JNU Protests: Are the students aware of Kashmir's historical reality?

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 14, 2016 03:21 hrs
Historical prospective of Kashmir's integration with India

For last two days, all national news channels are flooded with news of Jawaharlal Nehru University's students protesting against "Judicial killing of Maqbool bhatt and Afzal Guru" and "Indian occupation of Kashmir and their right of self-determination". News channels showed these students chanting slogans like "Pakistan Zindabad", "Kashmir hamara hai, wo sare ka sara hai, kitne afzal maroge, har ghar se afzal niklega", "India ki barbadi tak jang jari rakhenge" etc.

The most shocking aspect of this episode was the anti-India slogans and statements made by the organizer of the event, Umar Khalid, on national news channels. He said, "I am not kashmiri but I stand with Kashmiris for Kashmir; half of Kashmir is occupied by India and other half by Pakistan; Kashmiris were promised a plebiscite 67 years ago, where is that plebiscite?"

The state of ignorance of Umar Khalid and those students, who were protesting and chanting anti-Indian slogans, is shocking.

Here are few eye opener facts for them, should they choose to open their eyes: -

Historical prospective of Kashmir's integration with India:

During their two century rule in India, the British conquered every Indian state and ruled it directly (by annexing the state) or in-directly (through the "Treaty of paramountcy").

The in-direct way of ruling had its own advantages. Under this treaty, British had suzerainty and paramountcy over the princely state. The British provided them protection and treated them as allies but took control of their external affairs. There were more aspects of this treaty but our point of interest is the lapse of Treaty of Paramountcy in 1947.

One of the acts of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 was lapse of the Treaty of Paramountcy and it brought the status of the princely states (who had signed this treaty with British) to the same state where it was before signing the treaty. Under the Indian Independence Act, 1947, rulers of the princely states were given the right to decide to either join the dominion of India or the dominion of Pakistan or to stay independent.

Kashmir was an independent state on 15th Aug 1947 because its ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, could not decide whether to join any dominion or to stay independent. It appears that his intention was to stay independent. But he signed a "Stand Still Agreement" with both India and Pakistan in Kashmir's interest so that trade, water, electricity supply etc are not hampered.

While the Maharaja was still undecided, on 24th October 1947, Pakistan sent armed Lashkars of tribal jihadi from its North West Frontier Province to snatch Kashmir militarily. Jinnah actually wanted to send the regular Pakistani Army but the then Army Chief of Pakistani Army (General Frank Messervy) refused to obey the order.

Then Jinnah turned to the tribes of NWFP. 

The Maharaja turned to India for help and signed the "Instruments of Accession". With that signature, the J&K state became an integral part of India. It was not India who forced the Maharaja to make J&K a part of India but Pakistan's tribal invasion that started with a large scale loot, rapes and killings of the local populace.

After the instrument was signed, the Indian Army landed in the Srinagar airport on 27th Oct, 1947 to defend the state. Very soon, the Pakistani Army removed the covert help given by jehadis and started fighting overtly.

In 1948, India took the matter of the Pakistani invasion to the United Nations. Instead of honoring the "Instruments of Accession" signed by the Maharaja, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 in April 1948, and asked for a plebiscite. This resolution was passed under chapter VI of the United Nations Charter. It is advisory and non-binding in nature.

There was no reason to conduct any plebiscite (as it was neither thought nor done for any other among around the 500+ Indian states), however PM Nehru decided to conduct a plebiscite any way. PM Nehru did not discuss this matter in Parliament and the Home Minister, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, was against the idea. 

Here are few facts of UN resolution that people like Umar Khalid must know: -

(i) To conduct the plebiscite, the first and foremost condition is that Pakistan was to withdraw all military and para-military forces sent to J&K.

(ii) India was to withdraw the bulk of its security forces but could keep a small contingent in J&K to maintain law and order.

(iii) Till the 1960s, India kept raising the issue of plebiscite in the UN and reminding the world community and Pakistan to act on the first clause of the resolution so that a plebiscite can be conducted. Pakistan never worked upon the first clause.

(iv) Just like in 1947, in August 1965, the Pakistani Army sent eight columns of irregulars (trained guerillas) into J&K to stage an uprising and annex the state by force once and for all. When this attempt failed, the Pakistani army attacked along the mutually agreed International border.

(v) After the 1971 Bangladesh war, in which Pakistan was defeated, the Shimla Agreement of 1972 made Kashmir a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, thereby removing any involvement of the UN and the scope of a plebiscite.

Origin of militancy in Kashmir and the impact of the Afghan Jihad

After the erstwhile USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the US and Saudi Arabia poured money into Pakistan, who got unemployed youth from all over the Muslim countries and trained them as guerrillas. After a decade of fighting, the USSR vacated Afghanistan over the cost of occupation in terms of soldiers, aircrafts, equipment and money.
 
The Pakistan's military brass was of the opinion that a similar move in J&K could increase India's cost of occupation so high that, like the USSR, India too would collapse.

Following their plan in the late 1980s, the Pakistani Army started moving militants from Afghanistan to J&K. At the same time, they funded the Hurriyat Conference. (It is important to note that, even in the state of J&K, the Hurriyat Conference has no base outside the Kashmir valley)

It was after this surge of foreigners that the ethnic cleansing of the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits began. Armed militants and radicals marched in the streets of Srinagar shouting slogans like "Kashmir main agar rehna hoga, Allah O Akbar kehna hoga". Notices were also pasted on Kashmiri Pandits' houses stating the same. The 19th January 1990 saw an exodus of Kashmiri Pundits. It has been 26 years but Pandits are still waiting to go home.

Militancy in Kashmir increased dramatically after the successful cleansing. The Indian Army was again called in as a counter insurgency force.

I am not supporting any atrocity done by security forces anywhere in the country. If anyone has committed any crime, he should be brought to justice as per our constitution.

This constitution gives right of expression to every Indian but this right comes with a responsibility. While you were (and still are) free to protest against Afzal Guru's capital punishment, the same constitution expects you and your friends to stand against those chanting anti-Indian slogans. Unfortunately the protestors became part of the crime.

Perhaps the time has come when we as a nation must draw a line between "freedom of expression" and irresponsible un-constitutional misuse of the same freedom. Such misuse must be dealt with strictly as per law.