Azadi for Kashmiris


Voice of Azadi, Autonomy, Self-rule, etc are being raised again for past four months by a section of people in Kashmir except Jammu and Ladakh regions, resulting in calls of bandh, hartals and dusk to dawn curfew. Stone pelting with Army and security forces, has claimed many victims on both sides. While demand for Azadi is one facet of coin, the question remains that if the valley becomes a sovereign republic, can the interests of it remain secure while being surrounded by the borders of five countries like Pakistan, China, Tibet, Russia and India? Unfortunately, seventy five percent of Kashmiris do not take Azadi in this sense. For them Azadi means merger of the valley with Pakistan which is an Islamic republic. But that is not the only reasoning. I have a fair recollection that even after partition and declaration of freedom from Britishers in 1947, common people of Kashmir did not know that a new country has emerged within the country, the fact is that everybody had then become a follower of Shiekh Mohammad Abdulla, the patron of NC- National Conference which was founded on June28, 1939. It's first session was held in oct.1939, passing a resolution that Kashmir will remain with India and only with India. At that time National Conference followed the advices of Indian National congress. But it is the same National conference in which Jinnah took part by saying in 1940 that Muslims have one platform, one Kalma, and one God. It brought a sharp rejoinder from the members of National conference who said the ills of this land can only be remedied by carrying Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other minorities together. This is a main principle of this party but even upto this date it bifurcated several times and the communalist forces in it played a vital part in keeping Kashmir problem alive and without having any solution. This is due to the fact that this party has changed colors from time to time for the last sixty years. Currently the party is bound on three principles ie Pro-India policy, Autonomy for the state and upliftment of people.

Basically, this is not acceptable to Pakistan, a country created on the philosophy of Jinnah who said in one of his speeches that 'We will have either divided India or destroyed India'.

Jinnah was successful in the 2nd part of his statement in creating so-called Kashmir problem. But this is a created problem and nothing else. Who is responsible fo? it. People of kashmir,—-No, Jawaharlal Nehru, -No, the so-called leaders of Kashmir,- No. To my mind Maharaja of Kashmir Harisingh created this problem for his own narrow motives. It is clear that after granting freedom to India, British govt. made an announcement by saying that every princely state had an option to accede to either Pakistan or India. Unfortunately, Maharaja took it lightly. Instead of taking a decision, he opted for a wait and watch policy. He had no choice. Being a Muslim dominated state and direct road link from Srinagar to Muzzafarabad, Jinnah was pressurizing Maharaja to accede Kashmir to Pakistan. Even Britishers said at that time that the purpose of an Imperial ring can be achieved if Kashmir goes to Pakistan.

Maharaja of Kashmir Harisingh
Lord Mount Batten, the last viceroy of British India came to Kashmir in September 1st 1947 for the same purpose. But this proposal was unacceptable to Maharaja. In this way he wasted more than one year just to think in which way he can go. Due to the delay of acceding to Kashmir to either side, Jinnah got suspicious. Here, Maharaja was Hindu and the majority of population of state was of Muslims. Earlier Jinnah had got bitter experience of the Nawab of Junagrah [Gujrat] who was a Muslim whereas the people of the state were Hindus, but the then leaders of India were not interested in Kashmir so much so that Sardar Patel said in one of his speeches that if Kashmir went to Pakistan, this would not be regarded as an unfriendly by India. But there was no solution of Kashmir in the mind of Maharaja. Fearing a breakdown of communication system through Pakistan and rich export trade with India, Maharaja sought both the dominions and made up his mind to launch standstill agreement to come into force from August 1947. Pakistan agreed to it with regard to states communication, supplies, post office and telegraphic arrangements. but this was not acceptable to Indian leaders. They said either a full accession with India or with Pakistan. Earlier Jinnah had come to Kashmir to persuade S. M Abdullah about full accession of Kashmir with Pakistan but was unsuccessful. That is why in one of his speeches he said that Kashmir is a blank cheque in his pocket. Jinnah was humiliated and he returned back. It is after a few days of this occurrence and even acceptance of Maharajas standstill policy, Pakistan attacked Kashmir in November 27, 1948 and the report of attack was given by Major Scott. Pakistani press at that time reprted of the attack on Kashmir and commented that its attack on a Islamic dominated region would badly shatter the prestige of Muslims. Due to this, Pakistan sent warrior nomads of the abandoned areas nearing Afghanistan with sophisticated weaponry and assisted by three brigades of Pak Army.This way of terrorism in Kashmir sponsored by Pakistan is not a new experiment. On the other hand, this strategy has been experimented by Pakistan much earlier but without achieving any success. In 1948 Hindus and Sikhs were worst hit due to infiltration of raiders. Many were butchered, looted and betrayed. The only difference is that they were not allowed to migrate by the then Emergency govt. headed by S.M. Abdulla, Secondly, people of Kashmir became suspicious of Pak govt. and remained cooperative to Abdulla and national Conference which played a leading role in keeping the fabric of brotherhood in tact here. Still Hindus of some belts here suffered a lot but they tolerated every odd. After evacuation of raiders, times changed for Kashmiri Hindus which is evident from the fact that they found insecurity in the valley in every respect and lastly their mass migration due to terror and fear took place to plains in 1990 with pick and choose killings by the militants. Having such situation I feel that our Maharaja was totally lagging in foresight. It was only due to his conservative outlook that we have become sufferers.

