A Case Study of Kashmir-Heaven Turned into Hell

Empire in South Asia, the British became the master of ceremonies in the Indian sub-continent. In 1846, the British sold the Kashmir valley to Hindu Dogra Maharaja, Gulab Singh under the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar. Jammu & Kashmir had predominantly Muslim population. At the time of partition of India into Pakistan and Bharat, over 95 percent population of Kashmir valley were Muslims, while the overall Muslim population in the whole Jammu & Kashmir state was 78 percent. Therefore, at the time of partition, Kashmiri Muslims were genuinely aspiring to join Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, the great-grandson of Gulab Singh in his contention wanted to keep its state independent, and as a matter of fact, remained independent for more than 2 months after India was partitioned in August 1947. This fact may not be ignored that the geographical area falling in Pakistan had strong ties with Jammu & Kashmir from times immemorial. Kashmir is the part of the same Indus basin, unifying it with Indus River and its tributaries. Kashmir also became part of Muslim India and remained under Muslim Rule for about 500 years. During Muslim Rule in sub-continent, the major population of Kashmir accepted Islam as their way of life. Since then and until Partition of India, peace and tranquility made the beauty flourish which transformed Kashmir valley into a great tourist attraction. Kashmir was rightly called a Heaven on earth which has turned into Hell after it is forcefully occupied by Indian troops.

In view of the aforementioned, there is a need to agree to construct standardised principle to unearth realities encircling the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in the sub-continent. Since Kashmir was forcefully occupied by Indian forces on 26 October 1947. The main excuse forwarded by Indian authorities was that armed tribes-men from Pakistan have entered Kashmir and the Indian forces were sent to Kashmir to quell the Muslim insurgency, on Maharaja’s request, while not mentioning any thing about the earlier entry of RSS militants (Rashtria Swaim Sevaksang) from Indian side to join hands with Dogra forces in silencing the Muslim aspirations for Kashmir accession to Pakistan. Subsequently, Pakistani forces also entered Kashmir to protect the lives and properties of Kashmiri Muslims, thus war broke out between the two dominions. India took the matter before United Nations Security Council which passed a resolution on 13 August 1948 recommending a plebiscite to determine the will of the people whether they want to join Pakistan or India. Later a ceasefire was made effective in 1949. Benazir Bhutto, in her book, “Reconciliation” wrote that after the war was over, the Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru backed out of the UN plebiscite, claiming that time was not right to hold a plebiscite in the region.” 

As a matter of fact, Jawahar Lal Nehru wanted the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to India much before the partition of India, while Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh and his Prime Minister Ram Chandra Kak wanted to keep Kashmir as an independent state. On the behest of Nehru, the fundamentalist Hindu leader Sardar Patel, then working as Minister of State for Home Affairs in interim government of viceroy wrote a letter to Maharaja on 3 July 1947 assuring him all possible support and demanding accession of Jammu & Kashmir to Indian Union without delay. A British writer, Victoria Schofield in her book, “Kashmir in Conflict” has quoted a few good examples of Mountbatten-Nehru complicity in Redcliffe Boundary Commission Award, in which the former viceroy clandestinely used its influence to change the status of Muslim majority Gurdaspur district with the motive of giving India access to Kashmir. Indian journalist M. J. Akbar wrote that during private meetings, Nehru persuaded Mountbatten to leave the Gurdaspur Link in Indian hands. Sir Conrad Corfield, Political Advisor to Viceroy, alleged that Mountbatten never listened to him on Kashmir affairs, “anything I said carried no weight against the long-standing determination of Nehru to keep Kashmir in India.” Lord Birdwood was of the viewpoint, “had the whole of Gurdaspur district been awarded to Pakistan, India could certainly never have fought a war in Kashmir.

Schofield had rightly referred Mountbatten’s agenda of Kashmir visit visibly on the desire of Nehru, in its true perspective i.e., “On 18 June (1947) viceroy flew to Srinagar. He had with him a long note prepared by Nehru, which on the basis of Sheikh Abdullah’s popularity in the valley, made out a strong case for the state’s accession to India…Nehru also pointed the influence which the Maharaja’s Prime Minister Kak had over him. Nehru held Kak responsible for the Maharaja distancing himself from National Conference of Sheikh Abdullah as well as Nehru. Consequently, Kak was reluctantly removed and Mahajan took over as the new Prime Minister of Maharaja. Appointment of Mahajan on the top slot, seem to have been done under the background influences of RSS Chief Guru Ji and the Indian extremist leader in Congress, Sardar Patel. In fact, RSS armed volunteers worked hand in glove with Dogra forces killing Muslims freely all around with the ostensible purpose of silencing the Muslim opposition to Maharaja’s scheme of things. Hence, RSS Chief Guru Ji had achieved direct access to Maharaja. At the same time, RSS volunteers, keeping in mind the interests of Bharat Mata supreme, kept active watch on Srinagar and Jammu airports to later on facilitate Indian aircrafts carrying Indian troops, to land safely. 

