Failure to keep track of history lessons on Kashmir

By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani

The author is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.

My family like any other family in the Valley remains behind the locked doors from 05 August 2019. The twin impact of the brutality of Indian soldiers guarding them from outside and the extreme vagaries of the winter weather could hardly be imagined. It would be a situation of distress and helplessness. The entire population remains without any access to the outside world. Even the neighbour does not have any reliable information about his neighbour next door. It is an extraordinary situation and to annul it we need to be engaged in extraordinary crusade on all fronts.

After the arrest of my elderly father (late) Syed Sad Uddin Gilani, uncle Syed Jaffer Shah Gilani, and brother Syed Shabbir Ahmad Gilani, by Assam Rashtriya Rifles, on the alleged “suspicion of harbouring militants and having an arms dump in their orchards” in Jammu and Kashmir on 19 December 1995 and intervention by the United Nations on 05 January (Para 207 of UN Report E/CN.4/1997/7/Add.1 dated 20 December 1996), they were released on 04 January 1996. The world would listen. It breaks my heart to notice that we have not been able to twist Indian arm ever since 05 August and our people are consigned to a situation never seen in the history of Kashmir.

What are the reasons that India is finding itself with no holds barred? There are a number of reasons and Kashmiri leadership and the leadership of Pakistan, have their own respective shares of misdirection of judgement or ill placed hopes.

The main mistake has been losing the track of history. Pakistani and Kashmiri leadership should have written in bold letters, as a constant reminder, that RSS (Rashtriya Sewak Sangh) on 20 December 1931 took out a huge procession on the streets of Lahore, against the Muslims of Kashmir and in support of Hindu Maharaja. Hindu Maharaja’s police had killed 22 innocent Kashmiri Muslims on 13 July 1931. RSS arms bearing volunteers went to Kashmir as a supplement to the Maharaja’s forces. It was to counter the Muslim support galvanised by Kashmiris and other Muslims living in British India. The movement was influenced and lead among others by Allama Iqbal.

Kashmiri and Pakistani leaders failed to roller skate themselves, on parallel tracks with RSS and keep looking at the writing on the wall. It has been a serious negligence that Kashmiri Muslims while observing the Martyr’s Day of 13 July 1931 and 6 November 1947, failed to flag and inform the younger generation, that Hindu Mahasabha has also a Martyr’s Day since 30 August 1947. It has wicked and vicious credentials.

Militant Hindu organization, The Hindu Mahasabha organised Martyrs’ Day on 30 August 1947 in Delhi. The organization distributed a leaflet in the city. The leaflet was titled “Remember the 30th of August 1947” and it advised all its members:

“When you have to observe ‘Martyrs’ Day’, the day should begin with the mass murder of Muslims, children and women alike. Forcible occupation of Muslim buildings should be your objective. Set fire to Muslim mohallas’ (quarter of the town) “but beware that fire does not spread to Hindu and Sikh localities”. (Source 228th Meeting of UN Security Council – Speech by Sir Zafrullah Khan 17 January 1948). All these years since 1947 Hindu Mahasabha has worked hard to sneak into Kashmir Valley. Its members are embedded in the Indian security forces and administration. It is currently engaged in brutal violence against Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley.

Pakistan started well on Kashmir at the United Nations but somehow could not keep its hands on the handle. Pakistan had its fingers on the pulse of historical facts. It became very clear in Document II submitted by it to the United Nations Security Council on 15 January 1948 that Pakistan was overwhelming in argument.

Document II is a statement of disputes with India. The authors of the Document II circulated at the 228th meeting of UN Security Council, have looked into future and have very rightly stated, “The tragic events and the happenings in East Punjab and the Sikh and Hindu States in and around that Province had convinced the Muslim population of Kashmir and Jammu State that the accession of the State to the Indian Dominion would be tantamount to signing of their death warrant. When the massacres started the Muslim population of the State realised that the fate that had overtaken their co-religionists in Kapurthala, Faridkot, Nabha, Jind, Patiala, Bharatpur and Alwar, etc; was about to overtake them also”.

Indian hopes began to fall one after the other like a pack of cards. Pakistan scored a principal victory, when India allegation of aggression in Kashmir was dismissed. United States of America took the lead and made it clear at the 471st meeting of the UN Security Council held on 12 April 1950 that, “It has never been necessary for the Security Council to consider the question of blame, guilt, or anything of that kind. It has had enough to do in considering the facts, the perplexity of which was the natural outcome of a situation having many ramifications and a long and ancient history”.

Pakistan scored another victory on the question of withdrawal of its army and on the number of its soldiers. United Kingdom came out with a strong defence of equitable demilitarization. UK representative at the 606 meeting of the UN Security Council on 6 November 1952 in para 27 has found the Indian argument, as a condition not compatible with the idea of a ‘free plebiscite’. Sir Gladwyn Jebb said, “I have mentioned earlier that at no stage should demilitarization involve a threat to the cease-fire agreement. This would mean that the forces of each side of the cease-fire line should be, broadly speaking of the same kind. I should make it dear that the United Kingdom Government has never thought that the proposal to limit the forces on the Pakistan side of the cease-fire line to an armed civil force while leaving a military force on the other side of the cease-fire line was consistent with a really free plebiscite. I hope that representatives will join me in urging that the parties should resolve any differences they may still have on this point in the way which I have suggested.”

If we had kept the UN course and followed the UN jurisprudence on Kashmir, Plebiscite should have been through in October 1948. We had two appointments, UN Representative for India and Pakistan, to organize demilitarization and UN Plebiscite Administrator, to conduct a Plebiscite in place. At the 608 meeting of the UN Security Council on 8 December 1952 Indian representative Mrs. Pandit conceded that, “…after careful examination and assessment by its experts, the Government of India had come to the conclusion that a minimum force of 28,000 was required to carry out its responsibilities.” Indian representative added, “However, on complete disbandment and disarmament of the Azad Kashmir forces, and as a further contribution towards a settlement, the Government of India is prepared to effect a further reduction of 7,000 to a figure of 21,000 which is absolute and irreducible minimum…. It should further be emphasised that this force will have no supporting arms such as armour or artillery.”

Pakistan had India on her knees. Our interest in Kashmir sagged and our arguments flip flopped. Hindu Mahasabha and Rashtriya Sewak Sangh waited for 05 August 2019. It is time to re-organise our argument and flag the principality of Kashmiris to vacate the Indian occupation.

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