A chapter of Kashmir history starts from 1846 when Sikh rule ended and the British sold Kashmir to Dogra Mahraja Gulab Singh under the Treaty of Amritsar at a cost of 750,000 Nanak Shahi currency. Since then Kashmir has been in a state of trouble and torment.
The 162 years span of Dogra rule as well as the current Indian occupation is a completely bleak and dark chapter of the history of miseries to the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir. The Dogra rule is considered the most agonizing period like the present illicit Indian military occupation. Since all these long years Kashmiris are engaged in a genuine freedom struggle, to suppress this just struggle India is engaged in state terrorism particularly as of last 19 years. To destabilize the freedom struggle dozens of Kashmiris are martyred on routine basis by the Indian troops and their armed agents.
Human rights bodies around globe while addressing the atrocities committed by the Indian troops in last 15 years in Jammu and Kashmir may address the pre 1989 carnage committed by the troops of Dogra Mahraja Hari Singh in October and November 1947. In which more than 300,000 Kashmiris were martyred and hundreds of women were raped and abducted by the troops and the Hindu fanatics.
Since the start of the Dogra rule, the people of Kashmir had always been engaged in the struggle against the colonial rulers. The Dogras never identified themselves with Kashmir due to state’s rich Muslim culture and major demographic base. Dogra rulers used every tactic to suppress the people of Kashmir. But despite all vulnerabilities the Muslims of Kahsmir continued their struggle against the cruel rulers and as a consequence they faced the kind of repression. There are hundreds of events with their historic evidence that finally prove the Dogra rule and post partition period as the blackest and the most miserable one.
Dogra rulers went beyond the limitations of execution and extortion. They sucked the life-blood of the Muslims. Dogra rulers and officials descended like vultures on poor peasants. Instead of 50% of their officially demanded share they took a larger amount of what was left and taxed windows, hearths, marriages and livestocks; even the wives and chimneys of the Muslims were not immune. They laid hands on a large proportion of the fruits, the products of the looms and work of handicrafts. They imposed taxes on all kind of trade. On the manufacturing of shawls, parallel restrictions were placed and there was an enormous duty of 85%. These taxes were to be paid only by Muslims and not by Hindus and Sikhs. Sir Walter Lawrence, a British officer who came to Kashmir as Land settlement commissioner observed that the Kashmir state had become bankrupt in 1887. According to him by the time he started settlement of the land, everything except air and water had been taxed. Even the gravediggers were taxed, he said.
A gruesome bonded labour system was enforced. The poor Kashmiri Muslims were the sole victims. It was the same malpractice as witnessed in the present times of Indian military brutalism. Such acts of awful humiliation and violence continued against the Muslim majority of the State through all the successors of Dogra dynasty after Gulab Singh including Ranbir Singh (1858), Partab Singh (1885) and Hari Singh (1925). Hari Singh was the last ruler of the dynasty until partition of the sub continent in October1947.
Hari Singh, continued policy of his ancestors to destroy the Muslim majority character of the state even during the partition period of sub continent. To accomplish his nefarious designs Hindu fanatic organizations were equipped with weapons in Jammu, while Muslims serving police were disarmed. The Hindu extremist groups included Rashtria Savak Sangh Mahasaba and Jain Sangh etc. These groups were already engaged in the bloodshed of Muslims in East Punjab, Utter Pradesh and Bihar etc. These groups were given positive encouragements by the state Hindu officialdom. Repression and massacre of the Muslims by the Hindu extremists groups assisted by the Dogra police and army started in early September 1947. It was a sinister pre-design of Hari singh that if complete elimination of the Muslims could be effected in the state, it would open the way for the Maharaja to accede to the dominion of Hindu India with which his sympathies certainly lay.