Indian authorities always refer the so called armed aggression of Pakistani tribes-men into Kashmir, whereas they do not mention the clandestine dispatch of RSS armed volunteers to Kashmir with the dual purpose of joining hands with Dogra Forces for ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Muslims, and later-on gaining control of Srinagar and Jammu airports for facilitating the Indian occupation forces to land their troops under safe condition. Shri P.P. Sudarshan, RSS Chief, in his Vijayadashmi Address (October 2005) has categorically disclosed by saying, “Shri Guruji late RSS Chief was instrumental in persuading the Maharaja of Kashmir to accede to Bharat Union, when the Pakistani army putting on the garb of tribals invaded Kashmir. It was at that time that the RSS volunteers worked day and night to restore the airports of Srinagar and Jammu.” The negative role played by RSS militants in Kashmir was also authenticated by Margrate Kak, the spouse of former PM of Maharaja, in a confidential letter (16 October 1948) addressed to Sir Stafford Cripps at his London address, in which she had revealed the facts about the mysterious activities of two powerful groups from India in Maharaja’s Court, one led by a Guru Ji who had developed immense influence over the decision making of Maharaja. In fact, these groups initially worked for the Independence of Kashmir to gain the confidence of Maharaja and his former Prime Minister Kak and later shifted their loyalties to New Delhi by pressurising Maharaja for the temporary accession of Kashmir with India. Earlier on, Kak was forced to resign under the influence of these groups. Diplomatic effort of British viceroy Mountbatten during his earlier Kashmir visit seems to have been with the ostensible purpose of preparing the ground to get Kashmir for Nehru, while keeping Nehru’s real intentions under smoke screen. Viceroy’s diplomatic efforts to pressurise Maharaja to enter into stand-still agreements with both the emerging dominions of India and Pakistan and replace his Prime Minister Kak, were only meant to give time to Nehru to use the opportunity to get Kashmir after the unjust Redcliffe Award on Gurdaspur district was made public after partition. Hence after Kak, the new Prime Minister Mahajan in collaboration with V.P. Menon, Personal Representative of Indian Prime Minister, and the RSS Guru did the job for Patel and Nehru by ensuring temporary accession of Kashmir to India.

This fact may not be ignored that the Indian militant organization RSS has the support of one million trained militants which held regular training sessions since pre-partition. In 1972, a prominent Indian political personality late Jayparkash, who addressed the concluding function of RSS training camp in Patna observed, “If any institution has the capacity to bring together Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bharat, for creating Akhand Bharat, it is the RSS”. Jayparkash, while making this sweeping statement knew the role played by RSS in Kashmir, and 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. In fact, in his Vijayadashmi address in 2005, RSS chief Sudharshan confirmed to his audience that, besides doing the trick in Kashmir, RSS gave all out support to Indian Army and government during 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. Former Pakistan President Ayub Khan also verified on record by telling the participants of Round Table Conference (March 1969) in Rawalpindi, right in the presence of Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman that foreign civilian armed elements have started interfering in the internal affairs of East Pakistan as local administration of Khulna/Navakhali reported that thousands of Indian armed civilian (RSS volunteers) were frequently entering border cities to motivate the local citizens to rise against the government. Similarly Shudarshan is on record saying that RSS Volunteers made the Srinagar and Jammu airport workable to enable the landing of Indian planes carrying Indian troops possible.

