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History & Culture of Kashmir

The record history of Kashmir goes back to about 2000 BC.
For about three quarters of its history, Kashmir has been an independent State though its areas has been expanding and shrinking.
The ruler of Lalita Ditya (715-752-AD), a famous Hindu ruler of Kashmir, is considered the golden period of pre-Muslim era Kashmir whereas that of Sultan Zainul Abedin – The Budshah (1420-1470 AD) is know as the golden Era of the entire Kashmir history. The details of this is elaborately given below:

ANCIENT KASHMIR
Kashmir’s first period of imperial history begins in the third century BC with the rule of Asoka. Kashmiris became famous throughout Asia as learned, cultured and humane and the intellectual contribution of writers, poets, musicians, scientists to the rest of India was comparable to that of ancient Greece to European civilization. With hindsight, Pundit Prem Nath bazaz is critical of the conduct of the Hindu kings, ‘Again and again history afforded opportunity to the Hindu aspirants to kingship to start afresh but, on every such occasion they failed to grasp it and give a good account of themselves.’ Islam made them men again’. but although the people may have been persecuted and oppressed, the Kashmiris retained their humanistic principles.

The story of the spread of Islam in Kashmir reads like a traveler’s tale. A Buddhist ruler, Rinchen, had left his home in Laddakh, after the murder of his father and taken refuge at King Sahadeva’s court in Kashmir. At about the same time, a Muslim from Swat, Shah Mir, also came to Kashmir looking for work. After the Mongols, under Dulaca, had invaded Kashmir without Sahadeva, a new king had to be found. Supported by Shah Mir and some of the feudal lords searching for a new faith, he met a Muslim saint called Bulbul Shah and his teachings mead a deep impact on Rinchen. Taking the name of Sadruddin, he became a Muslim. His conversion marks the beginning of Muslim rule in Kashmir. Rinchen is remembered as a just and wise ruler. Janaraja calls him a ‘lion among men.’ But his reign did not last long.

The first great king of Muslim period was Shabab-ud-Din who came to the throne in 1354. With the peace restored after the devastation of the Mongols, Shahab-ud-Din devoted his attention to foreign expeditions, conquering Baltistan, Ladakh, Kishtwar and Jammu. Shahab-ud-Din also loved learning and patronized art and architecture. in 1361 there was a devastating flood, but the atmosphere of general well being prevailed and on Shahab-ud-Din’s death in 1373 the succession passed peacefully to Qutb-ud-Din.

During the reign of Qutb-ud-Din, the pace of conversion to Islam increased. Muslim from west and central Asia, in search of refuge from the Mongols, arrived in Kashmir and the most influential was Mir Syed Ali. He came with hundreds of missionaries, or syeds as they came to be known, from Hamadan and other parts of Persia. ‘Islam made its way into Kashmir’, writes Sir Aurel Stein, ‘not by forcible conquest, but by gradual conversion’. Qutb-ud-Din was succeeded by his son. Sikunder in 1389. Sikunder’s younger son came to the throne in 1420. He was pupularly called Bud Shah (the great king). During his long reign which lasted until 1470, the valley prospered.

When Bud Shah died in 1470 the dynasty of the Shah Mirs began to decline. In the years to come, the fame of Kashmir attracted the Mughals but they failed in their early attempts to dominate the valley. In the reign of Babur’s son, humayun, Mirza Haider Dughlat, a cousin of Babur’s mother, finally succeeded in conquering Kashmir in 1540. In 1555, Ghazi Chak became king of Kashmir, which brought to an end the 200-year-old dynasty of the Shah Mirs.

It was only matter of time before the Mughal emperor, Akbar, who had succeeded to the throne of Delhi in 1558, led Kashmir’s incorporation into the Mughal Empire. So ended Kashmir’s long history as a kingdom in its own right. Despite the ravages of so much cruelty and bloodshed during its early history, the valley of Kashmir, surrounded by its mountains, always retained its allure for future generations. But warned Dr. Parmu ‘beautiful countries have often been the homes of tragedy. Happiness is rarely the lot of a beautiful land. So Kashmir, the desired land of men and monarchs, paid for her beauty.’

MONARCHS AND DEMONS 1586-1819

The conquest of the Kashmir valley by the Mughals in 1586 is generally regarded as marking the beginning of Kashmir’s modern history. At first the Mughal army had difficulty crossing the passes, but the Kashmiris were unable to stop their advance and in October the Mughal army marched into Srinagar. Akbar was proclaimed emperor. Of all the rulers of Kashmir Akbar’s son and successor, Jehangir, is perhaps best remembered for his love of the valley. He ascended the throne in 1605. During his reign Jehangir adorned Kashmir with over 700 gardens. Their names evoke the beauty of the place: Shalimar (abode of love) and Nishat (garden of gladness) are the two most famous. For several years in succession Jehangir and his wife, Nurmahal, remained in Kashmir during the summer.

On his deathbed Jehangir was asked if there was anything he wanted, to which he is reported as saying: ‘Nothing but Kashmir>’ He was succeeded in 1627 by his son, Shah Jehan. He too loved Kashmir and the valley became a popular place of refuge for the Mughals during the hot summers. Aurangzeb, who came to the throne in 1658, was the last of the Mughal Emperors to make any impact on Kashmir’s history.

Towards the end of Aurangzeb’s reign an event occurred which had special significance for later generations of Kashmir’s. In 1700 a strand of the beared of the Prophet Muhammad, the Mo-i-Muqaddas, was brought by the servant of a wealthy Kashmiri merchant to Kashmir. It was originally displayed in the Khanqah Naqshband in Srinagar but the mosque could not accommodate the crowds who came to see it. It was therefore taken to another mosque on the banks of Upper Dal lake which was known first as Asar-i-Sharif-Shrine of the relic- and then Hazratbal – the lake of the Hazrat, or the prophet. It has remained there ever since, with one brief interlude in 1963 when it mysteriously disappeared.

Nadir Shah’s invasion of the seat of Mughal power at Delhi in 1738 had weakened their imperial hold on Kashmir still further. This in turn left Kashmir at the mercy of further predators.

With the decline of Mughal power in India the governors of Kashmir became ‘irresponsible and cruel’/ In 1762, in alliance with the Dogra Rajput ruler, Raja Ranjit Dev of Jammu, the Afghans attached Kashmir and captured Sukh. When the Afghan leader, Ahmed Shah Durrani, died in 1772 Jawan Sher the Afghan ruler of Kashmir, set himself up as an independent ruler.

Afghan domination lasted for little more than fifty years, but the period is generally remembered as one of the darkest of Kashmiri history. Through the assistance of the Sikhs and Ranjit Singh – a ruler in nominal alliance with their Afghan oppressors Kashmir’s overthrew the Afghan tyranny. In doing so the Kashmiris had been responsible for asking for help from a foreign ruler: submission to an external power was not only a matter of expediency but survival in a cruel world.

SIKH CONQUEST 1819

In the wake of the decline of the decline of the Afghan empire in northern Indian Ranjit Singh had shown himself both able and willing to fill the vacuum. In 1834, Ranjit Singh sent Colonel Mian Singh Kumedan, from Gujranwala as governor. Considered to be the best of all the Sikh governors, he attempted to bring the valley out of the economic chaos resulting from the 1833 famine. Ranjit Singh never visited the valley of Kashmir, but there is a well known story of how he once wrote to Colonel Mian Singh: Would that I could only once in my life enjoy the delight of wandering through the gardens of Kashmir, fragrant with almond-blossoms, and sitting on the fresh green turf.

On the sidelines of Kashmir, in the neighboring plains of Jammu, the Dogras were keenly interested in events in the valley.

When Ranjit Singh died, Gulab Singh had been his protege for thirty years; aged forty-seven, he was well-placed to control events not only in the heart of the Sikh empire in Lahore but also in Kashmir. Until the death of Ranjit Singh, the East India Company had maintained cordial relations with the Sikhs; they in turn did not with to upset the British. After his death, the relationship soon fell apart.

KASHMIR FOR SALE 1846

As relations deteriorated between the British and the Sikh prior to the outbreak of war in 1845, Gulab Singh played an important role, which ultimately helped to further his own territorial ambitions, enabling him to become a maharaja in his own right. As the chief architect of the Treaty of Amritsar and the decision to sell Kashmir to Gulab Singh, Henry Hardinge came under strong criticism for his role. The British signed the Treaty of Amritsar with Gulab Singh in 1846. Article I stated that:

“The British Government transfers and makes over for ever in independent possession to Maharaja Gulab Singh and the heirs male of his body all the hilly or mountainous country with its dependencies situated to the eastward of the River Ravi, including Chamba and excluding Lahul, being part of territories ceded to the British government by the Lahore State according to the provision of the Article IV of the Treaty of Lahore, dated 9 March 1846.” Gulab Singh was to pay the exact sum in lieu of which the British had taken possession of Kashmir one week earlier: one crore of rupees towards the indemnity. Twenty-five lakhs were later waived in consideration of the British being allowed to retain the area of Kulu and Mandi across the river Beas. Gulab Singh’s biographer, K.M Panikhar argues against the transaction being a sale. “The view that Kashmir was sold for a paltry sum by a Government whose main interest was to fill its coffers is a travesty of facts and misreading of history”. But neither Panikhar nor any other apologist for Gulab Singh could deny that money was exchanged in return for land and people and that, 150 years later, the transaction still causes deep resentment. ‘Each one of us was purchased by the Dogra ruler for 3 rupees’, said Mian Abdul Qayum, President of Srinagar’s Bar Association in 1994. Furthermore, there was no consultation with the people of Kashmir. Britain was, however becoming a paramount power in the sub-continent and all relationships were based on what was perceived to be in the best interests of the new imperialists. The sale of the valley of Kashmir and its incorporation into a princely state is also considered to have had an adverse effect on its future development. In 1925, the Muslim Outlook newspaper commented that but for the ‘ineffable folly’ of the British; ‘Kashmir would have been part of the Punjab. More significantly, had Kashmir been annexed by Britain and become part of the British India when the sub-continent became independent from British rule in 1947, according to the principle of the partition it could have been divided along communal lines and the predominantly Muslim valley would undoubtedly have been allocated to Pakistan. After ten years as mahjaraja, Gulab Singh’s health began to fail. In order to smooth the succession he asked the governor-general to install his third son. Ranbir Singh, as maharaja on 8 February 1856. Although Gulab Singh had formally abdicated, he became governor of the province and retained full sovereignty until his death on 7 August 1857. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, under the joint leadership of the ailing Gulab Singh and his son, Ranbir, responded favorably to British appeals for help.

AN ENGLISH FORTRESS

In 1882 Ranbir Singh had considered nominating his youngest son, Amar Singh, as his successor as he was ‘wiser’ than his brothers Pratap or Ram. But the British did not agree. Although the maharaja repeated his request in 1884, the British chose to let Pratap Singh accede to the throne when Ranbir died in September 1885. The new maharaja “was a story book Indian Prince, writes Patrick French ‘vacillating and oppressive, bedecked in silk pyjamas, pearls and a diamond-encrusted turban’. He was also addicted to opium. The views expressed by St. John after four months resident, the maharaja was unfit to rule, persisted throughout his long reign. On 1 April 1889 the maharaja was divested of all but nominal powers. Indian contemporary belief was that the maharaja had been deposed because of British designs and that the allegation of maladministration was merely an excuse to take over control of the state. As the popularity of Kashmir grew, so did the number of houseboats. “The British, who came to Kashmir to escape the scorching heat, taught us how to finish a houseboat, how to make it a decorative e one with beds, chairs, tables’, says Chapra. A century later, there were estimated to be 1,500 houseboats on Dal lake. It was also a favored way of having some form of accommodation. The houseboats also gave Kashmir the reputation as a place for rest and pleasure for foreign guests, around which the social and economic fife of a great number of the people revolved. Makers of shawls, embroidery, carpets, papier mache boxes all benefited from the presence of officers, with their wives and children, who arrived in the valley every summer to escape the heat of the plains. The influx of light-hearted holiday makers was in total contrast to the harshness of the lives of the local people, most of whom lives in abject poverty. Only a small minority, centered around the Dogra rulers, enjoyed unparalleled affluence. Ever since his deposition, Pratap Singh held his brother, Amar Singh, responsible for all his problems.

Other Indian princes, however, were not happy with the unprecedented British interference in Kashmir. On account of the enmity between Amar and the Maharaja, in 1907 Pratap Singh decided to adopt a ‘spiritual heir’, the second son of the Raja of Poonch. His intention was evidently to prevent his brother from inheriting the throne. Only when Amar Singh died in 1909 did the long feud between the brothers finally end. While the Kashmiri Pandits began to benefit from better education, the Muslims, although numerically superior, remained excluded. As Canon Tyndale Biscoe had noted when he came to Srinagar in 1890 as headmaster of the Church Missionary School” ‘The Mohammendan did not send their sons to school as all Government service as closed to them. The all India Muslim Kashmiri Conference, formed in 1896 and supported by many Muslim Kashmiri who had settled mainly in the Punjab, was, however, beginning to support the Kashmiri in the state, both morally and financially, by offering scholarships for them to study in British India. In 1905 the Mir Waiz of Kashmir, the religious leader of the Muslims of the Kashmir valley, founded an association called the Anjuman-i-Nusrat-ul-Islam which aimed at improving the conditions of the Muslims, especially in education. During the First World War, the Indians from both British India and the princely states had demonstrated their loyalty to the British Crown by their willing support of the war effort. Throughout the war, Pratap Singh placed all the forces of the state of Jammu and Kashmir at the disposal of the British. While the Indian people fought on behalf of the British Empire overseas, within British India, Indian political leaders were exerting pressure to increase the pace of change. ‘Their minds were full of the ideas of the onrushing tide of democracy in the West’. They read with emotion about political movements of Turkey, Ireland, Egypt’, writes Prem Nath Bazaz. “The spirit of independence revived and with it came the desire to turn out the outsiders and to fight for the freedom of the motherland. “Throughout the 1920s the honorary secretary-general of the All India Muslim Kashmiri Conference, Syed Mohsin Shah, a Kashmiri lawyer, who had moved to Lahore in the early 1920s, was constantly writing to the resident, Sir John Wood, on behalf of the Kashmri Muslims. Amongst those who also gave vocal support to the Muslim was the influential and widely respected poet, Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal. He first visited Kashmir in 1921 and put to verse his distress at the poverty of the people: In the bitter chill of winter shivers his naked body whose skill wraps the rich in royal shawls. Leading Muslim newspapers in India continued to point to the progress of the Kashmiri Pandits at the expense of the Muslims:’They till the land, feed the state, fill its coffers, they are invariably sent to the wall and the Kashmiri Pandit is placed at the helm of affairs to rule them with a rod of iron’, stated the Muslim outlook in 1923. In the Spring 1924 the workers of the state-owned silk factory demanded an increase in wages and the transfer of a Hindu clerk whom the workers alleged as extorting bribes. Established in the late nineteenth century, the factory employed about 5,000 workers, most of whom were Muslims. Although the workers were given a minimal wage increase, some of their leaders were arrested, which led to a strike. As later reported in a representation to the viceroy, Lord Reading : ‘Military was sent for and most inhuman treatment was meted out to the poor, helpless, unarmed peace loving laborers who were assaulted with spears, lances and other implements of warfare’. The representation, signed by the two chief religious leaders, submitted to the viceroy, through Mohsin Shah, also referred to other grievances: The Mussulmans of Kashmir are in a miserable plight today. Their education needs are woefully neglected. Though forming 96 per cent of the population, the percentage of literacy amongst them is only 0.8 per cent. So far we have patiently borne the State’s indifference towards out grievances and our claims and it high-handiness towards our rights, but patience has its limit and resignation its end… the Hindus of the State, forming merely 4 per cent of the whole population are the undisputed masters of all departments.

They also complained about the closure of certain mosques in Srinagar and the desecration of the Khanqah Bulbul shah, which was claimed by the Hindus to be a Hindu Shrine. Pratap Singh died on 25 September 1925. Although Hari Singh’s accession was not contested, the Government of India was at once alert to the implications of a change of leadership on British foreign Policy. The new maharaja was to be allowed to return to the normal relationship with the Government of India, which any princely state enjoyed by treaty obligations but at the same time, as the sub-continent moved slowly towards self government, the British were not prepared to lose sight of the importance of Jammu and Kashmir as a ‘frontier state’.

THE MIRAGE OF INDEPENDENCE

In the 1930s, as the Indian political leaders in British India became involved in the struggle to determine how they should become self-governing, the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir began a campaign against the autocracy of the new maharaja. When Lieutenant-general His Highness Inder Mahander Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Sir Hari Singh succeeded to the throne, there was cautious optimism that he would prove a more effective ruler than his uncle. The alienation of the Kashmiris from their new ruler was heightened by the continuing presence of ‘outsiders’ in government service, which led to a movement known as ‘Kashmir for the Kashmiris’, sponsored by the more educated Kashmiri Pandits. But, to the annoyance of the Kashmiris the top positions were invariably filled by people from Jammu, especially the ruling class of the Dogras Rajputs, who headed all the departments of the state administration. When the Pandits began to improve their status in governments service, this caused further aggravation amongst the Muslims. Abdul Suharawardy was a young boy from the rural districts, whose ambition in the 1930s was to become a gazetted officer in the Indian Civil Service. ‘As I grew up I found that the Muslims were the underdogs. The Hindus were the privileged class because they belonged to the religion of the community of the ruler. Almost all the government officials occupying almost all the ranks from the lowest up to the highest were occupied by Hindu’. The army was also exclusively reserved for the Dogras. No Muslim in the valley was allowed to carry a firearm and the only Muslims who were recruited into the army, normally under the command of a Dogra officer, were the Suddhans of Poonch and the Sandans from Mirpur. Culturally and linguistically distinct from the Kashmiris of the valley, the maharaja believed he could depend on them to suppress whatever trouble might arise in the valley. The Lahore Muslim press had been consistently highlighting the condition of the Muslim Kashmiris and newspapers critical of the maharaja were sent into the state. At the same time, small groups joined together to discuss their complaints.

In 1929 Ghulam Abbas, one of the comparatively few educated Muslims from Jammu who had obtained a law degree in Lahore, reorganized the Anjuman-i-Islamia into the young men’s Muslim Association of Jammu, for the betterment of Muslims. He also looked after Muslim orphans and did social work. In Srinagar the Reading Room party, comprising a number of graduates from Aligarh University, rose to prominence. Prem Nath Bazaz, Ghulam Abbas, Muhammad yousuf Shah were all active in discussing their grievances. In 1931 Yusuf Shah succeeded his uncle in Srinagar as Mirwaiz the spiritual leader of Muslims. He used his position in the mosque to organize a series of meetings, which protested against the maharaja’s government. Kashmir was already like a powder keg. The spark was provided by a butler in the service of European, Abdul Qadir, who made an impassioned fiery speech calling for the people to fight against oppression. When he was arrested, crowds mobbed the jail, and several others were also arrested. There was further protest from the crowd at which point the police fired at them. Twenty-one people died. Their bodies were carried in procession to the centre of the town. In March 1940 the Muslim League adopted the Lahore Resolution ‘that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the north-western and eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute independent states” in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign. Although it was not clear how such a proposal would be formalised, the demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent had its roots in an emergent ideology, first proposed by a student, Chaudhri Rahmat Ali in Cambridge in 1933 for the Muslim living in Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province) Kashmir, Sind and Balochistan, to be recognised as a distinct nation, ‘Pakistan’. The inclusion of predominantly Muslim Kashmir was, however, an early indication that there was already a body of opinion which believed that the princely state should become part of Pakistan, if and when it could be achieved. When alternative avenues for a federation of British India and the princely states had been exhausted, and partition of the sub-continent took place, this opinion held fast. Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress party had defined their position on the Indian states in August 1935: “The Indian National Congress recognises that the people in the Indian states have an inherent right of Swaraj (independence) no less than the people of British Indian. it has accordingly declared itself in favour of establishment of representative responsible government in the States’. Jinnah leader of All India Muslim League was not unconcerned by events within Kashmir. In 1943 he wrote to the viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, stating that he understood that the present situation in Kashmir was intolerable and that it would remain so “unless some responsible independent and impartial head of the Administration takes charge”. Jinnah’s last visit to the state of Jammu and Kashmir took place in May 1944. When the frail but imperial figure of the leader passed through their rows, writes Muhammad Saraf, who became a keen supporter of the movement for Pakistan, ‘thousand of men and women were unable to control themselves as his very sight stirred up deep emotions resulting in tears trickling down their eyes. Many actually wept under the sheer weight of joy’. Jinnah was described as ‘a beloved leader of the Muslims of India’.
STANDSTILL IN 1947
By 1947 the independence of the sub-continent was assured. On 3 June the British government finally published a plan for the partition of the sub-continent. On 18 July the Indian Independence Act was passed, stating that independence would be effected on an earlier date than previously anticipated : 15 August 1947.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir had unique features not shared by the princely states. Ruled by a Hindu, with its large Muslim majority it was geographically contiguous to both India and the future Pakistan. Although Jawaharlal Nehru’s family had emigrated from the valley at the beginning of the eighteenth century, he had retained an emotional attachment to the land of his ancestors. Despite the assurances given by Mountbatten to Hari Singh that the Congress leaders would not regard it as ‘an unfriendly act’, if, given the Muslim majority population, he eventually acceded to Pakistan, it is clear that Nehru in particular had strong reasons for wanting the state of Jammu and Kashmir to accede to India. When, at the end of July, Mountbatten heard that Nehru was once more planning to go to Kashmir he was not pleased. As Nehru persisted in atttempting to visit Kashmir, Mountbatten continued to try and dissuade him. He noted that both the maharaja and his prime minister, Ram Chandra Kak, ‘hate Nehru with a bitter hatred and I had visions of the maharaja declaring adherence to Pakistan just before Nehru arrived’. Mountbatten had also heard how, during a meeting with Patel, ‘Nehru had broken down and wept, explaining that Kashmir meant more to him at the time than anything else’. The sub-continent was in the midst of a deep communal and political crisis. Yet both Nehru and Gandhi had insisted on visiting Kashmir. Ghandhi finally left for Srinagar on 1 August. Muhammad Saraf was amongst those who protested at his arrival in Baramula. Even some glass panes of his car were broken by the demonstrators.

