Well, all of us know that since partition in 1947, Kashmir issue has remained a bone of contention between Pakistan and India. This issue is the fundamental reason of hatred and disharmony between the two nations. From beginning of their schooling, masses on both sides of the border are taught that Kashmir is their territory that has been occupied by the nation across the border. Historians, writers, bloggers, columnists, and media in both the countries tend to favour their governments’ official stances, naturally. In choosing their words and expressions, they tend to overlook ground realities and offend feelings of each other. The repercussions, of course, have to be faced by the victims - the Kashmiris themselves. Today, through this piece of writing, I present a comparison of perspectives of both sides with a hope that the matter may get resolved and the Kashmiris can get the options that they desire.
Kashmir is a Muslim-majority area. Nevertheless, being a princely state in 1947, its fate was decided by Maharaja Hari Singh, the local Hindu ruler of Kashmir; he wanted Kashmir to remain independent. In this regard, he signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan and India both. The entire scenario changed when in October 1947 Maharaja confiscated armaments from Muslims who were formerly with the British Army. The weapons were distributed among local Hindu village defence forces. This was followed by a revolt by Muslims of Kashmir and they were unofficially supported by Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan. The tribesmen supported Kashmiri Muslims without Pakistani approval. In sheer agitation, Maharaja Hari Singh asked India for military assistance but India was of the view that sending troops to a neutral state could not be done unless Kashmir signed the letter of accession with India. To suppress the uprising, Maharaja’s army, along with other Hindu extremists’ organizations, worked together and launched various operations, torturing, mistreating and punishing Kashmiri Muslims unduly. It is reported that tens of thousands of people were massacred during this widespread violence the majority of which consisted of Muslims.
In this scenario, the Hindu ruler, against the wish of the majority of Kashmiris who were Muslims, signed a temporary instrument of accession with India on 26 October 1947. This accession was instantly challenged by Pakistan claiming that the ruler had no right to do so because the standstill agreement with Pakistan was still in force. After accession, on 27 October 1947, Indian troops landed in Kashmir to fight the revolt. This resulted in first ever Pakistan India war. In this regard, Indian history books, scholars, researchers have something different to say. They are of the view that Kashmir being a Muslim majority area, Maharaja Hari Singh didn’t wish to merge with India or Pakistan and tried to negotiate with India and Pakistan to have independent status for Kashmir. A movement in the state led by Sheikh Abdullah of National Conference was brought into action that aimed at getting rid of Maharaja Hari Singh. Sheikh Abdullah was close to Jawaharlal Nehru, hence was not inclined towards Pakistan. Pakistan became impatient and couldn’t wait for long. It started violating the standstill agreement. On 22 October, Pakistan Pashtun tribesmen invaded Kashmir and reached Baramullah. As per their books, the invasion was unofficially approved by army. So that’s the point of twist. Pakistan is of the view that Kashmiri Muslims were being suppressed and tortured in and India presents it otherwise.
India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru promised a referendum stating, In another broadcast to the nation on 3rd November, 1947, Nehru said, “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given not only to the people of Kashmir and to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it.” On 1st Jan 1948, India took the matter to United Nations. After, security council resolution there was a cease fire from 1 Jan 1949 and both Pakistan and India agreed to cease fire line that is known as LOC - Line of Control. The cease fire line became the de facto border splitting Kashmir into two. In 1951, UN passed a resolution for referendum under UN supervision asking Pakistan and India to withdraw their troops and lessen forces. Here again, India is of the view that since, Pakistan has not withdrawn its forces, therefore the resolution has remained ineffective. However, on the face of it, it seems that both Pakistan and India are reluctant that if any of these two countries calls back its troops from their respective administered area of Kashmir, the opponent country will invade and occupy that place. So here again the sufferers are none other than Kashmiris, and the situation remains unchanged.
During last 70 years, Pakistan and India have fought two wars and a limited conflict over Kashmir. This is the most militarized zone in the world today where more than 700,000 troops are maintained by India in its controlled area alone. Various international organizations, reporters, visitors have reported innumerable human rights violations i.e. physical and mental torture, rape, enforced disappearances by Indian troops in Indian controlled Kashmir and it continues even today. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in this entire tenure. Pakistan also maintains a huge military force in its administered part of Kashmir. India, of course, blames Pakistan for illegal support to Kashmiris and rooting militants there.