It is pity that Kashmiri Muslims, who have been forced to live under a cloud of suspicion and prejudice in their homeland, were treated most inhumanly. Therefore, to evaluate the meaning of Kashmir Conflict and subsequent atrocities initially let loose on them by Maharaja’s Dogra forces and RSS militants, subsequently increased quantitatively by the Indian Occupation Forces, the plight of Kashmiri Muslims has turned into a pathetic case study in itself. So much so that thousands of innocent Kashmiri Muslims were killed in cold blood and thousands of them were forced to migrate to adjoining areas of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir in bad shape. Similarly in 1989, when Kashmiri Muslims raised voice against Indian atrocities and for the restoration of their right of self determination as envisaged in UN Security Council resolution, hundreds and thousands of Kashmiri Muslims were killed again in brutal Indian Army operations from 1989 onwards. Kashmir Global, in a human rights report on Kashmir dateline Srinagar, 15 September 2011 wrote: “In Indian held Kashmir, Indian troops, killed 92992 Kashmiris including 6961 in custody from January 1, 1989 till September 14, 2009. The report said that these killings rendered 22703 women widowed and 107273 children orphaned while, 9888 women fell victim to gang rap and molestation at the hands of Indian troops. In crackdowns, shelling and other violent acts the Indian forces destroyed 105755 shops and residential houses…The report further indicated that over ten thousand Kashmiris disappeared in custody, while thousands of unnamed graves had been discovered in Indian held Kashmir. Human rights activists suspect that these graves could be of disappeared Kashmiris. 

In its comprehensive reports, Asia Watch, an internationally reputed human rights organization has adequately substantiated the grave human rights violations in Kashmir. The under-mentioned research papers compiled by Asia Watch Reports: ‘Kashmir Under Siege’ (May 1991), The crackdown in Kashmir / Torture of Detainees and Assaults on the Medical Community (March 1993) give glimpses of grave human rights violations in Kashmir. Asia Watch founded in 1985, its representatives and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) travelled to Kashmir on many occasions from 1991 onwards to carry out on the spot studies. After their grass root level visits, investigations and interviews with the affected citizens Asia Watch have deliberated upon the subject matter and has assessed: “Since January 1990, Jammu and Kashmir has been the site of brutal conflict between Indian security forces and armed Muslim insurgents demanding independence or accession to Pakistan. India’s central government has pursued a policy of repression in Kashmir which has resulted in massive human rights violations by Indian Army and Paramilitary forces (Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force). Throughout the conflict, the security forces have deliberately targeted civilian targets, have assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks…In these situations, the security forces frequently engage in collective punishment against the civilian population, most frequently by beating or otherwise assaulting residents, and burning their homes. Rape is used as a mean of targeting women; in raping them, the security forces made attempts to punish and humiliate the entire community.” 

A noted Indian human rights activist and anthropologist Dr Anjana Chatterjee, while speaking in a Seminar in Srinagar previous year said, 7000 Kashmiri women have been gang raped in homes, streets and Army camps by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. She said, she would raise the issue in international forums, as the Indian Army personnel have been disgracing women as a war weapon to punish Kashmiris for their demand of right to self determination. Another Indian civil rights activist, Gautam Naulakha said, he is ashamed of being an Indian and feel disgraced to belong to a nation, which is committing war crimes on Kashmiris for their demand of right to self determination. Victoria Schofield wrote in her book: Governor Jagmohan’s return to full control of events in Kashmir on 19 January 1990 marked the beginning of a new intensity both in New Delhi’s dealings with the Kashmiris and their response. The attempt to find a political solution to Kashmir’s problem was put aside in favour of a policy of repression. International concern over Kashmir reached a high point in February 1994 when the Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, who had returned to office In October 1993, raised the issue in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. The situation in Kashmir was intolerable, she said, as was the world’s silence. Despite its repression, India had failed to impose its will on the indomitable people of Jammu and Kashmir. Although Pakistan withdrew its resolution, because of Simla Agreement which binds both the countries to bilateral solution of Kashmir, however, it gave a clear picture of grave human rights situation in Kashmir to the international community

In view of the aforementioned, it is necessary to glance through the history of Hindu-Muslim question in the sub-continent and go into the why of things to find out the nature of background influences working behind the deplorable treatment being meted out to Kashmiri Muslims. There is a need to also look into the nature of Hindu rigidity making the Kashmir dispute more complicated, which inter-alia, continued to pollute the peaceful political atmosphere in the region until to-date. As a matter of fact, Hindu Aryans duly described in history as ‘Arya Hindu Samaj’ were the foremost to enter the sub-continent as conquerors around 1700 B.C. The aboriginal population of India called Dravidians, duly reflected in ancient culture of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, could not stand the onslaught of the Aryans. The Aryans after defeating the Dravidians; continued pushing the Dravidians population to adjoining deserts, Jungles and Hills as well as to Southern India. Since the Aryan social order of Hinduism was based on racial discrimination and rigidity of cast system which tended to foster antagonism and estrangement even within the fold of its classified casts i.e., Brahmans (priests), the Kushteriyas (warriors), the Vaishyas (traders/formers) and the servile Dravidian aboriginals who, after a long process of persecution and hatred were forcefully absorbed in Hindu Cast System as Shudras (untouchables). 