The Partition plan of 3 June 1947, established under the Indian Independence Act, envisaged two Boundary Commissions, consisting of four high court judges. The chairman was to hold the casting vote. The man entrusted with that post was a British lawyer, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who arrived in India for the first time on 8 July 1947.

The objective of what came to be known as the Radcliffe award as to divide the provinces of Punjab in the west and Bengal in the east, leaving Muslim majority areas in Pakistan and those with Hindu morjorities in India. Of the main routes by which Kashmir could be reached, two roads passed through areas which could expected to be allocated to Pakistan: the first via Rawalpindi, Murree, Muzaffarabad, Baramula and thence to Srinagar. The other route went via Sialkot, Jammu and the Banihal pass. A third route, which was no more than a dirt track existed via the district of Guardaspur, which comprised the four tehsils of Shakargarh, Batala, Gurdaspur and Pathankot. From Pathankot the route carried on to Madophur, across the Ravi river to Kathua in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Under the ‘national’ award provided in the first Schedule of the Indian Independence Act, all of the Gurdaspur district, with a 51.14 per cent Muslim majority had been assigned to Pakistan, which meant that all these routes would have fallen under the control of Pakistan. At this press conference on 4 June, in answer to a question regarding provisional and final demarcations, Mountbatten, however, suggested that the boundary Commission would be unlikely to throw the whole of the Gurdaspur district into the Muslim majority areas. Subsequently, the revised Mountbatten plan referred to the basis for partition by area rather than by district. The future Pakistanis soon became concerned by the prospect of a departure from the ‘national’ award giving all of Gurdaspur district to Pakistan to one where part of Gurdaspur would be allocated to India. In the final award the three tehsils of Batala, Gurdaspur and Pathankot went to India. A memorandum prepared by the minister of state, which included Radcliffe’s observations after he returned to England, reported that the reason for changing the ‘national’ award regarding Gurdaspur was because ‘the headwaters of the canals which irrigate the Amritsar District lie in the Gurdaspur District and it is important to keep as much as possible of these canals under one (i;e Indian) administration. Fact that much of Lahore district is irrigated from upper Bari Doab canal with head works in Gurdaspur district is awkward but there is no solution that avoids all such difficulties.

The suspicions created in the minds of the Pakistanis by the award of three tehsils of Gurdaspur to India were compounded by the issue of the ‘salient’ of the Ferozepur and Zira tehsils. In the map of the Radcliffe award, the salient, which protruded beyond the notional boundary into the Sikh heart land, was marked as part of Pakistan. It is very strange that other factors should have worked consistently in favour of India and against Pakistan’, commented Chaudhri Muhammad Ali. The departure from the ‘notional’ award to Radcliffe’s division of Gurdaspur between the two Dominions has created considerable bitterness not only because of the loss of territory, but because of the growing realisation that India was thereby assured of access to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Although the future of the princely states was a separate issue from the division of the Punjab and Bengal, for which purpose the Boundary Commission was instituted, Mountbatten himself had made the connection between Jammu and Kashmir and the award of the Boundary Commission. Kashmir, he said, ‘was so placed geographically that it could join either Dominion’. ‘Had the whole of Gurdaspur District been awarded to Pakistan’, according to Lord Birdwood, ‘India could certainly never have fought a war in Kashmir.’ The Indian journalist, M. J. Akbar, interprets the award as a single piece of political expediency on the part of Nehru. And so, during private meetings, he persuaded Mountbatten to leave this Gurdaspur link in Indian hands. But in view of Inadequate explanations and selective secrecy surrounding the Radcliffe award, the belief amongst Pakistanis that there was a conspiracy between Mountbatten and Nehru to deprive Pakistan of Gurdaspur has held fast. “The object of grabbing Kashmir was to encircle Pakistan militarily and strangle it economically, ‘ writes Suhrawardy. In the state of Jammu and Kashmir there were staunch Muslim League supporters who believed they would become part of Pakistan at independence and when freedom came at midnight on 14 august they rejoiced.

The Pakistani flag was hoisted on most of the post offices until the government of the maharaja ordered that they should be taken down. All pro-Pakistani newspapers were closed. Muhammad Saraf was in Baramula, where the flag remained flying until dusk: ‘It was a spectacle to watch streams of people from all directions in the town and its suburbs swarming towards the Post office in order to have a glimpse of the flag of their hopes and dreams. Those whose hopes were dashed at not becoming part of Pakistan set in train a sequence of events which was rooted in their past disappeared. In the weeks following independence, despite Maharaja Harisingh’s, signature of the standstill agreement with Pakistan, political manoeuvreing was taking place on all sides. Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Patel, who had become minister for Home Affairs, corresponded regularly in order to determine how Kashmir could be secured for India. ‘One of the most interesting revelations of the Patel papers when they began to be published in 1971’, writes Alastair Lamb ‘was the extent to which this powerful congress politician had directly involved himself in all planning directed towards an eventual Indian acquisition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Clear steps were being taken to improve communications with India, by telegraph, telephone, wireless and roads. In Pakistan it was widely believed that India was preparing to announce Kashmir’s accession to India in the autumn. The Pakistani government alleged that India had violated the standstill agreement, because they had included Kashmir within the Indian postal system. As evidence, they produced a memorandum, dated 1 September 1947, signed by the director general of Postal Telegraph, New Delhi, in which towns in the State of Jammu and Kashmir were listed as part of India.
ENTER THE UNO
Lord Mountbatten’s belief, and that of the British government, that the UN would be able to perform some useful role in resolving the Kashmir dispute made it one of the first major issues with which the newly founded world body was to deal. Mountbatten had first suggested the use of the UN during his 1 November 1947 meeting with Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Lahore. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan had agreed to refer the dispute to the UN In January 1948 the Kashmir issue was debated in the Security Council of the United Nations with representations from the Indian and Pakistani delegates. Much to the annoyance of the Indians, Sir Zafrullah Khan, Pakistani’s Foreign Minister, made a bold speech lasting five hours in favour of Pakistan’s position and against the continuing rule of the Dogras over the Kashmiris: ‘What is not fully known is the depths of misery to which they have been reduced by a century of unmitigated tyranny and oppression under Dogra rule until it is difficult to day which is the greater tragedy to a Kashmiri: ‘his life or his death’.

On 20 January, the Security Council passed a resolution which established a commission, to be known as the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), to investigate the facts the dispute and carry out ‘any mediatory influence likely to smooth away difficulties. The government of India was requested to reduce its forces to the minimum strength, after which the circumstances for holding a plebiscite should be put into effect’ on the question of the accession of the State to India or Pakistan’. A further resolution on 13 August 1948 adopted unanimously by UNCIP outlined arrangements for the cessation of hostilities and once more restated that a final decision on the future status of the Jammu and Kashmir ‘shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people’.

On 5 January 1949, UNCIP once more affirmed that, when the truce agreement had been signed, the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through ‘the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite’. The roots of the Kashmir dispute are deep’, concluded the third and final report of UNICP, which made three visits to the sub-continent between 1948 and 1949. Then as now, the Indian government considered itself to be in legal possession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by virtue of the Instrument of Accession of October 1947 signed by the Maharaja and the then Governor – General, Lord Mountbatten. This basic premise constituted the legality of India’s presence in the state and of her control over it. India maintained that her armies were in Kashmir as a matter of right; her control of the defence, communications and external affairs of the state was as a direct consequence of the act of accession. The Pakistani position was based on the contention that the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India was illegal and, therefore, there was no basis whatsoever for India’s contention that the legality of the accession was ‘in fact and law beyond question’. Pakistan maintained that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir had no authority left to execute and Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 because the people had successfully revolted, had overthrown his government and had compelled him to flee from Srinagar, the capital. The act of accession was brought about by violence and fraud and as such it was invalid from the beginning, the maharaja’s offer of accession was accepted by the Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten, on the condition that as soon as law and order had been restored, the question of the accession of the state would be decided by a reference to the people. Pakistan also believed that the Azad movement was indigenous and spontaneous, as a result of repression misrule by the maharaja’s government.
SPECIAL STATUS
Lord Mountbatten’s belief, and that of the British government, that the UN would be able to perform some useful role in resolving the Kashmir dispute made it one of the first major issues with which the newly founded world body was to deal. Mountbatten had first suggested the use of the UN during his 1 November 1947 meeting with Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Lahore. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan had agreed to refer the dispute to the UN. In January 1948 the Kashmir issue was debated in the Security Council of the United Nations with representations from the Indian and Pakistani delegates. Much to the annoyance of the Indians, Sir Zafrullah Khan, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, made a bold speech lasting five hours in favour of Pakistan’s position and against the continuing rule of the Dogras over the Kashmiris: ‘What is not fully known is the depths of misery to which they have been reduced by a century of unmitigated tyranny and oppression under Dogra rule until it is difficult to say which is the greater tragedy to a Kashmiri: ‘his life or his death’. On 20 January, the Security Council passed a resolution which established a commission, to be known as the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), to investigate the facts of the dispute and carry out ‘any mediatory influence likely to smooth away difficulties. The Government of India was requested to reduce its forces to the minimum strength, after which the circumstances for holding a plebiscite should be put into effect ‘on the question of the accession of the State to India or Pakistan’. A further resolution on 13 August 1948 adopted unanimously by UNCIP outlined arrangements for the cessation of hostilities and once more restated that a final decision on the future status of the Jammu and Kashmir ‘shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people’. On 5 January 1949, UNCIP once more affirmed that, when the truce agreement had been signed, the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through ‘the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite’. ‘The roots of the Kashmir dispute are deep’, concluded the third and final report of UNICP, which made three visits to the sub-continent between 1948 and 1949. Then as now, the Indian government considered itself to be in legal possession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by virtue of the Instrument of Accession of October 1947 signed by the Maharaja and the then Governor – General, Lord Mountbatten. This basic premise constituted the legality of India’s presence in the state and of her control over it. India maintained that her armies were in Kashmir as a matter of right; her control of the defence, communications and external affairs of the state was as a direct consequence of the act of accession. The Pakistani position was based on the contention that the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India was illegal and, therefore, there was no basis whatsoever for India’s contention that the legality of the accession was ‘in fact and law beyond question’. Pakistan maintained that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir had no authority left to execute an Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 because the people had successfully revolted, had overthrown his government and had compelled him to flee from Srinagar, the capital. The act of accession was brought about by violence and fraud and as such it was invalid from the beginning, the maharaja’s offer of accession was accepted by the governor – general of India, Lord Mountbatten, on the condition that as soon as law and order had been restored, the question of the accession of the state would be decided by a reference to the people. Pakistan also believed that the Azad movement was indigenous and spontaneous, as result of repression misrule by the maharaja’s government.

