NO ! INDIA SHOULD RATHER STOP FIGHTING FOR GAINING HOLD OVER
PAK OCCUPIED KASHMIR for the sake of Bilateral Peace !
(A)HISTORY of KASHMIR:
For KASHMIR NEVER REALLY BELONGED TO INDIA BEFORE INDEPENDENCE, but was a TOTALLY SEPARATE Territory initially ruled by the Afghan Pashtun Durrani rulers, with a Muslim population, which was conquered by Raja Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire of Punjab, and then taken over by the British, who ‘sold’ the rights in 1846AD, to Raja Gulab Singh, the King of Jammu(which was also originally a part of the Sikh kingdom ruled by Raja Ranjit Singh, subsequently passed on to Raja Gulab Singh, a Dogra, and was independent of the other Princely states of India) under the Anglo-Sikh Treaty of Amritsar. That is how it came to be a Muslim majority kingdom under a Hindu ruler.
Raja Gulab Singh conquered and annexed the Kingdom of Ladakh,
a small Kingdom in Tibet, to his State of Jammu-Kashmir later.
After Independence from the British Rule, Pakistan through its Tribal population backed by its Army, usurped the northern part of Kashmir, some parts of Jammu,and Ladakh including Gilgit-Baltistan and Aksai Chin as per their policy of ‘Jiski Lathi, Usiki Bhains’!
However, the Government of India has proclaimed to have adopted the principles of Democracy and Secularism, so we could not use force or war
to get back part of Kashmir Occupied by the Pakistanis BEFORE
Raja Hari Singh’s signing the Treaty of Accession of J and K state with the Governor General of India on 26 Oct. 1947. Even after that, on account of the same policy, the INDIAN GOVT could send its army to rescue and take custody of ONLY whatever was LEFT of the original state including Srinagar (after capture of its northern parts by the Pakistanis viz. POK, Gilgit-Baltistan, Aksai Chin,and part of some districts of Jammu,like part of Poonch), esp. Because the residents of POK were pro-Pakistan!
Hence the Importance of determining the exact date on which the Raja agreed to accede his Kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to India.
Some authorities claim that it should be taken as 25th OCTOBER 1947 when Sheikh Abdullah, Prime Minister of Kashmir, went to Delhi to inform Nehru of the Raja’s desire and readiness for the accession of Kashmir and His request to India for its urgent acceptance to ‘Ward Off ‘ the Pakistani invasion of Kashmir, (that is, BEFORE 26th OCT.1947), PRIOR TO THE OCCUPATION OF KASHMIR BY THE PAKIS, in which case, it is entitled to be called a ‘Disputed Territory ‘!
As a matter of fact, the last King of Kashmir, Raja Hari Singh Dogra, Himself did not want to merge Kashmir with India, but wanted to remain Independent. Therefore, though Independence was granted to Kashmir on 15th August 1947 as to India, He approached Independent India for Military aid only at the ‘Eleventh Hour’, on 26th October 1947, After the Pathan Muslims of Pakistan had already ‘Grabbed’ the Northern part of the Kashmir Valley and the Gilgit-Baltistan region which was a part of prepartition Ladakh – to get the help of the Indian Army to drive out the Pakistani Army from what is now Indian Administered Kashmir, to prevent their swallowing Kashmir totally; and then too, only to ‘accede’ the remaining part of the Kashmir valley to India for its Administrative,Financial and Military Help ,
Not for merger!
So the LOSS of POK at least then was actually the PRIVATE LOSS of the estate of HARI SINGH, as it was a part of His Kingdom before He signed the Treary of Accession of his Princely State to India, not the loss of India! India could not seize it before the Treaty of Accession, as it was against its principle to ‘conquer’ Kashmir the way Pakistan did.
Yet, it was an unfortunate event, because the Pakistani Pathan Tribals thereafter forced the Kashmiri Pandits, Saraswat Brahmins, to flee from theirHomeland! So, there are practically No Kashmiri Pandits left in POK now, as those who were there before Independence, were forced by the Pakistanis to quit and flee for their life to Srinagar and Jammu in 1947-48.
