State gone with Article 370: Hashim Qureshi

The State of Jammu and Kashmir existed for 173 years. The valley was purchased by Gulab Singh from the British and Jammu had already come under his suzerainty. Maharaja Gulab Singh incorporated lesser principalities into his kingdom and gave it the name of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The borders of his State extended from Damchok on the border line with China to Lakhanpur – the border of Punjab and from Gilgit to Bhimbhar. The state was under the autocratic rule of the Dogras from 1846 to 1947. Hari Singh the last Dogra ruler desired to keep his state independent in the aftermath of the partition of India in 1947. Owing to an attack launched from Pakistan by the tribesmen, the Maharaja of J&K sought military help from the Government of India. Indian government laid down the condition of accession before its troops could land in Kashmir. 

The Maharaja signed the instrument of accession and handed over the control of three subjects, namely defence, foreign affairs and communication The Indian army landed in Kashmir and the State got divided into two.

Gilgit Baltistan with 28000 square miles area and Azad Kashmir with 4000 square miles area passed into the control of Pakistan and the remaining 52000 square miles area were controlled by India. Out of the area controlled by Pakistan, of nearly five thousand square miles was ceded to China. In the war of 1962 China occupied some area from Aksai-chin region of India. Prior to August 5, 2019, the State of Jammu and Kashmir was virtually divided into five parts, 1 the part under the occupation of Idea, 2 the bogus Azad Kashmir under the control of Pakistan, 3 Gilgit and Baltistan under the direct control of Pakistan and where Pakistan repealed the State Subject law, 4 the area ceded by Pakistan to China, and 5 Aksai-chin.

This was the ground situation till 15 August. However, owing to the instrument of accession signed by the Maharaja the part of the State under the control of India came to be known as the actual Jammu and Kashmir. The world has accepted that the instrument of accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh the ruler vouches for the legality of the accession of the State to the Indian Union. After the Reorganization Act came into being by virtue of the Act passed by the Indian parliament, the State has been divided into six and not five parts. On the basis of majority vote in the Parliament, Laddakh and Kargil have been given in the control of the Central Government as Union territories headed by Lieutenant Governor. It should be remembered that the people of Kargil are against this arbitrary division and they have even given vent to their displeasure. 

On 9th of August there were demonstrations after the people offered Friday prayers. They are against going to union territory along with Laddakh and would like to remain with Kashmir. The question is that if the demand of the people of Laddakh for union territory is accepted why the demand of the people of Kargil or other areas is not accepted as they want to remain with Jammu and Kashmir. The question whether a particular area can be divided into two parts or more against the wishes of the people of that area is fit to be brought under discussion. Should the status of the State be done away with without the consent of the majority of members in the legislative assembly of the State and to break it into pieces and integrate into the Union territory? Under Article 370 no such decision can legislature. The important thing is that this decision is against the trust that people had reposed in the instrument of accession.  

Now if this had to be done at any cost, the way out was to hold a referendum on the issue. Today is the sixteenth day of shut down in the state against the breaking of the state. Internet service and telecom service as well as the schools would not have had to be shut down. Entire commercial activity of the State would not have come to a standstill nor would the mainstream politicians to be put under house arrest. These are the same politicians who till the other day were swearing by accession to the Indian Union.

Despite all these facts, Jammu and Kashmir has been converted in to Union Territory.  The only redeeming point is like State of Delhi, this UT has been given an assembly which is likely to comprise 90 or 107 elected member in 1964 or 1965. s. However, there will be a Lt. Governor 

Article 370 had instead of Governor. Already been eroded and the nomenclature of Sadri-e-Riyasat and Prime Minister had been changed into Governor and Chief Minister. Supreme Court and Election Commission’s authority was extended to the State.  Mainstream political parties in the Stat could not protect the integrity and dignity of the institutions of the State not could they bring about parity in the developmental activities in three regions of the State. This could be the reason why the two lakh inhabitants of Laddakh are agog with joy for making the region a union territory. However, we should remember that the region of Laddakh and Kargil is not the property of two lakh people of Laddakh. It is a part of Jammu and Kashmir. The international law is that a people of a particular region of a state cannot separate that region from the state out of their sweet will. However, their demand can be addressed by a referendum to determine their wish. In Kargil and Dras, the Muslim population is against the Act. The decision of converting Laddakh into a union territory is the decision of the Buddhists of Laddakh. The majority of Muslims in Laddakh are also against the Act