The instrument of Accession, which was not granted to other former princely states. Legally, India’s jurisdiction only extended to external affairs, defence and communications. It was anticipated that the accession would be confirmed by reference to the people, under the auspices of the United Nations. In the year to come, the Indian government sought to integrate within the framework of India, what it controlled of the original princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The will of the people, however, was never ascertained in such a manner as to make them feel that the issue was finalised. The history of what happened to the state’s ‘special status’ partially explains events in the present day. In less than two years after signing the Instrument of Accession, in which Hari Singh had asserted that he would continue to enjoy ‘ the exercise of any powers, authority and rights now enjoyed by me as Ruler of this State’, he was obliged to relinquish control. He died in Bombay in 1962. First as regent, then as Sadar-i-Riyasat, his son Karan Singh remained involved in Kashmiri affairs. But the Dogras dynasty, founded by Hari Singh’s great grandfather a century earlier, was gone. The Security Council once again discussed Kashmir, and once more observed that India and Pakistan had accepted the resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949, affirming that the future of the state of Jammu and Kashmir was to be decided through ‘the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite. Pakistan accepted this recommendation , but Nehru responded by stating that he would not permit the fate of four million people to be decided by a third person. Even though the United Nations had failed to ensure that the plebiscite was held, the idea in principle of a referendum to ascertain the wishes of the people was handed down to a new generation of Kashmiris. That the plebiscite was agreed upon the world body, such as the United Nations, meant that those Kashmiris who were opposed to union with India came to expect international support for what they perceived to be their right of self determination.
DIPLOMACY AND WAR
Throughout the 1960s the Kashmir issue continued to cause concern at an international level. After six rounds of talks between India and Pakistan which were held intermittently until May 1963, a joint communiqué was issued which stated with regret that no agreement could be reached on a settlement of the Kashmir dispute. In October 1963 the Government of Pakistan once more refereed the question of Kashmir to the Security Council and, in the Spring of 1964, the issue was debated for the 110th time in fifteen years. On his way to New York, Pakistan Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto announced that Pakistan was prepared to discuss the issue a thousand times in order to see that it was settled ‘in an honourable manner’. But, in view of the Soviet Veto, there was little the United Nations could do. The president of the Security Council expressed the concern of all the members for reestablishing of good relations between India and Pakistan “whose present disputes, particularly that centering upon Jammu and Kashmir, should be settled amicably in the interest of world peace’. The mysterious theft of the holy relic from Hazratbal which occurred in 1963 demonstrated the intense Islamic feeling amongst the Muslims of the valley. There was evidence of the beginnings of political dissent amongst the younger Kashmiris, which meant the movement for plebiscite and self-determination would be carried on to the next generation. ‘The greatest headache of the politically alert sections of my generation was how to get the new generation – our children – involved in the struggle for the State’s accession to Pakistan’, writes Muhammad Saraf. Most were young children, some not even born in 1947, and many of their politically active parents, like Ghulam Abbas, Muhammad Saraf, and others had opted for Pakistan. However, when selig harrison toured Kashmir, he reported that he found the people were solidly hostile to Indian rule and that it was only the presence of twelve Indian army brigades which kept the movement for self – determination contained. In the late 1960s fires in Muslim areas left many Muslim families homeless; activists hostile to the Indian government regard the occurrence of these fires with suspicion as part of a plan to make Kashmir into a majority Hindu state. Ever sensitive of the incursion of outsiders into the state, they objected to ‘citizenship’ certificates being awarded to non-Muslims who had settled in the valley. Algiers’s successful struggle against France and the Vietnamese resistance against the United States were beginning, however, to show the Kashmiri nationalists that there might, after all, be a way to change the status quo. Maqbool Butt, a Kashmiri freedom fighter and another activist were sentenced to death by New Delhi in September 1968, but, before the sentence was carried out, they escaped from the jail. ‘It created a sensation and electrified the people who rejoiced on their brilliant escape’, writes Saraf. ‘Can there be any better proof of Kashmiris innate hatred against India than the fact that for one month (these two leaders) were sheltered, transported and guided by their people”? With the passage of time, the Indian government was able “to make laws relating to the prevention of activities directed towards disclaiming, questioning or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India or bringing about secession of part of the territory of India”. This effectively gave India control in the areas which mattered most. Commentators at the time believed that the issue of plebiscite and self-determination could now be laid to rest. From an Indian standpoint, the movement for self-determination virtually came to an end with the 1975 accord between the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah and Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi. Pakistan was less than happy with the accord. Tension had once more increased between India and Pakistan after India’s first nuclear explosion in May 1974. Thus when the accord was announced it was termed a ‘self-out’ and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto also stated that the accord had ciliated the terms of Simla agreement that he had signed with India and the UN requirements for a plebiscite. With in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq believed that the accord had subverted Kashmiris’ right of self-determination. Opposition to the Accord among Kashmiris was widespread. “Our education taught us that the accord is not the resolution of the Kashmir dispute” said a Kashmiri journalist, who was editing a daily newspaper in Srinagar in 1975. “Our youth awoke and realized that we can’t any longer be the slaves of India’. ‘We Muslims feel we have been deprived of something’, said Ali, a carpet dealer, in 1981. “We haven’t allowed to join India or Pakistan of our own free will. Rather we have been forced to be with India”.
AN EXPLOSIVE SITUATION
The decade of the 1980s began peacefully for the valley of a Kashmir. Under the surface, however, disaffection as present. Sheikh Abdullah who now headed the government in Jammu and Kashmir was not popular in Jammu or in Laddakh and the Islamic groups, which had opposed the accord. As the Sheikh’s health began to fail he settled the succession on his son, Farooq in 1981. A new era of violence began. Farooq Abdullah, unlike his father, had not been schooled in the politics of the freedom movement. He had spent most of his adult like in Britain, where he had tainted as a doctor. On 21 August 1981 in a ceremony which stunned the people, who had assembled in Iqbal Park in Srinagar, Sheikh Abdullah appointed his untested progeny as president of the National Conference. Although Sheikh Abdullah was able to hand over the office, he could no pass on the experience to his son. As subsequent events were to show, Farooq’s rise to power came too easily. “In happier times’, writes Ajit Bhattachrjea “Farooq Abdullah could have proved an ideal leader for Kashmir. Tall, handsome, engaging, and forthright, he attracted crowds easily, making them believe that he would lead them out of the uncertainty, intrigue and corruption that darkened the last days of his father’. but he was also impulsive, gullible, easygoing and a novice in administration and politics’. ‘He liked the attention, the fun that went with power, and he liked the atmosphere of a feudal court that surrounded his father, says Tavleen Singh. ‘He was also both surprised and delighted by the adulation of the people and the society hostesses in Delhi’. Famed as the ‘disco’ chief minister, who enjoyed riding around Srinagar on his motor bicycle. Abdullah also played into Mrs. Gandhi’s hand instead of confining himself to the politics of Jammu and Kashmir. At the beginning of June, Mr. Gandhi’s operation Blue Star in the Punjab was put into action with the storming of Golden Temple against the Sikh extremists of the Akali Dal led b Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. in the aftermath, Punjab was in turmoil. Yet with supreme confidence the plan for Farooq’s dismissal was put into action. Soon after Blue Star, Gandhi visited Ladakh. On her return she summoned several newspaper editors, including Inder Malahotra. ‘She made no secret of her conviction that Farooq’s continuance as chief minister of Kashmir was bad for the state and the country. On the national stage, because of his meeting earlier in the year with Bhindranwale, Farooq was charged with secretly supporting the Sikh separatists and of permitting them to train in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. With the weight of Delhi now behind Abdullah’s brother-in-law, G.M Shah, the latter was appointed chief minister. The fact that the prime minister of India was willing and able to set Abdullah aside for what essentially were personal reasons demonstrated the lack of regard she and the government of Delhi had for Kashmir’s so-called special status. Shah’s government was unpopular form the outset. Under his chief ministership, the government sank ‘to the lowest depths of corruption and capriciousness’. Why then did Mrs. Gandhi allow him to be installed? ‘The more one explores this question the more convinced one is that she was virtually blinded by her intense dislike of Farooq’. As Malhotra writes, ‘According to Arun Nehru, a cousin of Rajiv Gandhi and member of Mrs. Gandhi’s kitchen cabinet’,’Indira puphi (aunt) asked us to get rid of Farooq at all costs and we did’. Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination in October 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards in revenge for Operation Bluestar removed the architect of Farooq’s dismissal. But the memory of betrayal remained. No amount of self-justification by Delhi could hide the fact that Farooq Abdullah’s drawingroom dismissal merely confirmed what Kashmiris had long suspected: that despite their ‘special status’, no one could remain in power in Srinagar if they did not have the support of Delhi. This lesson was not lost on Farooq Abdullah. When he returned to power following the 1987 elections believed to be massively ragged, it was as the head of a Conference-Congress alliance. Rajiv Gandhi, who became Prime Minister after his mother’s assassination, made it a policy to attempt to accommodate regional forces, not only in Kashmir, but also in the Punjab and Assam. Despite the role he may have played in Farooq’s dismissal, their personal relationship was better than that between Farooq and Mrs. Gandhi. After less than two years in office, G.M. Shah was dismissed on 7 March 1986 in the wake of severe communal riots which the state government had been unable to control. The army was called out and indefinite curfew was imposed, which gave G.M. Shah the name ‘Gul-e-Curfew’ (the Curfew flower). Muslims, however, found that they were being excluded from key jobs and that there was a general onslaught on Muslim culture and identity, both through the educational curriculum and socially. The Muslim political parties had called for peaceful strikes (hartals) in the valley to challenge the power of Delhi. Many were arrested. Azam Inquilabi, general secretary of the Mahaz-i-Azadi (independence Front) was detained in 1985 and his services as a teacher were terminated for his alleged involvement in ‘subversive’ activities. Shabir Ahmad Shah, another prominent Kashmiri leader was also arrested. A veteran activist who had begun his political career in 1968 at the age of fourteen, when he was arrested for publicly demanding the right of self-determination. After six months of discussion in November 1986, Rajiv reappointed Farooq Abdullah as chief minister in an interim National Conference-Congress coalition government, but Abdullah was already beginning to pay the price for bowing to Delhi. ‘Overnight, Farooq was transformed from hero to traitor in the Kashmiri mind,’ writes Tavleen Singh. ‘Propel could not understand how a man who had been treated the way he had by Delhi, and especially by the Gandhi family, could now be crawling to them for accords and alliances’. Amongst those who entered the political vacuum were the collection of political parties which had organised themselves in September 1986 to form the Muslim United Front to contest the election. MUF’s election manifesto stressed the need for a solution to all outstanding issues according to the Simla agreement. It also assured the voters that it would work for Islamic unity and against political interference from the center. Before the election, several MUF leaders were arrested as well as number of election agents. There were widespread charges of rigging. ‘Votes were cast in favour of the Muslim United Front, but the results were declared in favour of the National Conference. The people of Kashmir got disgusted and disappointed and disillusioned. Educated but unemployed, their grievances were fueled by events both within and outside the valley. They were also the ones who considered themselves economically deprived because they were neither part of the bureaucracy nor the elite. In May 1987 the first major act of violence was perpetrated against Farooq Abdullah when his motorcade was attacked on the way to the mosque. Farooq Abdullah’s domestic standing was further diminished by his attempt to locate some of the government departments permanently. His suggestion caused an outburst in Jammu, where the people went on strike in protest. Throughout 1988 there were continuing disturbances against Abdullah’s government which disrupted daily life. In June, there were demonstrations in Srinagar against he sudden rise in the cost of electricity. The price increase annoyed people because supplies of electricity were at best erratic, but the government’s response was unsympathetic. Anti-Indian feeling within the valley was mirrored by a surge of support for Pakistan. On 11 April 1988, young Muslims in Srinagar had forced shopkeepers to keep their shops shut in sympathy with all those who had been killed in an ammunition dump at Ojhri in Pakistan. Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq sent a condolence telegram to General Zia for the loss of life. Prayers were said in the Jammu mosque. A mourning procession was taken out in the streets of Srinagar which raised pro-Pakistan slogans, burnt buses and clashed with the police. As India prepared to celebrate forty-one years of independence, anti-India slogans were raised in the valley. Pro-Pakistani supporters celebrated Pakistan’s independence day on 14 August, but India’s independence on 15 August was called a ‘black day’. Two days later, on 17 August, General Zia-ul-Haq was killed in a plane crash at Bahawalpur in Pakistan. His death was mourned in the valley, which led to disturbances. Eight people were reported to have been shot dead and at least thirteen wounded. On 27 October – the anniversary of India’s airlift into Srinagar in 1947 – there was a complete strike on what the protesters were now calling ‘occupation Day’. As the decade of the 1980s drew to a close, the valley of Kashmir reflected an explosive situation’.
CLOSURE OF THE VALE 1990
Every youth in Kashmir came to be regarded as a potential militant. Reports of Human rights abuses began to hit the headlines world-wide. Stories emerged of torture, rape and indiscriminate killing. A strike was called for India’s Republic Day on 26 January. It was the first of many hartals in 1989, which took up one-third of the year’s working days. The fifth anniversary of Maqbool Butt’s execution on 11 February was the occasion for another strike. Two days later there was a massive anti-Indian demonstration against Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, which lasted nearly a week, even though the government had banned the book. The whole of Srinagar went on strike. When five people were reportedly killed in police firing the strike spread to other towns in the valley. There was a blackout on 14 November, Nehru’s birthday, and on 5 December, Sheikh Abdullah’s birthday. Too many Kashmiri youth were unemployed; a problem which Farooq understood but could not remedy. ‘bright students could not get admission into colleges in the 1980s unless they paid bribes to politicians’, stated a lecturer at the university of Kashmir. This led to a loss of faith in the system and eventually the revolt. We kept struggling for a peaceful resolution of the dispute, but failed’, said Inquilabi, ‘so this young generation has opted for active resistance and it has gained momentum and it will continue to gain momentum come what may’. On the night of 19 January in intensive house-to-house search was carried out in an area where militants were believed to be hiding. Three hundred people were arrested, most of whom were later released. The reaction from the people was unprecedented. ‘The whole city was out. I was sleeping – it was midnight. I heard people on the road shouting pro-Pakistani slogans and Islamic slogans – ‘Allah o Akbar’, ‘What do we want? We want freedom!” recalls Haseeb, a Kashmiri medical student. The next day, as Jagmohan was sworn in as governor with the promise that he would treat the state like a ‘nursing orderly’, a large demonstration assembled in the streets of Srinagar to protest against the search the night before. In response, paramilitary troops gathered on either side of the Gawakadal bridge over the Jhelum river. When the unarmed crowd reached the bridge it was fired on from both sides of the river. The shooting has been called the worst massacre in Kashmiri history. Over a hundred people died, some from gunshot wounds, others because, in fear, they jumped into the river and drowned. Farooq Ahmad, a mechanical engineer who was watching the demonstration, was wounded. Presumed dead, he was put into a lorry filled with bodies, ‘I was fortunate, my back was hit by six bullets… but my head was safe, I was conscious also. I saw the bridge was completely full of dead bodies… there was chaos, people running here and there. Whereas the Indian press played the incident down, the foreign press reported the massacre and its repercussions to the world. ‘Thousands of Muslims, chanting “Indian dogs go home”, ‘We want freedom’, reported the Daily Telegraph. As a result, foreign correspondents were banned from the valley. A curfew was imposed indefinitely. Several other towns were put under curfew. In defiance of what came to be called ‘crackdown’ by the authorities, the people continued to come out on the streets: ‘There were loudspeakers in the mosques encouraging people to come out. Everyday, all day people were shouting slogans’, recalls Haseeb. ‘Azadi, Azadi…Allah-o-Akbar – Freedom, Freedom, God is Great’ was broadcast from the minarets. Even I was thinking within ten days, India will have to vacate Kashmir. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, civil servants, students all came out on the streets in protest. For the first time the Indian flag was not hoisted to celebrate India’s Republic Day on 26 January, which was observed as a ‘black day’. Those journalists already in Srinagar remained confined to their hotel rooms; their curfew passes were withdrawn. Restrictions on the press, however, prevented genuine information from getting through to the valley. With the exception of foreign radio, the Kashmiris were obliged to relay on press release issued from Jagmohan’s office in Raj Bhavan. The same stories appeared in different newspapers with the same content under different by-lines. At the end of February an estimated 400,000 Kashmiris marched on the offices of the United Nations Military Observer Group to hand in petitions demanding the implementation of the UN officials were obliged to point out that their presence in the valley was only to monitor the line of control. Nearly every day a procession of lawyers, women, teachers, doctors marched through the streets of Srinagar. On 1 March more than forty people were killed in police firing when a massive crowd, estimated at one million took to the streets. The continuing curfew led to severe shortages of food, medicines and other essential items. The hospitals were becoming so full of the victims of the insurgency that the name of the Bone and Joint hospital in Srinagar was changed to the hospital for bullet and bomb blast injuries. In a mass exodus, at the beginning of March 1990, about 140,000 Hindus left the valley for refugee camps outside Jammu. The more affluent took up residence in their second homes in Delhi, but the vast majority were housed in squalid tents in over fifty camps on the outskirts of both Jammu and Delhi. Their story is as familiar as any the world over. Used as propaganda material by the Indian government to demonstrate that Muslims were not the only ones suffering during the insurgency. There was and still is, however, a widespread feeling that the departure of the Hindus was not necessary and that Jagmohan, who had a reputation for being anti-Muslim, attempted to give the Kashmiri problem a communal profile by facilitating their departure in government transport. Two eminent jurists, V.M. Tarkunde, now in his eighties, and Rachinder Sachar, as well as the educationalist, Amrik Singh, and balraj Puri, toured Kashmir in March and April 1990. Parts of there report read: ‘The fact is that the whole Muslim population of the Kashmir valley is wholly alienated from India and due to the highly repressive policy pursued by the administration in recent months, especially since the advent of Shri Jagmohan in January 1990, their alienation has now turned into bitterness and anger’. Mirwaiz Farooq Assumed the role of respected elder, someone whom in the present crisis, both the government and the militants could approach. As chief preacher at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, his religious influence was considerable. However, on 21 May 1990 he was shot dead at his home. His teenage son, Omar, blamed ‘those elements who were working against the interests of the Kashmiri movement’ for his death. During his funeral procession as the crowd passed Islamia College, where the 69th battalion of the CRPF was quartered, some officers opened fire. Officially, the government acknowledged twenty seven dead, but unofficial sources claimed as many as 100 died, possibly more. The Mirwaiz’s coffin was also pierced with bullets. Outrage at the murder turned into hysteria against the government. The valley under Jagmohan became a closed war zone. When the Punjab Human Rights Organisation investigated Maulvi Farooq’s death, they described’ a complete iron curtain’ separating the Kashmir valley from the outside world. “The regime of the curfew is all pervading. There are severe restrictions on outsider Indians seeking to enter the valley”. Although Jagmohan’s tenure as Governor lasted less than five months, during this period, the alienation of the valley against the Indian government became almost total. After Mirwaiz Farooq’s death, Jagmohan was replaced as governor by Girish “Gary’ Saxena. He had spend seventeen years with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s intelligence agency. Human Rights organisation, although restricted in their access, condemned the violations of human rights in the valley. In 1991 Asia Watch stated that the government forces ‘have systematically violated international human rights law by using lethal force against peaceful demonstrators. The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) special Ordinance, introduced in July 1990, provided the security forces with extraordinary power to shoot and kill, search and arrest without a warrant, all under immunity from prosecution. The security forces were reported as going on ‘a binge’ of arson, burning shops and houses in retaliation for a recent ambush by the militants”. In April 1990, David Housego filed from Malangam in the Kashmir valley the following report: ‘Indian security forces tied up and shot seven men and boys, all members of the same Kashmiri Muslim family in this remote village at the weekend; in what seems to have been a calculated act of brutality to deter villagers from helping Kashmiri separatists’. The apparently cold-blooded reprisals by India’s Border Security Force BSF, against villagers they believed to be shielding militants or weapons is further evidence of breakdown in discipline among Indian forces in Kashmir’. In June 1991, Tony Allen-Mills reported how the inhabitants of Kulgam were subjected to indiscriminate firing in the streets in reprisal for a rocket attack on BSF barracks, when two soldiers were slightly injured: Abdul Hamid Wazi, a baker’s assistant, saw soldiers poring gunpowder on the outside walls of his house. They fired a shot and set the place alight. The thatched roof collapsed on him. Wazi jumped through the flames, badly burning his leg and face. by the time the soldiers’ wrath was spent, twenty-eight shops and two houses had been torched, there were bullet holes in the mosque and several women claimed to have been raped. One of the most serious allegation of excess which Governor Sexena faced happened in the small town of kunan Poshpura. In February 1991 there were reports of fifty-three women being gangraped, while the men were kept ousted in the freezing cold or locked in houses and interrogated. ‘What happened in Kunan Poshpura is seen as the greatest single atrocity by security forces,’ wrote Christopher Thomas in the Times. The soldiers were identified as members of the 4th Rajput rifles. Indian army ad paramilitary were initially estimated to be 150,. The belief that ‘half a million Indian troops’ were stationed in Kashmir became an established fact in the opinion of all opposition groups. Hindu communalism remained a factor during this period. It reached alarming proportions at the end of December 1992 with the destruction by Hindu extremists of the mosque at Ayodha in Uttar Pradesh, Southnof Nepal. ‘After Ayodha’, commented one Kashmiri activist, ‘we did not understand why the Muslims in India did not do like us and ruse up against the Indian government.’ One of the towns to suffer most at the hands of the security forces was Sopore. On 6 January 1993, at least forty-three people were killed and a whole section of central Sopore was burnt to the ground. It was considered to be the largest reprisal attack by the security forces during the insurgency. According to Asia Watch, witnesses reported seeing the BSF soldiers pour houses and shops. Witnesses also stated that the BSF prevented fire fighters from putting out the blaze. On 18 February 1993 Dr. Farooq Ashai, chief orthopedic surgeon at the Bone and Joint hospital in Central Srinagar, was killed while returning home in his car with his wife and daughter. A respected doctor, he had acted as a spokesman for injured civilians in Kashmir. His students later erected a monument in his memory outside the hospital. They commemorated their “beloved teacher and humanist patriot who fell to the bullets of security forces”. In March another renowned doctor, Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru, a heart surgeon, was shot in Srinagar. Once again there was an outcry but no inquiry took place. During his funeral procession, a large crowd assembled. ‘There were 5000 to 6,000 people but the BSF had cordoned off the area to the Martyrs graveyard and said that only a hundred people will go’, said a relative. In the encounter which followed, the police opened fire and Dr. Guru’s brother-in-law, Ashiq Hussain, one of the pallbearers, was shot in the head and died instantly. “Although the evidence does not indicate that the police targeted Hussain, it is evident from the testimony and photographs that they fired directly into the crowd’, stated Asia Watch. Amnesty International was persistently forbidden access to the troubled valley.

HEARTS AND MINDS
In October the government set up the National Human Rights Commission under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. But, according to Amnesty International, Whose observers were still not allowed into the valley, its efficacy was reduced by the fact that it was not empowered to enquire into complaints of human rights violations by the army and paramilitary forces. ‘All it can do when faced with complaints of this nature is to call for official reports from the government, effectively functioning as a ‘post box’ of official views. In October 1993 the mosque at Hazratbal once more attracted international attention. by the autumn, the Indian government decided to take action. Azam Indquilabi, whose Operation Balakote militants were also at Hazratbal, said that the intention of the Indian army was to destroy the mosque. They wanted to humiliate the religious sentiments of the Kashmiris, to the extent that, once the shrine would have been demolished through shelling, they would then tell the Kashmiris. “You see even after having this shrine demolished, Pakistani forces could not intervene. So they do not express solidarity with you struggling people. They are leaving you in the lurch; so this is hypocrisy of the Muslim world, therefore why should you fight for the Muslim world and you should reconcile yourselves to the situation as it was in 1989. Pakistan condemned the Indian action in surrounding the mosque as sacrilege and onlookers, both domestic and foreign, feared the outcome would be similar to the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar when the Indian army moved against Sikh militants in 1984. The image of Indian restraint was, however, undermined by the actions of the border security forces in Bijbihara when they shot at least thirty-seven unarmed demonstrators who were protesting against the siege of Hazratbal. Fourteen BSF members were held responsible. According to the Indian Government, a Magisterial Inquiry and a Staff Court Inquiry were undertaken. The SCOI blamed four security force personnel for excessive use of force, while the Magisterial Inquiry indicated twelve people’. The magistrate also concluded that the shootings were unprovoked. The Indian government posted security forces in bunkers around Hazratbal. The Kashmiris objected to the mosque being ‘fortified’ by Indian troops. International concern over Kashmir reached a high point in February 1994 when the Pakistani prime Minister, Benezir Bhutto, who had returned to office in October 1993, raised the issue in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. The situation in Kashmir was intolerable, she said, as was the world’s silence. Despite its repression, India had failed to impose its will on the indomitable people of Jammu and Kashmir. When election speculation was at its height during the spring of 1995, one by one the members of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference a loose coalition of some 34 Kashmiri political parties and groups in the freedom struggle said they would not participate. l ‘The Indian government has thrust this election process on us because they want to convey to the external world that they believe in the democratic system’, said Yasin Malik a prominent Kashmir Leader. He felt so strongly about the proposed election that he threatened to immolate himself: ‘I am not doing this act against India. If the world conscience will come forward, they can stop the Indian government in this so-called election process. If they do not come forward then I will do this act against the world conscience, then I will be convinced that there is no one who can listen to the voice of the oppressed people’. Shabir Shah, believed to be one of the few leaders who could be a unifying force throughout the state, said that he would not take part in the election. ‘We have no trust in Delhi. They have eroded our rights since 1953 and therefore we don’t believe they will return us these rights”. Professor Abdul Ghani of the Muslim Conference described the Indian government’s attempt to hold elections as ‘political prattle as opposed to political initiative’. Even Farooq Abdullah, who is committed to finding a solution within secular India, placed stringent conditions on his participation. The political parties, represented by the Harriet, indicated that they would no be willing to participate in an election process within the frame-work of the Indian constitution. ‘Their idea of elections is just to create a government, a chief minister, an administration and then stop’, says Omar Farooq. ‘While our stand is that elections cannot be a substitute for self-determination. If elections were a solution to the problem we have already had eight or nine elections. But still the basic issue is unresolved’. ‘India realizes that they cannot make a dramatic change with elections, but they want to impress upon the international community that they are doing something and divert attention from the main issue of self determination.

TORTURE

Opponents of India’s military occupation of the valley of Kashmir continue to maintain that 600,— troops are stationed throughout the state in what is the highest troops to civilian population density ratio in any region in the world. This figure is taken to include over half of the 33 divisions of the regular army, border security forces (100,000) and Jammu and Kashmir police (30,000). A ‘crack’ corps of Rashtriya (National) Rifles (RR) was also brought into the valley to deal specifically with counter-insurgency. The report of the International Commission of Jurists after their visit in August 1993 noted: There is a long way still to go to overcome undiscipline and misconduct of the security forces, particularly the BSF, the persistent and regular use of torture in interrogation and the practice of extra-judicial militants and suspected militants has been a feature of Indian counter-insurgency tactics as a means of extracting information, coercing confessions and punishment.

According to Amnesty International, ‘the brutality of torture in Jammu and Kashmir defies belief. It has left people mutilated and disabled for life. The severity torture meted out by the Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir is the main reason for the appalling number of deaths in custody’. The torture generally includes electric shocks, beatings, and the use of a heavy roller on leg muscles, which can result in extensive muscle damage, leading to acute renal failure. Other forms of inhuman treatment on various parts of the body, including sexual molestation have also been reported. According to one victim, quoted by amnesty, ‘You always know in advance about the “current” because they send in the barber to shave you from head to foot. This is supposed to facilitate the flow of electricity. After he finishes shaving you, he hands you a cup of water to drink and then they attach the electrodes’. Other common methods, described by the US Human Rights Agency, Asia Watch, include suspension by the hands or feet, stretching the legs apart and burning the skin with a clothes iron or other heated object. Victims have also been kicked and stamped on by security forces wearing spiked boots. Sixty-three interrogation centres where torture is routinely carried out are believed to exist in Jammu and Kashmir, mostly run by the BSF and the CRPF. Army camps, hotels and other buildings have been taken over by the security forces as detention centres. One BSF center is located in one of the Maharaja’s old guest houses overlooking Dal lake and the mountains. With faded wallpaper, worn carpets and stags’ antlers on the walls, the luxuries of the past intrude inappropriately on the brutality of the present. Whereas an officer on duty will admit to the necessity of giving ‘a few slaps’ to captured militants to make them reveal where they have hidden their weapons gruesome photographs of mutilated bodies are part of any press kit given to concerned journalists by human rights activists and militant sympathizers. In its December 1993 report, Amnesty International produced information about disappearances in Kashmir. Another report by Amnesty in January 1995 regarding 705 people who, since 1990 had died in custody as a result of torture, shooting or medical neglect, produced yet another rebuttal from the Indian government. Amnesty, however, described their response as ‘evasive and misleading’. Complacently, the government refuses to recognise that there is an urgent need to take decisive action to put an end to the appalling human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. “Such practices clearly contravene international human rights standards which the Indian government is bound to uphold. Amnesty also notes that, court orders to protect detainees are routinely flouted. Despite promises of enquiries into custodial deaths, official investigations are rare. When they have taken place, the evidence is not made public, which diminishes the credibility of government findings. ‘It also makes a mockery of its expressed intention to eradicate human rights violations.