In fact, India ‘s claim to POK and proclamation of its intent to take that part by Army force to this day is making the Pakis still more aggressive, and is becoming the cause of Gory Bloodshed of many innocent Hindus and Muslims in Indian Administered Kashmir also, as well as of the Army Jawans deputed in Kashmir ! IS ALL THE LOSS OF PRECIOUS LIVES TILL NOW, AND IN FUTURE, IF A NUCLEAR WAR BREAKS OUT BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN, WORTH IT, FOR A VIRTUALLY ‘GONE’ AND NOT INDISPENSABLE PIECE OF LAND, ‘PAK OCCUPIED KASHMIR’, just for our Political Ambition and Ego?
A Political Observer, Balaji Vishwanathan has written in his article published under the website ‘Quora’, that India would have been better off, if it had fought for Sindh, which had a good percentage of Hindus, nearly equalling the Muslim population in some of its districts at the time of the partition in 1947, than for Kashmir, that too,for salvaging only a part of it, just to keep it under Article 370 after all! So many Hindu Sindhis had, as a result of their whole state which was a part of prepartition India being given to Pakistan, been driven out and reduced to Refugee status; and are still living as such without any state to call their own, whereas, all the other regional peoples of India, like Punjab and Bengal, have got a part of their original state since India’s Partition!
(I think the reason for extending military help to Kashmir rather than to Sindh was because Raja Hari Singh, the King of the land and Prime Minister
Mahajan and Sheikh Abdullah approached India’s PM Pandit Nehru, who was a Kashmiri himself.)
Actually, it was Raja Hari Singh and his scion Dr. Karan Singh, who, though being Hindu themselves, albeit of a Muslim majority state, and the Prime Minister of Kashmir appointed by Hari Singh, viz. Sheikh Abdullah, failed the Kashmiri Hindus, more than any Indian leader, by their Unwise and Faulty policy of making delay in seeking the protection of India, and demanding the interpolation of Article 370 in India’s Constitution, for the sake of keeping the Raja’s autonomy (though the British had given him timely choice to either remain independent or enter into an alliance with Pakistan or India), due to their desire to ‘Have The Cake and Eat It Too’ ! That is why after approaching the first Prime Minister of Free India, viz. Pandit Nehru, for accession of the remaining part of Kashmir-‘ to be saved’ from Pakistan’s hold – to India for its Administrative and Military patronage, they also agreed for intervention of the UN Security Council as per Pt. Nehru ‘s choice, and
It is learned that the assurance of Plebiscite after normalisation of Law and Order in the state, disturbed by the Pakistani tribals’ invasion, was offered to the Kashmiris by Pt.Nehru, the First Prime minister of India, based on the remark of the Governor General Lord Mountbatten on the Treaty of Accession. And the addition of Article 370, in the Constitution of India was done to enable Sheikh Abdullah and Raja Hari Singh to retain the King’s Monarchy and on that basis, the Autonomy of the State of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, as well as to maintain the ‘Status Quo’ to preserve the scope for Plebiscite at an opportune time in the future as recommended by Lord Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy and Governor General in India.
(B)WAS THE ACCESSION OF KASHMIR TO INDIA UNCONDITIONAL AND FINAL.?
However, Nehru only left the state in a ‘Limbo’ or undecided state during his 17 years tenure as PM and the successive Congress Prime Ministers also did not do anything to resolve the issue till last year, 2014. Instead Nehru jailed Sheikh Abdullah subsequently in 1953 (after the dissolution of all the Princely States in the Indian subcontinent under the British, and bringing them under the Indian Union Govt) for trying to influence the Kashmiri Muslims for a ‘separate Kashmir’, without waiting for the plebiscite in which the Kashmiri Hindus too would have the right to vote whether they wanted to stay with India or go with the ‘Separate Kashmir’!