As I repeated in the first round-up of this write-up under title above that if Kashmir will remain independent, then five countries bordering it are under danger of big powers of the world according to the present political scenario. That is why India and Pakistan have openly rejected the demand of Azadi for Kashmiris where as both the countries have used the people of this land for this demand overtly or covertly since independence. Kashmiris have remained in a fix for the last sixty years about their solid decision on Kashmir. This process is still on but the lasting decision acceptable to all the parties concerned still seems a distant dream. It is true that both the countries have fully realized the importance of Kashmir and if this piece of land would have remained the part of any country ,then it was the problem. As we know one third of it is in the procession of Pakistan and this is called Azad Kashmir there. The wonder is that why this part is called Azad or independent there.? Is there any autonomous Agency which governs it with their own ways and means? No Pakistan govt is directly involved here and so much so she has given some part of it to China and in this way violated the U.N. Charter on Kashmir. The fact is that the people of this so-called Azad Kashmir derived either Azadi from Pakistan or merger of their side with Indian Kashmir.This is a crystal clear that the slogan of Azadi has been raised by Amanullah Khan from Gilgit in 1975 when he felt that the people of this land are under torture of Pak Army and their living conditions are zero in comparison of the people of Indian Kashmir. Actually he demanded Azadi for Gilgit and Baltistan from Pakistan but a section of people from this side of Kashmir are in favour of Azadi on religious lines. The viewpoint is that Pakistan has ninety percent Muslim population and this side of Kashmir should be the part of Pakistan in the grab of Azadi. So the queen of Azadi is changing her dress in both the parts of Kashmir according to her support.

One basic thing is worth interesting to note here, who is responsible to put crown of Azadi on queen of Kashmir or who has carved another territory for her. Pakistan—no.China—no. People of whole Jammu and Kashmir—no. It is India and only India which brought close a fifteen month guerrilla campaign and a cease fire came into effect a minute before midnight on the first day of the year 1949, leaving one third of Kashmir to Pakistan. On the next day Jawaharlal Nehru declared at Allahabad that we stopped a victorious Army. We could have settled conclusions. In obvaincr to charter we restrained the action of our military forces. Instead of obtaining what we could have obtained by the use of force, we conceived to negotiate having accepted it. But this was a blunder on the part of our Prime Minister when according to him his Army was capable to flush out every raider in the valley. Why he restrained actions. If he would have gone forward then Kashmiris position would have different. The second main blunder of the then Indian govt. in controlling the situation of Jammu and Kashmir is that it made request to the United Nations to prevent Pakistan of sending tribals and Pak nationals from taking part in this fighting in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and to deny the raiders access and use its territory in operations of supplies and other kinds of aid to the people of Kashmir. By accepting Kashmir as problem by India and taking it to U.N.O was first presented by Gopalaswamy Ayenger with the help of Sitalvad. The UNO took action but Pakistans reply to the complaint was denial of that countrys Foreign Minister Affar-ullah-khan. But he was the same Zaffar-ullah-khan who admitted for the first time in one of the meetings in UNO that Pakistan has sent three Brigades of Army into the territory of Kashmir since May and this was for the protection of Pakistan from possible aggression by Indian forces. After that Pakistan has openly admitted from time to time that Kashmir will come from Pakistans side only through war and this policy has not yet changed. Even Z A Bhutto said in July 17, 1963 that in the event of war Pakistan would not be alone. Pak could be helped by the most powerful nations in Asia. War between India and Pakistan involves the territorial integrity of the largest state in Asia. Even Mian Mumtaz Daultana went two steps further by saying that Muslims will inflict a humiliating defeat on Hindus as they had done at the time of establishment of Pakistan.

