By – Hashim Qureshi
A scuffle took place between Indian and Chinese border forces somewhere on the border of Eastern Ladakh. Many in Azad Kashmir and some on this side of the valley and also many in Pakistan began to celebrate the faceoff by beating drums and cracking crackers. Animosity has made all of them blind. Euphoric to see the enemy dragged to destruction and defeat we do not have even the little vision about what next and what gain is it going to bring to us?
Let us go for an excursion into the history and examine what have been the consequences of this illogical mindset.
Once, the State of Kashmir was ruled by Yusuf Shah Chak, a Shia ruler. At that time Mughals were ruling over India. Twice they attacked Kashmir but were defeated and even their commander was also killed. Then a conspiracy was hatched our people went to the court of Emperor Akbar asking him to attack Kashmir. Yusuf Shah Chak was duped into meeting with Emperor Akbar where he was arrested somewhere near Patna where he spent his last days and remain buried in that soil. Yusuf Shah’s queen has sung pathetic songs of her separation. It is said that Raja Man Singh, Akbar’s General had attempted suicide because he could not keep the promise of not getting Yusuf Shah Chaka arrested by Akbar.
Mughals ruled over Kashmir for 167 years. We Kashmiris lost everything, our honour, dignity and independence. We became slaves. Intermittent uprisings were quelled through force. Communalism found a boost. Ghazi Chak’s revolt was quite significant but he too was made a victim of conspiracies and martyred. Our people also perpetrated tyranny on us and many of our revolts ended in a fiasco.
It is said that a two-hundred strong delegation of Kashmiris went to Kabul to invite the Afghans to come to Kashmir and throw off the Mughals. They supplicated for a gentle and kind-hearted Governor to be sent to Kashmir. The Afghan king said that he would depute anyone whom they selected in Afghanistan. The Kashmiri delegation found a man supporting long beard and entering a mosque for prayers. They selected him to be their Governor. He was Kakar Khan a man known for his harshness and brutality. The Afghan King once again asked them if they had finally selected Kakar Khan. The 200-strong delegation carried Kakar Khan from Kabul to Kashmir in a palanquin which they carried on their shoulders. By the tune the caravan arrived in Uri, most of them had expired owing to exhaustion.
The story goes that while on its march onwards of Uri, the caravan accosted a small group of people carrying a coffin. Kakar Khan asked his bearers to lower the palanquin as he wanted to know what it was. He lifted the cover of the coffin and found a dead body lying in the coffin. He took out his dagger and cut off the ear and the nose of the corps. His bearers asked why the act and Kakar Khan replied that he is called Charag Beg and the dead person should tell all the dead people with whom he will be joining soon as to who is Charag Beg. So the term Charag Beg became a curse which Kashmiris invariably utter to curse a person.
Afghans played with our honour. They would pick up beautiful Kashmiri girls and take them to the markets in Kabul, Peshawar and Punjab for sale. Respectable people began to trim the hair of their young daughters and cut their noses so that they do not become a source of attraction for the Afghans. The tradition of placing a huge stone mortar behind the entrance door of a house is the legacy of those days and that rule.
The supremacy of Afghan Governors continued for 37 years but how unfortunate that Kashmiris could no snatch from them their freedom of fighting for their rights and self-rule from the Afghan Governors. The Kashmiris were habituated to approach to a bigger to liberate them from a lesser tyrant. This tradition should have ended with the end of the Afghan rule. It did not. The liberators proved far more tyrant than those whom they deposed.
After the ouster of Afghans, Kashmiris came to a mightier power, Ranjit Singh, to oust the Afghans from Kashmir. The Sikhs overpowered Afghans and continued the same policy of perpetrating atrocities on people. They locked mosques and in my childhood, I had seen the iron rings attached to pegs in Pathar Masjid which the Sikhs used as stables for their horses.
The British ousted the Sikhs and sold Kashmir for 75 lakhs to Dogra Raja Gulab Singh. After the departure of the British, we had become the citizens of an independent state. The administrative system was in place for about a century. India was divided in 1947 and two dominions were created. We had nothing to do with that story. We had got the right of electing our representative in 1932. Our struggle for liberation from autocratic rule had begun much before the freedom was granted to India and Pakistan.
In 1947 Pakistan betted and sponsored attack on Kashmir by the frontier tribesmen. The people of Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Kotli and Poonch lent support to the invaders. Arms were supplied by the GHQ and these people fought a destroyed their state by supporting the outsiders from the tribal area of Pakistan. They fought the forces of Maharaja just to put the yoke of slavery of others on their necks voluntarily. The Maharaja was forced to invite Indian forces and make accession to India. This is how an independent State was parcelled into pieces at the hands of its people. We became slaves of not one but three countries.
Those who were recruited in the troops of the Maharaja had taken a pledge to be faithful to Maharaja broke their promise. If the people of Poonch, Kotli, Muzaffarabad and Mirpur had remained faithful to the State and the Maharaja, we would have been the people of an independent state today.
Those who claim that they wrested freedom from the Maharaja and create “Azad Kashmir” are not ashamed of saying that. Gilgit and Baltistan, the part of the State of Maharaja were liberated by Gilgit Scouts but then invited Pakistan to seize it. The people of the region of GB say that of course freedom was wrested from the rule of Maharaja but then the yoke of slavery of Pakistan was put on their necks and for last 74 years they fail to understand what kind of yoke of slavery they are carrying.
During 1960, China succeeded in winning the trust of Indians by raising the slogan of Chini-Hindi Bhai Bhai meaning the Chinese and Indians are brothers. Three biggest leaders of The non-Aligned movement were Chou En-Lai of China, Nehru of India and Col Naser of Egypt. But then China suddenly attacked Indian territory of Aksaichin and grabbed about 15000 sq miles or 38000 sq km of the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. China conceded that the region belongs to the State of Jammu and Kashmir but since the State is a disputed issue and once the dispute is resolved they would talk to the genuine government to settle the Aksaichin issue. Pakistan conceded some more territory to China from the original State of Jammu and Kashmir.
After the 1962 war, India never made any attempt to retrieving the Aksaichin area from Chinese illegal control. China built a road to Tibet through this region and reduced the distance thereby.
China’s expansionist activity in Eastern Ladakh is part of her big expansionist designs. We are surprised at the foolhardiness of the people in our region who are going agog with Chinese intrusion in Ladakh. What is the quantum of freedom allowed to the Muslims and Christians in China is known to the entire world? In Xinjiang, Muslim Uighurs are forcibly put in concentration camps. Muslim officials are not allowed to grow beards of offer prayers. Mosques cannot raise tall minarets. Under these circumstances, we should mourn the mentality of those who consider Chinese incursion into India a moment of hilarity for them because they are enemies of India.
Does it not show the return of the slavish mentality of our people which is to become the slaves of the strong man and go on suppressing your compatriots for their weakness. One cannot help express surprise on this type of mentality. Instead of defending our land against division and instead of defending the citizenship rights of our people we have always volunteered to accept the yoke of slavery of a powerful neighbour.