What is article 370 and 35-A?
Article 370 and 35 A were the outcome of the Instrument of Accession that was signed between Maharaja Hari Singh and the then Prime Minister Nehru of India. The instrument resulted in transfer of three things i.e. Defence, external affairs and communications to the dominion of India. At that time, Indian Government promised that the people of the state would determine the internal constitution of this state and the nature of extent of jurisdiction of India over the state, through their own constituent assembly. In enactment of this commitment, Article 370 was incorporated in the Constitution of India.
Article 35A of the Indian constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.
Under this, a citizen of India is treated as a ‘permanent resident’ of the state:
1. If on 14 May 1954 he was a state subject or having lawfully acquired immovable property in the state and have been the resident for 10 years prior to that date
2. Or any person who before 14 May, 1954 was a state subject and who having migrated to Pakistan after 1 March 1947, returns to the state for resettlement.
3. In any other conditions, a person will not be considered as the permanent resident of J&K and hence will not have the privileges as stated in the J&K Constitution.
On 5 August 2019, India revoked this special status of Jammu & Kashmir that was given to it through article 370 and 35A. This resulted in a wave of protest across the world. There have been condemnation throughout Kashmir, Pakistan, China and various other parts of the world. UN Security Council also called its meeting and endorsed the resolution of the disputed matter between Pakistan and India in accordance with agreed instruments and resolutions.
Logical Connection of State Junagadh and Hyderabad Deccan with Kashmir Issue:
In this entire scenario, it is quite pertinent to mention the cases of the princely states of Junagadh and Hyderabad. As per independence act of 1947 and Lord Mountbatten’s plan of 3rd June, Muslim and Hindu majority areas were to be included in Pakistan and India respectively, whereas princely states rulers were given the choice either to be a part of Pakistan, India or choose to remain independent.
The Muslim ruler of princely state Junagadh, Nawab Muhabat Khan had to face the same scenario like that of Maharaja Hari Singh in Kashmir. Nawab Muhabat Khan announced Junagadh’s accession to Pakistan on 15 August 1947. However, it was forcefully included in India through Indian invasion. Now here again, India presents and has to present the entire scenario in sugar coated words that somehow support Indian position. Indian writers claim that the people of state organized a popular movement and forced the Nawab to flee. If we remain restricted to the rules and regulations of partition, how could India even think of Junagadh when its ruler had already announced accession to Pakistan without any pressure? Similarly, in case of the princely state of Hyderabad, Nizam Mir Osman Ali, the ruler of Muslim dominant state, wanted Hyderabad to be independent of India. He entered into a standstill agreement with India for this. In violation of the agreement and partition act, Indian army invaded Hyderabad on 13th September 1948 and overthrew the ruler and got the state annexed to India forcefully. Indian history calls it “Operation Polo”. Where from one perspective of the picture, (Indian) human eye sees it as an act of valour and assistance of Indian army, the other side of the picture calls Indian army “invader/attacker”, just like they say about Pashtun Tribesmen when they entered Kashmir to support their Kashmiri Muslim brothers. Now here Indian writers, scholars, historian present Nizam as a “tyrannical ruler” (just like Pakistani historian call Hari Singh tyrannical and biased) to support their stance and Operation Polo.
In view of the claims of righteousness of the Indian government in case of Junagadh and Hyderabad, a simple question that pops up in mind is that if India can violate the clauses of Indian Independence Act 1947 and 3rd June plan of Lord Mountbatten and get Junagadh and Hyderabad to be a part of India either by hook or by crook, why Kashmiris cannot be given their fundamental right to decide their future in accordance? Ok, let’s not call it Indian violation. Let’s agree to the point that India just wanted to protect and assist the inhabitants of Junagadh and Hyderabad and entered in the best interest of the people of these states, then the same right should also be given to the Kashmiris. They just demand their right of fair and honest plebiscite and independence.
Pakistanis and Indian should think about protecting the right of the Kashmiris. The rulers of both countries, the writers, historians are playing with words for their own interest, supporting their stances with sugarcoated words. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris first. Let it be. Let them decide.