However,the case of Kashmir as dispute came in UNO, the newly emerged world body, which was the main mistake of India and made proposal in three parts ie withdrawal of troops from both the sides of Jammu and Kashmir by the concerned countries, authority to govt. of India to invite major political organizations and thirdly that the govt. of India and Pakistan should each be invited to nominate a representative to be attached to the commission for assistance as it may require in the performance of talks .In this connection India proposed Czechoslovakia, the member of the commission while Pakistan prepared Belgium its member. The commission designated five members ie Afghanistan, Belgium, Columbia Czechoslovakia, and USA. Tregvie Lie, the first secretary of UNO set up the military observers in Kashmir under the command of Gen Murice. Since then the process is continued on the borders of Kashmir when four wars have been fought between the two countries upto this date, without having any solution of the problem. Since then UNO has become a meeting venue of its member countries. This has not given any solution of any vexed problem of the world. On the other hand it has been able to stop wars between the countries to some extent. There is no role of UNO in Kashmir except the mere presence of their observers from both the sides. Kashmir has remained secular in character. It has guided us to remain united. On the other hand Azadi of Kashmir will throw us into the abyss of economic bankruptcy and political slavery.

As I already said in the episode-2 that the demand of Azadi by a section of people has deep roots and these have been sown not by kashmiris only, but by those who have their larger interests in the valley even upto this date. Kashmiris are players, where as India and Pakistan are refrees and the big powers are the members of management body and Kashmir problem is a type of cricket match.It is upon the management body to use the players in game according to their choice. This has happened in the past and the process is under continuation even either this way or that upto this date.Here we can start from our own people who remained indifferent about Kashmir in their first leg of diplomacy, leaving the common people of Kashmir in dark.For example, the lion of Kashmir S.M. Abdullah put these alternatives before the people—accession to India, accession to Pakistan or Independence and friendly relations with both. But this was the color of his speech before signing Delhi Agreement without consulting his cabnet collegues. The main points of this agreement are as follows:
  • a] Central govt will have control over defense, foreign affairs and communication only.
  • b] Central Election commission will have no jurisdiction over Jammu and Kashmir.
  • c] Comptroller and Auditor General will have nothing to do with the auditing of the financial transactions of the state.
  • d] Jammu and Kashmir will remain out of the purview of Supreme court of India.
  • e] Article 370 will remain permanent.
  • f] The state will have its own President or Sadri-Riyasat and Prime Minister.
  • g] All the laws promulgated after 1953 to be repealed.
  • h] National flag will fly only on the central govt buildings.
  • i] President cannot impose Presidents rule without the concurrence of the state.
  • j] Provisions of the constitution of India relating to the All India services will not apply in Jammu and Kashmir.