Dogra rulers and soldiers started genocide as well as harassment of the Muslims. Complete panic gripped the whole Jammu province. Though Muslims were in more than 60% majority in Jammu province, the districts of Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur had a Hindu majority. Hindu extremist groups started their activities openly with the blessing from Dogra authorities. These groups were supplied with arms and ammunitions and even state officers were sent for armed training. Muslims in however parts like Poonch, Mirpur and districts of Jammu province were in particular danger of being rounded up and butchered by the Dogra army. The people of Poonch were however militarily well trained as some of them were ex-servicemen and they had taken part in World War II. As a result of loot, rape and genocide by the Dogra army revolt in Poonch started on October 6, 1947. Earlier in June 1947, people of Poonch had started a campaign against the heavy taxation imposed by Maharaja. To curb the resentment and agitation the Maharaja used his forces. On August 26, the mobs clashed with the state forces. The Dogra armies opened bren-gun fire on a crowd of 5,000 and hundreds of demonstrators were martyred and wounded. News of these brutalities reached Pakistan and as published in press. In the last week of October 1947, the tribal Mujahideen reached the outskirts of Srinagar. Hari Singh found himself and his family unsafe in Srinagar. Hence he fled from Srinagar to Jammu on October 26th. One reaching Jammu, he issued orders to his troops and police besides the Hindu extremist groups to kill every Muslim found anywhere. In Jammu arms were distributed among Rajputs and Brahmans. The massacre of Muslims was started in broad daylight in Jammu when their electricity supply lines ere cut, water supplies ceased and above all their rations stopped. In the midst of this brutal action the Dogra regime asked the Muslims to surrender, guarantying them safe entry into Pakistan and issued a proclamation. The Muslims accepted the offer in good faith. On November 5th, they were asked to assemble in parade ground in Jammu so that lorries would be able to carry them to Pakistan, more than 70 lorries were loaded with women, children and old men and on November 6, 1947 taken into the wilderness of Kuthua forests. Hindu extremists and armed gangs were let loose on these innocent women and children and an unparallel butchery was perpetrated. Women were abducted, molested, raped and their valuables looted. Very few people escaped to tell their awful tale on reaching in Sialkot, Pakistan. All these bloodsheds were taking place in full view of Indian army that had then occupied the state. Hundred of thousands migrated to Pakistan in miserable condition, while large gathering of 2500 Muslims in Miran sahib and Ranbir Singhpora were machine –gunned and nearly 300,000 people were massacred in cold bloodshed in the Jammu province. The massacre took place from time to time. The massacres of Muslims of Jammu started actually from early October. On October 22, at least 14000 Muslims were massacred at Saniya Jammu. Only 15 wounded could reach Sialkot. On October 20, another 8000 Muslims were massacred at Malatank Jammu. Only 40 wounded could reach Sialkot. 15,000 Muslim were massacred near the bridge at Akhnor and only 100 persons managed to reach Pakistan. On 9th November 30 more lorries carrying Muslims faced the same fate, on their way to Pakistan through Suchitgad route. Women as usual were separated from men to face the awful fate. The children and old men were done to death by the communal forces of Maharaja.
British daily “London Times” wrote on October 10,1947 in a report from its special correspondent in India that the Maharaja in his own supervision assassinated 237,000 Muslims with the help of military in areas of Jammu. The editor of “ Statesman” Ian Stephen in his book “Horned Moon” wrote that till the end of autumn 1947, Population of 500,000 Muslims was abolished. While 200,000 among them were assassinated, and rest of them migrated to Punjab province of Pakistan. Alastair Lamb in his book ‘Crisis in Kashmir” is of the same opinion.
Since last 19 years every day in Indian occupied Kashmir is a martyr’s day. The present Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir is full of similar bloody episodes. The last 19 years struggle against the occupation has witnessed flagrant human rights violation and a reign of terror let loose by 700,000 Indian troops present there resulting in the killing of more than 1,00,000 innocent Kashmiris besides crippling thousands. Rape and molestation, arson and arrest of innocent citizens is a daily routine in Indian held Kashmir. The loss of lives of more than 3000,000 Muslims of Jammu in the early days of occupation by India and the worst human rights violations by Indian during the last 19 years requires the international community to negotiate or facilitate a dialogue process between the two South Asian nuclear powers India and Pakistan and the basic party to the dispute the people of Kashmir, so that a just and durable solution to this vexed issue is find out while taking into confidence the aspirations of Kashmiri people. Kashmiri leaders have welcomed the recent of statement of newly elected President of USA Barack Obama who in a recent interview, suggested that United States should try to help resolve Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. Obama believes that if efforts are made to resolve the issue, that has been plaguing the relations between the two nuclear neighbors since 1947, it would help address the problem of militancy in the region. Obama seems of the opinion that Pakistan, at the moment, is not able to fight militancy effectively as besides militants in its country, it is also focused on India because of the Kashmir issue. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has also said the world body was ready for intervention in Kashmir if both India and Pakistan approached it on the dispute.
“If and when both parties to this issue request ..ask me to provide my good offices, I am willing to do that,” Ban told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York on his return from his four-nation tour of Philippines, India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
But New Delhi has always opposed any international intervention on the Kashmir issue. For that matter India has to give up its unjust and belligerent stance over Kashmir. The Government of Pakistan needs to concentrate and use its diplomatic offices more effectively in the changed scenario at the end of presidential elections in US for the amicable solution of lingering and vexed issue of Kashmir.
The writer is a Kashmir based journalist and Kashmir affairs special analyst.