“Recent India Pakistan scheduled bilateral talks were called off by India, as Pak High Commissioner Basit meets Minwaz Umar Farooq ,Syed Ali Shah Geelani,Shabir Ahemed Shah and Yasin Malik.”-it’s a small piece of news. But enough to estimate the respect 0f GOI towards the free will of Kashmiris. Enough to estimate what Azadi means to a common shepherd boy of the valley of Kashmir? What does Azadi means to the people of the valley, where for 18 people one security personnel is deployed?
Kashmir’s accession to India is based on four principles- defence of the state, protection of life, honour and property. India has failed miserably in discharging any of the duties. Activist Arundhuti Roy rightly commented-“to continue its occupancy in Kashmir, India has made its forces minimum from every law there. If evil society of India and other human rights activists don’t take appropriate steps after going through the report of APDP, we will feel ashamed in future.” Still in 4 th July, 2014 the spokesman of external affairs ministry proudly declared that-“Jammu and Kashmir remains and will remain an integral part of India.”
To the external Affair’s ministry’s comment that people of the state are using the language of bygone era, deserted roads welcomed the new P.M. of India, Mr. Narendra Modi in Srinagar. It’s a separate issue that 240 MW hydroelectric Power Uri-II project inaugurated by him has no license to operate and constructed in violation of Jammu and Kashmir water reservation act.
It is said that high turnout was observed in 2014 Parliamentary elections, completely overlooking the fact that people voted for issues like road, water ,electricity and other amenities and not for settling the Kashmir dispute. In a state of merely 18 million population deployments of more than 600,000 troops is not in any way synonymous with the fact that Kashmiris are living in a very conducive environment.
From times abode, the state of Jammu and Kashmir remained independent except for short spans under Maryuas (3 rd century B.C.), the Mughals (16 th to 18 th century), the Afghans (1752 onwards). The Afghan rule was replaced by Sikh rule under Ranjit Singh. The autocracy of Sikhs lasted for 28 years after being replaced by the colonial rule. Gulab Singh was offered the throne of the state, by the Amritsar treaty signed on March 16, 1946.Lahore treaty signed on Mach9, and 1946 recognised him as independent princely ruler of the state by the British. Ghulab Singh was succeeded by Rambir Singh (1857-85), Pratab Singh (1185-1925), Hari Singh (1925-1949) respectively, unleashing a region of terror in the state. Anger of people smoked until on July, 1931 a mass leader named Abdul Quadeer led an uprising against the tyranny. The movement of people was suppressed by the ruler and the leader was put on trial.
1932 saw Kashmir’s first political party-The All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference (renamed as National Conference in 1939) established under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah. In 1934 the Maharaja bend a little-limited democracy was established by the constitution of a Legislative Assembly. In 1935, Jinnah visited Srinagar to extend his support to the Nationalist movement
During the time of partition, there were 568 Princely States or quasi sovereign states, ruled by princes under the “suzerainty” of the British. As per the Mountbatten Plan, the provinces were given two options, in accordance with two nation theory-either to amalgamate with India or with Pakistan. The princely states were allowed the third option –to remain independent.
In Kashmir-the Maharaja was on two minds. Ram Chander Kak, the prime minister of Maharaja advised Kashmir to be independent for at least one year before taking decision on accession. The majority Muslim population on the face of an Indian aggression took to the streets. Pressure on the part of Neheru, Sheikh Abdullah and Mountbatten compelled Maharaja to sign the “letter of Instrument of Accession of India” on 20th October, 1947. On 2nd October, 1947, the prime minister of India Mr. Nehru announced on all India radio that “the fate of Kashmir will be decided by plebiscite”. The letter dispatched by Mr. Mountbatten on 27th October, 1947 to Maharaja Hari Singh echoed the same view.
In 1947, India and Pakistan went on war over the Kashmir issue. During the war, the issue of Kashmir was first floored on the UN General Assembly on 1 st January 1948 by India. The representative to the UN, Gopalswamy Ayenger commented in the UN that “As the Security Council is aware, the Government of India is fully committed to the view that after peace is restored and all people belonging to the State have returned there, a free plebiscite should be taken and the people should decide whether they wish to remain with India, go over to Pakistan or to remain Independent if they choose to do so.”
On 1 st January, 1949 the UN helped enforce a ceasefire, between the two countries on a mutually consented Line of Control. UN Security Council and UN Commission for India and Pakistan have passed several resolutions in the subsequent years. One of such UN resolution in 21 st April, 1948 state that-“both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”.
The principle of self determination has been echoed by Mr. Nehru on Indian parliament on 12 th February, 1951- “We have given our pledge to the people of Kashmir and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide.”
In the Tashkahand and Simla agreement too, peaceful solution of the dispute has been prioritized. The Simla agreement on 2nd July, 1972 stated in Para 6 that a-“final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir “as one of the main issues. Para 4(ii) defines of a line of control different from international border.