Historically speaking, the conquest of India was not confined to Aryans, Muslims and the British only, because the Indian sub-continent was invaded over the centuries by many foreign invaders and empires. In the course of history, many foreign invaders including Greeks, Kushans, Sakas, Huns and others came to India as conquerors but were assimilated and absorbed in Hinduism. Prior to Islam, Buddhism and Jainism also came to fore with local popular support against the rigid Hindu Cast system, however, the Brahman hierarchy continued intriguing and waiting for an opportunity to launch crusade against the new cults. Recorded history do indicate intensive atrocities of Brahman hierarchies against Buddhism and Jainism, as the notables of these faiths were given exemplary punishment in front of local crowds by frying them alive in cauldrons full of boiling oil. Indian historian Nirad Chaudhry has, however, described the absorbing capability of Hinduism as a great achievement to survive through vicissitudes which have destroyed other cultures. The strength and absorbing nature of Hinduism was so comprehensive that it absorbed all foreign nations who came to conquer India until Muslims arrived in India. As a matter of fact, Hinduism could not absorb Islam in its fold, which endangered the Hindu cast oriented system as many Hindus converted to Islam. To counter the move, Hinduism adopted the strict policy of social boycott of all those Hindus who had forsaken their religion. 

After ruling the sub-continent for 800 years, Muslim Rulers were defeated by emerging British Empire. Thus ‘Aryan Hindu Samaj’ found the desired opportunity to cooperate with British Empire and take revenge from Muslims of their 800 years rule in Bharat Mata. Resultantly in Hindu majority provinces, Hindu-Muslim riots surfaced but despite immense pressure, Muslims remained steadfast and could not be absorbed in Hinduism. Nirad Chaudhri discussing the 800 years Muslim Rule in India observed that “all invaders were absorbed in Indian social order, but when the process was completed, a far more dangerous enemy appeared who could never be absorbed. The enemy was the Muslim, who threatened the Hindu way of life in a manner never seen before. An example of the above Hindu psyche could also be witnessed in a speech of former Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Ghandi, who after the dismemberment of East Pakistan claimed that she has taken revenge of one thousand years of Muslim Rule in India by drowning the two-nation theory in the Bay of Bengal. Contrary to her claim Bangladesh has survived in the comity of nations as an independent Muslim majority democratic state. That Hinduism could not absorb Islam in its fold, has become the main irritant of Hindu psyche. The same psyche was witnessed during a recent Asia Cup Cricket Match when Kashmiri students cheered the victory of Pakistan, the Indian spectators subjected them to harsh beating while they were rusticated from the Indian University and the local Police registered a case FIR under Treason Act.

The aforementioned study of events in Kashmir indicate that the military repression, indiscriminate killings of civilians and rape of women and children continues in Kashmir valley unabated, which is agitating the minds of not only Kashmiris and Pakistanis but also the human rights activists the world over. Kashmir is the oldest unresolved issue which figures even today on the unfinished UN agenda, while Indian leadership seemed determined to continue its policy of military repression in Kashmir instead of resolving the issue on the basis of Security Council resolution. India had many times agreed to resolve the issue through reconciliation and bilateral approach, as also agreed upon in Simla Agreement of 1972, but always backs-out from meaningful dialogue. Despite the fact that Kashmiri’s uprising of early 90s has now given way to political struggle, advocating for right of self determination and resumption of democratic and civil liberties, Indian military repressions continues. So much so that rapes cases of Kashmiri women and children by Indian military are surfacing frequently, besides an average of 300 Kashmiri Muslims are being killed every month. Hence the present plight of Kashmiri Muslims is deplorable. The Indian leadership seem to have been systematically working to fully subjugate Kashmiri Muslims through rape and indiscriminate killings of civilian population, to reduce them to a schedule cast status. Kashmir was rightly called a Heaven on Earth before Indians forcefully occupied Kashmir. The fact is now clear enough that deplorable military repression and atrocities let loose by the Indians on Kashmiri population has turned this heaven into hell. In view of the foregoing, more pragmatic approach is needed by the international human rights organizations to pressurise the Indian government to review the policy of repression and resolve the issue through meaningful dialogue with Pakistan and the Kashmiri population. Indian policy makers with extremist Hindu leader Narinder modi taking over a s the new Prime Minister of India, should not ignore the fact that both the South Asian neighbours are now atomic powers and Kashmir being a potential flash point, may ignite a vulnerable situation in the region, so the better sense must prevail and India should open diplomatic doors for a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan on the future of Kashmir.