Table of Contents
   Index
   Secessionist Movements
- Article 370
- Interim Government
- The Plebiscite Front
   Muslim Militancy
- The Gathering Storm
- War of Attrition
   Disinformation Compaign
- Political Alienation
- Muslim Precedence
- Economics of Militancy
   Genocide of Hindus
- The Minorities
- Quit Kashmir
- Darkness at Noon
- The Exodus
- Ethnic Cleansing
   Search for Refuge
- Leave Salary
- Scorched Earth
   Book in pdf format  

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Chapter 1
Secessionist Movements

THE PLEBISCITE FRONT

The Muslims denounced the dismissal of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and the dissolution of the Interim Government in 1953, and charged India of a conspiracy to deprive them of their right to determine the future disposition of the State in regard to its accession in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council to which they claimed, both India as well as Pakistan were committed. 

Once again the Muslims had triumphed. The Indian leaders, who had applauded the National Conference as the harbinger of a new era of communal amity which transcended the narrow claims to Muslim irridenticism the Muslim League had used to divide India, were defeated and face to face with a reality which was as harsh as the partition of India. The Muslims in the Jammu and Kashmir State demanded their right to secede from India and join Pakistan. 

The entire pro-Pakistan Muslim underground which had refurbished its strength considerably while uncertainty deepened in the State. The cadres of the erstwhile Muslim Conference, the new Muslim middle class and the pro-Pakistan Muslim bureaucracy along with the dissident cadres of the National Conference, who had opposed the accession of the State to India and broken away from the Conference earlier, joined the leaders and the cadres of the National Conference in their upsurge against the dissolution of the Interim Government. The vast network of the Pakistan's intelligence agencies, which was by now entrenched deep in the State, provided political direction and material help to the Muslim movement. 

The Hindus and the other minorities, all over the State, pledged their support to the second Interim Government constituted of the remanants of the National Conference and headed by Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad. In Srinagar, the underground combine of the cadres of the National Conference and the pro-Pakistan Muslim factions paralysed life. While the Muslim supporters of the second Interim Government did not dare to come out of their homes, the Kashmiri Hindus took to the streets demonstrating their loyality to India and their support for the second Interim Government. The open defiance of the Hindus against the Muslim reaction, indeed, provided the foreground for the political initiative, the second Interim Government took to combat the disruption and violence which followed the dissolution of the first Interim Government. 

The patriotic zeal with which the Kashmiri Hindus fought back the mounting Muslim opposition to India, earned them nothing except the rancour and hostility ofthe rank and file of the National Conference which arraigned itself behind the powerful pro-Pakistan Muslim underground factions. Infact, the Kashmiri Hindus were never forgiven ever after, for having risen in support of India against the will of the Muslims. Little did the Kashmiri Hindus know that decades gunfire in the Muslim crusade against India. 

The Indian leaders had no alternalive except to repudiate their commitmcnt to a plebcisite in the State and they withdrew it-ultimately. But they did not abandon the farce they played in Kashmir and like hapless puppets, acted to promote more vigorously the Muslimisation of the society and the government of the State. The second Interim Government, after it had stabilised itself, began to consolidate its hold on the Muslim ranks of the National Conference by a more fervent policy of communal precedence which strung the Hindus particularly in the Kashmir province, in a tighter noose. The left flanks of the National Conference which accused Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah of having conspired with imperialism to secure the independence of the State and convert it into a hotbed of international intrigue, and which assumed much prominence in the power structure of the second Interim Government, supported all political action aimed to secure the communal precedence of the Muslim majority in the State. Many of the left idealogues, most of them claiming the intellectual tradition of Marxism, rationalised Muslim communal precedence by logical reductionism which virtually tantamount to the identification of religious precedence with resurgence of the oppressed masses. 

