With close to nine lakh troops, police constabulary, and security sleuths deployed, the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir State is practically an Indian colony. Even Mehbooba Mufti, a former BJP ally, was compelled to say, “Kashmiris feel that they are literally imprisoned in a cage from which almost all exit routes are barred save one, to India, which is also not without peril.” A.G. Noorani, in a similar vein, said, “Kashmiris are distrusted and treated poorly in many parts of India, whether as students or as traders” (Kashmir, a prison, 2019).
Kashmir has a tragic history. It was betrayed not only by its son-of-the soil Sheikh Abdullah, a charismatic orator but also by alien occupiers, including the British viceroy Lord Mountbatten. Sheikh Abdullah was no less culpable thwarting sentiments of the Muslim majority than the last maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir. Let us reminisce a few bitter truths that led to the current tragedy in Kashmir.
Self-determination is a legal right of people whether the decolonization process is perfect or imperfect, as in the case of occupied Kashmir, in which the UN became involved.
The maharaja was debarred to exercise the right to accession option, as he could not do so by the deadline that is 15th August 1947, when dominions of Pakistan and India were to come into being. Meanwhile, sub-surface resentment against the maharaja blossomed into a full-fledged rebellion, mostly in Poonch/Sudhunti/Pallandri area, on August 8 1947. Actually, the Poonch uprising or rebellion was a continuation of the political struggle, since early 1930s against the maharaja’s repressive rule. The movement envisioned a representative government ensuring political and civil rights for the oppressed Kashmiri.
The maharaja discriminated against not only the Muslims in general but also, even the Kashmiri Rajput. For instance, the Hindu Rajput were allowed to bear arms, license-free, but the Muslim Rajput weren’t allowed. To stifle the fighting spirit in the Muslim population, their kids were disallowed to play with ghulail (a wooden fork with stretchable rubber strings).
The maharaja as a fiefdom was oppressively administering Poonch. As such, the Poonch rebellion had grown into a ‘no-tax, peoples’ resistance campaign’ by August 8, 1947.
A considerable proportion of the population in Poonch and Mirpur were British-raj ex-servicemen. They joined the rebellion in hordes. The maharaja’s constabulary was ill-trained to fight the veterans. So they preferred to take to heels. Thus came into being the contours of what is Azad Kashmir today. Azad Kashmir was established even before the signing of the controversial Instrument of Accession; The Poonch rebels set up a free-Kashmir (Azad Kashmir) government on October 24, 1947, three days prior to the signing of the so-called Instrument of Accession.
India, not Pakistan, is the aggressor in Kashmir:
The AJK government, established on October 24, effectively exercised control over a third of the total area of the Kashmir state. The maharaja fled from the state to save his life. It is said that Indian troops landed at Srinagar airport at the maharaja’s request on October 27, 1947, after he had signed the so-called instrument on the same day. Actually, the Indian troops had entered Kashmir earlier at least on October 26, 1947.
The raiders advanced in aid of Poonch rebels on October 22, 1947, but, the British India Patiala forces, now subordinate to the commander in chief of the Indian army, were already there in the state. Alastair Lamb points out, “The Indian troops arriving at Srinagar airport on 27th October 1947 found other Indian troops in the shape of the Patiala men, already established there and elsewhere in the State. The Patiala forces had arrived, it seems, on about 17 October 1947, that is to say before the tribal crossings of the Bridge at Domel on 22 October” (Lamb, p. 154).
Kashmir has a tragic history. It was betrayed not only by its son-of-the soil Sheikh Abdullah, a charismatic orator but also by alien occupiers, including the British viceroy Lord Mountbatten.
Ijaz Hussain says, “It is noteworthy that the Indian complaint was based on article 35 of chapter VI of the UN Charter which relates to ‘specific settlement of disputes, and not chapter VII, which deals with the act of aggression.’” Having entered the disputed state without the maharaja’s consent, India qualified as an aggressor. It is eerie that India never called Pakistan an aggressor at the United Nations.
Changes in official maps warranted
Lamb states, “The Maharaja by October 26, 1947, was no longer competent to sign any instrument of accession because he had to all intents and purposes been overthrown by his own subjects Poonch rebels having achieved effective control of the area of Poonch while the Gilgit scouts achieved the same n Gilgit Agency. Therefore the newly established Azad Kashmir government replaced the maharaja’s rule on 24 October 1947” (Alastair Lamb, Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy). Josef Korbel (UNCIP member) also corroborates Lamb’s view. He says, “The maharaja’s last-minute decision was, as history would indicate, no decision at all. It was only a final maneuver, the last vacillation” (Josef Korbel, Danger in Kashmir).
Azad Kashmir as a successor to princely J&K State was an accomplished fact. It enjoys de facto recognition from the world barring India, even the UBN. The UN did not formally question the AJK government’s claim of being a legitimate successor to the dethroned Maharaja Hari Singh. The UN however expressly ruled against the absurdity of India’s view that the disputed state acceded to India through constituent assembly’s approval.
Sumantra Bose argues, “The Security Council’s resolutions notably those of March 1951 and January 1957 is unequivocal that such participation and representation could not be regarded as a substitute for an internationally supervised plebiscite” (Sumantra Bose, the Challenge in Kashmir). Bose had referred to the UN Security Council’s two resolutions that rejected so-called accession by the constituent assembly. These resolutions, 91(1951), and Resolution No. 122 (1957), duly rejected the ratification of the accession by the constituent assembly in Srinagar. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 122 (1957) at its 756th meeting in January 1957.
India is bound to give Kashmir self-determination
If India disobeys UN resolutions, it is a rogue state, pacta sunt servanda, treaties are binding on the parties. Self-determination is a legal right of people whether the decolonization process is perfect or imperfect, as in the case of occupied Kashmir, in which the UN became involved.
Karen Parker points out, “The disposition of [illegally occupied] Kashmir has not been legally decided. It is not part of any country and yet we have the failure today of the realization of the expression of the self-determination of the Kashmir people” (Karen Parker, Understanding Self-Determination, the Basics, Collected papers and proceedings of the First International Conference on the Right to Self-Determination).
The UN did not formally question the AJK government’s claim of being a legitimate successor to the dethroned Maharaja Hari Singh.
Malcolm N. Shaw says, “Self-determination became the legal principle that fuelled the decolonization process, both obliging the colonial powers to grant independence (or another acceptable political status) and endowing their territory in question with a special status and thus, international legitimation” (Shaw, Peoples, Territorialism and Boundaries, European Journal of International Law 8, no, 3, pp 478-507).
India’s view of Kashmir is untenable. The UN should declare it a rogue state, and impose sanctions on it while granting Kashmir self-determinetion