How Can India Resolve The Kashmir Issue?(Part II)

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Much has been written on this subject by many authors, including the question of worth of  India fighting for Pakistan Occupied Kashmir at the cost of lives of so many of our Jawans.Rather, I agree with  the view of M D Nalapat and of some others who concur with him, that without any delay, Jammu and Ladakh of Indian Administered Kashmir should be absorbed into the Indian Union as a regular State and Union Territory respectively, as per the appeal of the citizens of those regions, by removal of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in respect of the above two provinces of  J&K State, to mitigate the state of tense unrest in the Kashmir Valley and some districts of Jammu.

Earlier, some BJP Leaders including L.K.Advani had also expressed the same opinion, with the addition of the need to (A) Bifurcate the J&K state into (1) the Kashmir Valley to be kept under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and (2)Jammu plus Ladakh division to be converted into a regular State of the Indian Union by scrapping the Article 370 in the two provinces. (B) The other alternative is to Trifurcate the State provincewise into three parts- Jammu, Ladakh and the Kashmir valley, and make Anantnag District of the Valley, which houses the Amarnath Shrine,also a Union Territory  of India alongwith Ladakh, while Jammu can be given the status of a regular State/UT of India,jointly with Ladakh or separately.The rest of the Kashmir valley will remain under Article 370.
I feel that besides Jammu and Ladakh Provinces and Anantnag District of the Kashmir Valley, the Ganderbal district (which was earlier a tehsil of Srinagar district), especially the Tulmula Tehsil harbouring the Kheer Bhavani temple, the Manasbal lake, as well as Baltal and Sonamarg, which are on one of the routes to the Amarnath Shrine, and the Awantipura town of Pulwama district, adjacent to the Southern border  of Srinagar, which is of religious significance for the  Kashmiri Pandits, should also be added to the region earlier recommended as required to be absorbed by India into its Union as Union Territory, namely, the Anantnag District and Ladakh. 

At least making the Pahalgam tehsil of the Anantnag district of the Valley a Union Territory of India, alongwith the Ganderbal district comprising the Tulmula Tehsil housing the Kheer Bhavani Temple and Manasbal lake as well as Baltal-Sonamarg IS A MUST, as a right or share, and request of the Kashmiri Pandits, and also for the other hitherto non-Muslim domiciles of  the Kashmir Valley, viz. Dogras, Sikhs (as well as for those Ahmediya and Shia Kashmiri Muslims who are involved in the provision of pilgrimage items to the pilgrims,and are dependent on it for their livelihood, and wish to stay with India’Peacefully’, if deemed fit, on oath of living without conflict with the nonMuslims may be taken from them to continue staying in that area). I do not know why the fight for the right of Kashmiri Hindus to inhabit Kashmir valley is seen only as the Kashmiri Pandits’ issue. I think it weakens their case by the exclusive demand. The natives of Ladakh also want their province to be made a Union Territory. This spontaneous request of the people of Jammu and Ladakh should be taken to be as valid as Plebiscite. If the Kashmiri non-Muslims and residents of Ladakh agree, there may not be two separate UT, but One UT comprising Ladakh and the adjacent tehsils of Anantnag and Ganderbal districts, with the Capital at Leh. Otherwise, those tehsils of the Anantnag and Ganderbal districts can be kept separate, if the non-Muslims insist, as they are in the neighbourhood of Kargil, which is liable to invasion from Pakistan and China.

Jammu may be made a regular State of India, as opted for by its citizens, OR a Union Territory jointly with Ladakh, OR else a separate Union Territory; but the Chief Minister of Jammu (or of Jammu and Ladakh) may or may not also be the CM for the remaining Kashmir Valley, and have both the Jammu Capital and the Srinagar Capital under her or him.There can be a Deputy CM too for the Kashmir valley, elected from the Valley’s residents.

