought into sharp focus the machination and double talk of National Conference. 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. 

 

Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists of the State, expressed sharp disapproval of any compromise with National Conference on the issue of autonomy. Interestingly, the Muslim secessionist forces and militant organizations expressed subdued disapproval of the demand of greater autonomy, reiterating their claim for self-determination expressing doubt about the ultimate advantage, the autonomy of the state would provide to them. 

 

Kashmiri Hindus, who are living in exile for more than last 22 years, are still languishing in camps and rented accommodation allover the country, especially in Jammu and Delhi. More than 90% of State Government employees have retired from services during this period. No fresh recruitment of Kashmiri Hindus has taken place since then. Every step is taken to improve the welfare of the majority community.  

 

Recent survey shows that the State has received Rs. 94.409 crore between 1989-90 and 2009-10, which is 10 to 12 % of all grants disbursed by the Central Government to the States. The bulk of this aid is spent in the valley which is less than 1% of India’s population! The National Sample Survey of 1999-2000, shows that Kashmir has lowest poverty ratio of 3.5 % inspite of violence, against national average of 26.1 %, whereas Orissa has highest poverty ratio of 47.2%. As per the Planning Commission report 2004-05, Jammu and Kashmir had the lowest poverty ratio of 5.4 % and the national average 28.3%.  Even prosperous state like Maharashtra contains 10 of India’s 100 poorest districts and has highest rate of farmer suicide. During 2006, 1452 farmers committed suicide in Vidarbha region alone! During the same year, 16863 farmer suicides, have been reported all over the country. But no farmer suicide has been reported from Kashmir so far.

 

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 stone pelters in forefront and  terrorists guns booming in the back-ground, 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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