History’s Shadow on Kashmir

History’s Shadow on Kashmir
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Ishaq Begh

Kashmir, a place of great beauty, is no doubt an attraction for millions of tourists across the globe but at the same time is a place which has a severe thirst for the peace and amity. It was a heaven on the earth but now has turned into its opposite. The region was a princely state prior to 1947 with a separate identity. But, unfortunately it came under the avalanche of the division of the Indian sub-continent. In August 1947, the sub-continent’s patrons solved the major problem but kept this one unresolved. The division saw many upheavals but certain areas were not awarded or merged with the parent nation. Kashmir was a Muslim majority area ruled by a Hindu ruler and its complexity continues to be a headache for the whole population of the sub-continent. August and September of 1947 remained tense for the Kashmiris because people were fighting against the Maharaja’s rule.
The division theory implemented by the British at that juncture angered Pakistanis because Indian intervention in the cases of two more princely states Junagarh and Hyderabad were against the already devised division theory. The majority of the population in these two states was of Hindus and the rulers were Muslims who acceded to Pakistan but India rejected their proclamation with the logic that rulers cannot go against the will of their populace. But, in the case of Kashmir , the Maharaja who was engaged by the Kashmiris with the assistance of tribal men acceded to India under pressure which was against the theory adopted for Junagarh and Hyderabad. A large portion of Kashmir was taken away by those tribal warriors and is now known as Azad Kashmir.
On 27 October 1947 the Indian army entered into the boundaries of princely Kashmir and started to fight against the tribal. And the first Kashmir war broke out in October of 1947 and lasted till 31st December, 1948. This war lasted for (1 year, 2 months, 1 week and 2 days). It is also said that the partition of British India and independence of the new states of India and Pakistan was the result of Indian Independence Act 1947. Article 2 (4) of the Act provided for the termination of British suzerainty over the princely states with effect from 15th August 1947, and recognized the right of the states to choose whether to accede to India or to Pakistan or to remain outside them.
Before and after the withdrawal of the British from India, the ruler of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu came under pressure from both India and Pakistan to agree to merge to one of the newly independent countries. Faced with painful choices, the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, decided to avoid accession to either country. Following a Muslim revolution in Poonch and Mirpur area and Pashtun tribal intervention from the Khyber region that aimed at supporting the revolution the Maharaja asked for Indian military assistance. India set a condition that Kashmir must accede to India for it to receive assistance. The Maharaja complied, and India recognised the accession of the erstwhile princely state to India. Indian troops were sent to the state on 27th October 1947 to control it.
Pakistan as well as Kashmiris were of the view that the Maharaja of Kashmir had no right to call in the Indian Army and that Accession is not a legitimate one, because the Maharaja of Kashmir was not a heredity ruler, that he was merely a British appointee after the British defeated Ranjit Singh who ruled the province before the British. There had been no such position as the “Maharaja of Kashmir” prior to British rule. By the time Pakistan thought of sending troops to Kashmir, Indian forces had taken control of approximately two thirds of the former principality. Gilgit and other northern territories were secured for Pakistan by the scouts of Gilgit and the forces of the state of Chitral (another princely state that had acceded to Pakistan) and not by the Pakistani-army.
This first war saw only Kashmir as its prime location. And, this tragic war became another theory apart from the two nation theory, which divided one nation, not in independent parts but parts controlled by other independent nations. These new two divided portion never saw the union of divided families. This first Kashmir war took many precious lives. A ceasefire, no doubt was arranged by the United Nations but kept a solution pending. So a Princely state of Jammu and Kashmir got dissolved. Pakistan took control of roughly a third of Kashmir (Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan), whereas India took control of the rest (Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh). India made Kashmir its own state by claiming that Maharaja signed an accession of Kashmir with India, but questions were raised and even it is circulated in Jammu and Kashmir that the dividing principles were thrown into the dustbin. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (roughly 101,387 km²) and the Pakistan regions which subsequently became Azad Kashmir (13,297 km²) and the Northern Areas (72,496 km²) became the stab goats of dirty politics played by the British along with others.
India herself approached the UN for the resolution of this Kashmir issue, but UN put forth certain conditions. India agreed to them and even agreed for holding the plebiscite. At this juncture and both Pakistan and India agreed to withdraw their regular forces from the occupied land. But , nothing concrete has been done by the either nations. That is why this region has today become the world’s highest militarized area apart from nuclear flash point and cries for the permanent solution and everlasting peace. After the rebellion started in Kashmir against India in 1989, Kashmir suffered a lot, in terms of lives lost and other related issues of grave import and consequence. If Kashmir gets peace and solution including reunion, then certain dates of Kashmir history such as 27th October will vanish and happiness may return.

The author can be reached at: ishaqbeghkullar@gmail.com