Sun. Jul 21st, 2019

Kashmir Freedom Struggle: From Beginning to Present Era

Shabir Ahmad

The year 1931 saw the beginning of an organised freedom struggle initiated by the Muslims against the rule of autocracy in which they had been suffering untold miseries for more than eight decades. The rising of the 13th July that year was not merely a protest against the excesses of certain officials with the religious practices of the Muslims which had occurred one after another in Jammu a few weeks before but it was in fact a ‘vehement expression’ of a deeply felt resentment of the Muslims who had failed in the past to persuade the rulers to do them justice. They exploited the incident of an alleged desecration of the Holy Quran and made it the starting point of what eventually turned out to be a long dawn out political struggle. Coming out of the State of disarray into which they had lain low for long, they pulled themselves together, and entered upon an organised battle for freedom from economic, Social, political and religious subjugation. The Muslims in general and Kashmir Muslims in particular, were subjugated to the rule of injustice and oppression during the Dogra period in the state. The Muslims of Kashmir were discriminated in every sphere of life, social, political , economic and religious.
On September 24, 1931, Kashmir saw the first armed resistance of Kashmiri Muslims against the excesses of the Government. Moulvi Mohammad Yousuf Shas had declared an armed revolt against the oppressors. He had called upon the people to assemble at Khanyar armed with any kind of weapon. On September 24, the city of Srinagar was pasted with notices the effect that the ” Mohammadans have no quarrel with Hindus but have declared Jihadagainst the Dogra dynasty.
Later on, in 1947 When India and Pakistan emerged as two Independent dominions. Maharaja of Kashmir was caught on the horns of dilemma whether to accede to Indian Dominion or to Pakistan or to declare Kashmir as an independent state. Like some of the other Princes, he too, being carried away by sentimentalism rather than realism and supported by his advisors and even some of the leaders of the politically conscious groups in the State , fondled with the idea of independence.In order to get more time for the final decision of the State’s accession , Maharaja offered a Stand-Still Agreement to both the dominions. Pakistan agreed to it hurriedly whereas the Government of India wanted concurrence of the people of the State; which they never get even after seven decades. Finally the Maharaja signed the notorious conditional ‘lnstrument of Accession’ with the India, under the prevailed compelling political circumstances.
As the Maharaja of Kashmir accessed to India without the concurrence of the people, the leftist leaders ardently endorsed the proposal for plebiscite in Kashmir. They supported the right to self determination for the people of Kashmir and to fight all those who opposed it . The following years Crossroad a Communist Weekly from Bombay supported the demand for Kashmir Independence as one which reflected the desire of the Kashmiri people and was made with the intention of galvanizing them once again. The story of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir state to the Indian Dominion itself was, however, a dramatic convergence of conflicting aims and motivations of the then main actors of the drama- The Maharaja of Kashmir, All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Leadership, India and Pakistan. The Maharaja wanted to protect his kingdom as well as his own position as a ruler of the State.
ln the Instrument of Accession, Kashmir gave mere three rights to India viz; Defence, Foreign Affairs, and Currency. The time passed and the political thugs of Kashmir steadily and constantly made the figure of Instrument of Accession reciprocal under different circumstances by signing accords and agreements for their chair. Today , we are talking about special status be It 370 or 35 A; everyone is of the opinion that India gave Kashmir a special status which they never gave in reality. In fact, It was Kashmir who gave India some rights. Since 1931, the freedom struggle of Kashmir passed through many phases. The struggle for right to self determination which started in 1931 as a resentment against the atrocities of Dogra rulers, later on became more vibrant, participative, and effective; following the Martyrdom of 22 Kashmiri Muslims by draconian Dogra Rulers. Since then almost 6 lac men & women, boys & girls, young & old have been martyred. The first phase of the freedom struggle started from 1931 to 1947 against Dogra dynasty. In this phase when Occupier attained independence from British, Kashmir was at liberty to choose her destiny. It was Sheikh Abdullah and his associates who then surprisingly sold Kashmir for the lust of chair. If Sheikh Abdullah would not had lust for chair, Kashmir would had been independent today. Between 1947 to 1989; three devastative wars were fought between India and Pakistan in 1947, 1965 and 1971, which claimed the lives of thousands of people. ln 1989 people took arms directly in order to fight the oppression and subjugation of the oppressor. The later killed more than one lac people brutally, 20000 women including old aged widows and tender aged girls were raped, 25000 people were forcefully disappeared. These figures approximate actual figures may be higher. The 2008, 2010 and 2016 Uprisings turned the freedom struggle of Kashmir into a vibrant mass movement. Till date Kashmir people are constantly sacrificing their pious blood and breathe for the Movement. As per the reports of an international organisation; 45% of populations have psychiatry diseases because of torture, CASO, AFSPA, custodian killings, rapes, loot, arson, etc. by the occupiers. More than 6 lac people have scarified their lives in the hands of occupiers till now. 150000 structures were either arsoned or destroyed. More than one lac civilians were imprisoned under PSA.