It is read that in the 2011 Poll conducted in the Kashmir Valley, about 25% of the residents were in favour of joining India. 50% wanted Independence, and 25% voted in favour of joining Pakistan. (These 25% who voted for Kashmir to join Pakistan should be expatriated and ordered to go and live in the Azad Jammu Kashmir of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir).    The Total area of the Valley is 15, 948 Sq.Kms, I.e.around 16000 sq.kms.Hence those 25% are entitled to 3987, I.e.nearly 4000 sq.kms of the valley. Anantnag Dist covers an area of 2913 sq.kms, and the Ganderbal Dist housing the Kheer Bhavani Temple, Manasbal lake, Gangbal,Baltal and Sonamarg is of  259 sq.Kms. Altogether the two districts on the eastern part of the Jhelum valley together occupy an area of 3172 sq.kms(20% of total valley area) which can be converted into a Union Territory under India,(and if possible, Baramulla and Sopore tehsils of Baramulla with the Wular lake) as asked for by the Kashmiri Pandits.AT LEAST the Northwestern Half of the Anantnag district stretching from the Pahalgam tehsil harbouring the Amarnath Shrine, upto the Anantnag tehsil which includes Mattan, the site of the Martand Sun temple, is Justifiably warranted to be spared for the Pundits, with the Ganderbal dist ,which together is about 1600sqkms, i.e. 1/10 of total area of the Kashmir valley.(Srinagar being the Capital of the Kashmir Valley, of which the majority of people are against being under India, should not  be included in the UT of Anantnag and Ganderbal districts or in the Jammu state/UT     but should be a special district headquarter for control of the Valley by the Jammu-Kashmir  Government, and the Summer Capital of the combined J&K State). 

At the MINIMUM , the PAHALGAM tehsil of the Anantnag district, that contains the Amarnath Cave with the Shrine which is an important pilgrimage place for all Hindus and is one of the two routes to it, as well as BALTAL with the base camp for the other route of the Amarnath Yatra and SONAMARG, in addition to the TULMULLA tehsil of the Ganderbal district housing the Kheer Bhavani temple which is also important to the Kashmiri Pandits, along with the MANASBAL LAKE nearby where devotees take a dip, should be absorbed in the Indian Union along with Jammu and Ladakh. Baramulla(Varmul which has a temple dedicated to the Varaha Avtaar of Vishnu) and Sopore tehsils of the Baramulla district are also asked for by Kashmiri Pandits, which should also be included in the UT alongwith part of the Wular lake for continuity with Ganderbal and Srinagar.

However, the said districts of the Valley CANNOT  be converted into a UT only for Kashmiri Pandits, but for all the nonMuslim domiciles like Dogras and Sikhs (and also those Muslim natives who are subsisting on provision of commodities to the Amarnath Yatris and may wish to become citizens of India; for it will be difficult to ask them to leave, as many of them are involved since long in supply of provisions for the pilgrimage to the Amarnath Shrine).The area may or may not be annexed to Ladakh, for which too there is a request to make a UT. 

Optimally, the two districts of East Kashmir, and Ladakh opting to separate from the state of J&K and wanting Article 370 to be scrapped should be merged with the immediately adjacent Himachal Pradesh, in view of the fact that its second Capital Dharamshala is the haven of refuge for the exiled Tibetans and the Dalai Lama, who are ethnically related to the people of Ladakh. The Environment and Climate of HP too is favourable for both the Ladakhis and Kashmiris to adapt to!

The other Seven districts of the Kashmir Valley, and Srinagar as the Capital of the Valley,        may be allowed to remain under Article 370, with the Army removed from all but the Srinagar Capital and along the Line of Control, depending on the behavior and cooperativeness of the Separatists , that is, if they agree to stop the Stonepelting and bringing in the Pak Terrorists.   The Army  will be required to be retained in the Srinagar Capital and the Anantnag plus Ganderbal districts, unless or until the unrest subsides.  The rest of the Valley can be guarded by the Cops of the Central Reserve Police Force of  the Valley. The Army should be brought in only in the event of suspicion of Terrorist infiltration and terrorist attacks, not installed there all the time, as that is making the Kashmiri Muslims paranoid and hostile towards India.

