the last 65 years of the Indian freedom, there is nothing that has not gone
wrong in the way India has dealt with Pakistan and the Muslims of Jammu and
Kashmir. This is the gut feeling a reader gets after going through AG Noorani’s
two-volume The Kashmir Dispute 1947-2012.
a senior advocate of the Supreme Court and a constitutional expert, is the celebrated
author who has written on myriad themes, including Islam and the constitutional
history of Jammu and Kashmir. The book is so interwoven in its organization
that the reader is often lost in deciding where to stop to ponder over what the
author has written.
well in connected episodes, miles apart from each other, the study seeks to convey
the message that justice should have been done to the Muslims of Kashmir in
1947 and in later years, and since it was not done either in 1947 when Pakistan
claimed the State of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of its Muslim majority
population, and ever after, because India refused to fulfill its pledge to the
Muslims of the State, Muslims in Pakistan, the British and the United Nations,
the time had come for justice to be done now.
in India (the greatest, noblest and most patriotic), and men outside India who understood
the pain of Muslims in Kashmir, have been quoted profusely to tell the Indian
people of the wrong done to Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir, whose only fault was
their quest for freedom. The author has been candid in spelling out the content
and character of the freedom the Muslims in Kashmir sought, and without reserve
or compunction emphasizes that the freedom sought by Muslims in Kashmir was not
necessarily the freedom that the people in India had fought for, but a freedom
which enabled them to satisfy their Muslim identity.
a lawyer, Noorani has experience arguing in court where the rules which govern
the proceedings are clear and the boundaries of the law are drawn permanently
and without variations. Perhaps conscious that the objectivity that lies behind
every adjudication of a legal case is arbitrarily determined, he has followed a
course where he seems to have presumed that so far as the future of Jammu and
Kashmir was concerned and the freedom its people had a right to, was to be determined
only by the British and the Muslim League, while the people of India and the non-Muslim
people of Jammu and Kashmir had no right to interfere.
leaves a keen student of history and politics, not to speak of experts, with the
feeling that he has transgressed into a field where he himself is a stranger.
In the dynamics of history and the variables which govern the course of
political sociology, historians do not make history. They only record its
course and events and describe the forces behind the reality. There is a method
in all historical processes and a method in all political development. For
Hitler the invasion of Russia was a historical necessity. Nazism was an
ideology and Germany an ideological state. So was Italy and Japan. Japan struck
Pearl Harbor out of historical necessity. That they would be defeated is a
matter of the course the Second World War took. Historical facts cannot be
century before the Second World War saw a worldwide movement for
decolonization, when the flag bearers of the Concert of European imperialist
powers manipulated history to serve their power interests. The British called
India a geographical expression. So did the Muslim League. Both batted for the
perpetuation of the British Empire in India. They realized that India was a
nation, the expression of a six-thousand year old civilisational grid, an
incredible continuity of history and a stunning expanse of civilisational
frontiers, when they faced revolt in 1942, naval mutiny in 1946, and the dogged
resistance the State Army of Jammu and Kashmir offered to the invading Pakistanis
for five days till the Indian Army arrived in Srinagar.
is relentless. It doesn’t forgive; it doesn’t forget. Noorani has written these
tomes to rationalize Muslim separatism in India, of which the Muslim separatist
movement of Jammu and Kashmir is a part. Jinnah agreed with the Congress
leaders so long as they professed faith in an Indian destiny within the British
Empire. Why should the Muslim League have taken birth in 1906, when the Swaraj
and Swadeshi resolutions of the Indian National Congress were adopted the same
did Sir Mohammad Iqbal, in his presidential address to the Muslim League session
at Allahabad in 1930, call for a Muslim confederacy in the North-West,
North-East, the north and south of India, after the Congress adopted the Purna
Swaraj Resolution in early 1930? Why did Jinnah threaten Gandhi to non-cooperate
with the Congress if Congress extended its movement to the princely States and
virtually compelled the latter to exclude the States Peoples’ Movements from
the national movement, a course which brought Congress to the brink of disaster
in 1947? Why did the Muslim League adopt the Lahore Resolution for Pakistan in
1940 when the British were fighting with their back to the wall? Had the League
realized that the end of British Empire in India had come?
was no votary of Indian freedom from British rule, nor did he visualize a united
India. When he insisted upon the lapse of paramountcy, he envisioned Pakistan
spread across the whole of India, with its mainland constituted of the Muslim
majority areas of British India in north-east and north-west and pockets of its
territory constituted of Muslim majority States and Muslim ruled States,
interspersed among the provinces and the acceding States of the Indian Dominion.
