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Explained: The History Surrounding Kashmir And How It Created Today’s Politics

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Nehru “Stopping” The Indian Army

Any claims that “Pandit Nehru declared a ceasefire when Indian forces were chasing out Pakistan tribals from Kashmir” have no foundations in fact. It will be easy to see-through such misinformation if one simply follows the timeline, even if one has no knowledge of Indian history. The quick response from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, his cabinet ministers and ex-CM Digvijay Singh to dismiss BJP National Vice-President Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s statements is admirable, given the decades of Congress’ track record of looking the other way.

Incidentally, Mr Chouhan never explains why Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not allow the Indian Air Force nor the Indian Army to cross the Line of Control in 1999, while Pakistan had no qualms doing so. Instead of declaring ceasefire himself, Vajpayee could have continued the war and occupied the rest of 1/3 of Kashmir which Nehru supposedly failed to occupy!

This claim made by Mr Chouhan can be found as far back as Acharya JB Kriplani’s biography My Times and VP Menon’s book Integration of Indian States.  In their defense, neither Kriplani nor VP Menon claim any firsthand knowledge but quote unnamed army sources, which could just be somebody bragging. While Mr Kriplani was never in the government, VP Menon admits that he was not involved in Kashmir affairs after January 1948.

The Timeline

Despite the benefit of a 72-year hindsight, our experts are seemingly unaware that Ceasefire and Referral to United Nations (UN) were separated by a whole year! In his book Integration of Indian States, VP Menon dates India referring the matter to UN as December 31 1947 while the ceasefire was declared a year later in January 1949. As the matter was being debated in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the war continued unabated.

In fact, the war continued for 8 months even after UNSC Resolution 47 was passed in April 1948! The Kashmir war started in October 1947 and continued for a total of 14 months, which would be three times longer than all other wars since put together. Further, contrary to Mr Chouhan’s claim, it was a “bilateral” ceasefire and not “unilateral.”  The ceasefire declared by Vajpayee government in 1999 on the other hand was “unilateral.”

Incidentally, the annexation of Hyderabad happened in the intervening period, September 1948. Contrary to popular claims, Nehru’s hesitation to act on Hyderabad was due to this more urgent and ongoing war in Kashmir.

Even after sending representation to the UNSC, Nehru’s government had continued to execute the war. Nehru neither stopped the army, nor did he declare any ceasefire.  Quite to the contrary, Nehru had personally visited the garrison in Poonch in early 1948 which was contemplating withdrawal because it came under intense attack.  Nehru reminded the garrison of their duty to protect the civilians who bravely stayed in their homes laying trust in India and urged the army not to betray their trust.

Many crucial battles from Limbar Nallah to Drass Valley took place in summer and autumn of 1948, well after India referred Kashmir to the UN. Then a Brigadier LP Sen who defended Srinagar in 1947 writes (in his book Slender Was The Thread) that the war was a stalemate by September 1948 and that not even an inch could exchange hands along PoK without heavy causalities. Far from stopping the army, many times during this period Nehru reportedly grew impatient and spoke of picking up a gun and fighting the Pakistani army himself.

Mr Chouhan claims that if Nehru waited for few more days before declaring ceasefire, entire Kashmir would become India’s. Such claims were made by others earlier on behalf of General KM Cariappa while the time-frame which Cariappa had supposedly sought ranges from 24 hours to 3 weeks. These claims however reflect ignorance of the geography of Kashmir and weather conditions, on part of likes of Mr Chouhan.

If anybody visited the current Line of Control (LoC) in winter (December/January), it would become obvious that no war nor movement of troops could take place in that time-frame in the snow-covered mountains, ravines and valleys. In later years armies in fact withdrew from certain areas well before winter, which in fact precipitated the 1999 Kargil War. Any suggestion that entire Kashmir would be ours if Nehru allowed General Cariappa 3 more weeks, let alone 24 hours in January 1949 is laughable!

Why Did The Nehru Government Approach United Nations?

Peace processes always run a parallel track while wars rage on. There was nothing wrong with involving the United Nations! It was neither Nehru’s whimsical decision nor Mountbatten’s mischief as claimed. The decision was taken by the cabinet which included not only Sardar Patel but BR Ambedkar, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Sardar Baldev Singh (Defense Minister). To put things in perspective Junagarh, Hyderabad and Goa have all been referred to UNSC by their erstwhile rulers. That did not make any of these territories “disputed.”

The claims that Nehru referred Kashmir to UN without informing Patel or over Patel’s protests have no foundations in fact. The insinuations that nobody in the cabinet other than Sardar Patel had any opinion on that matter is insulting the intelligence and integrity of others like Law Minister Dr BR Ambedkar who should have known more about the international law than Sardar Patel and Baldev Singh who was responsible for executing the war.

Patel’s trusted lieutenant VP Menon never cited any such disagreement. VP Menon was, in fact, defensive of the decision. Menon mentions a series of meetings between Jinnah-Mountbatten and Liaquat Ali-Nehru where Pakistan went from denial of any knowledge to defiance to avoidance altogether. Faced with a faceless enemy, India had no alternative but seek external help to pressure Pakistan and thus stop atrocities on innocent civilians in Kashmir, according to VP Menon.

All the successive Prime Ministers from Lal Bahadur Shastri to Narendra Modi have gone to the same UNSC over the same Kashmir issue from 1965 war to recent Pulwama attack. Yet amazingly, nobody sees the irony when BJP blames Nehru for going to UNSC!

Unrelated Issues

The current Kashmir problem started in 1989, more than 25 years after Nehru’s death. Those that know about Indira Gandhi’s tenure know that Kashmiri Hindus from DP Dhar to PN Haksar to ML Fotedar controlled not just Kashmir but entire India! Until the early 1990s, Hindus lived happily in the valley and were even demanding self-determination and autonomy themselves! The events of the Nehruvian era have nothing to do with the happenings of the modern day. In 1947 when communal riots ravaged entire India, especially the border states, not a single riot took place in the Kashmir Valley.

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Featured image source: Steve Evans/Flickr.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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