27th October is Black Day in History of Kashmir

Kashmir is  a source of long standing dispute between Pakistan and India, which originated when the people of Jammu and Kashmir state were denied the right of self-determination in 1947.

When India and Pakistan became independent on August 1947, it was generally assumed that Kashmir, as a contiguous state with a predominantly Muslim population, would accede to Pakistan. Its ruler, the Maharaja, however, on 27 October 1947 acceded to India through an improper and illegal Instrument of Accession although he has lost support of people who have established an independent state (Azad Jammu & Kashmir). On the same day, India airlifted its forces to Srinagar and occupied the valley.

It is for this reason that Kashmirs and freedom loving people all around the world celebrate 27th October as Black Day.

The unresolved issue of Kashmir is a challenge to world conscience – an emergency session of UN Security Council to condemn 154 rape cases in Democratic Republic of Congo but the rape of over 10,000 women in Indian Occupied Kashmir by Indian Security Forces goes un-noticed.

Background
Jammu Kashmir dispute dates back to the partition of the British Indian Empire, in August 1947, into two independent states, Pakistan and India.

At that time there were also around 565 princely states, large and small, which were under British suzerainty but were not directly ruled by the British Government. Most of these states joined either India or Pakistan taking into account their contiguity to one or the other country and the wishes of their people.

In Jammu and Kashmir state, the ruler was a Hindu, while the population was overwhelmingly Muslim and wanted to join Pakistan. India consistently pressurized the Hindu Ruler to accede to India.

Apprehending that the Hindu ruler was likely to succumb to Indian pressure, the people of Jammu and Kashmir rose against him, forcing him to flee from Srinagar, the capital of the State. They formed their own government on 24th October, 1947. On 27th of October, 1947, the Government of India alleged that the ruler had acceded to India on the basis of a fraudulent instrument of accession, sent its forces into the State and occupied a large part of Jammu and Kashmir.

But Indian leaders, including Jawahar lal Nehru, the Prime Minister and Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India, solemnly declared that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir would be decided by the people of the  State. This declaration was reiterated by India at the UN Security Council when the dispute was referred to that august body, under chapter 6 of the U.N Charter relating to peaceful settlement of disputes.

UN Resolution
The Security Council resolutions provides for holding of a fair and impartial plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir under UN auspices to enable the Kashmiri people to exercise their right of self-determination and join either Pakistan or India. The UN also deployed the United Nations Military Observer Group (UNMOGIP) to monitor the cease-fire line between the Liberated or Azad Kashmir area and the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). These resolutions were accepted by India and Pakistan and constitute an agreed legal basis  for settlement of the dispute.

India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir
India, however, thwarted all attempts by the United Nations to organize a plebiscite in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Eventually, India openly resiled from its commitments and declared that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India.

The Indian armed intervention in the State of Jammu and Kashmir was illegal and took place against the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Despite the decision of the UN Security Council for the holding of a plebiscite to allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine their own future, India’s own pledges to that effect, and reiteration of their commitment of resolving the Kashmir issue in the Simla Agreement of 1972 signed between Pakistan and India after the 1971 war, India continues to remain in illegal occupation of a large part of Jammu and Kashmir, refuses to allow the Kashmiris to decide their own future and continues its brutal suppression in the territory.

Moreover, India went on to violate other aspects of the Simla agreement, specifically the undertaking that neither side shall change the ground situation, by occupying the Chorbat La, Siachen & Qamar sectors, an area over 2500 sq. kilometres between 1972 to 1988.

Indian Brutalities
India sought to suppress their movement with massive use of force, killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children. This led some of the Kashmiri youth to take up arms in self defence.

So far, more than 100,000 Kashmiri people have been killed in a reign of terror and repression unleashed by over 700,000 Indian troops. Many more languish in Indian jails where they are subjected to torture and custodial deaths.

There have been numerous cases of gang rapes of Kashmiri women by the Indian forces and the deliberate burning down of entire localities and villages.

These brutalities have been documented by International and even Indian Human Rights Organizations.

Extra judicial killings, involuntary disappearances, arbitrary detentions, rapes and torture continue to be reported on a large scale. The Kashmiri leaders have been repeatedly harassed and physically intimidated. They have also been denied travel permission to prevent them from exposing Indian human rights abuses in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The massive suppression by India is clearly designed to silence the people of Jammu and Kashmir through sheer brutality bordering on genocide and ethnic cleansing.

All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference
India refuses to acknowledge that the people of Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) have become totally alienated and there is complete rejection of Indian occupation. Several Kashmiri political parties have formed the all Pakistan Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) to continue the political struggle for self-determination. The APHC, therefore, constitutes the true representative of the Kashmiri people.

Instead of accepting the existing reality, India has sought to blame Pakistan for allegedly promoting the Kashmiri uprising. The fact is that this movement is completely indigenous and enjoys mass support. The Indian allegations against Pakistan are a ploy to mislead the International Community and to create a smokescreen behind which they can continue repression in IHK.

After more than four decades of a peaceful struggle against Indian repression, manipulation and exploitation, the Kashmiri people, convinced that India would never honour its commitments, and inspired by similar movements for freedom in other parts of the world, rose against the Indian occupation towards the later part of 1989. Their struggle was, and remains, largely peaceful.