Pakistan, which had during the tenure of the first Interim Government spared no efforts to subvert the national Conference, and in which it had succeeded, put itself solidly behind the Muslim upsurge in the State, which followed the disintegration of the National Conference in 1953. The British were no longer the masters in India and the Security Council could not enforce the demand made by the Pakistan and the Muslims in the State for a second partition of India. No lessons were lost on Pakistan. Immediately after the Government of India gave the however, first formal expressions to their decision to repudiate its commitment to a plebiscite, Mirza Afzal Beg founded the All Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front. With the foundation of the Plebiscite Front, now in a position to play the Muslim card more eflectively, and no more frightened of the role National Conference could play in favour of India, the Government of Pakistan became more vociferous in demanding the implementation of the United Nations resolutions. 

In 1955, the Government of India reversed its policy and formally repudiated its commiottment to a plebiscite in Kashmir which the United Nations had foisted on it in1948. Perhaps, Nehru had, in the long last realised that Pakistan had dragged the dispute over Kashmir into the cold war, and had, after having frustrated all attempts at demiliterisation for five long years, pushed India into a defensive after the disintegration of the first Interim Government. Nehru had achieved little by invoking the United Nations intenention; instead, he had lost almost half of Jammu and Kashmir, including its strategic frontier in the north, to Pakistan. Britain and Amenca had brought Pakistan into the alliance system, which they had devised to ring fence Soviet Russia. Indian Prime Minister had begun to entertain fears that the uncertainity in the State had already caused serious damage to the Indian position and prestige and and further procratination would provide a long handle to Pakistan to further its interests in Jammu and Kashmir, communalise the Muslim masses and destabilise the fragile politcal processes in the State, which the first Interim Government had undermined by its dubious and separatist policies. 

Pakistan supported the formation of the Front and extended its support to the Front in its struggle against India. The Plebiscite Front committed itself to the demand for the right of self-determination of the Muslims in the State and the implementation of the Security Council resolulions envisaging a plebiscite under the aegis of the United Nations. 

The entire pro-Pakistan underground joined the Plebiscite Front. Backed by the network of the Pakistan's intelligence agencies, the Muslim bureaucracy and the Muslim middle class, the Front gathered widespread support among the Muslims in the Kashmir province as well as the Muslim majority districts of the Jammu province and the Muslim majority district of Kargil in Ladakh, the pattern of the Muslim movement in the State was almost identical to the Muslim League movement for Pakistan; the Muslims in the State demanded the dissolution of the accession of the State to India and its integration with Pakistan, because they were forming a majority of the population of the State, which was found to be reduced to a minority in a dominantly Hindu India. 

The main core of the Front leadership was constituted of the most virulent opponents of India - men who had not supported the decision of the National Conrerence in respect of the accession of the State to India and who had relentlessly worked to organise Muslim opinion against India, both inside the National Conference and outside it. Indeed they placed a major role in the fall of the First Interim Government and once the Conference was broken up, they did not require much effort to forge a front against India. 

The Government of India, at least apparently, realised the danger in the secessionist movement, the Plebiscite Front and the other lesser Muslim organisations spearheaded. India had allowed its support bases in the State to be destroyed by the secessionist movements, Muslim majoritarianism and the policy of blackmail and intimidation, the successive State governments had followed. The psychological shock, the Chinese administered to the Indians and exposed the hallowness of the Indian claims to leadership roles which discounted power balances as the basis of international relations. For Pakistan and the leaders of the secessionist movement in the State, the Chinese invasion was a development of considerable satisfaction. In fact, afler the Chinese invasion the secessionist movement entered a new phase of its development. The leadership of the Plebiscite Front realised that India, which had always defied the initiative of Pakistan's western allies, was caught in a pincer movement, between China and Pakistan. Careful to regain as much of the lost leverage as was possible under the circumstances, the Front leaders shifted their emphasis to a settlement, between India and Pakistan, which would ensure the extraction of Jammu and Kashmir from India. This was what suited Pakistan the most. 