Almost all the laws were applicable here upto 1953 but Kashmir problem was still there. On Matyrs day S.M. Abdullah he changed colors of speech again and said that Kashmirs position is such that it should have the sympathy of both the domonians. His ideology was again not favored by his Ministers and Member Assembly but he remained adamant to his words. In May 1953, Adai Stevensen of America came to Kashmir and met Shiekh. Both were with seven hours at Gulmarg exchanging viewpoints with each other, but the later refused to disclose the the nature of talks.The govt of Inia smelled something foul in this meeting and Shiekh was arrested on August 9, 1953 and later, the Prime minister of India said in Parliament that Kashmirs accession to India is final and complete in law and spirit. It is a part of India. Since then Shiekh was arrested several times and put in different jails of India. During his exile from Kashmir Shiekh changed another color of statement by saying that Kashmiris want the right of self determination. Actually that has been passed in UNO that Kashmiris are entitled to exercise the vote of plebiscite with the condition that the political atmosphere get clean, the Army of both the countries vacate from the land and then this right will be exercised under the supervision of UNO. India gladly accepted these conditions but Pakistan denied.The time frame of exercising the vote of self determination was with in one year. Without showing any interest to this formula of UNO, the leaders of Pakistan said that they have already liberated their side of Kashmir from India and the only problem is of Indian Kashmir which should go to Pakistan on religious grounds. This was not acceptable to India. This was a mere motivation otherwise India has the same number of Muslims as is found in Pakistan. They are not second class citizens here while as Hindus in Pakistan have no right to vote.But strange to say,on the name of Islam a section of Muslims changed their mind and wantrd direct Pakistan. Maulvi Yusuf shah of Jamia Masjid at Srinagar played a vital role in it but Shiekh who was then Emergency Administrator threatened Maulvi to vacate Kashmir. Maulvi crossed the border on foot and reachrd Muzzaffarabad. Pakistani leaders gave him the post of Prime minister of their side of Kashmir and he stood on it for three years.Two main changes emerged with this development. Pro-Indian Kashmiris ceased in number but Maulvi also realized during in tenure there that it will remain impossible for Kashmiris to accommodate in Pakistan and that is why he wrote to Nehru that he is not safe in Pak-Kashmir. But it is a common fact that a Muslim can leave everything but not fundamentalism. They have become aware that newly emerged Muslim country has become our neighbor. So instead of having connections with Hindu India, they should prefer Pakistan.It is true that they know about the facilities which they have in Indian Kashmir but the spirit of religion is the only factor which compells them to say of Pak. Another section of the people mostly of Mausuma Bazar of Srinagar are advocating for Azadi of Kashmir.But their reasoning is based upon some of the statements given by the different politicians before or after independence. For example Arjantinia delegation in UNO said in 1948 that Kashmiris may well decide not to accede to India or Pakistan but to remain independent T.C, Spear, fellow of Sahwyri college declared in UNO on December 13, 1951 that to turn the valley into an independent state should be guaranteed by UNO and separately by India and Pakistan and lastly in an interview with Macbal Devoson of London observer with Scotsman that accession to either side cannot bring peace. We want to live in friendship with both the dominions, perhaps a middle path between them in economic co-operation. will be the only of doing it There are some statements which compels a common Kashmiri to think about the future of their land. But one must realize that all these statements have been given not for the betterment of Kashmiris but for their own larger interests which they have in this valley about these light will be thrown in the next episode. Why is Kashmir demanding a separate entity and why not its one third part. If the Punjabis of Poonch or Pathans of Gilgit would want to choose Pakistan, let them do so but the whole Kashmiris will remain with both the dominions. Kashmir is a settled matter but the countries concerned do want Kashmir burning for their own ends. But times have altogether changed since Independence and even Shiekh who also advocated for Independence of Kashmiris at one time realized that he was on wrong path after Pakistan divided into two parts ie Pak and Bangladesh. Two nation theory of Jinnah completely failed and he accepted the Constitution of India and became chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir again. He knew to handover Kashmir to Pakistan is a mistake and demand of Independence is nothing but a joke .It is only India in which so many states where we have two times muslim population. So to think about Azadi of Kashmiris is irrelevant and baseless. Azadi is not the genuine demand of Kashmiris.

Azadi or freedom of Kashmiris is a distant dream of a section of people of Kashmir either they are living in Indian Kashmir or Pak-kashmir. God forbid, if that will happen then those days are not far off when it will create problems of defense nature to all those countries bordering it and the peace of south east Asia will hamper. Actually the big powers of world are in search of their base in this part of the region and the best heaven for that is Gilgit which falls in Pak-kashmir these days. Why Gilgit.This has reasoning and a vast background.