The Jammu and Kashmir Republic Safety Act (1978) permits people to be detained for up to two years on vaguely defined grounds to prevent them acting ‘in any manner prejudicial… to the security of the state and the maintenance of public order. Detention without charge is possible for up to one year. In 1990 the act was amended in order to exempt the authorities from informing the detainee the reason for his arrest. In its report, the ICJ concluded that the law has led to ‘hardships among those arrested under its scope. Its highly discretionary tone undermines efforts to discover the whereabouts of arrested persons and the quest for habeas corpus. The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987 (TADA) prohibits not only terrorist acts but also broadly defined ‘disruptive’ activities. The act established special courts to try those arrested. The term ‘disruptive activities’ is defined as including: Any action, whether by act or by speech or through any other media or in any other manner, which questions, disrupts… the sovereignty or territorial integrity of India, or which is intended to bring about or supports any claim for the cession of any part of India or the secession of any part of India from the union. As the international jurists pointed out. The definition of ‘disruptive activities’ is ‘a blatant contravention of the right to freedom of speech’. The discretionary nature of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, introduced by Saxena in 1990, which gives the governor or the government in New Delhi the authority to declare all or part of the state a ‘disturbed area’ and to use the armed forces to assist the civil power, means that the military can be used ‘to suppress legitimate political activity’ and according to the ICJ cannot possibly be justified. Since the military have the power to shoot and kill, ‘this involves a potential infringement of the right to life. Additional laws have been either introduced or revived ‘with negative impact on human rights’. Pakistan’s official stand has been to highlight the abuse of human rights on the international stage and point to the alienation of the Kashmiris of the valley from Indian rule while putting the issue in its historical context and referring back to the UN resolutions. Traditionally, Azad Kashmiris have been sympathetic to the Kashmiris of the valley where many still have relatives. A ‘liberation cell’ has been operating in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir since 1987, which retains close links both with the AJK government in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad. Its representatives guide foreigners through the political issues at stake as well as the refugee camps which have been set up to accommodate those who fled from the border towns of Kupwara, handwara, and Baramula in the early years of the insurgency. ‘We eat and are clothed’, said one refugee from Ambore camp outside Muzaffarabad, ‘but everything gets distasteful when we remember out bothers and sisters in occupied Kashmir’. ‘We notice the need for women to have psychiatric help’, says Nayyar Malik, who works as a voluntary social worker in the camps. They have been through such terrible thing and they need to talk. A radio station has been operating since 1960 in Muzaffarabad. It was initially set up to publicise the development activities of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government. but, says Masood Kashif, the station director, ‘it was not possible to keep our eye shut on the situation in Occupied Kashmir, therefore, a fair proportion of its broadcast was reserved for broadcasting programs on the subjects of freedom movement, freedom history and other relevant topics’. He believes that the Azad Kashmir radio is so popular in “Occupied Kashmir’ that the Indian government has imposed a ban on listening to the station and ‘is making her best efforts to jam the transmission.

LIVING UNDER SIEGE

The city of Srinagar is dusty and dirty, with uncollected rubbish dumped on the roadside for dogs and cows to forage through. The streets are full of potholes. The charred remains of once revered buildings, such as the library next to the mosque at Hazratbal, are a visual reminder of past battles. Al lake is thick and stagnant with weeds. The lives of the Kashmiris have been convulsed by bomb attacks, reprisals, cross-firing and curfew. Their homes have been raided and sometimes destroyed because of frequent security operations. Sopore is still half-gutted by fire. ‘I used to be frightened when the army came. but now I am used to it’, said a young girl from Sopore. “The searching totally destroys our houses. They scatter our belongings and break things”. For over eight years, the Kashmiris have lived in fear of the gun. Whether it is the militants or Indian security forces. Suspected militants or sympathisers, have been arrested, tortured, killed or just disappeared.” In practice any young Muslim man living within a village rural area or part of town noted for activities of any of the pro-independence or pro-Pakistan groups can become a suspect and a target for the large-scale and frequently brutal search operations’, stated the Amnesty in 1993, Extrajudicial executions of militants have often been publicised as death in ‘an encounter’. Nearly every Kashmiri has a sad tale to tell of a family member who had been picked up by the security forces on suspicion of being a militant. Dr. Rashid is one of thousands who suffered personal loss: My brother was twenty-five years old. He was running a cosmetics shop. The BSF came and took him. In front of my father and family, he was killed. Someone had pointed him as being a militant. He was not armed and in the news that evening they gave that there was an encounter, when there was no encounter at all. Not long afterwards Dr. Rashid’s younger brother was also shot for being a suspected militant. Then he heard the news about his cousin’s son: He was eighteen year old-he was a student. He was captured; I went to the police station and asked to see him because I had heard he had got some bullet injuries. They told me to wait and they would see where he was. For two hours I waited there. Then they brought his dead body. The report said he was running away and then they shot him. If he was running away he would have had bullet wounds on the back. but he had two bullet injuries at 2cm distance just on his heart in front. For the majority of the people the ill-effects of living under siege are tremendous. No one has yet been able to evaluate the trauma of events on their lives since 1989. Children have frequently been unable to go to school and the standard of education has declined. Schools in rural areas have been occupied by the security forces, who have also installed themselves in university campuses. Medical facilities are insufficient and the hospitals are unhygienic. The doctors are overworked and many have fled. In 1995 the bone and Joint Hospital had only three senior medical staff, besides nine registrars and six consultants. Immunisation programmers for children have fallen behind. On account of the insurgency, there are twenty times the number of psychiatric cases than in 1989. Unofficial statistics estimate that 40,000 people have died since 1988. Amnesty bases its figures on police and hospital sources and assesses the number as in excess of 17,000. ‘but we also believe there are several thousand more for whom we have no statistics’, says a representative of Amnesty. The martyr’s graveyards in Srinagar is full of fresh graves with weeping mothers and onlookers standing by. In 1994 M.N Sabharwal, the director-general of Police in Srinagar admitted that at least 1,500 civilians had been killed in the crossfire, with many more injured. Just one of those casualties lay in a ward of the Bone and joint Hospital in April 1994. He had been out shopping with his wife on his motorcycle. When firing began in a crowded street, soldiers shouted at them to get off the motorcycles and lie face down on the ground. Both he and his wife received bullet wounds. He was crying as he related his story. ‘My Mrs. is in the ladies hospital. I am here. What have we done to deserve this? His own injury, close to his heart, was so serious that the doctor had only permitted him to be interviewed on the understanding that I did not tell him that his wife had already died. ‘The shock’, warned the doctor ‘might kill him’. All communities have suffered during the insurgency. For those Kashmiri Muslims of the valley who so enthusiastically supported the demand for Azadi, on the understanding that they had been promised a plebiscite in order to determine their future, the sense of betrayal is perhaps greatest. The repression of the 1990s, the indiscriminate and unnecessary killings have merely added fuel to their anger. Time and again I heard people say: ‘How could we ever accept the Indian government again, after what the military did to our people?’ The record numbers of nearly 80,000 foreign tourists who visited the valley in 1989 are reduced to about 9,000. Isolated incidents of kidnapping foreigners who were either working in Kashmir or had come as tourists, as well as the rape of a Canadian girl in October 1990 by two army officers, acted as an obvious deterrent. So too the miltarisation of the valley and the paradox of enjoying a holiday, while the local people were subjected to crackdowns and cross-firing.

The lack of tourists has, of course, meant that the business of the local Kashmiris has suffered accordingly: houseboat, the Rickshaw wallahs, taxi drivers, tonga drivers hotel owners, and those who depended on selling their handicrafts to visiting tourists, have all lost what was the only avenue of income open to them. In July 1995 Six foreigners were kidnapped. The Hurriyat and virtually all the Kashmiri parties condemned the kidnapping. Pakistan also condemned the kidnapping and some commentators even believed that the incidents was an elaborate ploy by Indian intelligence to discredit the Kashmiri movement and, indirectly, Pakistan. The valley, surrounded by the magnificent Himalayan mountains, whose beauty has, for centuries, attracted visitors from far and wide, is still the home of tragedy.

CONCLUSION

The Kashmiri conflict, which has lasted half a century, has been inherited by the next and the next generation. Many of those in the forefront of the struggle today were not born when it all began, nor were those who have died fighting in the cause of Kashmir. The State of Jammu and Kashmir remains, as every, poised strategically between powerful and competing neighbors: China to the east, the new Central Asian republics to the north and west and the land mass of the sub-continent to the south. The world, however, has become much more dangerous since 1947. Yet the basic demand of those Kashmiris challenging the Indian government is the same; the right to determine their future. The Kashmiris who are challenging Indian rule, however, believe that it is the moral duty of the international community to support their cause precisely because successive resolutions, unanimously adopted by the Security Council, called for the settlement of the dispute by means of a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Kashmiris refute India’s suggestion that if Kashmir secedes it will lead to the break-up of India. ‘We have a legal case, supported by United Nations resolution. There are commitments made by India’, says Omar Farooq also believes that India does not have to retain Kashmir for the sake of its ‘secular’ image, ‘There are over 100 million Muslims in India, which make it secular, without India having to hold onto Kashmir. The Kashmiris are also apprehensive that adverse publicity regarding the militancy means that their struggle is misunderstood by the world community. ‘It is portrayed as a terrorist and Islamic fundamentalist movement, while that is not the case’, says Omar Farooq. ‘It is important to understand the Kashmiris’ point of view. We are not fanatics’. Kashmiris still see that the best solution lies in pressure from he international community. The Kashmiris who are opposing India do not see themselves as remote and rate their struggle on the same basis as other trouble spots. ‘We see issues like Bosnia, Ireland, Middle East getting solved’, says Omar Farooq, ‘Therefore we have high hopes of getting the international community involved to solve the issue in Kashmir.’ The Government of India has strongly objected to Pakistan’s re-introduction of the Kashmir issue on the international platform, be it at the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Countries, the Commonwealth or in meetings with foreign leaders. The history of Kashmir may be relevant to understand the depth of feeling, but once understood, the challenge is to move on. World parameters have changed. They have also hardened. Nationalist feeling, the braking republics within the former Soviet Union, and alienation towards the Indian government in New Delhi have made the Kashmiris’ demand for self-determination even stronger. The reunification of East and West Germany was particularly symbolic. ‘We felt if the Berlin Wall could be dismantled so too could the line of control’, said Dr. Hamida Bano, professor of English at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar. What has not changed, however, is the belief that a plebiscite is the time-honored way to finalise the issue. Regardless of prior elections, accords and economic packages, the Kashmiris people have never been allowed to exercise their right of self-determination to which the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir became entitled as parto of the process of partition has neither been exercised nor abandoned, and thus remains execrable today. Unless the Kashmiris themselves can be made to feel that they have been given the freedom to choose their destiny, the issue may never be laid to rest. If this generation is silenced, the next will learn the history, read about the plebiscite and seek, perhaps again through armed struggle, to achieve their aims. Discontent in the Valley did not begin with the insurgency of the 1990s. The Government of India had nearly fifty years to win over the hearts of the Kashmiris. Even during periods of stability and apparent calm the acquiescence of the people was never wholehearted or unanimous. The ‘riggid’ elections of 1987 and 96, combined with economic grievances, corruption and unfulfilled expectations, completed the process of alienation. India’s persistent belief that Pakistan instigated the Kashmiri problem has also prevented a thorough analysis of the Indian government’s handling of the situation. ‘I do not believe that any foreign hand engineered the Kashmir problem’, stated Gorge Fernandes in 1990′.

The problem was created by us. Is there a solution? Our first goal should be that we should be in a position to decide our future’, says Omar Farooq. In consultation with the political leadership of Azad Kashmir, we could take a decision. All Kashmiris should sit and discuss what will be the future of the state. Until we can discuss with our brothers across the border it is very difficult for us to take a single-handed decision. Spoken so convincingly, it all sounds easy. ‘We have given proposals to the Indian government’, Farooq continues ‘you stop human rights abuses, allow in Amnesty and other organisations, release political prisoners and accept that Kashmir is part of a dispute. Kashmiri political activists continue to maintain that elections are no substitute for a plebiscite. Without a generally acceptable settlement, the Kashmir issue is likely to remain indefinitely on the international agenda of unresolved conflicts, which may yet become more explosive’.

Periods of Independence
Up to 1325: Ruled by 155 Rajas independent and sovereign 1325 to 1585: Muslim Sultans independent and sovereign (1420 to 1470) “Golden period of Kashmir history” Periods of Occupation and Struggle for Freedom
1586 to 1752: Mughal Rule
1752 to 1819: Tyrannical Afghan Rule
1819 to 1846: Colonized by Sikhs
16 March 1846: British sold Kashmir to Dogras
1846 to 1947: Dogra Rule
15 August 1947: Partition of British India Indo-Pak war to gain control over the territory of Kashmir
22 Oct.1947 : Pakistani backed tribal Invasion of Kashmir
24 Oct. 1947: Pakistan occupies one third of Kashmir – Provisional Govt. of Azad Kashmir proclaimed
27 Oct. 1947: Indian military intervention in Kashmir- two thirds of Kashmir occupied by India
Indo-Pak War: Cease-fire achieved 1 Jan, 1949.

History
‘Kashmir’ denotes the whole state of Jammu & Kashmir as it existed before October 1947. Millions of years back enormous tidal waves arose from the Indian ocean and layer after layer of silt and rock deposited to make the Himalayan range of mountains. The rock formations seen today confirm this theory.

These waves brought water with them. The receding waters left infertile foothills and the shelving shores of inland sea, the lakes of Kashmir today . Kashmir was an expanse of water and the first people who ever lived had homes in water, and indeed some still do ! Islands of land surfaced in time and people migrated . Theories have been postulated to explain this evolution. A massive volcanic eruption made a crater in the mountains and drained the water. Earthquakes in Kashmir are common and the bye-products like ash from lava is present in mountains. Kashmir could have been a mighty glacier in ice-age and earthquake split open a gorge , ice melted and drained away.

In Hindu mythology the big lake (Satisar) was inhabited by Nagas (Snake people) who fearing the demon (Jaladeo) pray to Kashyap (The sage). The sage goes into long penance to deliver the Nagas. Shiva (Hindu God) came down and with a hard blow created a crater in the mountains and drained the water away to surface land on which people started living. There is also a legendary story about Kind Solomon using ingenious canalization methods , drained the waters, using human labor. Whatever it was which created Kashmir it has since been awfully serpentine, ruefully demonic and the natives suffered gusty blows from the mighty waves of mordant politics

Jehlum river , the hydaspes formed the Eastern limit of advances for Alexandra the great of Macedonia. He left behind a gene- pool of a big continent of his army. The God King, ferocious fighter died in Babylon at 36 in 323 BC. The fair color of Kashmiri skin may be attributed to that invasion.

3rd century BC Ashoka (296-232 BC) the grandson of Chandra Gupta, the Mauryan King made Srinagar the capital of his huge empire. The Buddhists ruled up to 8th century and left their culture and monasteries, especially in Ladakh.

Huns gained control in sixth century. Mihira Kula, a Hun prince was known as cruel as death for his cruel behavior. The Ujjan empire took control in 530 AD. The Hindu king Lalitya Dityas’ rule ( 724-761) marked an era of literature and learning. Kashmir as his base he led his armies deep into South India, Turkistan and Tibet. He built temples at Martand , Avantipor and Pandrethan which still remain. He set an example for Kashmir as an independent country.

King Unmattavati 939-944 AD was inauspicious. He ripped the abdomen of the pregnant women to see the fetus, plunged daggers in the hollows between the breasts of naked women. The saga of repression continued during the time of King Harisha 1089-1101 AD.

Pundit Kalhane the great poet of the 12th century wrote Rajatarangi (River of Kings). He wrote “Kashmir may be conquered by force of spiritual merit but never by force of soldiers” which, in present political climate may be worth remembering. The spate of literal tranquility was short lived , ferocious tartars ( 1300-1320AD) Zulfi Khan from Changis Khan family invaded and indulged in ruthless killing, loot and arson. He perished in a blizzard crossing the Devasar pass. Simha Deva and his associate Ram Chand ruled for a while but soon Prince Rinchen took over having killed Ram Chand and married his daughter, Kuta Rani. Rinchen converted to Islam and called himself Sultan sadru-ud-din and built the great Jama Masjid and Ziyarat for Bulbul shah who was his mentor. Rinchen died and Simbha Deva’s brother Udayadeva married the widow Kuta Rani and ruled for 50 days. Shah Mir a Muslim from swat and adviser to Rinchen was waiting in the wings and took over the throne. This heralded the ‘ Sultan dynasty’ which lasted 200 years.

In 1372 Shah Hamadan arrived from central Asia with thousands of followers and spread his message of Islam. People were converted to his faith enmasse.. In the meantime Shah Mir died and the throne was inherited by Sultan Skinder in 1389 who ruled for 24 years and destroyed idols and sacred thread (500 lbs) of the converted Hindus . The fifty years rule of Zainul Abidin (Budsha) which followed is known as the golden era in the history of Kashmir He invited artists from Iran and handicrafts boomed. His rule has been remarkable in progress, prosperity and justice. His rule extended to Tibet and Punjab. He built a palace in the island called Zainlank also made by him and inscribed on the edifice ‘May this edifice be as firm as the foundation of the heavens’ He married into a Hindu Raja family from Jammu.. His two sons fought with each other after his death in 1470 and lost the throne to Chak family , waiting in the wings.

Yousuf Shah Chak and his wife Haba Khatoon were ruling when Akbar the Mughul Emperor beguiled him and entered Kashmir on June 5, 1586 to rule for the next 166 years. Jehangir inherited the throne and became obsessed with the beauty of Kashmir. He and his wife Nur Jehan built 777 gardens and panted Chinar trees. On his death in 1627 he uttered ‘Kashmir only Kashmir’.

Shah Jehan stepped in after his father Jehangir and also built places like Chashma Shahi and his sons Murad married to a Kashmiri girl built the Island called Char Chinar. His eldest son dara Shikoh built Pari Mahal and Greystone mask still standing today. It was Aurangzeb who got the throne having beheaded Dara. In 1664 Dec Aurangzeb set off from Delhi for Kashmir , accompanied by his sister Roshan Ara. 100,000 horsemen, camels, elephants and cattle. He lost most of his livestock in the mountains. The Mughal era came to an end with the ferocious invasion of Persian leader Nadir Shah in 1739. He took the peacock throne and Kohinoor and left the Mughals in disarray.

It was the Afghans who saw an opportunity and invaded Kashmir. Ahmad Shah Abdali ruled in a ruthless manner, he ordered public executions and people drowned in the Jehlem river. Afghans built Amira Kadal, Hari Parbat forte. One ruler 18 year old Azad Khan plundered , killed and raped like a lunatic. He slit the stomach of his doctor for not curing his eye ailment. Abdali died in Kabul in 1818 , the sons fought and lost Kashmir to Sikhs. It was like coming out of the frying pan into the fire !

The Sikhs were invited by locals to get rid of the Afghans but the 27 years rule from Sikhs was a hell . People were stoned to death for killing a cow. A despotic rule which led to pestilence, destitution followed unfortunately by earthquakes and famine of 1832. Ranjit Singh the ruler never visited Kashmir but wanted , taxes, shawls and women. Gulab Singh a dogra commander won his favor by fighting the British. He was awarded Jammu as Jagir.

It was Gulab Singh who conquered Ladakh and Dardistan in 1840. Poonch remained with his brother Dyan Singh. Gulab Singh betrayed his old master and helped the British to defeat Ranjit Singh. British demanded a heavy fine to relinquish Kashmir. Gulab Singh offered to pay and Kashmir was sold to him for Rs 75,000, one horse , 12 goats and three shawls. One shawl and 100 goats also to be given every year otherwise Kashmir would revert back to the British.. This became the famous Treaty of Amritsar.

Gulab Sigh consolidated power and Dogra rule of a complete century was heralded. He was very cruel and sought to reconvert all Muslims back to Hindus. 1857 Rambir Singh took over and helped British retake Delhi after a mutiny. His repressive rule lasted for 28 years and was succeeded by Major General Partap Singh. Partap Singh was dominated by British and he allowed a resident and a revenue commissioner Walter Lawrence was installed. This was a great relief for Kashmiris, because inhuman laws like ‘Beggar’ or forced free labor and execution for cow slaughter was abolished. In 1889 the British took over direct rule for sixteen years , giving a breathing time of relief for Kashmiris from repressive Dogra rule. Soon enough Maharaja was reinstalled in 1905 and saga of autocratic despotic rule continued. Hari Singh was the nephew ( Partap Sigh had no son) born and educated in Paris. He became the westernized Maharaja of Kashmir. Polo. golf, house -boats and trout fishing became the norm in Kashmir. British missionaries like Arthur Neve, Cecil Tyndale Biscoe, Miss Mellinson became the pioneers of development and education in Kashmir.