The Indian Govts subsequent to Nehru, say that the Treaty of Accession was unconditional and ‘final’,that is, of ‘permanent validity’, as stated in the letter of the Treaty, signed by Raja Hari Singh and the Governor General on behalf of the Govt. of India, and that the mention of plebiscite at a later opportune time is only a ‘remark’ or suggestion made by the Governor General, hence not a commitment from India’s side.
But the Kashmiri separatists and Pakistan say that Pt. Nehru, the first PM of India, had made commitment of Plebiscite through a personal letter addressed to the PM of Kashmir, and hence it is binding on India even now to honour it. This is the basis or point of all the disputes thereafter.
(C) WHY DID RAJA HARI SINGH AND SHEIKH ABDULLAH NOT URGE FOR RECOVERY OF POK?
It may very well be that Raja Hari Singh, and his son, then Yuvraj- Regent of the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir, Dr.Karan Singh, as also
the Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah, who instituted the National Conference Party, were under some kind of compulsion of circumstances or of the wishes of their subjects due to which they could not but go along with Pt. Nehru for Plebiscite. It is not understood why Raja Hari Singh, and the Yuvraj Karan Singh did not urge the Indian Govt. and Army to retrieve POK at that time itself, alongwith the rest of the valley of Kashmir, as the whole of Kashmir was under them till the raids of the Pakistanis, whereby extending the attack by the Indian Army on POK to get it back would have been well within the rights of the Monarch then, than of the Indian Govt. It is argued that the Pathans of Pakistan had already captured the territory of POK and strengthened their hold on it to the point that the situation had become ‘uncontrollable’ by the time the Raja realised his army’s inability to cope with it and approached India.
(It is not known what steps the Kashmiri Pandits took at that crucial, immediately postpartition time, for protection of their rights, as THAT was the period when they formed a ‘significant minority’ and could have collectively urged their King, Raja Hari Singh, his scion and Regent Dr.KaranSingh, and the Prime Minister of Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah, to request the Indian Government to send their Army to recover POK from Pakistan and save their Homeland as well as their access to the famous Sharda Mandir there. This is what happens if a community is in the minority, as also mild and peace-loving. They become Downtrodden and reduced to Destitute Refugee status like the Tibetans !
It could be though, that their representations and requests were neglected by the rulers and overruled or subdued by the Muslim majority.)
However, it needs to be noted that even after the first ‘Flight of the Pigeons’, that is, the Kashmiri Pandits from Pak Occupied Kashmir to Srinagar in Indian Administered Kashmir in 1947-48, they were able to stay in the Indian side of the Kashmir valley relatively peacefully thereafter for 42 years, as the local Muslims did not have any grudge against the Kashmiri Pandits.
But the beginning of the Afghani Jihad in 1989, with rise of religious fundamentalism among the Pakistani and Kashmiri Muslims, led to selective targeting of the Kashmiri Hindus from mid-1989, and induced their biggest mass exodus from Indian Administered Kashmir too, to Jammu and other states in India from 17th January 1990, which the National Front Govt.
of India under Prime Minister VPSingh, which had just assumed charge
at the Centre,
(D) SHOULD INDIA CONTINUE ITS FIGHT FOR RECOVERY Of POK?
Therefore, the Government of India – instead of pursuing the elusive ambition of gaining possession of Pak Occupied Kashmir andGilgit/Baltistan, the ‘Birds In The Bush’, against the will of the region’s own people, who are more inclined to be with Pakistan – should be more practical, and place the vital proposal and condition before Pakistan and the UN that, India may consider surrendering its claim over POK and Gilgit-Baltistan, ‘provided that’ Pakistan too promises to give up interfering in the matters of Indian Administered Kashmir, the “Bird In India’s Hand”, and stop supporting/encouraging the Separatists and Terrorists in India’s part of the Kashmir valley or demanding plebiscite, at least in Indian Administered Kashmir,
in order that the Kashmiri Pandits can return and resettle in their homeland safely and peacefully!