Pakistan’s Perspective
A peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions remains on top of Pakistan’s foreign policy agenda.

UN Security Council resolutions that call for a plebiscite under UN auspices. It is in keeping with the solemn pledge made to the Kashmiri people by Pakistan, India and the international community.

In order to find an early and just solution to the decades old Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Pakistan has welcomed offers of good offices and third-party mediation. It has encouraged the international community to play an active role and facilitate the peaceful settlement of disputes between Pakistan and India.

Pakistan will continue to extend full political, diplomatic and moral support to the legitimate Kashmiri struggle for their right to self-determination as enshrined in the relevant United Nations resolutions. In the context of the bilateral dialogue, it calls on India to translate its commitments into reality. At the same time, it will encourage the international community to support and supplement our efforts to establish lasting peace and stability in South Asia on the basis of equitable resolution of all disputes between the two countries, in particular the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

68 years of Kashmir’s accession: What happened on 27 October, 1947?
It is difficult to imagine the cliffhanging drama that unfolded as Indian troops landed in Kashmir on 27 October 1947. The place was in limbo, the Maharaja having left Srinagar for Jammu in a long convoy at 2 am on the night of 25 October, a few hours after signing the accession.

At the Cabinet meeting on 26 October, Nehru insisted that the accession must have the people’s backing. So, Sheikh Adbullah sent in a quickly scribbled note on behalf of the National Conference. He was sitting in the next room, having brought his family down to Delhi.

At dusk, companies of the Sikh regiment were scrambled from their Gurgaon billet. On the morning of 27 October, Dakotas flew them to Srinagar. Anxious National Conference leaders were scanning the skies over Rangret airport, their hopes fading, by the time the first plane arrived at 10 am. The heroic Maqbool Sherwani had by then turned the marauding tribesmen towards Shadipura from Shalteng. Chancing upon him as he tried out his new motorcycle, those invaders from Pakistan had asked him for directions.

By afternoon, the tarmac was a broken mess; it had been built only for the Maharaja’s small private plane. By then, the badly-briefed soldiers had killed their first quarry, mistaking four ordinary Kashmiris for invaders while passing Barzula village a couple of kilometres before what was then the edge of the city.

The dramatic events of that day have left a legacy of divergent narratives. Those divergences are a major reason why many Kashmiris and the majority of Indians so often talk past each other. Each seems unreasonable to the other. That of course is a recipe for deadlock and increased resentment.

A common impression among many Kashmiris is that the army’s arrival on this day that year was a temporary measure, meant only to save Kashmiris from the tribesmen. That is one cause for the hartal call in Kashmir today.

In fact, when Maharaja Hari Singh first sought urgent military aid on 24 October, the cabinet had refused to send troops unless the Maharaja acceded, arguing that the Indian Army could only defend Indian territory. This was not Nehru’s idea, or Patel’s, but that of Governor-General Mountbatten (who chaired the Defence Committee of the Cabinet).

That brings one to another strongly held idea in many Kashmiri minds – that the accession itself was temporary. They conclude this by clubbing the accession with the promise of a plebiscite. Most Indians, on the other hand, separate the two. The accession was final, as were the accessions of the other 500 or so potentates.

The real differences are that this one was conditional (only for defence, external relations and communication), and this Maharaja did not follow up with an instrument of merger. That means that the state of Jammu and Kashmir continues to have a legal standing, and cannot be reconstituted into alternative states – as Andhra Pradesh recently was.

The boot is generally on the other foot when it comes to narratives regarding Article 370. Many Indians think this was a temporary provision until a final decision on the state’s future was taken by a separate constituent assembly of the state. Most Kashmiris insist that 370 is a permanent part of India’s constitution, the hinge upon which the state’s relationship with the Union is based.

That brings one to divergent perceptions about the constituent assembly. The state’s constitution clearly states that it is an integral part of India. Union Home Minister GB Pant used that term for the first time in Parliament in 1958, soon after the state’s constitution took effect on 26 January that year. Once the state’s constitution was in place, it (and the assemblies elected under its mandate) dictated how much control the Union would have.

Unfortunately, a demand for integration has been so often bandied about by RSS activists that many Indians now confuse it for just an RSS rant. Indeed, RSS activists tend to confuse it with Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerji’s ek nishan, ek vidhan, ek pradhan campaign of 1952-53.

Mookerji’s campaign was specifically against the New Delhi agreement of 1952, negotiated by committees headed by Maulana Azad on behalf of the Union and Sheikh Abdullah on behalf of the state. And that agreement was in the same bracket as Article 370. It was meant to determine this particularly prickly Centre-state relationship until the state’s constitution was ready.

Ironically, many of the Kashmiris who contest integration and insist that Article 370 is permanent and sacrosanct also hold fast to the state’s separate constitution. Generally, they neither question the rigged elections through which that assembly was constituted, nor the processes through which the proceedings were managed.

Actually, one can go round and round in circles arguing about each of the above points. Finally, all the divergences regarding the permanence or otherwise of what happened that fateful day and subsequently, boil down to a fundamental difference in perspective – whether one wants to interpret all that happened as meant to pave the way for Kashmir’s inclusion in India, or as meant to open doors that might lead to its independence.