Srinagar Silk Weaving factory strike in 1924 when Said-ud-din Shawl and Noor Shah Naqshbandi were expelled was an important landmark for the political renascence of Kashmir. They submitted a petition to Lord Reading the viceroy of India with their grievances . On 13 July 1931 nine people were gunned down in front of central jail who were protesting against a Jammu policeman desecrating Quran. This became the ‘Martyrs Day’ A school teacher Shiekh Abdulla formed the ‘Muslim Conference’ which he later converted to National Conference to include the non-muslims in the party. Several thousand people got killed by Dogra army. The British set up the Glancy commission to investigate. Maharaja caved in and passed the constituent assembly act. Now 35 out of 70 seats would be elected. Muslim conference still active in Jammu under Choudry Abbas got 14 seats. The ‘Quit Kashmir’ movement launched by Abdulla took off like wild fire. Repression intensified. “Srinagar has been transformed into a graveyard” stated Nehru ” I must go there” He was greeted with black flags by Pandits and arrested.

1947 sorting partition of India out Lord Mountbatten called a meeting of the party leaders on June 13, 47. Mr. Nehru said that no state can claim independence, but Mr. Jinnah said ‘that constitutionally and legally the Indian states will be independent sovereign states on the termination of paramountcy and they will be free to decide for themselves to adopt any course they like. They can decide to remain independent. In the later case they enter into agreements and relationships, such as economic or commercial, with Hindustan or Pakistan as they may choose’

Maharaja and his Prime Minister Ram Chand Kak wanted independent Kashmir. A stand still agreement was signed with India and Pakistan. A trade agreement with Pakistan meant oil, salt could be imported and communication link kept open. Sudhans in Poonch revolted and got slaughtered by state forces. On 22 October Tribals from Waziristan invaded plunging Kashmir in darkness. They were only a few miles from capturing the capital city when Maharaja fleeing for life allegedly accepted provisional accession to India, in return for safety of his life. Indian army was flown in on 27th October and a war ensued between india and Pakistan. This resulted in partition of the state and 50 years on it still remains split and divided. The accession document signed by Lord Mountbatten states that the accession is probationary and subject to a plebiscite confirming his action. It is this plebiscite that people were promised that has now caused over 50,000 deaths of Kashmiris.

United Nations got involved. Jan, 24, 1948 Mr. Warren Austen of USA suggested an interim government followed by a plebiscite. Jan 1951 Australian PM , Mr. R G Menzies proposed stationing commonwealth troops or Indo Pakistan joint force or raise a local army in Kashmir It was rejected by India. United Nations or two deadly wars did not alter the status defacto position of Kashmir dispute nor did the Nehru-Abdulla agreement of July 24, 1952 Abdulla , the serving prime minister was arrested and jailed. The reasons for this action are elaborated ( 15 points )

September,4 ,1965 UN resolution stopped the Indo-Pakistani war, culminated in the Tashkent Declaration of Jan, 10, 1966. POW’s were exchanged , but Kashmir was left simmering in the smoldering fire. One more Indo-Pakistani war erupted, this time in East Pakistan and culminated in the Simla agreement of July ,3,1972. Again after exchange of POW’s Kashmir was left to be discussed later , in order to arrive at an amicable solution.

As time passed people eg Shastri, Ayub Khan , Nehru, Abdulla passed away; Even Mountbatten , who would have been an important witness was blown up by the IRA in Ireland. The local people have now come out in open revolt and every day more people die , more homes are blasted, more women molested and dehumanization is a norm.

OVERVIEW OF KASHMIRI RULERS

KASHMIR IN 3RD CENTURY BC

The Imperial history of Kashmir begins in the third century BC with the rule of Asoka. At that time, Kashmiris became famous throughout Asia as learned, cultured and humane and the intellectual contribution of writers, poets, musicians, and scientists to the rest of south Asia was comparable to that of ancient Greece to European civilization. SADR-U-DIN

Rinchen, a Buddhist ruler, who was converted to Islam by a famous Muslim saint Bulbul shah and given the Islamic name Sadr-u-din, became the first Muslim monarch of Kashmir. He was considered to be the wise ruler, but his reign did not last for long.

KINGDOM OF SHAHAB-UD-DIN
Shabab-ud-Din who came to the throne in 1354 is the first great king of Muslim period. Shahab-ud-Din devoted his attention to foreign expeditions, conquering Baltistan, Ladakh, Kishtwar and Jammu. Shahab-ud-Din loved learning and patronized art and architecture. In 1361 there was a devastating flood, but the atmosphere of general well being prevailed. On Shahab-ud-Din’s death in 1373, Qutb-ud-Din succeeded him.

KINGDOM OF QUTB-UD-DIN
During Qutb-ud-Din’s rule, the pace of conversion to Islam increased. Muslim from west and central Asia, in search of refuge from the Mongols, arrived in Kashmir. The most influential among them was Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (RA). He came with hundreds of missionaries i.e Syeds, from Hamadan and other parts of Persia who preached Islam and made this land the land of faithful. Sir Aurel Stein writes, “Islam made its way into Kashmir not by forcible conquest, but by gradual conversion.”

KINGDOM OF BUD SHAH
After the death of Qutb-ud-Din his son Sikander took over the power in 1389. Sikander was succeeded by his younger son popularly know as Bud Shah (the great king) in 1420. During Bud Shah’s long reign, which lasted until 1470, the valley prospered both economically and culturally. With the death of Bud Shah, the dynasty of the Shah Mirs began to decline.

MUGHAL RULE IN KASHMIR
Attracted by the fame of Kashmir, Mughals made several attempts to dominate it but they always failed. It was at Hamayun’s ruling period that Mirza Haider Dughlat, a cousin of Babar’s mother finally succeeded in conquering Kashmir in 1540. In 1555, Ghazi Chak, bringing the end to the 200-year old dynasty of Shah Mirs, became king of Kashmir. The Mughal Emperor Akbar led Kashmir’s incorporation into Mughal Empire and ended the Kashmir’s long history as a kingdom in its own right.

JAHANGEER’S GLORIOUS ERA
Of all the rulers of Kashmir Akbar’s son and successor, Jehangeer, is best remembered for his love of the valley Kashmir. He ascended the throne in 1605. During his reign Jehangeer adorned Kashmir with over 700 captivating and charming gardens. Their names evoke the beauty of the place: Shalimar (abode of love) and Nishat (garden of gladness) are the two most famous.

FALL OF MUGHAL REGIME
Jehangir was succeeded by his son, Shah Jehan in 1627. He too loved Kashmir and the valley became a popular place of refuge for the Mughals during the hot summers. Aurangzeb, who came to the throne in 1658, was the last of the Mughal Emperors to make any impact on Kashmir’s history.

AFGHANIS ARRIVAL IN KASHMIR
Nadir Shah’s invasion of the seat of Mughal power at Delhi in 1738 had weakened their imperial hold on Kashmir. This in turn left Kashmir at the mercy of coming rulers. With the decline of Mughal power in India the governors of Kashmir became irresponsible and cruel. In 1762, in alliance with the Dogra Rajput ruler, Raja Ranjit Dev of Jammu, the Afghans attached Kashmir. When the Afghan leader, Ahmed Shah Durrani, died in 1772 Jawan Sher the Afghan ruler of Kashmir, set himself up as an independent ruler. Afghan domination lasted for little more than fifty years, but the period is generally remembered as one of the darkest periods of Kashmir’s history.

SIKH RULE
After the overthrow of Afghan rulers, the state came under Sikh rule headed by Ranjeet Singh. Ranjeet Singh sent Colonel Mian Singh Kumedan, from Gujranwala as governor to Kashmir. Considered to be the best of all the Sikh governors, he attempted to bring the valley out of the economic chaos resulting from the 1833 famine. Gulab Singh had been Ranjit Singh’s protégé for thirty years. When Ranjit Singh died, Gulab Singh, aged forty-seven, was well-placed to control events not only in the heart of the Sikh empire in Lahore but also in Kashmir. Until the death of Ranjit Singh, the East India Company had maintained cordial relations with the Sikhs; but after his death, the relationship soon fell apart. As relations deteriorated between the British and the Sikh prior to the outbreak of war in 1845, Gulab Singh played an important role, which ultimately helped to further his own territorial ambitions, enabling him to become a maharaja in his own right.

DARKEST DOGRA RULE
Under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Britishers sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh at a cost of 7,500,000 Nanak Shahi currency and hence commenced the Dogra rule in Kashmir. The Dogra rule in Kashmir is thought to be one of the darkest periods in Kashmir’s history. In this period the people of Kashmir have suffered a lot at the hands of Dogra rulers. The successors of Dogra dynasty after Gulab Singh including Ranbir Singh (1858), Partab Singh (1885) and Hari Singh (1925). The latter was the last ruler of the dynasty until partition of the Sub Continent in 1947.

The record history of Kashmir goes back to about 2000 BC.
For about three quarters of its history, Kashmir has been an independent State though its areas has been expanding and shrinking.
The ruler of Lalita Ditya (715-752-AD), a famous Hindu ruler of Kashmir, is considered the golden period of pre-Muslim era Kashmir whereas that of Sultan Zainul Abedin – The Budshah (1420-1470 AD) is know as the golden Era of the entire Kashmir history. The details of this is elaborately given below:

ANCIENT KASHMIR
Kashmir’s first period of imperial history begins in the third century BC with the rule of Asoka. Kashmiris became famous throughout Asia as learned, cultured and humane and the intellectual contribution of writers, poets, musicians, scientists to the rest of India was comparable to that of ancient Greece to European civilization. With hindsight, Pundit Prem Nath bazaz is critical of the conduct of the Hindu kings, ‘Again and again history afforded opportunity to the Hindu aspirants to kingship to start afresh but, on every such occasion they failed to grasp it and give a good account of themselves.’ Islam made them men again’. but although the people may have been persecuted and oppressed, the Kashmiris retained their humanistic principles.

The story of the spread of Islam in Kashmir reads like a traveler’s tale. A Buddhist ruler, Rinchen, had left his home in Laddakh, after the murder of his father and taken refuge at King Sahadeva’s court in Kashmir. At about the same time, a Muslim from Swat, Shah Mir, also came to Kashmir looking for work. After the Mongols, under Dulaca, had invaded Kashmir without Sahadeva, a new king had to be found. Supported by Shah Mir and some of the feudal lords searching for a new faith, he met a Muslim saint called Bulbul Shah and his teachings mead a deep impact on Rinchen. Taking the name of Sadruddin, he became a Muslim. His conversion marks the beginning of Muslim rule in Kashmir. Rinchen is remembered as a just and wise ruler. Janaraja calls him a ‘lion among men.’ But his reign did not last long.

The first great king of Muslim period was Shabab-ud-Din who came to the throne in 1354. With the peace restored after the devastation of the Mongols, Shahab-ud-Din devoted his attention to foreign expeditions, conquering Baltistan, Ladakh, Kishtwar and Jammu. Shahab-ud-Din also loved learning and patronized art and architecture. in 1361 there was a devastating flood, but the atmosphere of general well being prevailed and on Shahab-ud-Din’s death in 1373 the succession passed peacefully to Qutb-ud-Din.

During the reign of Qutb-ud-Din, the pace of conversion to Islam increased. Muslim from west and central Asia, in search of refuge from the Mongols, arrived in Kashmir and the most influential was Mir Syed Ali. He came with hundreds of missionaries, or syeds as they came to be known, from Hamadan and other parts of Persia. ‘Islam made its way into Kashmir’, writes Sir Aurel Stein, ‘not by forcible conquest, but by gradual conversion’. Qutb-ud-Din was succeeded by his son. Sikunder in 1389. Sikunder’s younger son came to the throne in 1420. He was pupularly called Bud Shah (the great king). During his long reign which lasted until 1470, the valley prospered.

When Bud Shah died in 1470 the dynasty of the Shah Mirs began to decline. In the years to come, the fame of Kashmir attracted the Mughals but they failed in their early attempts to dominate the valley. In the reign of Babur’s son, humayun, Mirza Haider Dughlat, a cousin of Babur’s mother, finally succeeded in conquering Kashmir in 1540. In 1555, Ghazi Chak became king of Kashmir, which brought to an end the 200-year-old dynasty of the Shah Mirs.

It was only matter of time before the Mughal emperor, Akbar, who had succeeded to the throne of Delhi in 1558, led Kashmir’s incorporation into the Mughal Empire. So ended Kashmir’s long history as a kingdom in its own right. Despite the ravages of so much cruelty and bloodshed during its early history, the valley of Kashmir, surrounded by its mountains, always retained its allure for future generations. But warned Dr. Parmu ‘beautiful countries have often been the homes of tragedy. Happiness is rarely the lot of a beautiful land. So Kashmir, the desired land of men and monarchs, paid for her beauty.’

MONARCHS AND DEMONS 1586-1819

The conquest of the Kashmir valley by the Mughals in 1586 is generally regarded as marking the beginning of Kashmir’s modern history. At first the Mughal army had difficulty crossing the passes, but the Kashmiris were unable to stop their advance and in October the Mughal army marched into Srinagar. Akbar was proclaimed emperor. Of all the rulers of Kashmir Akbar’s son and successor, Jehangir, is perhaps best remembered for his love of the valley. He ascended the throne in 1605. During his reign Jehangir adorned Kashmir with over 700 gardens. Their names evoke the beauty of the place: Shalimar (abode of love) and Nishat (garden of gladness) are the two most famous. For several years in succession Jehangir and his wife, Nurmahal, remained in Kashmir during the summer.

On his deathbed Jehangir was asked if there was anything he wanted, to which he is reported as saying: ‘Nothing but Kashmir>’ He was succeeded in 1627 by his son, Shah Jehan. He too loved Kashmir and the valley became a popular place of refuge for the Mughals during the hot summers. Aurangzeb, who came to the throne in 1658, was the last of the Mughal Emperors to make any impact on Kashmir’s history.

Towards the end of Aurangzeb’s reign an event occurred which had special significance for later generations of Kashmir’s. In 1700 a strand of the beared of the Prophet Muhammad, the Mo-i-Muqaddas, was brought by the servant of a wealthy Kashmiri merchant to Kashmir. It was originally displayed in the Khanqah Naqshband in Srinagar but the mosque could not accommodate the crowds who came to see it. It was therefore taken to another mosque on the banks of Upper Dal lake which was known first as Asar-i-Sharif-Shrine of the relic- and then Hazratbal – the lake of the Hazrat, or the prophet. It has remained there ever since, with one brief interlude in 1963 when it mysteriously disappeared.

Nadir Shah’s invasion of the seat of Mughal power at Delhi in 1738 had weakened their imperial hold on Kashmir still further. This in turn left Kashmir at the mercy of further predators.

With the decline of Mughal power in India the governors of Kashmir became ‘irresponsible and cruel’/ In 1762, in alliance with the Dogra Rajput ruler, Raja Ranjit Dev of Jammu, the Afghans attached Kashmir and captured Sukh. When the Afghan leader, Ahmed Shah Durrani, died in 1772 Jawan Sher the Afghan ruler of Kashmir, set himself up as an independent ruler.

Afghan domination lasted for little more than fifty years, but the period is generally remembered as one of the darkest of Kashmiri history. Through the assistance of the Sikhs and Ranjit Singh – a ruler in nominal alliance with their Afghan oppressors Kashmir’s overthrew the Afghan tyranny. In doing so the Kashmiris had been responsible for asking for help from a foreign ruler: submission to an external power was not only a matter of expediency but survival in a cruel world.

SIKH CONQUEST 1819

In the wake of the decline of the decline of the Afghan empire in northern Indian Ranjit Singh had shown himself both able and willing to fill the vacuum. In 1834, Ranjit Singh sent Colonel Mian Singh Kumedan, from Gujranwala as governor. Considered to be the best of all the Sikh governors, he attempted to bring the valley out of the economic chaos resulting from the 1833 famine. Ranjit Singh never visited the valley of Kashmir, but there is a well known story of how he once wrote to Colonel Mian Singh: Would that I could only once in my life enjoy the delight of wandering through the gardens of Kashmir, fragrant with almond-blossoms, and sitting on the fresh green turf.

On the sidelines of Kashmir, in the neighboring plains of Jammu, the Dogras were keenly interested in events in the valley.

When Ranjit Singh died, Gulab Singh had been his protege for thirty years; aged forty-seven, he was well-placed to control events not only in the heart of the Sikh empire in Lahore but also in Kashmir. Until the death of Ranjit Singh, the East India Company had maintained cordial relations with the Sikhs; they in turn did not with to upset the British. After his death, the relationship soon fell apart.

KASHMIR FOR SALE 1846

As relations deteriorated between the British and the Sikh prior to the outbreak of war in 1845, Gulab Singh played an important role, which ultimately helped to further his own territorial ambitions, enabling him to become a maharaja in his own right. As the chief architect of the Treaty of Amritsar and the decision to sell Kashmir to Gulab Singh, Henry Hardinge came under strong criticism for his role. The British signed the Treaty of Amritsar with Gulab Singh in 1846. Article I stated that:

“The British Government transfers and makes over for ever in independent possession to Maharaja Gulab Singh and the heirs male of his body all the hilly or mountainous country with its dependencies situated to the eastward of the River Ravi, including Chamba and excluding Lahul, being part of territories ceded to the British government by the Lahore State according to the provision of the Article IV of the Treaty of Lahore, dated 9 March 1846.” Gulab Singh was to pay the exact sum in lieu of which the British had taken possession of Kashmir one week earlier: one crore of rupees towards the indemnity. Twenty-five lakhs were later waived in consideration of the British being allowed to retain the area of Kulu and Mandi across the river Beas. Gulab Singh’s biographer, K.M Panikhar argues against the transaction being a sale. “The view that Kashmir was sold for a paltry sum by a Government whose main interest was to fill its coffers is a travesty of facts and misreading of history”. But neither Panikhar nor any other apologist for Gulab Singh could deny that money was exchanged in return for land and people and that, 150 years later, the transaction still causes deep resentment. ‘Each one of us was purchased by the Dogra ruler for 3 rupees’, said Mian Abdul Qayum, President of Srinagar’s Bar Association in 1994. Furthermore, there was no consultation with the people of Kashmir. Britain was, however becoming a paramount power in the sub-continent and all relationships were based on what was perceived to be in the best interests of the new imperialists. The sale of the valley of Kashmir and its incorporation into a princely state is also considered to have had an adverse effect on its future development. In 1925, the Muslim Outlook newspaper commented that but for the ‘ineffable folly’ of the British; ‘Kashmir would have been part of the Punjab. More significantly, had Kashmir been annexed by Britain and become part of the British India when the sub-continent became independent from British rule in 1947, according to the principle of the partition it could have been divided along communal lines and the predominantly Muslim valley would undoubtedly have been allocated to Pakistan. After ten years as mahjaraja, Gulab Singh’s health began to fail. In order to smooth the succession he asked the governor-general to install his third son. Ranbir Singh, as maharaja on 8 February 1856. Although Gulab Singh had formally abdicated, he became governor of the province and retained full sovereignty until his death on 7 August 1857. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, under the joint leadership of the ailing Gulab Singh and his son, Ranbir, responded favorably to British appeals for help.

AN ENGLISH FORTRESS

In 1882 Ranbir Singh had considered nominating his youngest son, Amar Singh, as his successor as he was ‘wiser’ than his brothers Pratap or Ram. But the British did not agree. Although the maharaja repeated his request in 1884, the British chose to let Pratap Singh accede to the throne when Ranbir died in September 1885. The new maharaja “was a story book Indian Prince, writes Patrick French ‘vacillating and oppressive, bedecked in silk pyjamas, pearls and a diamond-encrusted turban’. He was also addicted to opium. The views expressed by St. John after four months resident, the maharaja was unfit to rule, persisted throughout his long reign. On 1 April 1889 the maharaja was divested of all but nominal powers. Indian contemporary belief was that the maharaja had been deposed because of British designs and that the allegation of maladministration was merely an excuse to take over control of the state. As the popularity of Kashmir grew, so did the number of houseboats. “The British, who came to Kashmir to escape the scorching heat, taught us how to finish a houseboat, how to make it a decorative e one with beds, chairs, tables’, says Chapra. A century later, there were estimated to be 1,500 houseboats on Dal lake. It was also a favored way of having some form of accommodation. The houseboats also gave Kashmir the reputation as a place for rest and pleasure for foreign guests, around which the social and economic fife of a great number of the people revolved. Makers of shawls, embroidery, carpets, papier mache boxes all benefited from the presence of officers, with their wives and children, who arrived in the valley every summer to escape the heat of the plains. The influx of light-hearted holiday makers was in total contrast to the harshness of the lives of the local people, most of whom lives in abject poverty. Only a small minority, centered around the Dogra rulers, enjoyed unparalleled affluence. Ever since his deposition, Pratap Singh held his brother, Amar Singh, responsible for all his problems.