Noorani is unaware that Jammu and Kashmir was geographically a part of northern
India and not the North West of India. It formed the central spur of the
frontier of India in the north, which is crucially important for the unity of
India and the security of its entire northern frontier. Only a small part of
the borders of Jammu and Kashmir were contiguous to the borders of Pakistan in
the south and north-west. A larger part of the border of the State stretched
along the borders of Afghanistan, mainly Wakhan Valley, Chinese Sinkiang in the
north-east and Tibet in the east, with a long border contiguous with East
Punjab in the south and the Punjab Hill States in the north-east.
much maligned Radcliffe Award, did not do anything wrong in its Boundary Award.
Sir Radcliffe was not a British politician, and contrary to the League’s fond
hopes that he would follow British bidding, he did not do so. Pathankot, the
largest tehsil of Gurdaspur district, was predominantly Hindu and could by no
stretch be included in West Punjab. Contrary to the figures quoted by the author,
Gurdaspur had a minimal 0.8 per cent Muslim majority. The Boundary Commission
did not follow district boundaries as the basis of the demarcation of the
dividing line between West Punjab and East Punjab. The author appears completely
ignorant of the fact that besides the Jhelum valley road connecting Srinagar with
Rawalpindi, a railway link connected Jammu with Sialkot and a tarmac road ran
along the railway line, connecting Sialkot with Jammu. He seems unaware that a
cart-road, improvised by the ruler of the State, stretched between Jammu and
Madhopur in Pathankot, over which transport moved without any difficulty,
taking only few hours to travel from Jammu to Madhopur.
author takes a reverse position on the basic fact that neither the partition of
India nor the lapse of paramountcy created a prior right for the Muslims of Jammu
and Kashmir to opt for an alternative to accession to India, independence or
accession to Pakistan. His assertion that Hari Singh intended to assume
independence is a total surmise and travesty of history. Mountbatten flew to
Srinagar in the third week of June, not more than two weeks after the June 3 Declaration
of 1947, and shook the Maharaja out of his wits by advising him to come to
terms with Pakistan.
Singh used stratagem to send the Crown Representative back to the Indian capital,
empty handed. Accession to Pakistan was the last act he was prepared to perform.
Hari Singh was not the man to have misunderstood Mountbatten, who warned him
against any attempt to assume independence. In fact there is not the slightest
of hints or pronouncements on record to suggest that Hari Singh intended to
assume independence. Four personal emissaries of Jinnah met Hari Singh
secretly, and to each he said he would take a decision by himself and keeping in
view the interests of his people. Ram Chand Kak, a confidant of Hari Singh, acted as his
interface with the Muslim League and his strategy worked to save the State from
being plunged into civil war during the crucial months between the June 3 Declaration
and the date of transfer of power.
has conveniently omitted to mention and discuss the implications of the
proclamation of a “Provisional Government of Azad Kashmir” by the Muslim
Conference leaders and cadres at Tradkhel in Mirpur on 28 August 1947, only
thirteen days after the transfer of power in India. After proclamation of the
“Provisional Government of Azad Kashmir”, anti-Hindu riots spread across Muslim
majority districts of Jammu province bordering Pakistan.
of History cannot be bent to rationalize political events or influence their
course. The partition was foisted on the people of India by the Muslim League with
the support of the British. The opinion of the people of India was not elicited
on the partition; had it been referred to them, they would have rejected it and
Pakistan would have never come into existence. The lapse of paramountcy was
also foisted on the people of the States, and when the Congress leaders
beseeched the Muslim League leaders and the British to seek the opinion of the
people of the Princely States about the right to determine their future, Jinnah
and Mountbatten refused to listen to Congress entreaties.
the people of the States been accorded the right to determine their future, the
crisis which overtook Junagadh, the war in Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir
would never have happened. In Jammu and Kashmir, the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists,
constituted nearly 28 percent of the population and with Kashmiri speaking
Muslims formed two-thirds of the population of the State.