The secessionist movement received fresh impetus in the wake of the Muslim agitation which followed the theft of the sacred relic from the Muslim shrine of Hazratbal in Srinagar. The secessionist forces dominated the religious effervescene the incident caused among the Muslims and used it to destroy the institutional structure the Interim Government had built and upturn the last vestiges of the Indian influence in the State. The Government of India, broken up in its resolve to face the situation, with whatever firmness it still possessed, manoeuvred to contain the impact of the agitation, but in the process abandoned its political initiative to deal with Muslim separatism, which had by now consolidated itself into a dangerous anti-India force. 

Nehru initiated a dialogue with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah after the latter was released in 1964. Reportedly, Nehru offered the Front leaders to recognise Jammu and Kashmir as an autonomous Muslim State in India and abrogate the changes in Article 370, which had been brought about after l953. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah rejected the offer Nehru made, and refused to accept any proposal which left out Pakistan from a settlement on Kashmir. 

Nehru died in the meantime. Jilted by the new Government headed by Lal Bahadur Shastri which did not encourage the Front leaders, the Front mounted a fresh offensive.against India. In the widespread anti-India campaign, the Front was now supported by the Awami Action Committee, which had been formed to coordinate the Muslim agitation following the theft of the sacred relic and several youth and student organisations, which had been organised under the direction and help of Pakistan intelligence agencies in the State. 

In February 1965, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah with Mirza Afzal Beg, the President of the Plebiscite Front, proceeded on haz pilgrimage to Mecca. The Front leaders toured several countries in Europe and elsewhere, mostly in collaboration and on the hospitability of the Pakistan's diplomatic missions abroad, openly seeking support for the secesstion of the State from India. In Algeria, they met the Chinese Prime Minister Chou-En-Lai. The Muslim struggle for the secession of the Jammu and Kashmir State from India fit in within the object of a future power structure which formed a more viable base in Asia for the Western allies of Pakistan. 

The Government of India impounded the passports of the Front leaders and when they arrived in India, they were arrested forthwith. Violent demonstrations led by the secessionist forces in Srinagar and the other towns of Kashmir followed the arrest of the Front leaders. 

All this provided a foreground for the large-scale infiltration of the Pakistan armed personnel into the State in July 1965. Following the same pattern as it had adopted in 1947, Pakistan pushed in thousands of infiltrators into Kashmir, in the disguise of the Mujahids, the crusaders, to lead an open rebellion of the Muslims in the State against India. 

The secessionist organisations, including the Plebiscite Front, had the secret intelligence of the action plan Pakistan had drawn up and many of them favoured the Muslims to join the infiltrators in their fight against India. Some of them including the President of the Plebiscite Front had already pledged their support to the infiltrators. However, the anticipated Muslim uprising did not follow the infiltration for many tactical and political reasons. India struck back, this time across the international frontiers as well as the cease-fire line in the Jammu and Kashmir State. 

Realizing that Pakistan had lost the mililary initiative, the secessionist organisations, parlicularly the Plebiscite Front and the Awami Action Committee, reiterated their demand for the right of self-determination of the Muslims in the Jammu and Kashmir State, mainly to restrict the implications of the Tashkent Agreement which virtually ended the United Nations mediation in the Kashmir dispute. Thc Plebiscite Front went a step further and declared that any settlement reached between India and Pakistan, to which the Muslims of the State were not a party would not be acceptable to them. 

A more militant outlook inside, as well as outside the various secessionist organisations, including the Plebiscite Front, developed after the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. A new generation of Muslim youth had grown under the shadows of the movement for plebiscite, which was imbibedby the idealogical committment to the Muslim nation of Pakistan. The movement for plebiscite, whatever may now be said to whitewash its significance, upheld the quest for a separate and independent state for the Muslims aligned with the Muslim nation of Pakistan. Completely bred upon the spoils of Muslim majoritarianism and Muslim precedence and oriented to the Muslimised political culture of the State, totally fundamentalist in content, the new generation slowly assumed the leadership of the secessionist movements in the State. The new leadership as it emerged, stressed that: 

