14 days have passed since the Indian government abolished article 370 and 35A, depriving the people of Jammu and Kashmir of their autonomous status. Subsequently, there has been a massive lock down, and troop deployment in the Indian-occupied Muslim majority region. Furthermore, a bill was passed which proposed the division of Jammu and Kashmir into two ‘union territories’ which will be ruled by New Delhi directly. The abolishment of Kashmir’s special status means that non-natives can now buy property and settle in Kashmir. The Kashmir conflict has been existent for decades, but this step taken by the Indian government has deteriorated the conflict so gravely and it is pertinent that the world needs to wake up now!
Jammu and Kashmir, an 86,000-square mile region in northeast Pakistan and northwest Pakistan is breathtakingly beautiful, so much so that the Mughals called it an earthly paradise back in the 16 and 1700s, however, the decades long Kashmir dispute has made the valley a living hell. Three wars, 1948,1965 and 1999 have been fought over the region, but it has all been in vain for the Kashmiris. The fate of Kashmiris has been rolled over again and again by the Indian state. It is pretty ironic for “Secular” India to forcefully rule people of Jammu and Kashmir without their will.
Kashmir has been endowed with implausible beauty, and is well-known as ‘Paradise on earth’ all around the world. Autumn turns the chinar trees into yellow and red and the dawn light turns the silver lakes to gold. Landscapes of utmost beauty are scattered throughout the state.
Kashmir became under part of the Mughal Empire in the 15th century. Akbar brought the enlightening ideas of tolerance and pluralism years before the European Enlightenment age took speed. During the 18th century, Afghan invaders came in and were driven out by the Sikh empire. The state of Jammu and Kashmir was created in 1847 after the Anglo-Sikh War from the territories under the previous Sikh Empire. Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Ladakh and Giglit Baltistan was annexed from the Sikhs and annexed by the East India Company. And then it was sold to the Hindu Gulab SinghDogra, a ruthless ruler, for 7,500,000 Nanakshahee Rupees.
In 1947, the British were to end their rule in India. According to the Indian Independence Act, British India was to be divided in two independent states, the Dominion of Pakistan and Dominion of India. According to the Act,
“the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses, and with it, all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian States.”
Each princely state had a choice to either join Pakistan or India or to remain independent. Kashmir was a Muslim majority area and it was under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh who was a Hindu. Being indecisive about which nation to join, Hari Singh remained neutral and decided to remain independent. The Muslims of Kashmir had been under tyrannical rule for ages, and they looked forward to be part of Pakistan. Uprising began in Kashmir internally by the Muslims who were in majority. Hari Singh, who looked forward to nothing but himself went to seek India’s help. India stated that help will be provided if he chose to join India, which he agreed to do so by allegedly signing a controversial Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947. But it was made clear by Lord Louis Mountbatten, that the document will be ratified by a “reference to the people” of Kashmir. Nevertheless, India sent troops to Kashmir to take control of the uprising, this was when Pakistan sent its own armed forces to Kashmir.
It is worth mentioning that under convention a Hindu ruler could not yield his territory to India when the majority of his subjects were Muslim such was observed by the Muslim rajas of Hyderabad and Junagadh when they acceded their territories to India even though they personally wanted to side with Pakistan. Maharaja knowing this signed with the Pakistani government a Standstill agreement which gave Pakistan the right to oversee certain administrative roles. This was all before the alleged Instrument of Accession which came afterwards
War broke out between two nations in October 1947. In January 1949 United Nations brokered a ceasefire to end the war, with India having control over two thirds of the princely state and Pakistan having one-third area.
Kashmir was formally made part of Indian Union in 1957. Kashmir was given a special status in India’s constitution under Article 370. Along with other things, this status specifically ensured that in Kashmir, property could not be bought by non-natives to insure that there wouldn’t be any alternation in the demographics.
Two more wars were fought in 1965 and 1999 between Pakistan and India, but the issue remained unresolved and no solution has yet been found. For decades, Kashmir has suffered human rights abuses and violence at the hands of subsequent Indian governments in the form state sanctions and state sponsored violence. After Article 370 was scrapped, things have gotten out of hand. The frequency of human rights abuses has drastically increase, innocent Kashmiris have had to needlessly suffer even more, all for demanding their right to self-determination and maintaining their right to choose which nation to be part of. After seven decades and multiple generations, it is finally time the entire world takes notice and stand for the people of Kashmir! The innocent kids who have seen nothing but violence and the elders who have grown up to bloodshed, scream for peace and prosperity. The world needs to wake up now!