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A Brief History Of Kashmir: One Of The Most Militarised Regions In The World

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India and Pakistan being neighbouring countries share few commonalities such as cricket, food etc. One more thing that we both share is the state of Kashmir, which has been the main source of tense relations between our country India and our neighbour Pakistan and this is an issue which even after decades has still not been solved. In my personal capacity, I have been observing the coverage of Kashmir in both Indian and Pakistani media and I observed both, the Indian and Pakistani media often use Kashmir as a source of viewership. The media in both countries media do not actually talk about how the Kashmir issue started.

How Did The Kashmir Issue Originate?

It all started during the initial days after India won independence from the Britishers. After independence, India was still divided in the form of princely states and it was during this time Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister and Dep. Prime Minister of India, used his diplomacy skills to negotiate with the rules of the princely states to join India. He was successful in doing this but few states were were not ready to join India; these included Hyderabad, Junagadh as well as Jammu and Kashmir. Out of all these states, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was more concerned with the state of Hyderabad due to its location. He always said that if Hyderabad does not join India it will turn out to be “cancer in the belly of India”.

Hence, after holding a meeting with the Nizam of Hyderabad and with the rising rebellion against the razakars, the Indian Government ordered military action to help the rebels, following which the Nizam of Hyderabad signed the instrument of accession joining India.

A similar action was taken for Junagadh where the Nawab of Junagadh had decided to join Pakistan due to which the principalities of Babriawad and Mangrol decided to be independent of Junagadh and accepted the accession to join India, due to these actions the Nawab of Junagadh attacked Babriawad and Mangrol but following a referendum, the people of Junagadh decided to join India and later  Junagadh officially became part of India.

The only state to decide its fate was Kashmir which was ruled by Raja Hari Singh. Although this might seem surprising because according to Indian political veterans, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was not very interested in pursuing Jammu and Kashmir to be a part of India. But the game-changer was that the Nehru Government was concerned about the pandit population in Kashmir.

Pakistan always advocated that Jammu and Kashmir should be part of Pakistan because of the majority Muslim population in the state. Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru hence held a meeting with Sheikh Abdullah who also became the second Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir to discuss the integration of Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian Union.

This made the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Raja Hari Singh, insecure, as he was of the opinion that if Jammu and Kashmir become a part of India, Sheikh Abdullah might become the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. He was not interested in joining Pakistan. Hence, Raja Hari Singh sent a telegram to both, the Indian and Pakistani Government, stating that Jammu and Kashmir should remain independent.

Following this, Mohd. Ali Jinnah provided assurance that if Jammu and Kashmir decided to remain independent, Pakistan would have friendly ties with them. But in 1947, Pakistan formulated Operation Gulmarg to forcefully take control of Jammu and Kashmir through tribal invasion under the charge of Col. Akbar Khan.

It was only after this invasion of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan that Raja Hari Singh asked India for military help, this was accepted by India provided that Jammu and Kashmir officially become part of India. Hence, Raja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession to India making the state of Jammu and Kashmir officially a part of India. This instrument of accession was not acceptable to Pakistan and as a result, Mohd. Ali Jinnah ordered Gen. Douglas to send Pakistani troops to Kashmir.

As per my interpretations of these events, I’d say, it is due to Pakistan’s actions that Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India today. Even after being included in the Indian union, there have been many events which have shaped or changed the life in Kashmir – one being the UNSC (United Nations Security Council Resolution 47) decision for both India and Pakistan to cease fire and draw a border between Kashmir and the other being the events of 1990 when the radical elements took control of Kashmir.

What Happened in Kashmir In 1990?

It was during 1990 when organisations like JKLF (The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front) and other separatist groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami started creating unrest in Kashmir by mobilising anti-India sentiments in the Kashmiri population and their leaders in their speeches started terming Pandits as ‘mukhbirs’ (informers of the Indian government).

This all led to violence by the separatist population against the pandit population due to which there was a growing fear among the non-muslim population of Kashmir and they were forced to leave the valley and even some of the Muslim population were forced to leave due to growing militancy in the valley and had to settle in other parts of India such as Delhi, or Mumbai. To control this militancy, more army was called into Kashmir and the present situation is such that Kashmir is termed as one of the most militarized areas in the world.

How Can The Kashmir Issue Be Resolved?

I personally think that to solve this issue we must first know what problems the people in Kashmir are facing and then act accordingly. Fortunately, I had friends, Zubair Lone and Noman Shah who belonged to Srinagar and Kulgam respectively, I used to discuss these issues with them.

According to them, the main problem is that the people in Kashmir feel they have been imprisoned due to extreme militarisation in the state, and this feeling leads them to have a negative perception towards the soldiers and even the police officials who belong to the local population. And they also say that a few army personnel have committed crimes. And whether we like to hear it or not, the fact is that no organisation is perfect.

Thus, there are army men who haven’t upheld the integrity which they are supposed to maintain. Although there are limited sources which verify what my friends from Kashmir say, considering that serving army officers have been arrested for serious crimes in other parts of the country, we can only assume but cannot decide whether the army personnel are doing the same in Kashmir or not.

I believe the population in Kashmir should understand that pelting stones at army soldiers and shouting anti-India slogans will not help them in any way. So, I believe the only way for a resolution is for both the population in Kashmir and the elected politicians, to be committed to addressing the issue peacefully. In my opinion, Pakistan should not interfere because Pakistani radical groups in Kashmir have been involved in violence in the valley.

Shah Faesal a former bureaucrat turned independent politician, during one of his interviews, implied, that it is only Indians that can solve the problems in Kashmir, but for that, the people in Kashmir will also have to develop trust with the central government. In conclusion, I could only say that the situation in Kashmir is far more complicated and it cannot be expressed in one post as it has many scenarios that affect regional and international politics.

So if someone asks me about the situation in Kashmir, I recall a dialogue from the movie Lamhaa, “God created heaven, man turned it into hell, that’s the story of Kashmir”.

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