Balraj Puri in 1953 advised Jawaharlal Nehru to extend political freedom in Kashmir. He replied; “We have ganmbled at the international stage on Kashmir, we cannot afford to lose it. At the moment, we are there at the point of the bayonet. Till things improve, Democracy and morality can wait”.(kashmir towards insurgency, page 46).
Sitauted on the foot hills of the mighty Himalaya, sandwitched between China, India, Pakistan and Afganistan, Kashmir has been only major issue between India & Pakistan over which the two nuclear powers have fought three full scale wars against each other, the most recent being Kargil War. Its position makes it geo politically vulnerable, since it provides shield to India against China on one hand and also against Pakistan & Afghanistan on the other. Because of its vast and unending water and natural resources, both the countries want to take hold of its potential and make use of it. Northern Grid, for example, under National Hydroelectric Power Corporation of Indian side of Kashmir uses water resources of Kashmir exclusively for its energy supplies to whole of North India and some parts of Central India. World’s highest battle field, Siachen Glacier is a part of Kashmir State and is occupied by the forces of both the countries to stake hold making it one of the most expensive milittary zone in the world. After partition, Pakistan allowed many national & international expeditions from Japan, New zealand, Germany etc to the Himalayas and high glaciers including through and to Siachen glacier with issuance of easy permit so that the Himalayan mountain system and the glacier systems would be studied. India after many decades of partition felt the need to occupy and secure the Siachen glacier since, as per their Military report, unoccupancy of this would pose a very big threat to India from China and perhaps from Pakistan too. But International bodies like UN and politians within India and many national & international security experts have denied this claim. Siachen lies close to the Aksai Chin, which once was part of Kashmir State, but now gifted to China by Pakistan as a mark of frienship. So, in nutshell Kashmir has become a brothel for these neighbouring countries.
Historically Kashmir was sold to the Dogra Raja, Gulab Singh, of Jammu in 1846 on account of his help rendered to the British Indian government to crush and make the Lahore throne a part of British India in lieu of 75 lakh Nanakshahi currency (British Indian Rupee) of that time, which is what is called as Treaty of Amritsar, 1846. http://jklaw.nic.in/treaty_of_amritsar.pdf It is important to mention here that the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were not under British India. The region of Jammu, under Lahore throne, Gulab singh, who due to his distinction was given first jagirdari and then rulership (Raja) of Jammu in 1822 with his brothers, Dhyan Singh & Suchet Singh annointed Raja of Poonch and Ramnagar respectively. With the conquest of Kishtwar, Gulab Singh also gained control over Ladakh, Baltistan & Skardu. Ladakh particularly was ruled by Lamas from Tibbet at the time of conquest thus gaining control over all the principalities lying between Kashmir & Jammu. Kashmir, however, a Quasi State at that time was under Lahore with Sheikh Imam Uddin as Governor. The dogra Raja, Gulab singh after the treaty tried three times to enter into the Kashmir but was defeated because of the resistance shown by the people of Kashmir, led by Sheikh Imam Uddin. At last he sought the British army help and was able to quell and crush the movement against his forcible occupation and entered Kashmir on 9 Novermber, 1846. The dogra rulers thus secured not only the soveirgnity over the state but also its ownership and so they didnt hesitate to levy very heavy taxes in due course of time. Everything and everybody was taxed. A vast area of land equal in area to many present European countries was handed over forever and in independent possession of one person and his heirs, making it a biggest cruel joke, inhuman and uncivilised act in the human history by the British Paramountcy. The state which was made independent of the tyrant rule was handed over to other tyranny, on the one hand freedom was given, but a minute later it was snatched again making it only of its kind in the world history. The reason behind this sale deed was that Britishers wanted to secure their borders from very nearby Afghanistan and China and also the Central Asia including Russia since Kashmir was a part of traditional silk route and made Gulab Singh a scapegoat for the same. After securing the state and down the line the pathetic conditions in which the Maharaja kept his subjects particularly in Kashmir forced the then British citizen Robert Thorpe to pen down following words:
“Towards the people of Cashmeer, we have commited a wanton outrage, a gross injustice, and an act of tyrannical oppression which violates every human and honourable sentiments, which is opposed to the whole spirit of civilisation, and is in direct opposition to every tenet of the religion we profess”
It must be kept in mind that all the high offices in autocratic rule was held by members of the ruler’s own community, Pandits of Kashmir and the men imported from nearby Punjab with totally or almost nil members from Muslim community of Kashmir and muslim dominant areas of Jammu.
