Kashmir - the Historical Context - Kashmir

Kashmir - the Historical Context

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on

For 5 centuries, from 1349 to 1820, Muslims had ruled over Kashmir and for these five centuries the populace had been peacefully converting into Islam, there is no record of any Muslim ruler converting the people forcefully. The Kashmiris saw the Salatin-i-Kashmir, the Mughals and the Durranis; though Kashmir remained isolated, from the influx of technology, owing to its difficult terrain but in their own way the Kashmiri people had developed their agriculture, their economy and their culture to make for a happy and healthy, Muslim majority society.

Then came the Sikh-rule with the advent of Ranjeet Singh in Kashmir in 1819. The Sikhs enacted a number of anti-Muslim laws, which included death sentences for cow slaughter, closing down the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar and banning the Azaan. European visitors from that time wrote of the abject poverty of the vast Muslim peasantry and of the exorbitant taxes under the Sikhs. These high taxes had depopulated large tracts of the countryside, allowing only one-sixteenth of the cultivable land to be cultivated. After the Sikhs were defeated in Punjab by the British in 1846; Gulab Singh, the Dogar and the British, made the infamous racket of trading the whole of Kashmir including its populace in cash payment; is that how humanity is dealt with?

The Dogra rule was no better than the previous one, in 1941, when the Dogar Hindus had had a whole century of freehand over the Kashmiri people, Prem Nath Bazaz, a Kashmiri Pandit journalist wrote: “The poverty of the Muslim masses is appalling. … Most are landless laborers, working as serfs for absentee [Hindu] landlords … Almost the whole brunt of official corruption is borne by the Muslim masses.” A small Hindu elite had ruled over a vast, impoverished, uneducated Muslim peasantry, driven into docility by chronic indebtedness to landlords and moneylenders.

The Quaid had visited Kashmir in 1926, 1929, 1936 and 1944; the Quaid knew that the political awakening of this undermined people was not going to be easy, especially under the strict Dogra Raj, nevertheless, he delivered the message to these people that Kashmir is a part of the freedom movement and tried to culture political awareness in these people. In 1939, he was given a landmark reception by the united Kashmiri leadership of Muslim Conference, with Sheikh Abdullah and Chudhary Ghlum Abbas in the forefront. The Quaid, said to the Kashmiris: “Oh yes Muslims! Our Allah is one, our Prophet is one, our Quran is one, and therefore our voice must also be one”. In 1944, the Quaid stayed in the state for over a month. He met with the leaders of the Muslim Conference and the National Conference and address with the gatherings of both parties and attended many functions, meeting with workers, students, lawyers, common people and journalists.

Therefore when the terms of the partition were being finalized, the Quaid was very clear on his stance on Kashmir; that the ‘instrument of accession’ was the right way to deal with Kashmir, since it had been made clear between the British, the Congress and the League that all accessions will be made considering the aspirations of the people and the boundaries adjacent to the princely state. In both these regards Kashmir was coming perfectly as a part of Pakistan. But as it happened the Maharaja and the Congress conspired and Sheik Abdullah, a representative of the Muslims, was made to defect.

So today, after 63 years of brutal occupation, India finds itself in a position to call Pakistan an intruder in the matters of the Kashmiri people. The time lag has enabled the Indian conspirators to induce a third dimension of thought from within the Kashmiri politics; that the Kashmiris have no affiliation with Pakistan and they want to be a totally independent country. This is the same strategy the media gamers have applied for Baluchistan; they pick up a defected faction within a people and start portraying it as the true voice of the people and the media hype is so perpetual that, in time, the whole mindset of a people can be changed by it. Let us analyze the real-time situation of Kashmir and decide if we are right to own Kashmir or whether if the Kashmiris own Pakistan?

In the British census of India in 1941, Kashmir registered a Muslim majority population of 77%, a Hindu population of 20% and a sparse population of Buddhists and Sikhs comprising the remaining 3%. Most of all the Hindu population was concentrated in Jammu (70%) while the rest of Kashmir consisting of the Kashmir valley, Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir all had more than 95% Muslims. So if Hyderabad or Junagadh could not be given the right of staying independent, what should the newly born Pakistan be thinking about Kashmir, surely by all means Kashmir belonged to Pakistan and the Kashmiri populace would only favour an accession to Pakistan. So as it happened, when this fraudulent accession took place the Quaid immediately passed his orders to the Army Chief to dispatch troops to Jammu and Srinagar but Gen. Gracey (CinC Pak Army), who proved to be a stooge of Gen. Auchinleck (FM of both armies), refused to obey command. The courageous Pathans then assembled themselves for the defense of the neighbouring brethren; the Pathans had no prior record of the intrusion or extortion in other lands but are well-known for their valour if attacked upon. These handful of Pathans (2000 to 5000) who were later joined by Pak army Jawans and officers who had defected, were able to secure almost half of the Kashmir, that was joined to Pakistan and fought relentlessly to secure the rest of it; only if the Pak army would not have delayed its supplies to these gorillas with the spines of steel before the Indians had the accession signed and before the Indian forces arrived with armour and aircraft, things would have been different. At every post that was secured by these tribals, the Muslim soldiers and officers of the Dogra army defected and joined with them, which is the plain proof that the Kashmiri people were, at the heart, with Pakistan.

