Jammu & Kashmir: Time to correct faulty strategies
by Rohit Srivastava on 09 Feb 2014 35 Comments

Kashmir is a blot on the post-Independence history of India. It is an example of everything that is wrong with our political, strategic and civilisational understanding of our nationhood as the Kashmir issue is associated with all aspects of what defines a nation-state. The Indian polity has subsequently realised that Jawaharlal Nehru made a self-goal and that regaining the ceded ground in Kashmir is very difficult. The focus, therefore, has been to ensure that the status quo is maintained in the State at any cost.


Still, we need to get to the root cause of this blunder that has exposed Indian civilisation to the interference and exploitation of the international community, particularly the West, which has been using the Kashmir issue to question India’s existence as a single geopolitical entity. This has paved the way for Pakistan (which covets Kashmir) and China (for geopolitical reasons) to exploit the Kashmir issue to their liking.


In Jammu and KashmirThe Blunder and Way Out, Bhim Singh examines the genesis of the issue from the time India was undergoing the travails of Partition and was in complete chaos. The administration was undergoing simultaneous transition and the national leadership was not in full control of the affairs of the country. The leadership in Pakistan was in a far more comfortable situation and chose (or was encouraged) to exploit the chaos in India and the unique political situation that had been created in Kashmir through the machinations of Lord Mountbatten who remained in independent India as its first Governor General. Thus, Pakistan moved its forces to forcibly annex Kashmir; the events that followed are well documented.


To this day, Indians remain dismayed and confused that we could not turn the tide in our favour despite having gained the upper hand in the battlefield. Bhim Singh endeavours to plot this sad episode chronologically in 47 brief chapters (numbered as successive blunders) that detail with documentary evidence the charges he levels against the then leadership of India. As a descendant of the legendary Zorawar Singh who played a sterling role in carving out India’s northern frontier, a politician from the beleaguered State, and a dynamic unconventional thinker, Bhim Singh is well-placed to document the story. His political views have often found him on the wrong side of the establishment in Srinagar and he has been imprisoned an impressive 54 times by the power of the day!


The author mentions a meeting with Lord Mountbatten in 1970 in the UK. He asked the former Viceroy why he did not do anything to improve the future relationship between India and Britain; the last Viceroy just smiled. When asked how he could justify the two armies (India and Pakistan) of which Lord Mountbatten was the Commander-in-Chief going to war, the latter said that the two armies never fought in 1947! Mountbatten was flabbergasted when Bhim Singh asked how he made a unilateral ceasefire declaration without giving Gen KM Cariappa the 24 hours he had sought to liberate the area.


The ceasefire, Mountbatten would have us believe, was the work of the two Prime Ministers of India and Kashmir; both were Kashmiri (Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah). How could they lose their majority by holding a hostile Punjabi Dogra camp within Kashmir? The last Viceroy did not allow Bhim Singh to speak anymore. He added, “Remember, you being a Dogra shall find more magnetic closeness in Azad Kashmir than in Central Kashmir.”


This last sentence betrays the deep understanding Mountbatten had about the cultural and ethnic diversity of Kashmir, which unfortunately cannot be said about Nehru who was at the helm of affairs in India. This small conversation proves how the 1947 war in Kashmir was micro-managed by the British. The Nehru-Patel rift over Kashmir is well-known, and by now the nation knows whose understanding proved correct. Unfortunately, the Indian intelligentsia has been under the control of the Congress for decades; it has never cared or dared to question the basic premises of the Kashmir issue. Bhim Singh has filled this gap.


In the introduction, the author enlists the major blunders committed by national and regional leaders in Kashmir over the past century which have escaped the scrutiny of historians and analysts: The treaty of Amritsar, 1846, made the Dogras politically subservient to the Kashmiris; the Ordinance on State Subject by Maharaja Hari Singh (1927); the Congress’s alliance with the National Conference in the 1940s; the Instrument of Accession and Lord Mountbatten’s letter to the Maharaja which was illegal after the acceptance of the Instrument of Accession; Nehru’s unsolicited declaration on plebiscite at the Lal Chowk in 1947; the unilateral declaration of ceasefire on January 1, 1948. And so on.


With his vast experience and understanding of the political psychology of the State, the author has also suggested some possible ways out of the maze. One fairly comprehensive idea he has posed to end the deadlock in Kashmir is: “Each region enjoys a unique cultural, social, linguistic and geographical identity. Each identity has to be honoured in accordance with the mandate of the Constitution and aspiration of its people. Each region aspires to grow in freedom, peace and democracy. This unnatural union must come to an end amicably and democratically.”


Singh advocates reorganisation of the State into two separate states of Jammu and Kashmir, with one Governor and one Chief Justice. This can be done by amending Article 370 of the Constitution by a ‘Presidential Order’ without seeking a vote in Parliament. Each Assembly will be vested with powers to legislate on the State and Concurrent List. Hill Councils are already functional in Ladakh and Kargil. Scheduled Tribe status should be granted to the ethnic Pahari population, and reservation given to the Kashmiri Pandits in the legislative Assembly to harmonise the ethnic group in the polity of State.


The Kashmir issue has its origins in the short-sightedness of the Indian leadership and, therefore, the solution will have to be found by us. Bhim Singh has suggested some solutions, which are worthy of serious consideration. The book is a must for everyone who wants to understand the problem.



The Blunders & Way Out

Bhim Singh

Har-Anand, Rs 595/-

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