Published On: Mon, Apr 8th, 2013

10 Week Interregnum Divided Kashmir

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Chief Editor Rising Kashmir, Dr. Syed Shujaat Bukhari contributed a lead Opinion Column on 3 April 2013 titled ‘Let the People Decide’ and the same has triggered a deep interest in politically conscious Kashmiris and their sympathisers in various geographies outside Kashmir. One thing goes without doubt that any leader (Editor/Editorial Board) of a publication supposed to shape the opinion of his people and of many others has to open up to other broad canvass of debate and learning on a subject. Shujaat Bukhari has shown a way forward to others that one has to read beyond a local gossip to be able to make a substantive contribution and increment the circle of wisdom.

I have been guided by the Column and encouraged to read more of Christopher Snedden on Kashmir. Snedden in his book “The Untold Story Of The People Of Azad Kashmir” has pointed out three major actions which took place during the 10 week interregnum between the creation of India and Pakistan on 15 August 1947 and Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India on 26 October 1947, which seem to have changed the ability of the people of Kashmir to deliver themselves in entirety to freedom, accession to India or accession to Pakistan.

Three major actions

These three major actions that divided Jammu and Kashmir and confirmed that the princely State was not deliverable in its entirety to India or Pakistan or to Independence were (1) a pro Pakistan, anti-Maharaja uprising by Muslim Poonchis in western Jammu that “liberated’ large parts of this area from the Maharaja’s control, (2) a major inter-religious violence in the province that caused upheaval and death, including a possible massacre of Muslims and (3) the creation of the Provisional (Free) Government in areas liberated or ‘freed’ by the Poonch uprising.

The Valley lead leadership

The Valley lead leadership had taken 31 years since the State was sold in 1846 to submit its first formal Memorandum in October 1877 against social injustice. It took them another 56 years in 1921 to find a political phrase for their political narrative and demanded “State for the State’s People”. The demand resulted into the recognition of the people as preferables – “Mulki’s” and the non-preferables – “Outsiders”. It took them another 11 years in 1932 to make a third demand for a ‘responsible government’. It was in May 1946 that National Conference submitted a memorandum to the Cabinet Mission and came clear on its demand as follows:

“Today the national demand of the people of Kashmir is not merely the establishment of responsible Government, but their right to absolute freedom from autocratic rule. The immensity of the wrong done to our people by the sale deed of 1846 can only be judged by looking into the actual living conditions of the people. It is the depth of our torment that has given strength to our protest”.

Cabinet Mission admitted the claims of Indian National Congress and Muslim League in British India but refused to consider the representation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sovereign Jammu and Kashmir

British paramountcy over princely states came to an end and Jammu and Kashmir became independent on 15 August 1947. As an independent and a sovereign State it entered into a Stand Still Agreement with the Government of Pakistan in August 1947 and decided to accede to India in October 1947. In its acceptance of a Stand Still Agreement with the Government of Kashmir, Government of Pakistan skipped the interests of the people and recognised the Maharaja of Kashmir. On the other hand, the union of India made the accession request subject to a final consultation (reference) with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

In just 10 weeks between the creation of India and Pakistan on 15 August 1947 and Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India on 26 October 1947 the People of Jammu and Kashmir lost their ability to deliver themselves in entirety to independence, accession to India or accession to Pakistan.

International Status

International community while debating the question of ‘Peace and Security’ brought to it by the member state (India) touched upon the core issue of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. India, Pakistan and the United Nations agreed to consult the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide their future. There are opinions at variance in regard to the jurisprudence of UN Security Council and UNCIP Resolutions. It is argued that the reference is limited to accession to either of the two. There are others who argue that title to self-determination under UN Charter involves ‘equality of people’ and includes right to Independence as well.

Third Option- unfettered decision

The people of Kashmir should follow the common principle of self-determination. In addition to this the equality of people of Kashmir as ‘equals’ to any other people and their unfettered choice is settled by the union of India in its submissions at the UN Security Council. Indian union has rest its case stating that, “The question of the future Status of Kashmir vis-à-vis her neighbours and the world at large, and a further question, namely, whether she should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent, with a right to claim admission as a Member of the United Nations – all this we have recognized to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir, after normal life is restored to them”.

Four Forces

If one looks at the graduation of civil and political society in Kashmir from 1877-1939, the political narratives of a demanded of “State for the State’s People” and a ‘responsible government’, the response by Maharaja by proclaiming a “Constitutional Act 1934” and accepting people as the basis of governance makes the people of the time and the ruler sincere and responsible. An unbiased view of the times, would give credit to Maharaja Hari Singh for the fact that Maharaja faced a ‘once in a millennium historical phenomenon’ and faced pressures from the hurriedly departing British, Nehru’s Indian National Congress, Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League (and its local ‘affiliate’ the All J & K Muslim Conference) and Sheikh Abdullah’s All J & K National Conference.

Snedden confirms that, “Some or all of them were applying pressure to Hari Singh, either directly through consultations and visits (India, particularly, and the British) or subtly through activities such as economic blockade (Pakistan), cross-border military activity (Pakistan) and internal politicking (Muslim Conference and National Conference).The Maharaja’s decision on the future international status of J & K, whatever it was, would not satisfy all of these groups and people.”  His disinclination to take an early decision one way or the other increased people’s suspicion and encouraged some of them, particularly Muslims and Hindus in Jammu Province to charge against each other and cause a serious internal inter-religious violence in Jammu Province.

The State

It is defined in article 4 of J & K Constitution and comprises of all the territories which were under the suzerainty of the Ruler on 15 August 1947. At this point in time the territories on the Indian side of LOC include Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh and the territories on the Pakistani side of LOC are called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan. The current division makes its undeliverable in entirety to independence or accession to India or to Pakistan.

Duty to oversee

Pakistan has assumed a duty under UNCIP Resolutions to oversee the areas on its side of LOC. It is a provisional duty to prepare the people of the area for a final consultation. The de facto situation is that the two Governments and administrations at Muzaffarabad and Gilgit can’t even sneeze without a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) from elements in the Government of Pakistan.  These elements have been discussed in detail in the FBI affidavit filed in Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai’s case in the US Court.

It is not only the three major actions that divided Jammu and Kashmir and confirmed that the princely State was not deliverable in its entirety to India or Pakistan or to Independence, but the fourth one is the manner of control in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan, which has resulted in the death of a generation and the death of self-determination. The right is not realisable for a long time to come.

The present Kashmiri leadership (with exceptions) accredited by elements in the Government of Pakistan on either side of LOC has to learn from the fate of Musharraf, who is placed on Exit Control List and is to face charges of High Treason for subverting the Constitution when a three-member bench of the Supreme Court would hear the petition on Monday (April 08).

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He is on UN register as an expert in Peace Keeping, Humanitarian Operations and Election Monitoring Missions. He could be reached on email dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com


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