So much for history, now that India has her hegemony on Kashmir and it has been stationed in the state, with full armour, for more than 63 years and has bluntly refused to hold a plebiscite, as it boastfully calls Kashmir its integral part, is Kashmir not ours anymore?

For 63 years India has sat on the throne of Kashmir, but not as someone who owns these people but as someone who hates them, and has perpetually committed atrocious human rights violations against these people. Since 1989, when the Kashmiri people started showing growing signs of political maturity and started protesting against the brutal occupiers in ‘Intifada style’, over 100,000 Kashmiris have claimed to be savagely killed. Indian Security forces have allegedly killed hundreds of Kashmiris by indiscriminate use of force and torture, firing on demonstrations, custodial killings, fake encounters and unlawful detentions, so that death, torture and abuse have become the norm of the everyday life of the Kashmiri community. The mourning of the Kashmiri household may never end as Kashmiris in thousands have vanished in enforced disappearances by Indian security forces and their fate is not known. Though there are more than 300 detention centers in Kashmir, no Human Rights association has ever been allowed to know what goes on in the ‘Cargo building’ the most notorious detention center in Srinagar .

The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has recently uncovered another bloodthirsty face of the Indian occupation forces when they have found 2,730 bodies buried into unmarked graves scattered all over Kashmir believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings and enforced disappearances by Indian security forces, while other claims are now appearing of mass dumping of bodies in steep crevasses between hills, unburied. According to the cables leaked by website WikiLeaks, US diplomats in 2005 were informed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about the use of torture and sexual humiliation against hundreds of Kashmiri detainees by the security forces. The cable said Indian security forces relied on torture for confessions and the human right abuses are believed to be condoned by the Indian government. The Indian government has enacted laws like the “Armed Forces Special Powers Act” which grants the military, wide powers of arrest, the right to shoot to kill, and to occupy or destroy property in counterinsurgency operations and the ‘Public Safety Act’ which says that ‘a detainee may be held in administrative detention for a maximum of two years without a court order’, of course many of the detainees never return. Although the UN pressurizes the Indian government against its heinous acts but what should Pakistan expect from a authority that rewards its men with promotions and awards for bringing in human-hunt

So here are the questions I want you to answer for yourself:

a) Does Kashmir fall in the United Nations CPPCG. Article 2 definition of GENOCIDE which says that “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”?

b) When the Kashmiri people have been persecuted in the past, did they, using their choice, migrate to India or to Pakistan?

c) Has any of the kind of atrocities committed in the Indian controlled Kashmir ever been reported in the Pakistan controlled Kashmir side?

d) Has Pakistan waged unjust wars over the Kashmir issue, when it had been cheated on the terms of the ‘Partition’ and on several resolutions and recommendations of the UN on Kashmir; when the territory been snatched and the people being tortured and butchered, it considers its own; Do we accept US position of ‘saving the humanity’ from 3 oceans across to come to Afghanistan and we legitimize all its crimes and at the same time not recognize a bleeding humanity at our doorstep? Would that not be hypocrisy?

e) The men, trained or untrained, who enter the borders of the Indian held Kashmir to help their severed brethren; to organize and stand for themselves, who have bargained their lives and comfort for that of their brothers; can they be considered as Terrorists? When by definition a terrorist is one who ‘commits violent acts intended to create fear, unlawful violence and war and indiscriminate use of violence against noncombatants for the purpose of gaining publicity’ or can they be called Militants in the sense that they commit insurgencies to topple legitimate governments? OR are they ‘Freedom-fighters’ committed selflessly to the cause of their very own brethren?

Today we must remember that the conscience and spirit of the Musalmans of Kashmir was alive on the 13th of July, 1931. At an early time when the Musalmans of the subcontinent were not sure how the wheel of the future would churn upon them, the Kashmiris had already agitated against the tyrant rule and made the first anointment on the Freedom movement to pass on, with the blood of 22 of their Jawans. We must remember that behind all the show-off of peace, dialogue, trade and culture, every day and every night, innocent Kashmiris who do not have a voice, are being abducted, beaten, abused, raped, tortured, bled and massacred. And those who are caught in the most frightening clutches of dehumanizing bestial tormenters, might just wonder at that time, whether their blood will ever reach the bosoms of their presumed deliverers, the sleeping nationals on the other side of the fence.