Since the inception of the freedom struggle, the occupier made a number evil designs to suppress the movement but he never succeeded in it. The oppressor is habitual of blaming Pakistan for each and every incident. It is pertinent to mention here that the freedom struggle of Kashmir is an indigenous movement since its birth in 1931 when even the occupier was under the occupation of British.
The United Nations Organisation has also failed to resolve Kashmir dispute as per the aspirations of the people. The rising intensity of the border clashes is linked to another issue that explains the political relationship between India and Pakistan has, after a few years of relative calm, become dangerously toxic once again. In Pakistan, the civilian government has been weakened by an anti-government movement and has in turn strengthened the military, which is more anti-India than is the government. The military, in fact, is now likely in control of policy on India. And the recent border provocations, we can assume, come from an emboldened Pakistani military. Meanwhile, in India, you have a nationalist government that has repeatedly stated that it won’t back down from Pakistani provocations. So in essence you have a Pakistani military itching for a fight on the border, and an Indian military with carte blanche from civilian leaders in New Delhi to return fire with great intensity. This is a recipe for big problems.
This relative calm likely diverted the UN’s attention to other things, of which there have been many over the last few years. The UN has had a particularly heavy plate of foreign affairs issues – Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea’s nuclear program, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, natural catastrophes and other humanitarian disasters – and Kashmir simply didn’t make it to the front burner. Pakistan is much more likely to be convinced than is India, but Pakistan would still be reluctant. What would make Pakistan hesitant to talk is something the UN has no power to change – and that is the fact that Pakistan’s military is now in the driver’s seat of India policy, and is likely in no mood to be talking about reconciliation. As for India, the only way I could envision getting New Delhi interested – and it’s a big “could” – is if India is somehow given assurance that discussion of Kashmir would be linked to Pakistani efforts to take legal measures against the planners of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, and against terrorists more broadly that target India. Again, this is not something that the UN is in a position to control. At any rate, Pakistan is unlikely to draw these links between talking on Kashmir and taking action against terrorists. No, I don’t. Though the UN has been jolted to attention by the increased unrest along the Line of Control, there continue to be issues perceived as more top-priority for the UN than the Kashmir issue. North Korea and Iran were urgent a few years back, but Islamic State, Ebola, and Syria/Iraq – the big-ticket issues for the UN today – are seen as even more urgent. It is unlikely that Kashmir will register as a top-priority issue on the UN’s radar anytime soon. The risk with such inattention is that the issue could be left to lapse and grow ever more perilous. While there’s no reason to think India and Pakistan will be fighting another war over Kashmir anytime soon, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. And if a conflict were to break out down the road, the UN would certainly regret not getting more engaged earlier.
There are three stake holders of the Kashmir dispute; the Hurriyat representing the aspirations and sentiments of the people , India and Pakistan. It is note worthy to mention here that the political parties/leadership in no case represent the aspirations and sentiments of the people. All the three stakeholders need to come on a table with the intention to resolve the long pending dispute affecting the peace process in the Indian sub continent. The talks must be unconditional. The Pakistan has to vacate Kashmir part under their occupation and India has to vacate their part. The resolution of Kashmir Dispute lies in complete independence and not in accession with any of the country. And in order to create a conducive atmosphere, both the countries has to improve and strengthen their relations. The unresolved Kashmir dispute is affecting both countries in various aspects. It’s resolution can stabilise peace not only in India and Pakistan but in whole subcontinent.

(Author is a freelancer . Views are his own sahilshabir@rocketmail.com)

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