The book “Gilgit-Baltistan and its Saga of Unending Human Rights Violations” by Alok Bansal, and published by Pentagon Press LLP, was released on October 25 at Nehru Memorial and Museum and Library in New Delhi.
The book release was followed by a discussion on the book by Ram Madhav, Lieutenant-General Ata Hasnain, Professor Riyaz Punjabi, Sajjad Gani Lone, and Ambassador Phunchok Stobdan.
Ram Madhav: Gilgit-Baltistan is an integral part of India
Speaking at the event, Ram Madhav pointed out how during the time of Independence, India lost the region of Gilgit-Baltistan to Pakistan due to the deceit of British military officers such as Major W. A. Brown. He said that India’s claim to the region is much stronger than Pakistan’s claim over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. He pointed out that when the BJP and PDP decided to form a coalition government in the state one of the clauses in the Common Minimum Programme was to open a trade route from Kargil to Skardu, a town in Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Lt. Gen. Ata Hasnain: This book must go to every Indian Embassy and High Commission across the world, free of cost.
Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain commented about the expertise of Alok Bansal in the area of Gilgit Baltistan. He narrated an incident of how Bansal had approached him many years ago with the question, “How about promoting the Shina language?” General Hasnain admitted that at the time he had no idea about what Shina was. Shina is a language used by people both in Gurez and by the Dardis and Baltis, a common linguistic link between the various communities in these regions on both sides of the Line of Control. General Hasnain pointed out how during war games conducted in India, the Gilgit-Baltistan card is rarely played since no one had enough knowledge about these areas.
He also pointed out that this was a war of the mind with Pakistan, and that India has the ability to create just as much a problem as they are doing for India. He added the need for Indians and the world to know about the suffering of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, and how the people in these regions should know that they are not alone in their battle against the oppressive Pakistani regime. General Hasnain noted how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of Balochistan, Pok and Gilgit-Baltistan in his Independence Day speech in 2016.
Ambassador Phunchok Stobdan: Don’t bring up the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan unless you have an agenda. Because the other side has a clear agenda.
Ambassador Stobdan said that it was also due to a lack of India’s strategic culture that India lost Gilgit-Baltistan to the Pakistanis. He pointed out how the Government of India only focuses on the Kashmir valley, noting how 82% of Jammu and Kashmir is neither Jammu or Kashmir, but Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh. He said that many people don’t even know the accurate figures for how much land Pakistan gave to China in these regions.
He added that China had checkmated India in this area long, long ago, and the results of that are being seen today in the form of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan going through these areas all the way to Gwadar Port in Balochistan.
He emphasized how Pakistan distorts history but India neglects it.
He also commented on the Common Minimum Programme to open a trade route from Kargil to Skardu. He said that it was very easy to open a route but asked everyone to be sure about what that route will be used for. He said even if India uses it for transporting vegetables, we know what the other side will use the route for.
The author of the book, Alok Bansal is a former Indian Navy Captain and is currently associated with think-tanks in New Delhi. He said that he had been working on this book since 2006. It was pointed out in the event how K2, located in Gilgit-Baltistan, is the highest peak in India, not Kanchenjunga.
Story is based on written notes taken by the author during the book release and discussion.
For further reading the event has been covered by various other media houses such as “Jammu and Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan ‘Integral Part Of India’: Ram Madhav“. The book by Alok Bansal can be found on leading e-commerce websites.