 It is said that the force of the Separatists of Kashmir is mostly in FIVE out of the ten districts of the Valley, namely, Srinagar, Baramulla, Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag, the last of which is an important pilgrimage centre for all Hindus besides those of Kashmir. The Kashmiri Pandits on the other hand, want Srinagar, Anantnag district, Awantipora city of Pulwama as well as  the Baramulla (Varmul) and Sopore cities of Baramulla district. As such, at least the Pahalgam tehsil of the Anantnag district and the Ganderbal district (a tehsil of Srinagar district earlier, housing the Kheer Bhavani temple), Awantipora, Varmul and Sopore cities should be made        a Union Territory alongwith Ladakh,  to protect it from the destructiveness of the Separatists and Pak Terrorists, while the Jammu Province can be converted into a regular state of the Indian Union, by abolishing the Article 370 in Jammu, Ladakh and Pahalgam tehsil of Anantnag district as well as Ganderbal district. As for the KashmiriMuslims not wanting to come out of the Article 370 to become a regular part of the Indian Union, they would still have over Eight unmerged districts (Srinagar, Bandipora, Kupwara,Budgam,Pulwama, Shopiyan, Kulgam and the major part of Anantnag district and of Baramulla district) remaining in the valley, even if the Varmul and Sopore tehsils of Baramulla district and Pahalgam tehsil as also Ganderbal district (which is only an earlier tehsil of the Srinagar district, that was separated to form an independent District), are included in the proposed Union Territory with Ladakh.

Actually, the Original Kingdom of Kashmir consisted only of the districts in the Indian Administered Kashmir Valley, and the districts of the Muzaffarabad block viz.Muzaffarabad district,  the Jhelum Valley, and the Neelam Valley , that are now in Azad Kashmir.       

Gilgit and Baltistan were Not a part of the original Kashmir, Nor the districts of Jammu that have been captured by Pakistan after driving out the Hindus and made a part of the Azad Jammu-Kashmir that is occupied by Pakistan, namely, the Poonch block.

The Indian Government has rightly planned to seal the border between India and Pakistan as well as along the Bangladesh border. It should also contemplate  on the feasibility and desirability as also the pros and cons of fighting for retrieving PakistanOccupied Kashmir,as it has never been under the control or administrative purview of India, ever since Raja Hari Singh signed the Accession Treaty or Instrument of Accession of Kashmir to India, as it had already been captured by Pakistan before the Treaty of Accession of 22nd October 1947.         

All the same, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel HAD made a valiant effort to retrieve that part of Kashmir too, and was prepared to take it back with the deployment of the Indian Army, even at the risk of war, in which he was said to be almost on the point of success. However, Pandit Nehru’s inexplicable action of bringing in the United Nations Security Council for mediation, (at that juncture when the Sardar was away on a visit to the North Eastern States for four days), who ordered the halt of the ongoing Indo-Pak war and drew the Ceasefire line at that site, to be maintained till a plebiscite was carried out, frustrated Patel’s  efforts and chances of getting back POK irreversibly, thanks to Pandit Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah, who had just assumed the office of Prime Minister of Kashmir before the Treaty by pressurising the Maharajah of Kashmir. (The explanation given by the duo for not trying to win back the region with the Indian Army instead  of bringing in the external mediation of UNSC, was that the situation in the area named Azad Jammu Kashmir by Pakistan had already become uncontrollable, and that, as Sheikh told Nehru, Gilgit and Baltistan were not a part of ‘Kashmiriyat’ anyway!)

Since then, the matter is languishing as it is, and no government has been able to recover POK in all the 70 years of independence. Therefore, for all the assurances given by every successive government heretofore, the people of India might as well get reconciled to the fact that the possibility of fetching POK under India is practically lost, and hence it is a distant dream and a vain exercise, as of today.  What India can and should do now is to guard and make secure the portion of Kashmir that Sardar Patel and our Indian Army has salvaged and maintained till to date as ‘Indian Administered Kashmir’!

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