Of Kashmir conundrum & conflicting maps
The Kashmir conflict is one the greatest humanitarian disaster of the 21st century, rooted in British colonial policies, frozen in time and not easy to let slip from the memory. There is no Republic Day Celebration (26 January) nor Independence Day celebration (15 August) in this downtrodden valley. In fact, these days are celebrated as black days in valley in response to the total denial of what reality portrays: the wide range of atrocities carried out, justice denied, disappearances, fake encounters and baseless allegations made. The conflict has been portrayed as an outcome of religious extremism, but it is a political issue which is an active volcano underneath, simmering with resentment, time and often erupts causing wide range of destruction.
In an explosive six month long unrest in 2016, youth hit streets of Srinagar, resulting in revival of militancy which reached it new heights in 2017 and unfettered youth who had grown under the shadow of violence, anxiety, humiliation, fraught and the pain that it brings. Earlier government of India labeled the youth picking up guns as extremists, uneducated but truth divulged itself: Manan a research scholar from Aligarh University and other highly qualified youth joined militancy which is a big slap on stereotype media and unclothed world’s largest democracy too. Albeit, the road to reclaim right to self determination or independent state is arduous but the continuous efforts have brought back the lost appetite and awakened oppressed society out of their slumber. People have come out of misreading and falsify the claims made by both India and Pakistan. Kashmiris do know Kashmir is neither an integral part of India nor jugular vein of Pakistan but a chosen piece of land on earth which was a free nation before India and Pakistan got freed themselves from British yoke. Kashmir is disputed between India, Pakistan and China. New Delhi does not dare to utter a word against Chinese occupation. India aims at to wrestle with Pakistan on this issue; it is due to innate hatred of Indians towards Pakistan and weak position of Pakistan at international institutes. But India would never think to meddle with China, though China had grabbed 17% of the Kashmir territory. New Delhi knows it well; Red Dragon would swallow it in a single gulp. The map of the divided state shows 48% of total area of J&K controlled by India and 35% by Pakistan. After NIA raids, PSAs, Operation All Out and other oppressive tactics employed by New Delhi to curb the growing separatist sentiments in valley, the forces have unleashed suffering on people. From mid 2017, army Chief, time and often made controversial remarks which further infuriated all strata of the society. Blaming educational institutes, Bipin Rawat said, “the teachers in the schools of J&K were teaching two maps to the students: one of India and another of J&K.” He further added what teachers are teaching shouldn’t be taught. Then what should be taught? Perhaps, the distorted history, rewritten by RSS and its sister allies like BJP, Hindu Vahini and Bajrangdal.
To invalidate Indian false claims we should rewind the clock and have a close look on what is known as “two nation theory” and partition of subcontinent. In 1947, British India was partitioned on insistence of Muslim League to create a separate state for Muslims—Pakistan. Why Jinnah asked for partition and separate home for Muslims? Perhaps, the best answer is the “murder of Afrajul or disappearance of Najeeb.” Jinnah knew, Muslims would remain a minority in united independent India and would be subjected to lot of troubles, atrocities and would be denied to practice Islam openly. In 1946, a British Cabinet Mission appointed by Prime Minister Attlee to negotiate the transfer of power had proposed a 10-year federation in India. This would have given the new Indian authorities a decade’s experience of governing before any partition and was probably the last real chance of avoiding it altogether. The plan was accepted by Jinnah but was wrecked by the Mahatma Gandhi. After the failure of mission, Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy, was told by Clement Attlee, in March 1947 to negotiate an exit deal with Indian leaders by October; if he could not, Britain would leave India with no deal by June 1948. Five weeks before British were scheduled to leave India in July 1947, a British lawyer; Cyril Radcliffe was commissioned to draw borders that would divide British India into two countries—Muslim majority Pakistan and Hindu majority India. If we have a keen observation, the boundaries were drawn on religious lines. The official announcement of Radcliffe line came on 17 August 1947 which resulted in mass displacement of people on both sides of the line drawn. The partition of India resulted in heavy bloodshed and mass exodus of people from one region to another. But Kashmir remained free of violence. Both the nations were busy in extending their geographical horizons. The fate of 562 princely states was in their own hands. Immediately after independence, the first Indian Home minister, Sardar Patel was assigned the work of integrating these princely states to India. Hundreds of states merged with India without bloodshed. Hyderabad, Junagad, Travancore, Bhopal and Kashmir didn’t want to join any of the newly independent nations. Junagad, Travancore, Bhopal and Hyderabad later on joined the Union of India by combined action of police and efforts of Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Hari Sing, the Dogra ruler of J&K was reluctant. The sovereign of Kashmir, a Dogra ruling a mainly Muslim people, at first tried to go it alone, but called in Indian help to ward off Pakistani incursions. His reluctance, the newly carved Pakistan ran out of patience to extend her geographical boundaries. Along with tribes’ men, Pakistani troops invaded Kashmir after two months of the partition of India and captured most of the Kashmir. On request of Hari Sing, Delhi sent forces but Delhi put the pre-condition, “Kashmir would join India.” In this way Instrument of Accession was signed between Hari Sing and Jawahar Lal Nehru on 26 October 1947. Tribes’ men and Pakistani troops retreated when Delhi’s dispatched troops reached Srinagar. Pakistan kept that part of Kashmir which they call “Azad Kashmir” and India seems reluctant with this part of Kashmir.
From that day, there have been many failed attempts to integrate Kashmir fully with Union of India. Despite the tools of “special status”, article 35A and article 370, India claims Kashmir an integral part of union of India. Therefore, Indian official map includes whole Kashmir, including PoK and CoK in Indian dominion. The map which Indian publishing houses produce and is hanging on the walls of colleges, offices and is minted on leaves of schools books consider whole J&K its possession. Pakistan had different view regarding the map. Pakistan considers occupied Kashmir her integral part and also advocate China’s integral part while considers IoK a disputed territory. Western countries fully agree with the disputed status of Kashmir. Therefore, they refrain from showing the region as the domain of any three countries. UNO had clearly a different stand on map of disputed territory. There is neither separate map for India nor Pakistan. In order to avoid tension, UNO had a common map for South Asia with a special note “the status of Kashmir is not finalized by both the nations.” By both means Pakistan and India, it doesn’t mean CoK is integral part of China. From that day, to depict the map of Kashmir, it is very difficult for organizations, publishers, etc. All most all the countries refrain from depicting Kashmir with any of the country, to avoid the anger and maintain good links with all the three nations. What Kashmiri think about their map is important, though the voice of legitimate heirs don’t fall on deaf ears of International bodies. Kashmiris have a strong opinion about the map. The Kashmiris on both sides of the de facto border had a common opinion, “Kashmir is a separate nation” which is neither an integral part of India nor jugular vein of Pakistan. To understand the whole situation, borders, de facto border, physical division, climate and drainage system, a teacher needs all the five versions of map: Indian, Pakistani, European, UN version and Kashmiri version. The most important among is the Kashmiri version. What is this blame worth made by Army Chief? Except India, Pakistan and China, whole world is unanimous regarding status of Kashmir. (Author can be reached at sheikhnissar@Outlook.com).