  • The Muslim leadership of the National Conference had supported the accession of the State to India in 1947, against the will of the Muslims: 
  • The secessesionist movement led by the Plebiscite Front would not be able to liberate the Muslims from the Indian yoke because the form of protest against India, it had followed, was not adequate to force India to leave Kashmir; 
  • The use of armed force alone could compel India to accept the right of the Muslims in the State to self-determination. 
  • The Muslim State of Jammu and Kashmir was a natural part of the Muslim nation of Pakistan. 
The emergence of Bangladesh gave a setback to the secessionist forces in the State which directly led to the dissolution of the Plebiscite Fronl in 1975. Negotiations between the Front leaders and the Congress leaders commenced shortly after the Indo-Pakistan conflict drew to its close. The Front leaders who, before the dismemberment of Pakistan, had insisted upon the right of the people of the State to an independent political identity, which would determine its own relations with Pakistan accepted to abandon the claim to a plebiscite and dissolve the Piebiscite Front if they were restored to power. An accord was concluded between the Front leaders and the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, by virtue of which power was transferred to the Front leaders who accepted to recognise the finality of the accession of the State and agreed to dissolve the Front and revive the National Conference. In consequence, the Congress government in the State headed by Syed Mir Qasim resigned and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was elected the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the State Legislature. 

The accord was, however, restricted to the upper echelons of the Plebiscite Front, and did not percolate down to its rank and file, which believed that the transfer of power was forced on the Government of India by the Front leaders as a tactical step towards the realisation of their freedom from the Indian tutelage. Many of the Plebiscite Front leaders proclaimed openly that the Accord would be used to wreck the Indian positions in the State from within. In fact, the elections to the State Assembly in 1977 in which the National Conference was pitted against the Janta Party as well as the Congress, were over whelmingly won by the Front leaders on the slogan of ending the Indian hold on Kashmir. The National Conference openly claimed that it would use State power for the liberation of the Muslims from the Indian domination. Ullimately the Front leaders proved true to their professions and in a decade destroyed whatever sympathy and support India still enjoyed in the State. 

The consolidation of pan-Islamic fundamentalism as a basis for a global strategy to unify the Muslims into an independent power base, with Paklstan as one of its focal centres, changed the entire nature and direction of the secessionist movement in the State. With Pakistan already at the back of the secessionist forces in the State, the process of fundamentalisation of the secessionist movement was rapid. It transcended narrowly the local loyalities with which the Conference leaders had identified the Muslim majority in the State as well as the secessionist movement the Plebiscite Front had led against India. 

The State Government as well as the Central Government failed to realize the import of the phenomenal change, which pan-Islamic fundamentalism envisaged and the danger it posed to the whole of India. The Indian leadership failed to take note of the warning the events in the Punjab sounded. The Muslim leadership in the State, ideologically closer to pan-Islamic fundamentalism, quitely surrendered to the new spirit of Islamic unity and revolution. The Indian leadership governed by moorings which accepted balances of communal interests as the basis of secularism, refused to face the challenge the Muslim fundamentalism posed. Indeed, the Indian leadership as well as the leadership in the National Conference attempted to seek a compromise with the Muslim fundamentalist forces in the State. 

The first denoucement came when Pakistan commenced the process of the militarisation of pan-Islamic fundamentalism on the sub-continent. Pakistan's strategem, to induct arms into the northern States of India was aimed to destablise the community balances, and soften the political resolve of the Indian people to resist communal violence. The militant violence in the Punjab exploded many myths, which the Congress leadership believed to form the basis of Indian political culture. While the Indian leaders were struggling to overcome the disaster in Punjab, Pakistan began to militarise the Muslim secessionist flanks in Kashmir. 

The crisis in the Punjab deepened the political instability in the entire north of India and by the time the Muslims in Kashmir were armed and trained, there was not much effort that Pakistan needed to make its intervention effective in the Jammu and Kashmir State.    
 

White Paper on Kashmir

 

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