Kashmir Dispute

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According to the partition plan the princely states, which numbered about 584, and of which the state of Jammu and Kashmir was one of the most important, were given the option to accede either to Pakistan or to India. However while making a decision the ruler of a state was to take into consideration two factors

  • The religion of the majority
  • Geographical location.

On the basis of this principle the state of Jammu and Kashmir should have acceded to Pakistan as almost 80% of the Kashmiris were Muslims and the state was geographically closer to Pakistan than India. Following the same principle India occupied three states by force, whose Muslim rulers wanted to accede to Pakistan but when it comes to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, two-faced India is not ready to accept the formula.

The problem in Kashmir was its Hindu Dogra Mahraja Hari Singh, who was not ready to accede to Pakistan. To satisfy his Muslim subjects and in order to gain some time, Hari Singh signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan at the time of independence. However, his ultimate plan was otherwise. When the British were preparing to leave India the Maharaja of Kashmir was busy introducing Sikh and Hindu Mahasabah agents into Kashmir. He was helped by the British, who in an unjust boundary award, gave Pathankot to India and thus provided a direct road link between India and Kashmir.

India considered the intervention of the tribesmen in Kashmir as the start of the trouble. In fact the trouble in Kashmir started not with the inrush of tribesmen, but with the systematic massacre of the Muslim Population by the state force, and the Pathan attacks were a direct consequence of the slaughter of Fellow Muslims. Times on October 10,1947 reported, 237,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated, unless they escaped to Pakistan, by the forces of the Dogara State, headed by the Maharaja in person. Many of the Muslim villages were burnt. Children were killed in front of mothers and at least twenty five thousand women had fallen into the hands of Dogara troops, Rashtriya Swayam Serak Sang, Akali Sikhs, and Indian National Army. Foreign Secretory of Pakistan sent a telegram to the Prime Minister of Kashmir on October 12, 1947. In this telegram he protested to the Kashmir government about massacre of Muslims but without any reply.

The uprising, which was first started by the ex-soldiers of the Second World War from Poonch, gained momentum and spread to other areas. Maharaja was compelled to flee from his capital to the town of Jammu, from where his troops had killed and driven out the Muslims. Muslims under Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, president of Muslim Conference formed their provincial government in Azad Kashmir. The People of Gilget succeeded in gaining their freedom. It was on October 22, 1947, that the people from N.W.F.P and Punjab crossed the boarder to help the fellow Muslims but 65% of the total number of people who took part in the revolt were native Kashmiris.

Maharaja had made a secret agreement with India before uprising started, but the plan failed as the aircraft of his envoy, Thokore Hariman Singh, was forced to land at Lahore and Public got the scheme from a suitcase. Maharaja concluded the standstill agreement with Pakistan on August 15. According to this standstill agreement Pakistan was responsible to defend the territories of Kashmir. Pakistan also had to look after the other affairs of the state. Due to other problems in the country Pakistan was not able to look after all its responsibilities. First Pakistan sent the Joint Secretary of Foreign affairs to deal with the Maharaja and latter Quaid-i-Azam himself made a plea to the Maharaja but of no use.

On October 27, Hari Singh wrote a letter to the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, offering the accession of his state to India and asking for the help of Indian forces to crush the rising. Mountbatten accepted the offer on behalf of the Indian government but stated that the ultimate question of the state accession should be settled by reference to the people. Indian troops landed in Kashmir only four hours after the acceptance of accession by the Governor General of India. Few historians even consider that the Indian troops landed in the valley even before the letter reached India. Few other believe that the so-called accession document was fake, as Vallabhai Patel forged Hari Singh signatures but forgot to put the date, which was later inserted by Mountbatten in his own handwriting. According to the Alastair Lamb book Birth of a Tragedy Kashmir 1947, the letter is not available now in any of the records of the Indian Government. In White Paper of 1948, the government of India themselves accepted that they regard this accession temporary and provisional till such time as the will of the people can be ascertain.

On October 28, 1947 Quaid-i-Azam ordered the acting Commander in Chief of the army of Pakistan, Lt. Gen. Sir D. Gracy to invade Kashmir. Commander in Chief referred the matter to Field Martial Auchinleck. Auchinleck asked the Quaid to take his orders back otherwise all the British officers from both the armies would resign, which Pakistan could not afford at that time. However Pakistan representative in the Security Council of United Nations made it clear that the Pakistan government have not accepted and cannot accept the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India. In their view the accession was based on violence and fraud. It was fraudulent in as much as it was achieved by deliberately creating a set of circumstances with the object of finding an excuse to stage the accession. It was based on violence because it furthered the plan of the Kashmir government to liquidate the Muslim population.

Pakistan opposed the accession on the base of three principles:

  • Maharaja can’t do it as he had already signed standstill agreement with Pakistan.
  • There was no provision for the conditional acceptance under the Indian independence Act 1947.
  • Maharaja did not have the right to do it without the will of his people.

Kashmir accession to Indian dominion was against the wishes of its people, who refused to accept the decision. It created unrest in Kashmir and anarchy spread in the state. The Muslims rose in revolt against the Dogara rule and civil war started in the valley. The situation was further complicated when India instead of solving the problem by peaceful means resorted to force leading to a war in Kashmir, and sent troops, tanks and airplanes. India wanted to massacre people without letting it known to the world that what it was happening in Kashmir.

Indian Defence Minister, Sardar Baldev Singh, announced in the Indian parliament that Indian army would launch a major offensive in Kashmir. Pakistan Commander in Chief, Sir Gracy made it clear that Indian army will not be allowed to advance beyond the general line Uri-Poonch-Naoshera. It was in early May 1948 that Pakistan government, with the recommendations of it’s Commander in Chief, sent a limited number of troops to Kashmir to hold certain defensive positions and prevent the Indian army from advancing to the borders of Pakistan. War started between the two countries. It was the most curious war in modern history. It was the base for 1965 war.

When the things were not moving in the right direction for India in the war, they took the case to United Nations. United Nations passed two resolutions i) August 13, 1948 and ii) January 5, 1949. Although cease-fire took place due to the efforts of the United Nation but India has consistently refused to implement the other two parts of the United Nation Resolutions i.e. with drawl of Indian forces from Kashmir and holding of plebiscite under neutral administration.

To conclude, Kashmir Dispute is a leftover agenda of the partition of the Sub-continent in 1947. It is not just the problem of the violation of human rights. The main problem of Kashmir is that India has resorted to brutal force to deny the Kashmiris their Right of Self-determination.