On March 23, 1946 a British Cabinet mission came to india in order to find and give solution to the problem of India. When it arrived, it received a telegram from S M Abdullah, the most popular resistance leader of Kashmir during that era, who founded Muslim Conference, which later became National Conference and fought against the autocratic rule of Dogra Maharaja. It is said that Kashmiris used to consider him equivalent to saint, next to Prophet and would believe his every word and saying. The saying goes, “even leaves fell from the tree with the writing “la ila ha illah, sheikh mohhamad abdullah” meaning “There is no God except Allah, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah”. However, down the line in history, he is seen as the one who turned his back towards Kashmiri people because he was lured by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indian National Congress for petty gains.
So the telegram read:
‘As the mission is reviewing the relationship of princes with paramount power with reference to the treaty rights, we wish to submit that for us in Kashmir, a re-examination of this relationship is a vital matter becasue 100 years ago in 1846 the land and the people of Kashmir were sold away by the British. The people of Kashmir are determined to mould their destiny and we appeal the mission to recognise the justice and strength of our cause’.
A few days later the National Conference submitted another memorandum to the cabinet mission reiterating the demand. However, the cabinet refused to consider the greviences of the state’s people. On May 12, 1946 the cabinet issued a memorandum stating
“when a fully self-governing or Independent Government or Governments come into being in British India, His Majesty’s Government’s influence with these Governments will not be such as to enable them to carry out of the paramountcy. His Majesty’s Goverment will cease to exercise the powers of Paramountcy. This means that the rights of the states which flow from their relationship with the crown will no longer exist and that all the rights surrendered by the states to the Paramountcy will return to the states.
On June 3rd, 1947, his Majesty’s Government gave the plan of the transfer of power with a passage on position of states:
‘His Majesty’s Government wish to make it clear that the decisions announced above about the partition of India relate only to British India and their policies towards Indian States contained in the cabinet mission of May 12th, 1946, remains unchanged’. So this becomes clear that on the transfer of power the states were to be independent.
The cabinet mission in the memorandum of 1946 had mentioned that states could enter into the relationship with the succesive governments and on June 25, 1947, Lord Mountbatten adressed the chamber of princes that legally they were independent but he advised them to acede to one of the two dominions before the transfer of power to ensure the continuance of existing relationship.
In Kashmir, the Maharaja and his then PM, R C Kak, disliked the idea of becoming part of India, and also with Pakistan, he thought of Independence to make it in his words, ‘Switzerland of Asia’. But he concluded a standstill agreement with Pakistan, and not with India reason being, that from Pakistan, because of geographical continuity, the Maharaja can continue trade, business and flow of supplies while as same was difficult with India because of geographical conditions. Down the timeline, due to various complex situations, which are beyond the scope of this article, the Maharaja of Kashmir on October 26, 1947 signed an instrument of accession with the Government of India, which ofcourse is also debatable.