Kashmiri-speaking Muslims were dead against accession to Pakistan because they
had opposed the Muslim League struggle for Pakistan. They knew their dreams of freedom
would be scuttled if the Muslim Conference, supported by non-Kashmiri-speaking
Muslims of Jammu province, came to power in the State if it acceded to
Pakistan. It is a misnomer that the accession of the State to India was brought
about with the support of Muslims alone. In fact it was because of the Hindus,
Sikhs and Buddhists along with Kashmiri-speaking Muslims that the accession of
the State to India was brought about.
the invasion of the State by Pakistan, the Hindus and Sikhs formed the
frontline of defense in the provinces of Jammu and Kashmir and the Buddhists in
the frontier division of Ladakh. In Ladakh, the Buddhists kept the invaders at
bay under the leadership of the legendary soldiers Captain Pirthi Chand and
Captain Thapa. The left flanks of the National Conference largely constituted
of Hindus of Kashmir amongst whom were ideologues of the National Conference
and veteran freedom fighters in Jammu and Kashmir. Niranjan Nath Raina Saraf,
Pran Nath Jalali and Omkar Nath Trisal defended Srinagar. The National
Conference rank and file brought up the rear of the resistance. Nearly 40,000
Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists were killed in the invasion. More than 10,000 Hindu,
Sikh and Buddhist women were abducted by the invading hordes and those who
escaped death were driven out of the territories that the invaders overran. The
refugees of the territories occupied by Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs, a million people,
live in Jammu on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control, still awaiting
arbitrary premise that the Kashmir dispute revolves round the freedom of the
Muslims living on the Indian side of the Line of Control, is only a half truth.
The whole truth is that the Kashmir dispute revolves round the freedom of the Hindus,
Sikhs and Buddhists of the State, a population of four million, easily
comparable with the six million Muslims living on the same side. The dispute
also revolves round the future of nearly two million Hindu and Sikh refugees,
who form nearly half of the population of the Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists of
the State. Among them are more than a million refugees from the territories occupied
by Pakistan, half a million Hindus of Kashmir (Kashmiri Pandits and non-Kashmiri
Pandit Hindus who were driven out of Kashmir province by the jihad launched by Pakistani
jihadi war groups operating from that State, the militant regimes and the Muslim
separatist forces in Kashmir); Hindus driven out from their land and forced to
take refuge in Jammu, and the Hindu and Sikh refugees driven out of the border
areas of Jammu province from time to time, besides the Hindus of the Muslim
majority areas of Jammu province driven out of their homes and hearths by the jihad
as it spread into Jammu province in 1990, and after.
Kashmir dispute also revolves round the territories of the Jammu and Kashmir
State which are under occupation of Pakistan. They constitute parts of the
province of Kashmir and the province of Jammu and the Gilgit-Baltistan regions
of the frontier divisions of Ladakh along with the Dardic Dependencies of the
State, Hunza, Nagar, Punial, Yasin, Ishkoman, Darel and Koh Gizir, which formed
the part of the Jammu and Kashmir State and constituted the strategic outer
flanks of the western horn of the northern frontier of the State and the
northern most outposts of the British Empire in India.
occupied territories are an integral part of the Indian state of Jammu and
Kashmir, which were invaded by Pakistan against all tenants of international
law as reported by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, and
accepted by the Security Council. The Security Council resolution envisaged evacuation
of the occupation forces from the occupied territories before the bulk of the
Indian forces would begin to withdraw. The restoration of the administrative
control of the occupied territories to the State Government was a precedent
condition for the induction of the United Nations Plebiscite Administration
into the State. The author’s claim that the bulk of Indian forces were to
commence evacuation when the occupation forces were nearing completion of their
evacuation, virtually suggesting that the evacuation of the occupation forces
was proposed to be concurrent, is a gross distortion of facts. The United Nations
documents and the Indian correspondence in this regard are unambiguous and leave
no room for such misinterpretation that the author has attempted mainly to
prove that India was on the wrong foot.
and the Western powers dragged the Kashmir issue into the Cold War because the
West needed to turn Gilgit-Baltistan into an advance military post in the
policy of containment of communist influence in Asia. Pakistan sought to turn UN
intervention in Jammu and Kashmir into an instrument to destabilize the part of
the State on the Indian side of the ceasefire line, to put India on the
defensive and consolidate its hold over the territories under its occupation.
and its allies in the Security Council shifted their basic stand to push India
to accept the induction of a Plebiscite Administration while the invading
forces remained in the occupied territories along with Muslim militia of 30,000
men raised in the occupied territories by Pakistan. The Indian leaders were
persuaded to allow Pakistan retain a part of its forces, about one third of the
forces that India retained in the State. The agreement fell through because the
United Nations military mediators tampered with the figures of the quantum of
troops to be retained by the two armies in the State, forcing India to stall
the agreement; the fiasco came to be known as the notorious “Delvoi Affair”.
