Bitter past and the present of Kashmir State

By Ameer Tarin:   March 12,  2023

Helicopter gunship hovering over Gaza shoots a missile down at a silver metallic Mercedes and eliminates pin pointed target traveller sat next to the driver’s seat. How this happens is no technological magic but help resource provided on ground by Mir Jaffars infiltrated into the ranks of Hamas or Fatah. The execution of these Mir Jaffars by Hamas in the recent past created an uproar in the human-right organizations and the democratic world.

Kashmir, a mirror image of Palestine, has commonalities like varied political outfits having divergent views and more importantly the commitment to their parent organizations trying to take the lead over others as far as freedom struggle is concerned. An attempt to create a conglomerate of all these groups (Hurriyat Conference) providing a sigh of relief did not last very long and for many proved a feeling of vexation and disappointment.

The inherent qualities of far-sightedness, vision and political acumen are the basic characteristics of an accomplished leader who, undoubtedly, cannot afford any political mistakes. Sheikh Abdullah, a towering personality, a huge crowd puller receiving unprecedented trust reposed by the people should have been enough to deliver but unfortunately that proved to be a mirage. Muslim Conference and later National Conference providing a political platform with the passage of time developed Abdullah into an unchallenged, unrivalled entity, authoritatively in charge of political affairs shaping it into an ambiguous and disastrous political future.

Maharaja Hari Singh’s Prime Minister Ram Chand Kak, was replaced by loyal to Pandit Nehru, Mehr Chand Mahajan. Sheikh Abdullah was released from the prison to put pressure on a dejected and frustrated Maharaja who was not allowed any breathing space. Maharaja and Kak, staunch proponents of an independent Kashmir, were like a speck in Nehru’s eye whom Nehru wanted to dispense with as quickly as possible.

Pandit Nehru was arrested by Maharaja Hari Singh’s forces at Kohala, Kashmir’s area now controlled by Pakistan. After an intervention by Her Majesty’s government in Delhi, Nehru was released and pushed back to India leaving an indelible mark on Nehru’s approach towards political handling of Kashmir. Nehru made it an article of faith to politically crush Maharaja and at the same time gain Abdullah’s trust. Nehru in due course killed two birds with one stone.

Nehru never expected a Hindu Maharaja to treat him like an enemy and entertain a huge grudge. The incident forced the future prime minster of India to evolve a different strategy and marginalise the ruler the Maharaja of independent Kashmir. The main purpose of Nehru’s visit to Kashmir was to seek the release of Sheikh Abdullah from Maharaja’s prison. A master stroke by Nehru to win Abdullah’s trust, a devious scheme, paying him huge dividends.

Pakistan’s delayed order to army was too late as India had already occupied half of Kashmir and was advancing towards the other half. Indian occupation was hugely helped by Mountbatten’s army chief in Pakistan General Gracy who deliberately kept Pakistani army away from responding to Indian aggression. However, patience running thin, Pakistan annulled General Gracy’s orders and commanded it’s army to forge ahead. Pakistan managed to stop Indian army’s advance at Uri Sector the culminating point now known as the ceasefire line.

Heading the interim government till August 9, 1953, betrayed Sheikh Abdullah’s umbilical cord snapped between friends created a political uncertainty that became part of the history. It is on record that Louise Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of British India, tried to persuade Maharaja to accede to either dominion (India or Pakistan) but Maharaja showed his vehement desire to stay independent and finally had to pay a heavy price.

The animosity resulted in three major wars fought between India and Pakistan complicating the issue further and involvement of UN Security Council, Soviet Union VETOs, indifference and insensitivity shown by the West; the actual stake holders the people of Kashmir, unfortunately, were ignored.

It is believed that history would have taken a different but positive course if towards 1947 Maharaja Hari Singh was allowed to continue with Ram Chand Kak in the chair with full support by upcoming political leadership. An astute, sagacious, and visionary leadership, perhaps, would see the situation changing on the international level especially the setting of sun on British Empire due to the world war II leaving then super power economically shattered. Clement Attlee’s government was unable to run India with an independence movement at its peak and finally opted for a smooth and quick exit from India.

In this connection, British Indian bureaucrat VP Menon in his book ‘The transfer of power in India’ makes a mention saying “It was in August 1947 that the British handed over power and left the country. The manner both of their coming and of their going was unique. They came to trade, but stayed to rule. They left of their own free will; there was no war, there was no treaty – an act with no parallel in history.” In other words there was no Indian freedom struggle worth mentioning.

The non-violent struggle of Kashmiris was projected as ‘a stone pelting unemployed youth problem’ confined to a few localities of Srinagar city. The area involved in figures was mentioned as 17 thousand square miles. Ladakh, Jammu and rest of the areas of Kashmir State are said to have no problem and claimed to be content with the maintained Indian political status quo. The plan gave Modi government a pretext to start the ‘union territory’ phantasm which India knows is never going to materialise.

BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) backed by fascist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) used the narrative to convince the Hindu population about the irreparable political damage done to Kashmir by previous Indian regimes for the last 74 years. But many right thinking Hindus, some even from within the BJP party, the likes of Yashwant Sinha sounded the powers that be that India had lost Kashmir. In a desperate bid Modi government, in order to appease the hardcore Hindu electorate, pounced on hapless Kashmiri populace with vengeance, persecution and humiliation.

In order to prove his political opponents wrong, Mr Modi had to do something novel and new to deal with any sensitive political problem of India, he chose the Muslim majority State of Kashmir. The idea of creating fear using persecution, indiscriminate killings and torture was welcomed by majority of fanatic Hindutva population of India. The on going bulldozer politics, part of the plan, is used to further break the will of Kashmiris to fight the Indian occupational forces. The thoughtless act for Mr Modi proved to be dreadful than simple appropriation.

The Union Territory mischief put a seal on India’s claimed relationship with the State of Kashmir. Indian version of legal claim through ‘instrument of accession’ and as claimed the support offered by then popular leader Abdullah are negated and nullified. For international community India is an aggressor and in illegal occupation of Jammu & Kashmir State. People of Kashmir are already up in arms against Indian ruthless army and are now free to accept aid, in all forms, from any willing country in the neighbourhood or on international level.

The changing political and economic situation on international level could become an indicator for leaders in charge to learn from history and realize that Kashmir cannot afford any more mistakes. A lot of blood has already been spilled and the rate at which the lives have been lost is too high and needs careful consideration. A trilateral issue Kashmir State needs to have a fresh and an immediate look at the strategies involved.

Sir Michael Palin, a famous British actor, writer and television presenter after paying a visit to occupied Kashmir made his observations saying“

The Indian government has 600,000 army (now over 900,000) and security forces in Kashmir. Their ubiquitous presence has coarsened the city and compromised whatever beauty it might have had. Apart from bunkers and armoured patrol cars, there are barbed wired and sandbagged surveillance posts, sports pitches that have been turned into army camps, and there’s not a single cinema operating in Kashmir’s capital now. All have been requisitioned for military accommodation”.

“We have taken the issue to the United Nations and given our word of honour for a peaceful solution. As a great nation, we cannot go back on it. We have left the question of final solution to the people of Kashmir and we are determined to abide by their decision.” Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru,

(Amrita Bazar Patrika, Calcutta, January 02,  1952)

Kashmir State proved to be an example of utmost forbearance facing Indian bullets, pellets, rapes and razing of properties. India now needs to come out of the yearning of its expansionist designs to create the dreamland it prefers to call Akhand Bharat.