Almost exactly 79 years ago the nascent political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir launched the famous Quit Kashmir Movement, demanding an end to the despotic rule of the Dogra dynasty. The founder of the dynasty, Gulab Singh was a petty officer in the British army who had literally purchased the Muslim majority nation for a paltry sum from the British in 1957 under the so-called Treaty of Amritsar. In the ensuing 74 years the ruling Hindu dynasty reduced millions of J & K Muslim population in to socioeconomic rubble.
Then came the historic July 13, 1931 massacre, in which 28 Muslims in Srinagar were martyred by Hari Singh’s army while they were protesting against the heavy-handedness of the Dogra regime. The massacre of the civilians and imprisonment of the leadership, including the enigmatic Pathan, Abdul Qadir who had made an impassioned speech in the public gathering in Srinagar, lead to eventual demand for Hari Singh to quit Kashmir. 16 years later Hari Singh abdicated the throne under political and armed rebellion by the Kashmiris.
Unfortunately, however, India was waiting in ambush with its nefarious designs. It was determined to rob Kashmiris of their hard fought and hard-earned freedom. Leaving all nonsensical justifications aside, India used premeditated strategic planning to invade and subdue the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Had it succeeded to snatch the entire princely state, including Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas it would certainly have done so even more savagely. But it couldn’t because the armed resistance it encountered. It grabbed what it could until the UN intervened. So, even though Hari Singh quit Indians took over per force.
The saga of oppression, intrigues and violence took on a new form and a new dimension, only this time by a large neighboring country with bigger thirst for expansionism. Times, however, are different and pace of changes faster. India moved expeditiously on all fronts to solidify its control over Kashmir. It has built a substantial military complex with nearly half of its military forces in the Valley and along the Ceasefire Line. It has expropriated large tracts of public and private land to build luxurious cantonments at the cost of Kashmiri inhabitants’ basic needs. It has installed puppet regimes of its liking ever since the inception of its rule. Vast amounts of money have been spent to bribe and buy loyalty of the very base elements of society. International media, relief agencies and human rights organizations have been shut out completely.
Despite all these and other measures of oppression Indians have failed to cajole or coerce the vast majority in Kashmir to becoming Indians. Kashmiris have literally preferred death over subjugation and liberty over slavery. Army’s guns have failed to subdue the passion for freedom. They have successfully blunted the Indian instruments of war over them. Today with the new Quit Kashmir Movement launched by Tehreeke Kashmir(Kashmir Freedom Movement) Kashmiris have rekindled an old slogan, with the hope that this time they may be able to persuade India to leave Kashmir peacefully. From the daily feedback we get from the Valley we get a strong sense that the people are very determined to continue their passive resistance to make Kashmir ungovernable by India. They are pursuing an agenda and a schedule of sit-ins, strikes, rallies and disobedience that has rendered the puppet regime of Omar Abdullah defunct and paralyzed. Indians are using their security forces to enforces their will, sidestepping the handpicked state regime altogether. Time will tell when the other shoe will fall and the Abdullah regime will become the scapegoat according to a familiar pattern. They may have to return the administration to direct Rule by the Indian appointed governor.
Kashmiris, meanwhile, will dismiss all of the gimmicks and ploys as irrelevant to their plight and struggle. They will and must continue their struggle and defiance resolutely, but peacefully. India will have to leave Kashmir as long as the spirit of freedom remains alive in their hearts and minds.