After all, suppose Raja Hari Singh had decided to remain totally independent of India, as per the choice given to Him after its Independence by the last British Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, and not have sought Accession to India for its military help, what would or Could India have done? Would India have resorted to the aggressive and forcible tactics of unscrupulous conquest of the territory of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh,
like Pakistan and China? At the most, India would have granted asylum and subsequently, maybe its citizenship to the Kashmiri Hindus driven out from there to India. In that case, we would not have got the custody of even the
Indian Administered Kashmir that we are having with us today!
Conversely, even if the King had acceded the Whole of his kingdom including that part taken by Pakistan viz. POK , to India, before Pakistan seized it, how would the situation have been different Today? The frustrating ‘Impediment’ of Article 370 would still have been there. Also, with the upsurge of
the Islamic Afghani Jihad since 1989, the Muslim Separatists of Kashmir would certainly have started their fight for ‘Azad Kashmir’ under the instigation by Pakistan, and persecuted the Kashmiri Pandits to make them flee from there. The only difference would have been that the exodus of the latter from that area called POK now, would have occurred alongwith the mass exodus from the rest of Kashmir valley with effect from January 1990, instead of 1947-48. That’s all !
Even if India is successful in getting back POK, it will not benefit at all thereby. Instead, we will have one more Law and Order problem on our hands, as a result of acquiring possession by force of a land of which the people themselves are against being a part of India. Forget about
the prospects of rehabilitating the Kashmiri Pandits there!
(E) SUGGESTED SOLUTION FOR THE DEADLOCK:
Perhaps, it may help the mission of restoring peaceful administration of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and prevention of clashes between the three culturally diverse communities therein, to split or TRIFURCATE the State of Jammu,Kashmir and Ladakh into Three provinces under India’s sovereignty,
in such a way as not to disturb the local people’s sense of security.
The idea of trifurcation of the state has already occurred to some of our politicians like LKAdvani and some others, who suggest that the state should be split along religious lines, converting Jammu with its Hindu majority into a full fledged state of India, Ladakh into a Union Territory, and keeping the Kashmir Valley separate but with the exiled Pandits resettled there.
The Govt of India has thought of carving out a separate and special region
within Kashmir Valley for the rehabilitation of the Pandits where they can be guarded more easily by the state police. However, the Kashmiri Muslims oppose the idea on the grounds that will create more hostility and alienation between the Hindus and Muslims instead of bringing them closer together.
So My opinion is that it may work better to TRIFURCATE the State into:-
(1) the Indian side of the Valley of KASHMIR with its Muslim majority (which was a separate kingdom earlier but annexed to Jammu later) with the Article 370 and autonomy intact as at present, BUT ON CONDITION that the remaining 2700/3400 Pandits staying there still should not be disturbed, and there should Not be any Resistance to the Return of any more Pandits,
the original citizens of the state, from the other states. For I am not at all sure that it will help other Indians to come and stay there from the other state, or for the Kashmiri Pandits to resettle in the valley, even if the Art. 370 and the Autonomy of the region and people is taken back, or the Army/Police is deputed there for all time;
(2)The Province of LADAKH with Buddhist majority, and slightly less Shia Muslim population, should also be allowed to retain Article 370 and autonomy for the sake of maintaining their cultural identity, but as a province separate from the Kashmir valley to protect the Buddhists from becoming the next victims of Islamic extremism and domination by Kashmiri Muslims, like the Pandits, with the CONDITION to allow the settlement there of the Tibetans exiled from Tibet, and living as refugees since long in Dharamshala of Himachal Pradesh and elsewhere in India, in order to relieve the Tibetans, or those among them who are willing to live in Ladakh, from their Refugee status (that is, if the Tibetans themselves are receptive to the idea) as Ladakh is the largest among the three Provinces in the state .
Both the above provinces should be allowed to select their leaders to represent them in the State Assembly, so that they would not need to resort to public protests and demonstrations or strikes to make their voices heard.