Other Indian princes, however, were not happy with the unprecedented British interference in Kashmir. On account of the enmity between Amar and the Maharaja, in 1907 Pratap Singh decided to adopt a ‘spiritual heir’, the second son of the Raja of Poonch. His intention was evidently to prevent his brother from inheriting the throne. Only when Amar Singh died in 1909 did the long feud between the brothers finally end. While the Kashmiri Pandits began to benefit from better education, the Muslims, although numerically superior, remained excluded. As Canon Tyndale Biscoe had noted when he came to Srinagar in 1890 as headmaster of the Church Missionary School” ‘The Mohammendan did not send their sons to school as all Government service as closed to them. The all India Muslim Kashmiri Conference, formed in 1896 and supported by many Muslim Kashmiri who had settled mainly in the Punjab, was, however, beginning to support the Kashmiri in the state, both morally and financially, by offering scholarships for them to study in British India. In 1905 the Mir Waiz of Kashmir, the religious leader of the Muslims of the Kashmir valley, founded an association called the Anjuman-i-Nusrat-ul-Islam which aimed at improving the conditions of the Muslims, especially in education. During the First World War, the Indians from both British India and the princely states had demonstrated their loyalty to the British Crown by their willing support of the war effort. Throughout the war, Pratap Singh placed all the forces of the state of Jammu and Kashmir at the disposal of the British. While the Indian people fought on behalf of the British Empire overseas, within British India, Indian political leaders were exerting pressure to increase the pace of change. ‘Their minds were full of the ideas of the onrushing tide of democracy in the West’. They read with emotion about political movements of Turkey, Ireland, Egypt’, writes Prem Nath Bazaz. “The spirit of independence revived and with it came the desire to turn out the outsiders and to fight for the freedom of the motherland. “Throughout the 1920s the honorary secretary-general of the All India Muslim Kashmiri Conference, Syed Mohsin Shah, a Kashmiri lawyer, who had moved to Lahore in the early 1920s, was constantly writing to the resident, Sir John Wood, on behalf of the Kashmri Muslims. Amongst those who also gave vocal support to the Muslim was the influential and widely respected poet, Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal. He first visited Kashmir in 1921 and put to verse his distress at the poverty of the people: In the bitter chill of winter shivers his naked body whose skill wraps the rich in royal shawls. Leading Muslim newspapers in India continued to point to the progress of the Kashmiri Pandits at the expense of the Muslims:’They till the land, feed the state, fill its coffers, they are invariably sent to the wall and the Kashmiri Pandit is placed at the helm of affairs to rule them with a rod of iron’, stated the Muslim outlook in 1923. In the Spring 1924 the workers of the state-owned silk factory demanded an increase in wages and the transfer of a Hindu clerk whom the workers alleged as extorting bribes. Established in the late nineteenth century, the factory employed about 5,000 workers, most of whom were Muslims. Although the workers were given a minimal wage increase, some of their leaders were arrested, which led to a strike. As later reported in a representation to the viceroy, Lord Reading : ‘Military was sent for and most inhuman treatment was meted out to the poor, helpless, unarmed peace loving laborers who were assaulted with spears, lances and other implements of warfare’. The representation, signed by the two chief religious leaders, submitted to the viceroy, through Mohsin Shah, also referred to other grievances: The Mussulmans of Kashmir are in a miserable plight today. Their education needs are woefully neglected. Though forming 96 per cent of the population, the percentage of literacy amongst them is only 0.8 per cent. So far we have patiently borne the State’s indifference towards out grievances and our claims and it high-handiness towards our rights, but patience has its limit and resignation its end… the Hindus of the State, forming merely 4 per cent of the whole population are the undisputed masters of all departments.

They also complained about the closure of certain mosques in Srinagar and the desecration of the Khanqah Bulbul shah, which was claimed by the Hindus to be a Hindu Shrine. Pratap Singh died on 25 September 1925. Although Hari Singh’s accession was not contested, the Government of India was at once alert to the implications of a change of leadership on British foreign Policy. The new maharaja was to be allowed to return to the normal relationship with the Government of India, which any princely state enjoyed by treaty obligations but at the same time, as the sub-continent moved slowly towards self government, the British were not prepared to lose sight of the importance of Jammu and Kashmir as a ‘frontier state’.

THE MIRAGE OF INDEPENDENCE

In the 1930s, as the Indian political leaders in British India became involved in the struggle to determine how they should become self-governing, the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir began a campaign against the autocracy of the new maharaja. When Lieutenant-general His Highness Inder Mahander Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Sir Hari Singh succeeded to the throne, there was cautious optimism that he would prove a more effective ruler than his uncle. The alienation of the Kashmiris from their new ruler was heightened by the continuing presence of ‘outsiders’ in government service, which led to a movement known as ‘Kashmir for the Kashmiris’, sponsored by the more educated Kashmiri Pandits. But, to the annoyance of the Kashmiris the top positions were invariably filled by people from Jammu, especially the ruling class of the Dogras Rajputs, who headed all the departments of the state administration. When the Pandits began to improve their status in governments service, this caused further aggravation amongst the Muslims. Abdul Suharawardy was a young boy from the rural districts, whose ambition in the 1930s was to become a gazetted officer in the Indian Civil Service. ‘As I grew up I found that the Muslims were the underdogs. The Hindus were the privileged class because they belonged to the religion of the community of the ruler. Almost all the government officials occupying almost all the ranks from the lowest up to the highest were occupied by Hindu’. The army was also exclusively reserved for the Dogras. No Muslim in the valley was allowed to carry a firearm and the only Muslims who were recruited into the army, normally under the command of a Dogra officer, were the Suddhans of Poonch and the Sandans from Mirpur. Culturally and linguistically distinct from the Kashmiris of the valley, the maharaja believed he could depend on them to suppress whatever trouble might arise in the valley. The Lahore Muslim press had been consistently highlighting the condition of the Muslim Kashmiris and newspapers critical of the maharaja were sent into the state. At the same time, small groups joined together to discuss their complaints.

In 1929 Ghulam Abbas, one of the comparatively few educated Muslims from Jammu who had obtained a law degree in Lahore, reorganized the Anjuman-i-Islamia into the young men’s Muslim Association of Jammu, for the betterment of Muslims. He also looked after Muslim orphans and did social work. In Srinagar the Reading Room party, comprising a number of graduates from Aligarh University, rose to prominence. Prem Nath Bazaz, Ghulam Abbas, Muhammad yousuf Shah were all active in discussing their grievances. In 1931 Yusuf Shah succeeded his uncle in Srinagar as Mirwaiz the spiritual leader of Muslims. He used his position in the mosque to organize a series of meetings, which protested against the maharaja’s government. Kashmir was already like a powder keg. The spark was provided by a butler in the service of European, Abdul Qadir, who made an impassioned fiery speech calling for the people to fight against oppression. When he was arrested, crowds mobbed the jail, and several others were also arrested. There was further protest from the crowd at which point the police fired at them. Twenty-one people died. Their bodies were carried in procession to the centre of the town. In March 1940 the Muslim League adopted the Lahore Resolution ‘that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the north-western and eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute independent states” in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign. Although it was not clear how such a proposal would be formalised, the demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent had its roots in an emergent ideology, first proposed by a student, Chaudhri Rahmat Ali in Cambridge in 1933 for the Muslim living in Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province) Kashmir, Sind and Balochistan, to be recognised as a distinct nation, ‘Pakistan’. The inclusion of predominantly Muslim Kashmir was, however, an early indication that there was already a body of opinion which believed that the princely state should become part of Pakistan, if and when it could be achieved. When alternative avenues for a federation of British India and the princely states had been exhausted, and partition of the sub-continent took place, this opinion held fast. Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress party had defined their position on the Indian states in August 1935: “The Indian National Congress recognises that the people in the Indian states have an inherent right of Swaraj (independence) no less than the people of British Indian. it has accordingly declared itself in favour of establishment of representative responsible government in the States’. Jinnah leader of All India Muslim League was not unconcerned by events within Kashmir. In 1943 he wrote to the viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, stating that he understood that the present situation in Kashmir was intolerable and that it would remain so “unless some responsible independent and impartial head of the Administration takes charge”. Jinnah’s last visit to the state of Jammu and Kashmir took place in May 1944. When the frail but imperial figure of the leader passed through their rows, writes Muhammad Saraf, who became a keen supporter of the movement for Pakistan, ‘thousand of men and women were unable to control themselves as his very sight stirred up deep emotions resulting in tears trickling down their eyes. Many actually wept under the sheer weight of joy’. Jinnah was described as ‘a beloved leader of the Muslims of India’.

STANDSTILL IN 1947

By 1947 the independence of the sub-continent was assured. On 3 June the British government finally published a plan for the partition of the sub-continent. On 18 July the Indian Independence Act was passed, stating that independence would be effected on an earlier date than previously anticipated : 15 August 1947.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir had unique features not shared by the princely states. Ruled by a Hindu, with its large Muslim majority it was geographically contiguous to both India and the future Pakistan. Although Jawaharlal Nehru’s family had emigrated from the valley at the beginning of the eighteenth century, he had retained an emotional attachment to the land of his ancestors. Despite the assurances given by Mountbatten to Hari Singh that the Congress leaders would not regard it as ‘an unfriendly act’, if, given the Muslim majority population, he eventually acceded to Pakistan, it is clear that Nehru in particular had strong reasons for wanting the state of Jammu and Kashmir to accede to India. When, at the end of July, Mountbatten heard that Nehru was once more planning to go to Kashmir he was not pleased. As Nehru persisted in atttempting to visit Kashmir, Mountbatten continued to try and dissuade him. He noted that both the maharaja and his prime minister, Ram Chandra Kak, ‘hate Nehru with a bitter hatred and I had visions of the maharaja declaring adherence to Pakistan just before Nehru arrived’. Mountbatten had also heard how, during a meeting with Patel, ‘Nehru had broken down and wept, explaining that Kashmir meant more to him at the time than anything else’. The sub-continent was in the midst of a deep communal and political crisis. Yet both Nehru and Gandhi had insisted on visiting Kashmir. Ghandhi finally left for Srinagar on 1 August. Muhammad Saraf was amongst those who protested at his arrival in Baramula. Even some glass panes of his car were broken by the demonstrators.

The Partition plan of 3 June 1947, established under the Indian Independence Act, envisaged two Boundary Commissions, consisting of four high court judges. The chairman was to hold the casting vote. The man entrusted with that post was a British lawyer, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who arrived in India for the first time on 8 July 1947.

The objective of what came to be known as the Radcliffe award as to divide the provinces of Punjab in the west and Bengal in the east, leaving Muslim majority areas in Pakistan and those with Hindu morjorities in India. Of the main routes by which Kashmir could be reached, two roads passed through areas which could expected to be allocated to Pakistan: the first via Rawalpindi, Murree, Muzaffarabad, Baramula and thence to Srinagar. The other route went via Sialkot, Jammu and the Banihal pass. A third route, which was no more than a dirt track existed via the district of Guardaspur, which comprised the four tehsils of Shakargarh, Batala, Gurdaspur and Pathankot. From Pathankot the route carried on to Madophur, across the Ravi river to Kathua in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Under the ‘national’ award provided in the first Schedule of the Indian Independence Act, all of the Gurdaspur district, with a 51.14 per cent Muslim majority had been assigned to Pakistan, which meant that all these routes would have fallen under the control of Pakistan. At this press conference on 4 June, in answer to a question regarding provisional and final demarcations, Mountbatten, however, suggested that the boundary Commission would be unlikely to throw the whole of the Gurdaspur district into the Muslim majority areas. Subsequently, the revised Mountbatten plan referred to the basis for partition by area rather than by district. The future Pakistanis soon became concerned by the prospect of a departure from the ‘national’ award giving all of Gurdaspur district to Pakistan to one where part of Gurdaspur would be allocated to India. In the final award the three tehsils of Batala, Gurdaspur and Pathankot went to India. A memorandum prepared by the minister of state, which included Radcliffe’s observations after he returned to England, reported that the reason for changing the ‘national’ award regarding Gurdaspur was because ‘the headwaters of the canals which irrigate the Amritsar District lie in the Gurdaspur District and it is important to keep as much as possible of these canals under one (i;e Indian) administration. Fact that much of Lahore district is irrigated from upper Bari Doab canal with head works in Gurdaspur district is awkward but there is no solution that avoids all such difficulties.

The suspicions created in the minds of the Pakistanis by the award of three tehsils of Gurdaspur to India were compounded by the issue of the ‘salient’ of the Ferozepur and Zira tehsils. In the map of the Radcliffe award, the salient, which protruded beyond the notional boundary into the Sikh heart land, was marked as part of Pakistan. It is very strange that other factors should have worked consistently in favour of India and against Pakistan’, commented Chaudhri Muhammad Ali. The departure from the ‘notional’ award to Radcliffe’s division of Gurdaspur between the two Dominions has created considerable bitterness not only because of the loss of territory, but because of the growing realisation that India was thereby assured of access to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Although the future of the princely states was a separate issue from the division of the Punjab and Bengal, for which purpose the Boundary Commission was instituted, Mountbatten himself had made the connection between Jammu and Kashmir and the award of the Boundary Commission. Kashmir, he said, ‘was so placed geographically that it could join either Dominion’. ‘Had the whole of Gurdaspur District been awarded to Pakistan’, according to Lord Birdwood, ‘India could certainly never have fought a war in Kashmir.’ The Indian journalist, M. J. Akbar, interprets the award as a single piece of political expediency on the part of Nehru. And so, during private meetings, he persuaded Mountbatten to leave this Gurdaspur link in Indian hands. But in view of Inadequate explanations and selective secrecy surrounding the Radcliffe award, the belief amongst Pakistanis that there was a conspiracy between Mountbatten and Nehru to deprive Pakistan of Gurdaspur has held fast. “The object of grabbing Kashmir was to encircle Pakistan militarily and strangle it economically, ‘ writes Suhrawardy. In the state of Jammu and Kashmir there were staunch Muslim League supporters who believed they would become part of Pakistan at independence and when freedom came at midnight on 14 august they rejoiced.

The Pakistani flag was hoisted on most of the post offices until the government of the maharaja ordered that they should be taken down. All pro-Pakistani newspapers were closed. Muhammad Saraf was in Baramula, where the flag remained flying until dusk: ‘It was a spectacle to watch streams of people from all directions in the town and its suburbs swarming towards the Post office in order to have a glimpse of the flag of their hopes and dreams. Those whose hopes were dashed at not becoming part of Pakistan set in train a sequence of events which was rooted in their past disappeared. In the weeks following independence, despite Maharaja Harisingh’s, signature of the standstill agreement with Pakistan, political manoeuvreing was taking place on all sides. Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Patel, who had become minister for Home Affairs, corresponded regularly in order to determine how Kashmir could be secured for India. ‘One of the most interesting revelations of the Patel papers when they began to be published in 1971’, writes Alastair Lamb ‘was the extent to which this powerful congress politician had directly involved himself in all planning directed towards an eventual Indian acquisition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Clear steps were being taken to improve communications with India, by telegraph, telephone, wireless and roads. In Pakistan it was widely believed that India was preparing to announce Kashmir’s accession to India in the autumn. The Pakistani government alleged that India had violated the standstill agreement, because they had included Kashmir within the Indian postal system. As evidence, they produced a memorandum, dated 1 September 1947, signed by the director general of Postal Telegraph, New Delhi, in which towns in the State of Jammu and Kashmir were listed as part of India.

ENTER THE UNO

Lord Mountbatten’s belief, and that of the British government, that the UN would be able to perform some useful role in resolving the Kashmir dispute made it one of the first major issues with which the newly founded world body was to deal. Mountbatten had first suggested the use of the UN during his 1 November 1947 meeting with Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Lahore. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan had agreed to refer the dispute to the UN In January 1948 the Kashmir issue was debated in the Security Council of the United Nations with representations from the Indian and Pakistani delegates. Much to the annoyance of the Indians, Sir Zafrullah Khan, Pakistani’s Foreign Minister, made a bold speech lasting five hours in favour of Pakistan’s position and against the continuing rule of the Dogras over the Kashmiris: ‘What is not fully known is the depths of misery to which they have been reduced by a century of unmitigated tyranny and oppression under Dogra rule until it is difficult to day which is the greater tragedy to a Kashmiri: ‘his life or his death’.

On 20 January, the Security Council passed a resolution which established a commission, to be known as the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), to investigate the facts the dispute and carry out ‘any mediatory influence likely to smooth away difficulties. The government of India was requested to reduce its forces to the minimum strength, after which the circumstances for holding a plebiscite should be put into effect’ on the question of the accession of the State to India or Pakistan’. A further resolution on 13 August 1948 adopted unanimously by UNCIP outlined arrangements for the cessation of hostilities and once more restated that a final decision on the future status of the Jammu and Kashmir ‘shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people’.

On 5 January 1949, UNCIP once more affirmed that, when the truce agreement had been signed, the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through ‘the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite’. The roots of the Kashmir dispute are deep’, concluded the third and final report of UNICP, which made three visits to the sub-continent between 1948 and 1949. Then as now, the Indian government considered itself to be in legal possession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by virtue of the Instrument of Accession of October 1947 signed by the Maharaja and the then Governor – General, Lord Mountbatten. This basic premise constituted the legality of India’s presence in the state and of her control over it. India maintained that her armies were in Kashmir as a matter of right; her control of the defence, communications and external affairs of the state was as a direct consequence of the act of accession. The Pakistani position was based on the contention that the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India was illegal and, therefore, there was no basis whatsoever for India’s contention that the legality of the accession was ‘in fact and law beyond question’. Pakistan maintained that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir had no authority left to execute and Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 because the people had successfully revolted, had overthrown his government and had compelled him to flee from Srinagar, the capital. The act of accession was brought about by violence and fraud and as such it was invalid from the beginning, the maharaja’s offer of accession was accepted by the Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten, on the condition that as soon as law and order had been restored, the question of the accession of the state would be decided by a reference to the people. Pakistan also believed that the Azad movement was indigenous and spontaneous, as a result of repression misrule by the maharaja’s government.

SPECIAL STATUS

Lord Mountbatten’s belief, and that of the British government, that the UN would be able to perform some useful role in resolving the Kashmir dispute made it one of the first major issues with which the newly founded world body was to deal. Mountbatten had first suggested the use of the UN during his 1 November 1947 meeting with Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Lahore. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan had agreed to refer the dispute to the UN. In January 1948 the Kashmir issue was debated in the Security Council of the United Nations with representations from the Indian and Pakistani delegates. Much to the annoyance of the Indians, Sir Zafrullah Khan, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, made a bold speech lasting five hours in favour of Pakistan’s position and against the continuing rule of the Dogras over the Kashmiris: ‘What is not fully known is the depths of misery to which they have been reduced by a century of unmitigated tyranny and oppression under Dogra rule until it is difficult to say which is the greater tragedy to a Kashmiri: ‘his life or his death’. On 20 January, the Security Council passed a resolution which established a commission, to be known as the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), to investigate the facts of the dispute and carry out ‘any mediatory influence likely to smooth away difficulties. The Government of India was requested to reduce its forces to the minimum strength, after which the circumstances for holding a plebiscite should be put into effect ‘on the question of the accession of the State to India or Pakistan’. A further resolution on 13 August 1948 adopted unanimously by UNCIP outlined arrangements for the cessation of hostilities and once more restated that a final decision on the future status of the Jammu and Kashmir ‘shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people’. On 5 January 1949, UNCIP once more affirmed that, when the truce agreement had been signed, the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through ‘the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite’. ‘The roots of the Kashmir dispute are deep’, concluded the third and final report of UNICP, which made three visits to the sub-continent between 1948 and 1949. Then as now, the Indian government considered itself to be in legal possession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by virtue of the Instrument of Accession of October 1947 signed by the Maharaja and the then Governor – General, Lord Mountbatten. This basic premise constituted the legality of India’s presence in the state and of her control over it. India maintained that her armies were in Kashmir as a matter of right; her control of the defence, communications and external affairs of the state was as a direct consequence of the act of accession. The Pakistani position was based on the contention that the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India was illegal and, therefore, there was no basis whatsoever for India’s contention that the legality of the accession was ‘in fact and law beyond question’. Pakistan maintained that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir had no authority left to execute an Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 because the people had successfully revolted, had overthrown his government and had compelled him to flee from Srinagar, the capital. The act of accession was brought about by violence and fraud and as such it was invalid from the beginning, the maharaja’s offer of accession was accepted by the governor – general of India, Lord Mountbatten, on the condition that as soon as law and order had been restored, the question of the accession of the state would be decided by a reference to the people. Pakistan also believed that the Azad movement was indigenous and spontaneous, as result of repression misrule by the maharaja’s government.