Now lets examine the two treaties visa-vis each other. The full page treaties are available online for the readers. http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/documents/instrument_of_accession.html If we examine the Article 4 & 5 of treaty of Amritsar 1846, it becomes evident that in case of any dispute which engages Maharaja with Lahore or with anyother neighbouring state, the Maharaja has to refer to British Government for its Ultimate decision with regard to the sale deed and he was bound to abide by the decision. For the sake of discussion, it can be said that there were indications & contraindications in treaty itself (as has been point raised by certain security & legal experts of India) but certain points are clear and vivid and need not to be read between the lines. It is important to understand that it was the only sale deed of its kind in British India, a deal with conditions and when those conditions cease to exist- the deal cease to exist. When the powers of Paramountcy were transffered and two dominions came into being and Paramountcy ceased to exist, how in any case the Maharaja of Kashmir could take any legal decision regarding he state, unilateral or howsoever? Some argue that Cabinet Mission document squarely depict that acceding to any dominion is the right of ruler, and religion or geography shall not play any role, but again, the answer is when the rule of the ruler cease to exist after the transfer of power, how the same ruler would take any decision whatsoever. In the light of the same article and Cabinet mission document of 12th May, 1946, the Maharaja ceased to have any legal dominion over the Kashmir state and with transfer of power in 1947 from British Paramountcy to dominions, Kashmir state automatically became independent without the supermacy of Maharaja. Considering the same article V of Treaty of Amritsar, 1846, how was Maharaja legally competant to sign instrument of accession with India or a standstil agreement with Pakistan? Although its to be mentioned that standstill agreement with Pakistan was for trade and not as a sign of accession. Its also pertinent to mention that while Governor General of India made appeal to all princely states to take a decision to acede to either of dominion before transfer of power, the Maharaja fiegned symptoms of appendicitis to avoid the decision. When the decision was not taken on time, again the state of Kashmir continue to be independent state, independent of both dominions, and legally both the dominions now had no role to lure or force the Maharaja to acede to one of the dominions. Should there be an arbitration, legally that should have been an International one or by the British Government itself? While the tribal invasion of Pakistan into Kashmir (which again is a debatable issue and beyond the scope of this article), the Maharaja fled from srinagar to Jammu again reiterating that he no longer can be the ruler of State reducing his claim and his legal position to sign the instrument of accession with India. As i mentioned the instrument of accession is in itself a debatable issue since many papers and so many recent research work indicate that the same was never signed by Maharaja on 26th October, 1947 or on any other date. It has been proven by many researchers, including British & Australian authorities on politics of J&K, that it was the handiwork of Mr. M C Mahajan, the then PM of Kashmir and the then secretary of state, Government of India, Mr. V P Menon and the sign on the document was forged by duo. Even if it was signed and was accepted by Lord Mounbatten, which someone would say was acting on the part of British government, but he failed to understand that Mountbatten was Governor General of free India, an employee of the Government of India and not British Paramountcy and again since the paramountcy ceased to exist, his acceptance hardly matters. That is why, after the Instrument of accesion, Mountbatten announced that once the land is cleared off enemy, people shall be given an oppurtunity to choose their future. As mentioned earlier, even if Maharaja did sign it, it has no legal binding in the light of treaty of Amritsar, 1846 and Cabinet Mission document of 1946. Finally, what was the legal position of the ruler of Poonch visa vis Kashmir and dominion of India? Recent research has proven that the ruler of Poonch also wanted to have an independent state or merger with Kashmir state, but without a larger accesion of Kashmir with Indian dominion. With this view in background, all other future agreements like Delhi Agreement, Shimla Agreement, Agra Summit or Lahore talks doesnt hold any legal value vis e viz Kashmir. The only legal stand is that State of Kashmir was and should be independent. Any arbitration or solution must include Government of Britian or any International body with Britian being part of it since the problem was created by them and they wanted them to be part of the solution as far as the treaty and instrument of accession is concerned . Politicians and political & security experts do say much of the water has flown through river Jhelum river since 1947, but much of the water also flowed through river Ganges during more than 300 years of British occupation, why India needed Freedom then & from whom?
The importance of writing this article is to make clear what defines the stand of Independence of the state of Kashmir. It also highlightes an importance that usage of Kashmir as their brothel by these nations need to be stopped and identity, independence and soveirgnity of the state of Kashmir need to be restored at an earliest. There is every chance that these countries may land up in another brutal war which may end up in using nuclear warship from all the ends turning the region into a world disaster. Need of an hour is that India & Pakistan realise that their illegal use of the land of Kashmir must end for their own benefit and for their own interests, lest Kashmir may engulf them like a couplet says “hum to doobe hai sanam, tum ko be le doobe ge” meaning “im already drowned, but will drown you too”
Arshid Bhat is a physician and can be reached at [email protected]