In Kashmir, by discussion with the separatists, some compromise should be drawn with a view to withdraw the Army from those regions.
(3) The Third, JAMMU Province with its Hindu majority, can and should be made a State or UnionTerritory under India.
(F) REHABILITATION OF THE KASHMIRI PANDITS:
Such TRIFURCATION of the state of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh will serve to make it easier for the Pandits to return and settle in a suitable area in Jammu, as for example, in Bhaderwah(भद्रवाह/भद्रकाशी) of the Doda Dist., and Sanasar near Patnitop of Udhampur Dist., both known as ‘Mini Kashmir’, if not in the Kashmir valley itself, and ABOLISH Article 370 (so as to IMPOSE the UNIFORM CIVIL CODE of India) in Jammu at least, of the Jammu and Kashmir State, if not in the Kashmir valley/Ladakh.
(The Local Muslims in the region should also have the right to stay in Jammu and be citizens of India,but if any of themselves have objection to the Art370 being scrapped and the province being converted into a Union Territory, they should be permitted to opt and settle in the Kashmir Valley.)
Coming back to the issue of settlement of the Kashmiri Pandits, a place similar to Kashmir can alternatively be marked out and developed
to rehabilitate them, in another Himalayan state like Uttarakhand,
in and around the Srinagar Region of Pauri Garhwal Dist. or Pithoragarh,
the ‘Mini Kashmir’ of Uttarakhand, OR in Dharamshala with the Tibetan refugees.
According to some thinkers, all the Kashmiri Pandits should be rehabilitated in the Kashmir valley Only, where they rightfully belong, but quite frankly,
I don’t think that the gentle, peaceloving Pandits will be able to live safely in the Valley now, seeing the growing hostility, pugnaciousness and uncompromising attitude of the present Muslim fundamentalist and separatist elements therein, so it is not right to force them to go back there if they feel diffident and insecure to do so. As for the displaced Kashmiri Pandits themselves, they have asked for a separate Panun Kashmir under India.
(Regarding the Kashmiri MUSLIMS, in case of possibility of such Division of the State, they can be given the option of either agreeing to the revocation of Art.370 and their autonomy, or forfeit their claim to the rights of Minorities available to the Muslims in the rest of India including Jammu-Ladakh, as the Article 370 keeps them in Majority in the Valley!)
Such trifurcation of the state with the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the State of Jammu or Uttarakhand will confer a safe, STABLE and PERMANENT abode for those Kashmiri Pandits who are wary of returning and staying in the valley, where they can stay undisturbed by the turbulence
in the Kashmir valley. It might also reduce the growing discontent and apprehension among the Muslims of the J+K state, and ameliorate the tension in the atmosphere of the region.
(I think the separatists are more interested in having autonomy and the security of Article 370 in the Kashmir Valley proper, where Muslims are in majority and probably in Ladakh for Kargil, than in Jammu, as they must be understanding that they have no legitimate or cultural right for autonomy there, as they are in the minority there. Moreover, KASHMIR was ‘SOLD’ and BESTOWED ONTO the State of JAMMU by the British, and LADAKH was ANNEXED to it by Raja Gulab Singh Himself. JAMMU was NOT HANDED OVER TO the King of KASHMIR . Nor do Jammu or Ladakh have Muslim majority, but Hindu and Buddhist majority respectively. In fact, Jammu was a Sikh Kingdom first, passed on by Ranjit Singh to the Dogra(Hindu)King later, and Ladakh was a Buddhist Kingdom. Hence even if, God forbid, plebiscite does take place in the state eventually due to the political forces in Pakistan and the growing demand of the separatists of the state, the Indian Govt can insist that it be confined only to the Kashmir valley, and should not permit it to cover Jammu or Ladakh, so that the Kashmiri Pandits and Ladakh people will be unaffected by the outcome of the plebiscite. Of course,the Indian Govt will not allow the plebiscite to happen so early/easily.)