The instrument of Accession, which was not granted to other former princely states. Legally, India’s jurisdiction only extended to external affairs, defence and communications. It was anticipated that the accession would be confirmed by reference to the people, under the auspices of the United Nations. In the year to come, the Indian government sought to integrate within the framework of India, what it controlled of the original princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The will of the people, however, was never ascertained in such a manner as to make them feel that the issue was finalised. The history of what happened to the state’s ‘special status’ partially explains events in the present day. In less than two years after signing the Instrument of Accession, in which Hari Singh had asserted that he would continue to enjoy ‘ the exercise of any powers, authority and rights now enjoyed by me as Ruler of this State’, he was obliged to relinquish control. He died in Bombay in 1962. First as regent, then as Sadar-i-Riyasat, his son Karan Singh remained involved in Kashmiri affairs. But the Dogras dynasty, founded by Hari Singh’s great grandfather a century earlier, was gone. The Security Council once again discussed Kashmir, and once more observed that India and Pakistan had accepted the resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949, affirming that the future of the state of Jammu and Kashmir was to be decided through ‘the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite. Pakistan accepted this recommendation , but Nehru responded by stating that he would not permit the fate of four million people to be decided by a third person. Even though the United Nations had failed to ensure that the plebiscite was held, the idea in principle of a referendum to ascertain the wishes of the people was handed down to a new generation of Kashmiris. That the plebiscite was agreed upon the world body, such as the United Nations, meant that those Kashmiris who were opposed to union with India came to expect international support for what they perceived to be their right of self determination.

DIPLOMACY AND WAR

Throughout the 1960s the Kashmir issue continued to cause concern at an international level. After six rounds of talks between India and Pakistan which were held intermittently until May 1963, a joint communiqué was issued which stated with regret that no agreement could be reached on a settlement of the Kashmir dispute. In October 1963 the Government of Pakistan once more refereed the question of Kashmir to the Security Council and, in the Spring of 1964, the issue was debated for the 110th time in fifteen years. On his way to New York, Pakistan Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto announced that Pakistan was prepared to discuss the issue a thousand times in order to see that it was settled ‘in an honourable manner’. But, in view of the Soviet Veto, there was little the United Nations could do. The president of the Security Council expressed the concern of all the members for reestablishing of good relations between India and Pakistan “whose present disputes, particularly that centering upon Jammu and Kashmir, should be settled amicably in the interest of world peace’. The mysterious theft of the holy relic from Hazratbal which occurred in 1963 demonstrated the intense Islamic feeling amongst the Muslims of the valley. There was evidence of the beginnings of political dissent amongst the younger Kashmiris, which meant the movement for plebiscite and self-determination would be carried on to the next generation. ‘The greatest headache of the politically alert sections of my generation was how to get the new generation – our children – involved in the struggle for the State’s accession to Pakistan’, writes Muhammad Saraf. Most were young children, some not even born in 1947, and many of their politically active parents, like Ghulam Abbas, Muhammad Saraf, and others had opted for Pakistan. However, when selig harrison toured Kashmir, he reported that he found the people were solidly hostile to Indian rule and that it was only the presence of twelve Indian army brigades which kept the movement for self – determination contained. In the late 1960s fires in Muslim areas left many Muslim families homeless; activists hostile to the Indian government regard the occurrence of these fires with suspicion as part of a plan to make Kashmir into a majority Hindu state. Ever sensitive of the incursion of outsiders into the state, they objected to ‘citizenship’ certificates being awarded to non-Muslims who had settled in the valley. Algiers’s successful struggle against France and the Vietnamese resistance against the United States were beginning, however, to show the Kashmiri nationalists that there might, after all, be a way to change the status quo. Maqbool Butt, a Kashmiri freedom fighter and another activist were sentenced to death by New Delhi in September 1968, but, before the sentence was carried out, they escaped from the jail. ‘It created a sensation and electrified the people who rejoiced on their brilliant escape’, writes Saraf. ‘Can there be any better proof of Kashmiris innate hatred against India than the fact that for one month (these two leaders) were sheltered, transported and guided by their people”? With the passage of time, the Indian government was able “to make laws relating to the prevention of activities directed towards disclaiming, questioning or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India or bringing about secession of part of the territory of India”. This effectively gave India control in the areas which mattered most. Commentators at the time believed that the issue of plebiscite and self-determination could now be laid to rest. From an Indian standpoint, the movement for self-determination virtually came to an end with the 1975 accord between the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah and Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi. Pakistan was less than happy with the accord. Tension had once more increased between India and Pakistan after India’s first nuclear explosion in May 1974. Thus when the accord was announced it was termed a ‘self-out’ and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto also stated that the accord had ciliated the terms of Simla agreement that he had signed with India and the UN requirements for a plebiscite. With in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq believed that the accord had subverted Kashmiris’ right of self-determination. Opposition to the Accord among Kashmiris was widespread. “Our education taught us that the accord is not the resolution of the Kashmir dispute” said a Kashmiri journalist, who was editing a daily newspaper in Srinagar in 1975. “Our youth awoke and realized that we can’t any longer be the slaves of India’. ‘We Muslims feel we have been deprived of something’, said Ali, a carpet dealer, in 1981. “We haven’t allowed to join India or Pakistan of our own free will. Rather we have been forced to be with India”.

AN EXPLOSIVE SITUATION

The decade of the 1980s began peacefully for the valley of a Kashmir. Under the surface, however, disaffection as present. Sheikh Abdullah who now headed the government in Jammu and Kashmir was not popular in Jammu or in Laddakh and the Islamic groups, which had opposed the accord. As the Sheikh’s health began to fail he settled the succession on his son, Farooq in 1981. A new era of violence began. Farooq Abdullah, unlike his father, had not been schooled in the politics of the freedom movement. He had spent most of his adult like in Britain, where he had tainted as a doctor. On 21 August 1981 in a ceremony which stunned the people, who had assembled in Iqbal Park in Srinagar, Sheikh Abdullah appointed his untested progeny as president of the National Conference. Although Sheikh Abdullah was able to hand over the office, he could no pass on the experience to his son. As subsequent events were to show, Farooq’s rise to power came too easily. “In happier times’, writes Ajit Bhattachrjea “Farooq Abdullah could have proved an ideal leader for Kashmir. Tall, handsome, engaging, and forthright, he attracted crowds easily, making them believe that he would lead them out of the uncertainty, intrigue and corruption that darkened the last days of his father’. but he was also impulsive, gullible, easygoing and a novice in administration and politics’. ‘He liked the attention, the fun that went with power, and he liked the atmosphere of a feudal court that surrounded his father, says Tavleen Singh. ‘He was also both surprised and delighted by the adulation of the people and the society hostesses in Delhi’. Famed as the ‘disco’ chief minister, who enjoyed riding around Srinagar on his motor bicycle. Abdullah also played into Mrs. Gandhi’s hand instead of confining himself to the politics of Jammu and Kashmir. At the beginning of June, Mr. Gandhi’s operation Blue Star in the Punjab was put into action with the storming of Golden Temple against the Sikh extremists of the Akali Dal led b Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. in the aftermath, Punjab was in turmoil. Yet with supreme confidence the plan for Farooq’s dismissal was put into action. Soon after Blue Star, Gandhi visited Ladakh. On her return she summoned several newspaper editors, including Inder Malahotra. ‘She made no secret of her conviction that Farooq’s continuance as chief minister of Kashmir was bad for the state and the country. On the national stage, because of his meeting earlier in the year with Bhindranwale, Farooq was charged with secretly supporting the Sikh separatists and of permitting them to train in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. With the weight of Delhi now behind Abdullah’s brother-in-law, G.M Shah, the latter was appointed chief minister. The fact that the prime minister of India was willing and able to set Abdullah aside for what essentially were personal reasons demonstrated the lack of regard she and the government of Delhi had for Kashmir’s so-called special status. Shah’s government was unpopular form the outset. Under his chief ministership, the government sank ‘to the lowest depths of corruption and capriciousness’. Why then did Mrs. Gandhi allow him to be installed? ‘The more one explores this question the more convinced one is that she was virtually blinded by her intense dislike of Farooq’. As Malhotra writes, ‘According to Arun Nehru, a cousin of Rajiv Gandhi and member of Mrs. Gandhi’s kitchen cabinet’,’Indira puphi (aunt) asked us to get rid of Farooq at all costs and we did’. Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination in October 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards in revenge for Operation Bluestar removed the architect of Farooq’s dismissal. But the memory of betrayal remained. No amount of self-justification by Delhi could hide the fact that Farooq Abdullah’s drawingroom dismissal merely confirmed what Kashmiris had long suspected: that despite their ‘special status’, no one could remain in power in Srinagar if they did not have the support of Delhi. This lesson was not lost on Farooq Abdullah. When he returned to power following the 1987 elections believed to be massively ragged, it was as the head of a Conference-Congress alliance. Rajiv Gandhi, who became Prime Minister after his mother’s assassination, made it a policy to attempt to accommodate regional forces, not only in Kashmir, but also in the Punjab and Assam. Despite the role he may have played in Farooq’s dismissal, their personal relationship was better than that between Farooq and Mrs. Gandhi. After less than two years in office, G.M. Shah was dismissed on 7 March 1986 in the wake of severe communal riots which the state government had been unable to control. The army was called out and indefinite curfew was imposed, which gave G.M. Shah the name ‘Gul-e-Curfew’ (the Curfew flower). Muslims, however, found that they were being excluded from key jobs and that there was a general onslaught on Muslim culture and identity, both through the educational curriculum and socially. The Muslim political parties had called for peaceful strikes (hartals) in the valley to challenge the power of Delhi. Many were arrested. Azam Inquilabi, general secretary of the Mahaz-i-Azadi (independence Front) was detained in 1985 and his services as a teacher were terminated for his alleged involvement in ‘subversive’ activities. Shabir Ahmad Shah, another prominent Kashmiri leader was also arrested. A veteran activist who had begun his political career in 1968 at the age of fourteen, when he was arrested for publicly demanding the right of self-determination. After six months of discussion in November 1986, Rajiv reappointed Farooq Abdullah as chief minister in an interim National Conference-Congress coalition government, but Abdullah was already beginning to pay the price for bowing to Delhi. ‘Overnight, Farooq was transformed from hero to traitor in the Kashmiri mind,’ writes Tavleen Singh. ‘Propel could not understand how a man who had been treated the way he had by Delhi, and especially by the Gandhi family, could now be crawling to them for accords and alliances’. Amongst those who entered the political vacuum were the collection of political parties which had organised themselves in September 1986 to form the Muslim United Front to contest the election. MUF’s election manifesto stressed the need for a solution to all outstanding issues according to the Simla agreement. It also assured the voters that it would work for Islamic unity and against political interference from the center. Before the election, several MUF leaders were arrested as well as number of election agents. There were widespread charges of rigging. ‘Votes were cast in favour of the Muslim United Front, but the results were declared in favour of the National Conference. The people of Kashmir got disgusted and disappointed and disillusioned. Educated but unemployed, their grievances were fueled by events both within and outside the valley. They were also the ones who considered themselves economically deprived because they were neither part of the bureaucracy nor the elite. In May 1987 the first major act of violence was perpetrated against Farooq Abdullah when his motorcade was attacked on the way to the mosque. Farooq Abdullah’s domestic standing was further diminished by his attempt to locate some of the government departments permanently. His suggestion caused an outburst in Jammu, where the people went on strike in protest. Throughout 1988 there were continuing disturbances against Abdullah’s government which disrupted daily life. In June, there were demonstrations in Srinagar against he sudden rise in the cost of electricity. The price increase annoyed people because supplies of electricity were at best erratic, but the government’s response was unsympathetic. Anti-Indian feeling within the valley was mirrored by a surge of support for Pakistan. On 11 April 1988, young Muslims in Srinagar had forced shopkeepers to keep their shops shut in sympathy with all those who had been killed in an ammunition dump at Ojhri in Pakistan. Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq sent a condolence telegram to General Zia for the loss of life. Prayers were said in the Jammu mosque. A mourning procession was taken out in the streets of Srinagar which raised pro-Pakistan slogans, burnt buses and clashed with the police. As India prepared to celebrate forty-one years of independence, anti-India slogans were raised in the valley. Pro-Pakistani supporters celebrated Pakistan’s independence day on 14 August, but India’s independence on 15 August was called a ‘black day’. Two days later, on 17 August, General Zia-ul-Haq was killed in a plane crash at Bahawalpur in Pakistan. His death was mourned in the valley, which led to disturbances. Eight people were reported to have been shot dead and at least thirteen wounded. On 27 October – the anniversary of India’s airlift into Srinagar in 1947 – there was a complete strike on what the protesters were now calling ‘occupation Day’. As the decade of the 1980s drew to a close, the valley of Kashmir reflected an explosive situation’.

CLOSURE OF THE VALE 1990

Every youth in Kashmir came to be regarded as a potential militant. Reports of Human rights abuses began to hit the headlines world-wide. Stories emerged of torture, rape and indiscriminate killing. A strike was called for India’s Republic Day on 26 January. It was the first of many hartals in 1989, which took up one-third of the year’s working days. The fifth anniversary of Maqbool Butt’s execution on 11 February was the occasion for another strike. Two days later there was a massive anti-Indian demonstration against Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, which lasted nearly a week, even though the government had banned the book. The whole of Srinagar went on strike. When five people were reportedly killed in police firing the strike spread to other towns in the valley. There was a blackout on 14 November, Nehru’s birthday, and on 5 December, Sheikh Abdullah’s birthday. Too many Kashmiri youth were unemployed; a problem which Farooq understood but could not remedy. ‘bright students could not get admission into colleges in the 1980s unless they paid bribes to politicians’, stated a lecturer at the university of Kashmir. This led to a loss of faith in the system and eventually the revolt. We kept struggling for a peaceful resolution of the dispute, but failed’, said Inquilabi, ‘so this young generation has opted for active resistance and it has gained momentum and it will continue to gain momentum come what may’. On the night of 19 January in intensive house-to-house search was carried out in an area where militants were believed to be hiding. Three hundred people were arrested, most of whom were later released. The reaction from the people was unprecedented. ‘The whole city was out. I was sleeping – it was midnight. I heard people on the road shouting pro-Pakistani slogans and Islamic slogans – ‘Allah o Akbar’, ‘What do we want? We want freedom!” recalls Haseeb, a Kashmiri medical student. The next day, as Jagmohan was sworn in as governor with the promise that he would treat the state like a ‘nursing orderly’, a large demonstration assembled in the streets of Srinagar to protest against the search the night before. In response, paramilitary troops gathered on either side of the Gawakadal bridge over the Jhelum river. When the unarmed crowd reached the bridge it was fired on from both sides of the river. The shooting has been called the worst massacre in Kashmiri history. Over a hundred people died, some from gunshot wounds, others because, in fear, they jumped into the river and drowned. Farooq Ahmad, a mechanical engineer who was watching the demonstration, was wounded. Presumed dead, he was put into a lorry filled with bodies, ‘I was fortunate, my back was hit by six bullets… but my head was safe, I was conscious also. I saw the bridge was completely full of dead bodies… there was chaos, people running here and there. Whereas the Indian press played the incident down, the foreign press reported the massacre and its repercussions to the world. ‘Thousands of Muslims, chanting “Indian dogs go home”, ‘We want freedom’, reported the Daily Telegraph. As a result, foreign correspondents were banned from the valley. A curfew was imposed indefinitely. Several other towns were put under curfew. In defiance of what came to be called ‘crackdown’ by the authorities, the people continued to come out on the streets: ‘There were loudspeakers in the mosques encouraging people to come out. Everyday, all day people were shouting slogans’, recalls Haseeb. ‘Azadi, Azadi…Allah-o-Akbar – Freedom, Freedom, God is Great’ was broadcast from the minarets. Even I was thinking within ten days, India will have to vacate Kashmir. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, civil servants, students all came out on the streets in protest. For the first time the Indian flag was not hoisted to celebrate India’s Republic Day on 26 January, which was observed as a ‘black day’. Those journalists already in Srinagar remained confined to their hotel rooms; their curfew passes were withdrawn. Restrictions on the press, however, prevented genuine information from getting through to the valley. With the exception of foreign radio, the Kashmiris were obliged to relay on press release issued from Jagmohan’s office in Raj Bhavan. The same stories appeared in different newspapers with the same content under different by-lines. At the end of February an estimated 400,000 Kashmiris marched on the offices of the United Nations Military Observer Group to hand in petitions demanding the implementation of the UN officials were obliged to point out that their presence in the valley was only to monitor the line of control. Nearly every day a procession of lawyers, women, teachers, doctors marched through the streets of Srinagar. On 1 March more than forty people were killed in police firing when a massive crowd, estimated at one million took to the streets. The continuing curfew led to severe shortages of food, medicines and other essential items. The hospitals were becoming so full of the victims of the insurgency that the name of the Bone and Joint hospital in Srinagar was changed to the hospital for bullet and bomb blast injuries. In a mass exodus, at the beginning of March 1990, about 140,000 Hindus left the valley for refugee camps outside Jammu. The more affluent took up residence in their second homes in Delhi, but the vast majority were housed in squalid tents in over fifty camps on the outskirts of both Jammu and Delhi. Their story is as familiar as any the world over. Used as propaganda material by the Indian government to demonstrate that Muslims were not the only ones suffering during the insurgency. There was and still is, however, a widespread feeling that the departure of the Hindus was not necessary and that Jagmohan, who had a reputation for being anti-Muslim, attempted to give the Kashmiri problem a communal profile by facilitating their departure in government transport. Two eminent jurists, V.M. Tarkunde, now in his eighties, and Rachinder Sachar, as well as the educationalist, Amrik Singh, and balraj Puri, toured Kashmir in March and April 1990. Parts of there report read: ‘The fact is that the whole Muslim population of the Kashmir valley is wholly alienated from India and due to the highly repressive policy pursued by the administration in recent months, especially since the advent of Shri Jagmohan in January 1990, their alienation has now turned into bitterness and anger’. Mirwaiz Farooq Assumed the role of respected elder, someone whom in the present crisis, both the government and the militants could approach. As chief preacher at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, his religious influence was considerable. However, on 21 May 1990 he was shot dead at his home. His teenage son, Omar, blamed ‘those elements who were working against the interests of the Kashmiri movement’ for his death. During his funeral procession as the crowd passed Islamia College, where the 69th battalion of the CRPF was quartered, some officers opened fire. Officially, the government acknowledged twenty seven dead, but unofficial sources claimed as many as 100 died, possibly more. The Mirwaiz’s coffin was also pierced with bullets. Outrage at the murder turned into hysteria against the government. The valley under Jagmohan became a closed war zone. When the Punjab Human Rights Organisation investigated Maulvi Farooq’s death, they described’ a complete iron curtain’ separating the Kashmir valley from the outside world. “The regime of the curfew is all pervading. There are severe restrictions on outsider Indians seeking to enter the valley”. Although Jagmohan’s tenure as Governor lasted less than five months, during this period, the alienation of the valley against the Indian government became almost total. After Mirwaiz Farooq’s death, Jagmohan was replaced as governor by Girish “Gary’ Saxena. He had spend seventeen years with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s intelligence agency. Human Rights organisation, although restricted in their access, condemned the violations of human rights in the valley. In 1991 Asia Watch stated that the government forces ‘have systematically violated international human rights law by using lethal force against peaceful demonstrators. The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) special Ordinance, introduced in July 1990, provided the security forces with extraordinary power to shoot and kill, search and arrest without a warrant, all under immunity from prosecution. The security forces were reported as going on ‘a binge’ of arson, burning shops and houses in retaliation for a recent ambush by the militants”. In April 1990, David Housego filed from Malangam in the Kashmir valley the following report: ‘Indian security forces tied up and shot seven men and boys, all members of the same Kashmiri Muslim family in this remote village at the weekend; in what seems to have been a calculated act of brutality to deter villagers from helping Kashmiri separatists’. The apparently cold-blooded reprisals by India’s Border Security Force BSF, against villagers they believed to be shielding militants or weapons is further evidence of breakdown in discipline among Indian forces in Kashmir’. In June 1991, Tony Allen-Mills reported how the inhabitants of Kulgam were subjected to indiscriminate firing in the streets in reprisal for a rocket attack on BSF barracks, when two soldiers were slightly injured: Abdul Hamid Wazi, a baker’s assistant, saw soldiers poring gunpowder on the outside walls of his house. They fired a shot and set the place alight. The thatched roof collapsed on him. Wazi jumped through the flames, badly burning his leg and face. by the time the soldiers’ wrath was spent, twenty-eight shops and two houses had been torched, there were bullet holes in the mosque and several women claimed to have been raped. One of the most serious allegation of excess which Governor Sexena faced happened in the small town of kunan Poshpura. In February 1991 there were reports of fifty-three women being gangraped, while the men were kept ousted in the freezing cold or locked in houses and interrogated. ‘What happened in Kunan Poshpura is seen as the greatest single atrocity by security forces,’ wrote Christopher Thomas in the Times. The soldiers were identified as members of the 4th Rajput rifles. Indian army ad paramilitary were initially estimated to be 150,. The belief that ‘half a million Indian troops’ were stationed in Kashmir became an established fact in the opinion of all opposition groups. Hindu communalism remained a factor during this period. It reached alarming proportions at the end of December 1992 with the destruction by Hindu extremists of the mosque at Ayodha in Uttar Pradesh, Southnof Nepal. ‘After Ayodha’, commented one Kashmiri activist, ‘we did not understand why the Muslims in India did not do like us and ruse up against the Indian government.’ One of the towns to suffer most at the hands of the security forces was Sopore. On 6 January 1993, at least forty-three people were killed and a whole section of central Sopore was burnt to the ground. It was considered to be the largest reprisal attack by the security forces during the insurgency. According to Asia Watch, witnesses reported seeing the BSF soldiers pour houses and shops. Witnesses also stated that the BSF prevented fire fighters from putting out the blaze. On 18 February 1993 Dr. Farooq Ashai, chief orthopedic surgeon at the Bone and Joint hospital in Central Srinagar, was killed while returning home in his car with his wife and daughter. A respected doctor, he had acted as a spokesman for injured civilians in Kashmir. His students later erected a monument in his memory outside the hospital. They commemorated their “beloved teacher and humanist patriot who fell to the bullets of security forces”. In March another renowned doctor, Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru, a heart surgeon, was shot in Srinagar. Once again there was an outcry but no inquiry took place. During his funeral procession, a large crowd assembled. ‘There were 5000 to 6,000 people but the BSF had cordoned off the area to the Martyrs graveyard and said that only a hundred people will go’, said a relative. In the encounter which followed, the police opened fire and Dr. Guru’s brother-in-law, Ashiq Hussain, one of the pallbearers, was shot in the head and died instantly. “Although the evidence does not indicate that the police targeted Hussain, it is evident from the testimony and photographs that they fired directly into the crowd’, stated Asia Watch. Amnesty International was persistently forbidden access to the troubled valley.

