Revisiting the treaty of Amritsar

 The story that explains the tragedy we all are facing as a people

History is a huge repository of human error and wisdom, fortune and misfortune, triumph and tragedy. It’s a storehouse of knowledge the appreciating of which (both by Kashmir leaders & our younger generations) is crucial not only for making our present momentous but for determining our future course of actions also. An adequate understanding of historical events especially those that have largely been responsible for adversities of a nation is even more vital for beneath them lays the real cause of its humiliation. The Treaty of Amritsar which is completing its 167thyear today, the 16th of March 2013, is one such baleful event. It is this Treaty that is at the core of the problem Kashmir is so desperately grappling with for the last so many decades and the public grasp of which is at the lowest ebb.

If there has ever been a catastrophe to hit Kashmir politically, devastate it economically, ruin it socially and bash it psychologically, it is this Treaty. Bruising the Kashmiri pride massively the Treaty of Amritsar; nay the Treaty of Melancholy was negotiated to thrust upon Kashmir by those born in alien territories and brought up in an unfamiliar ethos: the British and their cohorts who with their sharply divergent civilizational moorings and racial stocks were neither related to nor acquainted with the hapless victims; its inhabitants. These disparate people combined together at a very critical juncture of history and conspired to bring Kashmir to their heels; perpetrating, thereby, a heinous crime the parallel of which is hardly ascertainable in the history of any nation in the universe. The plot they hatched was outrageously so scandalous, so immoral, so wicked, so treacherous and so disgraceful that it continues infuriating people of all shades of opinion and ideology in Kashmir even after the elapsing of 167 years since its inception. Just after a century India has failed to evaporate the impact of its dreadful memories and reduce the magnitude of the indignity the Treaty of Melancholyinflicted on the unfortunate people through the feudal route of Hindu autocracy that it brought in its wake to throttle the indigenous institutions of repute and the healthy economy beyond redemption.

The most terrorizing trickery of this size ever experimented in history was too haughty to recognize the people anything beyond chattel worthy of nothing but to be sold in the open souk for such a little amount as 2 rupees per head. Opened up in the vicinity of Amritsar far away from their home turf the British market managers tried almost everything to entice buyers for their newly acquired possession, Kashmir, and finally picked, among a multitude of prospective buyers, only one Gulab Singh as their client as he alone had volunteered to pay them what the dilapidated resources and growing bankruptcy of the Lahore Darbarand its feudal lords had declined.

It was a good bargain for both the parties; the vendor received a booty and suzerainty in exchange and the bargain hunter got a sizeable chunk of fertile lands, for a paltry sum of 7500000 Nanak Shahi rupees, he had not dreamt of even in his wildest imagination. With a nominal price fixed on each soul sold along with an assortment of belongings: hutments, land, animals and even water and air, as famously lamented by Poet Iqbal, it was really the most profitable business ever indulged in by any oriental king, prince or raja. As a long-term investment with incalculable returns for an eternity it was really a propitious moment for a petty feudal vassal–a onetime lovebird and an unnatural and unethical service provider to the known sex manic of history; the lion of Punjab–to be decorated, for his treachery to his benefactors, with the royal, magisterial title of the Maharaja, which he assumed on reaching Kashmir; a far off place with which he was an unfamiliar like other aliens. History has seldom offered such an exalted position and an inexhaustible opportunity to a novice of humble origin, with a huge baggage of indescribable immoral, corrupt and unethical practices to his credit, to fiddle with the rich resources of a lush green country like Kashmir, theJanat-i-bay-nazir, and defraud its people even for as insignificant an amount as 1 rupee on seeing which he wound pounce upon like a shark.

This is how a whole nation of simple and trouble-free people was sacrificed at the altar of a new paradigm of political merchandize and auctioned off against a pittance amidst the rattling ofLahore Darbar’s irretrievable breakdown and ear-splitting noise essentially created by its Mother Queen’s unending profligacy, debauchery, barefaced licentiousness ( illicit relations with Wazir Lal Singh, her paramour) that had torn apart the prestige and honour of once a mighty, magisterial Kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Cunningness, wickedness and immorality these were all brought together to enact this drama brazenly and negotiate the “the Sale Deed” to weave the mesh of Kashmir’s unending subjugation and servitude.