As we know that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir includes the area like Ladakh, Baltistan, Gilgit, Hunza and Nagar.Among all these areas Gilgit is considered one of the most sensitive areas and heart of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the same area which is closer to the five countries bordering to Jammu and Kashmir.This is a poor valley situated on the far side of Indus at the extreme verge of Kashmir. The importance of Gilgit dawned to Britishers when the Zurist Russia of central Asia crossed the Hindukush. This was not tolerated by Britishers and they finally decided to investigate the matter by Moorcraft through east India Company and sent him to Ladakh first. He made survey of the exact geographical position of Gilgit for their own ends which have been already mentioned. But the then Maharaja showed disfavor to their act of mischief. But in return Britishers introduced the policy of Divide and Rule by raising the question of Muslin majority is in the state ruled by Hindu Maharaja. They pressurized him to have a British Resident in the state who can look after the grievances of the majority of Muslims in the state.With this statement of Britishers, the majority of Muslims in Kashmir favored their cause without knowing what is the background behind it. This kind of pressure continued and so much so Britishers said that we should have direct control of the Frontier policy of Jammu and Kashmir but the Maharaja did not yield upto the last. But it was at time of Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1889 that the govt of India approved Col. Arvind as their Agent in Gilgit. It is true that with the entry in Gilgit by Britishers, communication between Gilgit and rest of India was improved but at the same time troops built up and semi-govt also came into being there which was against the wishes of Maharaja. With the takeover of Gilgit, Hunza and Nagar also achieved importance. Col Durind occupied the main forts there. Later this whole area became an important place of defense importance which became parallel to Russia and adjoining countries. Maharaja of Kashmir had nothing to do with these areas as these were not considered parts of Kashmir. But this was not acceptable to the Maharaja of Kashmir upto the last and he raised his voice regarding the crucial areas in different for a from time to time. On August ist,1947 when Britishers, at last planned to transfer power to Indians, Maharaja Harisingh got booster to his dream. The Britishers handed over the control of the administration of Gilgit. This day was the jubilation day for Maharaja. The main aim of giving this detail is to clarify that when Kashmir will remain independent, the same position of taking control of these areas by any of the big power of the world, say America will be repeated with the establishment of military base here. One can easily fight with the five countries bordering Kashmir which will create havoc with another world war. No doubt Kashmiris of both the countries will get every facility but the countries boarding to it will unnecessarily suffer. So going broadly to the situation and leaving narrow ends. It seems clear that Azadi is not the solution of Kashmir. The position of Kashmiris under the present circumstances should remain status-quo with the co-operation of both the countries ie India and Pakistan. People to people interaction must continue, transport facilities must improve. Geographical position of both the sides may be respected of both the sides .This is the only solution of Kashmir otherwise the parties changing their siand on the dead bodies of Kashmiris will make Kashmir problem more complicated. In case of Azadi of Kashmir, it is impossible to safeguard its northern parts by either India or Pakistan. Regarding Pakistan, I can say that 200 kilometers of Pak-kashmir have been transferred to China violating UNO resolutions. It has also come in the papers recently that Pakistan has transferred Gilgit and Baltistan to China where a military base has been established against India. If that is true India and China can fight neck to neck with each other and this will affect Pakistan also in the long run. Big power of the world like America will also come in the forefront. A new world war will emerge with the modern weaponry and then which country will exist in the sub-continent—that knows God. So Azadi is not the demand of kashmiris. There are only some countries which give money and matter to the discredited separatist leaders of Kashmir to raise their voice of Azadi by the people for their own ends..In this case Pakistan is foremost to foment the trouble in this part of region as this country has always believed on dictatorship.

Autar Kridhan Razdan
Senior Fellow, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India
Now, the bottom line is pandits need to focus on their own self interest which often some shy away and that is full demand for our own home land, full stop.
Added By Raj Ambardar