I don’t understand though, why the other Kashmiri Hindus, viz. the Sikhs and Dogras are not taking much interest in regaining possession of the state, although They were the rulers of the state before independence
and the partition of India. Have they all developed Cold feet? In other words,
Why has the Issue of the claim of Hindus over the state become a problem concerning almost entirely the Kashmiri Pandits today?
(The removal of Art.370 in Ladakh, if possible,might also help the Indian Govt to resolve the matter of the Refugee status of the Tibetans in India too, by giving them the option of rehabilitation in Ladakh – which at one time was
a kingdom in Tibet and is geographically, as also ethnically, a part of it,
and hence termed ‘Mini Tibet’- as well as of accepting the Citizenship of India. However, the people in Ladakh may also want to retain Article 370
to maintain their autonomic status. But Perhaps, it may be possible to persuade them to accept and accommodate just the displaced Tibetans among them, with the Article 370 intact, in the name of helping their countrymen and for the sake of Humanity!)
It is learnt that the people of Ladakh also desire to have an independent state, because of the presence of the Indian Army in the Province, but they do not realise that they are better off under India. For being the mild people that Buddhists generally are, it will not take long for the Pakistanis and Kashmiri separatists to shift the whole of Ladakh under Pakistan, once they separate from India. Or else, the Chinese will capture their territory as they have done with Tibet !
(AS To the part of Kashmir valley occupied by the Pakistanis(POK), let them make it ‘Azaad’ or ‘Abaad’, or do whatever they want with it. For now, it is a matter of – ‘Apne Hi Daant aur Apne Hi Honth’ (that is, their own internal matter) for them.)
(G) All that WE CAN do NOW is to ENSURE that ‘INDIA ADMINISTERED KASHMIR’ at least, alongwith JAMMU and LADAKH REMAINS WITH INDIA – BY PEACEFUL AND DIPLOMATIC BUT FIRM NEGOTIATION WITH PAKISTAN AND CHINA – as well as ‘ARUNACHAL PRADESH, which is also a disputed area claimed by China.
UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, WHATEVER MAY BE OUR DIFFERENCES WITH THE TWO NATIONS, AND THEIR CLAIMS ON WHICHEVER LAND, INDIA SHOULD STICK FIRMLY TO ITS STAND TO RETAIN ‘INDIA ADMINISTERED KASHMIR, JAMMU and LADAKH’ – as it is a state of great Tourist Interest
and Pilgrimage sentiment for Indians (e.g. Darshan’ of ‘Barfani Baba’ at Amarnath in Kashmir, as also our part of Jammu, for its Vaishnodevi Temple, and Ladakh for its Mountainous region for Mountaineering) as well as ARUNACHAL PRADESH.
Also, Kashmir valley occupies a strategic position between Jammu and Ladakh. So, if and once India relinquishes its hold on the Valley totally, and withdraws its Army from it, the Pakistani Army will step in immediately and persecute to drive out the remaining 1.6/2%Pandits (2700/3400) staying there still, besides making simple visits to Kashmir or Jammu-Ladakh difficult for Hindus, and coming dangerously close to the rest of the parts of India.
The Pakistanis have already misappropriated Aksai Chin alongwith POK and Gilgit-Baltistan in 1947 and handed over Aksai Chin, Shaksgam and allowed the possession of the Trans-Karakoram Tract near the Siachen Glaciers
to China in 1962-63, which therefore are also practically lost to India. So if the remaining part of Kashmir too gets separated from India, the Pakistanis, Kashmir’s Separatists and Terrorists will jointly continue to disturb
the Security and Peace of India forever!
(The same care is required in guarding Arunachal Pradesh from China,
as the Chinese ‘Dragon’ is keeping its ‘eye’ on that Pradesh.)
For PEACE alongwith the ‘LIVE AND LET LIVE’ Policy is the Eternal Principle and Ideal of INDIA , that is, ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’!