HEARTS AND MINDS

In October the government set up the National Human Rights Commission under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. But, according to Amnesty International, Whose observers were still not allowed into the valley, its efficacy was reduced by the fact that it was not empowered to enquire into complaints of human rights violations by the army and paramilitary forces. ‘All it can do when faced with complaints of this nature is to call for official reports from the government, effectively functioning as a ‘post box’ of official views. In October 1993 the mosque at Hazratbal once more attracted international attention. by the autumn, the Indian government decided to take action. Azam Indquilabi, whose Operation Balakote militants were also at Hazratbal, said that the intention of the Indian army was to destroy the mosque. They wanted to humiliate the religious sentiments of the Kashmiris, to the extent that, once the shrine would have been demolished through shelling, they would then tell the Kashmiris. “You see even after having this shrine demolished, Pakistani forces could not intervene. So they do not express solidarity with you struggling people. They are leaving you in the lurch; so this is hypocrisy of the Muslim world, therefore why should you fight for the Muslim world and you should reconcile yourselves to the situation as it was in 1989. Pakistan condemned the Indian action in surrounding the mosque as sacrilege and onlookers, both domestic and foreign, feared the outcome would be similar to the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar when the Indian army moved against Sikh militants in 1984. The image of Indian restraint was, however, undermined by the actions of the border security forces in Bijbihara when they shot at least thirty-seven unarmed demonstrators who were protesting against the siege of Hazratbal. Fourteen BSF members were held responsible. According to the Indian Government, a Magisterial Inquiry and a Staff Court Inquiry were undertaken. The SCOI blamed four security force personnel for excessive use of force, while the Magisterial Inquiry indicated twelve people’. The magistrate also concluded that the shootings were unprovoked. The Indian government posted security forces in bunkers around Hazratbal. The Kashmiris objected to the mosque being ‘fortified’ by Indian troops. International concern over Kashmir reached a high point in February 1994 when the Pakistani prime Minister, Benezir Bhutto, who had returned to office in October 1993, raised the issue in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. The situation in Kashmir was intolerable, she said, as was the world’s silence. Despite its repression, India had failed to impose its will on the indomitable people of Jammu and Kashmir. When election speculation was at its height during the spring of 1995, one by one the members of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference a loose coalition of some 34 Kashmiri political parties and groups in the freedom struggle said they would not participate. l ‘The Indian government has thrust this election process on us because they want to convey to the external world that they believe in the democratic system’, said Yasin Malik a prominent Kashmir Leader. He felt so strongly about the proposed election that he threatened to immolate himself: ‘I am not doing this act against India. If the world conscience will come forward, they can stop the Indian government in this so-called election process. If they do not come forward then I will do this act against the world conscience, then I will be convinced that there is no one who can listen to the voice of the oppressed people’. Shabir Shah, believed to be one of the few leaders who could be a unifying force throughout the state, said that he would not take part in the election. ‘We have no trust in Delhi. They have eroded our rights since 1953 and therefore we don’t believe they will return us these rights”. Professor Abdul Ghani of the Muslim Conference described the Indian government’s attempt to hold elections as ‘political prattle as opposed to political initiative’. Even Farooq Abdullah, who is committed to finding a solution within secular India, placed stringent conditions on his participation. The political parties, represented by the Harriet, indicated that they would no be willing to participate in an election process within the frame-work of the Indian constitution. ‘Their idea of elections is just to create a government, a chief minister, an administration and then stop’, says Omar Farooq. ‘While our stand is that elections cannot be a substitute for self-determination. If elections were a solution to the problem we have already had eight or nine elections. But still the basic issue is unresolved’. ‘India realizes that they cannot make a dramatic change with elections, but they want to impress upon the international community that they are doing something and divert attention from the main issue of self determination.

TORTURE

Opponents of India’s military occupation of the valley of Kashmir continue to maintain that 600,— troops are stationed throughout the state in what is the highest troops to civilian population density ratio in any region in the world. This figure is taken to include over half of the 33 divisions of the regular army, border security forces (100,000) and Jammu and Kashmir police (30,000). A ‘crack’ corps of Rashtriya (National) Rifles (RR) was also brought into the valley to deal specifically with counter-insurgency. The report of the International Commission of Jurists after their visit in August 1993 noted: There is a long way still to go to overcome undiscipline and misconduct of the security forces, particularly the BSF, the persistent and regular use of torture in interrogation and the practice of extra-judicial militants and suspected militants has been a feature of Indian counter-insurgency tactics as a means of extracting information, coercing confessions and punishment.

According to Amnesty International, ‘the brutality of torture in Jammu and Kashmir defies belief. It has left people mutilated and disabled for life. The severity torture meted out by the Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir is the main reason for the appalling number of deaths in custody’. The torture generally includes electric shocks, beatings, and the use of a heavy roller on leg muscles, which can result in extensive muscle damage, leading to acute renal failure. Other forms of inhuman treatment on various parts of the body, including sexual molestation have also been reported. According to one victim, quoted by amnesty, ‘You always know in advance about the “current” because they send in the barber to shave you from head to foot. This is supposed to facilitate the flow of electricity. After he finishes shaving you, he hands you a cup of water to drink and then they attach the electrodes’. Other common methods, described by the US Human Rights Agency, Asia Watch, include suspension by the hands or feet, stretching the legs apart and burning the skin with a clothes iron or other heated object. Victims have also been kicked and stamped on by security forces wearing spiked boots. Sixty-three interrogation centres where torture is routinely carried out are believed to exist in Jammu and Kashmir, mostly run by the BSF and the CRPF. Army camps, hotels and other buildings have been taken over by the security forces as detention centres. One BSF center is located in one of the Maharaja’s old guest houses overlooking Dal lake and the mountains. With faded wallpaper, worn carpets and stags’ antlers on the walls, the luxuries of the past intrude inappropriately on the brutality of the present. Whereas an officer on duty will admit to the necessity of giving ‘a few slaps’ to captured militants to make them reveal where they have hidden their weapons gruesome photographs of mutilated bodies are part of any press kit given to concerned journalists by human rights activists and militant sympathizers. In its December 1993 report, Amnesty International produced information about disappearances in Kashmir. Another report by Amnesty in January 1995 regarding 705 people who, since 1990 had died in custody as a result of torture, shooting or medical neglect, produced yet another rebuttal from the Indian government. Amnesty, however, described their response as ‘evasive and misleading’. Complacently, the government refuses to recognise that there is an urgent need to take decisive action to put an end to the appalling human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. “Such practices clearly contravene international human rights standards which the Indian government is bound to uphold. Amnesty also notes that, court orders to protect detainees are routinely flouted. Despite promises of enquiries into custodial deaths, official investigations are rare. When they have taken place, the evidence is not made public, which diminishes the credibility of government findings. ‘It also makes a mockery of its expressed intention to eradicate human rights violations.

The Jammu and Kashmir Republic Safety Act (1978) permits people to be detained for up to two years on vaguely defined grounds to prevent them acting ‘in any manner prejudicial… to the security of the state and the maintenance of public order. Detention without charge is possible for up to one year. In 1990 the act was amended in order to exempt the authorities from informing the detainee the reason for his arrest. In its report, the ICJ concluded that the law has led to ‘hardships among those arrested under its scope. Its highly discretionary tone undermines efforts to discover the whereabouts of arrested persons and the quest for habeas corpus. The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987 (TADA) prohibits not only terrorist acts but also broadly defined ‘disruptive’ activities. The act established special courts to try those arrested. The term ‘disruptive activities’ is defined as including: Any action, whether by act or by speech or through any other media or in any other manner, which questions, disrupts… the sovereignty or territorial integrity of India, or which is intended to bring about or supports any claim for the cession of any part of India or the secession of any part of India from the union. As the international jurists pointed out. The definition of ‘disruptive activities’ is ‘a blatant contravention of the right to freedom of speech’. The discretionary nature of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, introduced by Saxena in 1990, which gives the governor or the government in New Delhi the authority to declare all or part of the state a ‘disturbed area’ and to use the armed forces to assist the civil power, means that the military can be used ‘to suppress legitimate political activity’ and according to the ICJ cannot possibly be justified. Since the military have the power to shoot and kill, ‘this involves a potential infringement of the right to life. Additional laws have been either introduced or revived ‘with negative impact on human rights’. Pakistan’s official stand has been to highlight the abuse of human rights on the international stage and point to the alienation of the Kashmiris of the valley from Indian rule while putting the issue in its historical context and referring back to the UN resolutions. Traditionally, Azad Kashmiris have been sympathetic to the Kashmiris of the valley where many still have relatives. A ‘liberation cell’ has been operating in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir since 1987, which retains close links both with the AJK government in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad. Its representatives guide foreigners through the political issues at stake as well as the refugee camps which have been set up to accommodate those who fled from the border towns of Kupwara, handwara, and Baramula in the early years of the insurgency. ‘We eat and are clothed’, said one refugee from Ambore camp outside Muzaffarabad, ‘but everything gets distasteful when we remember out bothers and sisters in occupied Kashmir’. ‘We notice the need for women to have psychiatric help’, says Nayyar Malik, who works as a voluntary social worker in the camps. They have been through such terrible thing and they need to talk. A radio station has been operating since 1960 in Muzaffarabad. It was initially set up to publicise the development activities of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government. but, says Masood Kashif, the station director, ‘it was not possible to keep our eye shut on the situation in Occupied Kashmir, therefore, a fair proportion of its broadcast was reserved for broadcasting programs on the subjects of freedom movement, freedom history and other relevant topics’. He believes that the Azad Kashmir radio is so popular in “Occupied Kashmir’ that the Indian government has imposed a ban on listening to the station and ‘is making her best efforts to jam the transmission.

LIVING UNDER SIEGE

The city of Srinagar is dusty and dirty, with uncollected rubbish dumped on the roadside for dogs and cows to forage through. The streets are full of potholes. The charred remains of once revered buildings, such as the library next to the mosque at Hazratbal, are a visual reminder of past battles. Al lake is thick and stagnant with weeds. The lives of the Kashmiris have been convulsed by bomb attacks, reprisals, cross-firing and curfew. Their homes have been raided and sometimes destroyed because of frequent security operations. Sopore is still half-gutted by fire. ‘I used to be frightened when the army came. but now I am used to it’, said a young girl from Sopore. “The searching totally destroys our houses. They scatter our belongings and break things”. For over eight years, the Kashmiris have lived in fear of the gun. Whether it is the militants or Indian security forces. Suspected militants or sympathisers, have been arrested, tortured, killed or just disappeared.” In practice any young Muslim man living within a village rural area or part of town noted for activities of any of the pro-independence or pro-Pakistan groups can become a suspect and a target for the large-scale and frequently brutal search operations’, stated the Amnesty in 1993, Extrajudicial executions of militants have often been publicised as death in ‘an encounter’. Nearly every Kashmiri has a sad tale to tell of a family member who had been picked up by the security forces on suspicion of being a militant. Dr. Rashid is one of thousands who suffered personal loss: My brother was twenty-five years old. He was running a cosmetics shop. The BSF came and took him. In front of my father and family, he was killed. Someone had pointed him as being a militant. He was not armed and in the news that evening they gave that there was an encounter, when there was no encounter at all. Not long afterwards Dr. Rashid’s younger brother was also shot for being a suspected militant. Then he heard the news about his cousin’s son: He was eighteen year old-he was a student. He was captured; I went to the police station and asked to see him because I had heard he had got some bullet injuries. They told me to wait and they would see where he was. For two hours I waited there. Then they brought his dead body. The report said he was running away and then they shot him. If he was running away he would have had bullet wounds on the back. but he had two bullet injuries at 2cm distance just on his heart in front. For the majority of the people the ill-effects of living under siege are tremendous. No one has yet been able to evaluate the trauma of events on their lives since 1989. Children have frequently been unable to go to school and the standard of education has declined. Schools in rural areas have been occupied by the security forces, who have also installed themselves in university campuses. Medical facilities are insufficient and the hospitals are unhygienic. The doctors are overworked and many have fled. In 1995 the bone and Joint Hospital had only three senior medical staff, besides nine registrars and six consultants. Immunisation programmers for children have fallen behind. On account of the insurgency, there are twenty times the number of psychiatric cases than in 1989. Unofficial statistics estimate that 40,000 people have died since 1988. Amnesty bases its figures on police and hospital sources and assesses the number as in excess of 17,000. ‘but we also believe there are several thousand more for whom we have no statistics’, says a representative of Amnesty. The martyr’s graveyards in Srinagar is full of fresh graves with weeping mothers and onlookers standing by. In 1994 M.N Sabharwal, the director-general of Police in Srinagar admitted that at least 1,500 civilians had been killed in the crossfire, with many more injured. Just one of those casualties lay in a ward of the Bone and joint Hospital in April 1994. He had been out shopping with his wife on his motorcycle. When firing began in a crowded street, soldiers shouted at them to get off the motorcycles and lie face down on the ground. Both he and his wife received bullet wounds. He was crying as he related his story. ‘My Mrs. is in the ladies hospital. I am here. What have we done to deserve this? His own injury, close to his heart, was so serious that the doctor had only permitted him to be interviewed on the understanding that I did not tell him that his wife had already died. ‘The shock’, warned the doctor ‘might kill him’. All communities have suffered during the insurgency. For those Kashmiri Muslims of the valley who so enthusiastically supported the demand for Azadi, on the understanding that they had been promised a plebiscite in order to determine their future, the sense of betrayal is perhaps greatest. The repression of the 1990s, the indiscriminate and unnecessary killings have merely added fuel to their anger. Time and again I heard people say: ‘How could we ever accept the Indian government again, after what the military did to our people?’ The record numbers of nearly 80,000 foreign tourists who visited the valley in 1989 are reduced to about 9,000. Isolated incidents of kidnapping foreigners who were either working in Kashmir or had come as tourists, as well as the rape of a Canadian girl in October 1990 by two army officers, acted as an obvious deterrent. So too the miltarisation of the valley and the paradox of enjoying a holiday, while the local people were subjected to crackdowns and cross-firing.

The lack of tourists has, of course, meant that the business of the local Kashmiris has suffered accordingly: houseboat, the Rickshaw wallahs, taxi drivers, tonga drivers hotel owners, and those who depended on selling their handicrafts to visiting tourists, have all lost what was the only avenue of income open to them. In July 1995 Six foreigners were kidnapped. The Hurriyat and virtually all the Kashmiri parties condemned the kidnapping. Pakistan also condemned the kidnapping and some commentators even believed that the incidents was an elaborate ploy by Indian intelligence to discredit the Kashmiri movement and, indirectly, Pakistan. The valley, surrounded by the magnificent Himalayan mountains, whose beauty has, for centuries, attracted visitors from far and wide, is still the home of tragedy.

CONCLUSION

The Kashmiri conflict, which has lasted half a century, has been inherited by the next and the next generation. Many of those in the forefront of the struggle today were not born when it all began, nor were those who have died fighting in the cause of Kashmir. The State of Jammu and Kashmir remains, as every, poised strategically between powerful and competing neighbors: China to the east, the new Central Asian republics to the north and west and the land mass of the sub-continent to the south. The world, however, has become much more dangerous since 1947. Yet the basic demand of those Kashmiris challenging the Indian government is the same; the right to determine their future. The Kashmiris who are challenging Indian rule, however, believe that it is the moral duty of the international community to support their cause precisely because successive resolutions, unanimously adopted by the Security Council, called for the settlement of the dispute by means of a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Kashmiris refute India’s suggestion that if Kashmir secedes it will lead to the break-up of India. ‘We have a legal case, supported by United Nations resolution. There are commitments made by India’, says Omar Farooq also believes that India does not have to retain Kashmir for the sake of its ‘secular’ image, ‘There are over 100 million Muslims in India, which make it secular, without India having to hold onto Kashmir. The Kashmiris are also apprehensive that adverse publicity regarding the militancy means that their struggle is misunderstood by the world community. ‘It is portrayed as a terrorist and Islamic fundamentalist movement, while that is not the case’, says Omar Farooq. ‘It is important to understand the Kashmiris’ point of view. We are not fanatics’. Kashmiris still see that the best solution lies in pressure from he international community. The Kashmiris who are opposing India do not see themselves as remote and rate their struggle on the same basis as other trouble spots. ‘We see issues like Bosnia, Ireland, Middle East getting solved’, says Omar Farooq, ‘Therefore we have high hopes of getting the international community involved to solve the issue in Kashmir.’ The Government of India has strongly objected to Pakistan’s re-introduction of the Kashmir issue on the international platform, be it at the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Countries, the Commonwealth or in meetings with foreign leaders. The history of Kashmir may be relevant to understand the depth of feeling, but once understood, the challenge is to move on. World parameters have changed. They have also hardened. Nationalist feeling, the braking republics within the former Soviet Union, and alienation towards the Indian government in New Delhi have made the Kashmiris’ demand for self-determination even stronger. The reunification of East and West Germany was particularly symbolic. ‘We felt if the Berlin Wall could be dismantled so too could the line of control’, said Dr. Hamida Bano, professor of English at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar. What has not changed, however, is the belief that a plebiscite is the time-honored way to finalise the issue. Regardless of prior elections, accords and economic packages, the Kashmiris people have never been allowed to exercise their right of self-determination to which the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir became entitled as parto of the process of partition has neither been exercised nor abandoned, and thus remains execrable today. Unless the Kashmiris themselves can be made to feel that they have been given the freedom to choose their destiny, the issue may never be laid to rest. If this generation is silenced, the next will learn the history, read about the plebiscite and seek, perhaps again through armed struggle, to achieve their aims. Discontent in the Valley did not begin with the insurgency of the 1990s. The Government of India had nearly fifty years to win over the hearts of the Kashmiris. Even during periods of stability and apparent calm the acquiescence of the people was never wholehearted or unanimous. The ‘riggid’ elections of 1987 and 96, combined with economic grievances, corruption and unfulfilled expectations, completed the process of alienation. India’s persistent belief that Pakistan instigated the Kashmiri problem has also prevented a thorough analysis of the Indian government’s handling of the situation. ‘I do not believe that any foreign hand engineered the Kashmir problem’, stated Gorge Fernandes in 1990′.

The problem was created by us. Is there a solution? Our first goal should be that we should be in a position to decide our future’, says Omar Farooq. In consultation with the political leadership of Azad Kashmir, we could take a decision. All Kashmiris should sit and discuss what will be the future of the state. Until we can discuss with our brothers across the border it is very difficult for us to take a single-handed decision. Spoken so convincingly, it all sounds easy. ‘We have given proposals to the Indian government’, Farooq continues ‘you stop human rights abuses, allow in Amnesty and other organisations, release political prisoners and accept that Kashmir is part of a dispute. Kashmiri political activists continue to maintain that elections are no substitute for a plebiscite. Without a generally acceptable settlement, the Kashmir issue is likely to remain indefinitely on the international agenda of unresolved conflicts, which may yet become more explosive’.

Kashmir STORE