Pakistan, nor the British and their allies were interested in an impartial
plebiscite. They were interested in enabling Pakistan to swallow the occupied
territories and use them as a springboard to dislodge India from the rest of the
State, establishing their hold on the Shivalik plains west of river Ravi. In
the post war configuration of power in Asia, the whole stretch of Kashmir
valley, the rugged mountain fastnesses of the Pahar and Jhupal regions of Jammu
province and the Shivalik plains stretching to the west of the river Ravi assumed
strategic importance they never had earlier, even in the days of the Great
Game. For India, Jammu and Kashmir was central to the defense of its northern
frontiers and its strategic interests in the Sanskrit Himalayas.
stand taken by Britain and her allies in the Political Committee of the UN
General Assembly in the debate on the Tibetan complaint against the Chinese
aggression delivered a severe blow to Indian leaders about Asian solidarity.
Nehru ducked for some time under the shield of Panchsheel. But he learnt a
bitter lesson when the Chinese repudiated the McMahon Line. In the post Cold
War balance of world power, India cannot go the way Noorani apparently
suggests. All demands for separate freedom, for whoever they are made, conflict
with the unity of India.
must be understood by all Indians that the British divided India to create a
Muslim power on the subcontinent to safeguard their own interests in and around
India. The Indian people, the people of British India and the people of Indian
princely States, were not retainers of British colonial rule in India. They had
fought for a united India and its independence. The League leaders lost bitter
time to smother into submission all the princely States within the territories
demarcated for Pakistan, some like the State of Kalat, against the wishes of their
rulers and people. Why would the Indian people allow Pakistan to grab Jammu and
Kashmir, which would have demolished the entire northern frontier of India?
Indian princely States were placed outside the partition of India and virtually
detached from British India by the lapse of British paramountcy, which like the
partition of India was foisted upon the people of the Indian States by the
Muslim League and the British against their will and against the remonstrations
of Congress leaders. The partition of India did not remotely create any prior
right for Pakistan to claim the State of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of its Muslim
majority population. Muslim League leaders, whether still in India or not,
could not question the right of the Indian people to unite the remaining parts
of the British India and the Indian States within its territories and
contiguous with Indian borders, to undo the wrong done to them by foisting the
partition and turning down the entreaties of the Congress and the All India
States People’s Conference to recognize the right of the people of the States
to determine their future.
author notes at the outset in his book, “A plebiscite in Kashmir was a moral
imperative, besides being a democratic imperative.” If plebiscite was a moral
imperative and a democratic necessity in Kashmir, was it not a moral imperative
and a democratic necessity to not force partition on the people of British
India? Was plebiscite in the princely States not a moral imperative and a
democratic necessity when the lapse of paramountcy was imposed upon the people
living in the princely States? Was plebiscite not a moral imperative and a
democratic necessity to determine the future disposition of the States?
was not created in accordance with any moral imperative and its creation was
not a democratic necessity. Had Pakistan not been created, the people of the 562
States, including Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad and Junagadh would have
united with India and repudiated princely rule.
was a political maneuver in which the Muslim League and the British were
partners with the intention to Balkanize India and reduce it to a geographical
expression. For the Indian people it was a moral imperative and democratic
necessity to unite whatever was left of India after partition, without any
consideration of whether any use of force was involved. They had to defeat the
designs of the Muslim League and the British. Had they faltered, they would
have been defeated.
and Kashmir was crucial to their efforts to recreate a united India. Noorani rightly
points out, “Truth to tell, India and Pakistan launched a cold war even while
they were in the embryo of history.” The bitter truth is that Pakistan launched
an offensive right from the time the partition plan was accepted to balkanize
India and recommence the process of a second partition of India by seeking to
support Muslim separatism in Jammu and Kashmir.
(To be continued….)
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