Human right violation
In this “Jannat e jahan”, life of common people is brutalized every moment. Most of the crimes are committed by Indian army in the clout of a ‘proxy war’ against Pakistan and termed as “unavoidable”. After the election of 1987, a state of despair stated looming over the valley from 1989, leading to common Kashmiris on the streets of Srinagar from January to May 1990. These peaceful protests were rewarded with indiscriminate firing during Jagmohon tenure. 2477 civilians have been killed by security personnel on the period 1990-1989(PTI release, September 13, 1998).
In 1995, Amnesty International reported 706 cases of custodial killings in the period of 1990-94 . Indian Government rubbished 519 of these deaths mentioning them as “encounter killings” despite eye witness reporting on the contrary. During the turbulent period of 1989-99, 1000 persons reported disappeared without any trace, by Amnesty on August, 2000.
Hundreds of women are subjected to barbaric torture by the Indian men in uniform. The mass rape of nine women at Sophian in 1992 or mass rape of 20 women at Konan Pashpura in 1991 was investigated by the same army unit charged with the crime. Despite medical evidences these charges are being dismissed every day in collusion with army and police, seriously threatening the dignity of Kashmiri sisters.
In March 2000, unidentified persons massacred 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora, and GOI blamed foreign militants. A few days after the killings five villagers were shot dead by Indian army at village Panchalthan on the plea that they were those militants. Later in 2002, DNA testing proved that they were civilians. The relatives of the civilians killed held a series of demonstration for public exhuming. A mass protest of 5000 unarmed civilians at Brakpora was fired upon, nine more men died. When the bodies were finally made public, they were discovered to have been burnt and defaced and dressed in army uniforms. The Pandian Commission investigating Brakpore killings recommended trial for three officers. Till date justice is not only delayed but also justice denied.
Several activists and dignitaries sympathetic to the free Kashmir movement were killed in recent past like Jalil Andrabi, H.N.Wanchoo, Dr. Farooq Abdullah Ashai and Dr. Ahad Guru etc. were killed either by Indian forces or by renegade militants by GOI.
Extraordinary power have been vested to the police vide Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 and Disturbances act 1976. Under the provisions of these acts violation of human rights occurs every day, every minute, every second in the “valley of happiness” which has now turned into a “valley of tears”. These acts need to be repealed.
A normal Kashmiri has a strong sense of socioeconomic and religious identity. “Azadi” or self determination has a very strong connection with that distinctness. Ask any Kashmiri about Azadi, more so in rural areas. The response will be spontaneous. It may be argued that whether that distinctness boosts of a very strong religious character. But to be precise, every movement of self determination like Algerian movement or Sin Fin movement of Ireland consisted of issues from various spheres including religion. Now the point is whether such religious identity can safeguard the interest of the minorities like Dogras, Pandits, and Sikhs etc. There is plenty of hostility against India, but not much of hatred against Hindus as such. To an average Kashmiri Islam is humane and tolerant approach towards other religions as interpreted by Kashmiri Sufis, whose influence is manifested by the “Zizarats” that prevails through the valley.
Now when an average Kashmiri is asked whether liberated Kashmir will be a secular democracy or Islamic country, majority answer will answer for the former. Indian army sponsored counter insurgents, mostly erstwhile criminals, proclaimed worldview is the synthetic and tolerant culture called the “Kasmiriyat’. These insurgents are of the view that groups like Hijab-Ul-Mujahidin are enemy of the valley, as they want to destroy the tolerant culture. It has been rightly pointed out by JKLF leader Yasin Malik that these people probably don’t believe what they say. They forget any insult to the Islam may result in violent protest like that occurred in 1963-64 and 1973.
The UN Charter and the 1960 Declaration of Granting Independence to colonial countries declared the right of self determination, the right to freely choose their political status and to freely pursue their socioeconomic and cultural development. The human right violation of Kashmir also entitles the Kashmiri people their right to choose their political destiny as much as Yugoslavia’s human right violation and ethnic massacre resulting creation of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia and east Timor’s independence in 1999 from the colonial rule of Indonesia since 1975.
Sponsorship of pro Indian counter insurgence gangs to promote a region of terror on the border areas is a tactical move of GOI. Physical suppression coupled with renegade militant activity is primarily India’s main answer to border disputes. In the north east ethnic diversion has been used with evil effect. The state’s pact with these renegade militants, intelligentsia or even with human rights activists like late Parag Kumar Das of Assam or Jalil Ahmed Andrabi of Kashmir is that as long as they perform state work ,they will be provided with a free license to do most heinous works like rape, murder, robbery and so on. This vicious cycle not only jeopardise India’s intention but also gives birth to criminalization of society.
To ease off the tension in the sub continent between two nuclear powers, a relationship of trust by withdrawal of forces, by allowing activists in the valley is a priority.
Plebiscite is the only answer to Kashmir issue. Under the fear of gun the consciousness of people can never be suppressed. It is time for us to speak up, to protect the basic principle of democratic governance from future degradation. Or we will have to be content in letting Kashmiris, Nagas or other people similarly situated continue to hate us, being contended with the fact that in the interest of secularism their dreams of freedom is worth shattering.