As far as Jammu region is concerned, I am unable to understand what makes the people in Jammu rejoice on the abrogation of Article 370. After all, we know that this state was created by Maharaja Gulab Singh. Do people make merriment on seeing their home getting destroyed? The people of Chenab Valley and other regions inhabited by the Muslims are also protesting against the decision of breaking the State. People say that the decision is based on communalism and communal tendencies will receive a boost by it. One does not understand what troubled the people by being the citizens of the State? There is marked difference in the developmental level between the valley and Jammu. Jammu is now ahead of the valley and in terms of government jobs and political advantages Jammu is ahead of the valley. Records can proveOne thing I would like to say with confidence is that out of this reorganization the maximum loss will be suffered by the people of Jammu because the State had been created by the Jammuites and we had been purchased and connected to it. We were reconciled to it and remained as loyal citizens. Some people among the citizens of Jammu are making merry that under the storm of majority tyranny the glorious and wonderful State has been fragmented into several parts. The state assembly had been dissolved much earlier so that the need of seeking the consent of the legislature would not arise. Our honour, our history and our aspirations were ruthlessly demolished and trampled underfoot. 

Modi government is hanging carrots before the people of the State. It makes loud claims of development in education, economy, health services, jobs, factories, industries and private educational institutions.  But the question is not of development. The question is of abolishing Article 370 without meeting legal requirements.Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami and Ghulam Nabi Azad gave identical statements that this was the massacre of democracy.  Bhim Singh’s party opposed the disintegration of the State but despite supporting abrogation of 370 and 35-A, Harsh Dev Singh, the chairman of the party has been put under house arrest.
Even on 2nd or 3rd of August there appeared some signals of something happening big in Kashmir since security measures were being updated. However, what was actually done was not at all expected.  If anybody raised the question of abrogating Article 370 and 35-A, simultaneously he would be reminded that there is democracy in India and there is the rule of law and it would give him satisfaction that nothing would be done that goes against the established law. They knew that the state assembly would not allow it to happen. Suddenly on August 5, there was a crackdown and curfew was imposed. Everything came to a standstill and many people were put under house arrest… People had not given much credence to rumours and that is the reason why they had not stored the groceries and other daily necessities. Many families awaited the return of their children receiving education in institutions outside the state. 

The question is whether in 21st century any country can confine one crore and forty lakh people, men and women, in their homes, hospitals or wherever they were stationed? Did not people have the right to visit their ailing relatives and children in hospitals? The government makes all promises of providing all required facilities to the people but the TV channels expose the falsehood traded by the government.  Today is 14th August and for last ten days the garbage has not been removed from the streets and houses. It leads to pollution. Patients cannot obtain medicines and chemists express helplessness in accessing their shops. Patients cannot reach the doctors. The daily wagers are worst hit and retail cart sellers have come to the verge of begging. Taxi owners are incapable of paying the loan instalments to the banks. India has won the credit of house arresting 1.40 crore people.

Indian security chief Ajit Doval has been in the valley. He partook of meals with some people I Shupian. He had talks w whether with the CRP seniors. Many people raised the objection whether by indulging in such antics Ajit Doval will be able to restore normalcy in Kashmir. Kapil Kak, a former Commander who happens to be a Kashmiri commented, “This is only dramatics. Mainstream politics has come to dead end after August 5. We should have sympathy with India instead of with Kashmiris because India has plunged into dark age. And the bridge between India and J&K has collapsed”. Ghulam Nabi Azad was bitterer and said, “Some people might have been bracketed by greasing their palms”. 

But we should not deny that by staying for some time with the forces, Ajit Doval had boosted their morale. Otherwise he knows it very well that by imposing curfew in the entire valley and disconnecting net and telecom services an impression of normally cannot be created.

Curfew has been imposed, house arrest of leaders in the valley, Kargil and Chenab valley have been made. Earlier Geelani Sahib was doing such things but thank God no India has taken upon itself to run this nefarious business.

On 19 August, although the government announced that some Primary schools had resumed work but the kids and the teachers desisted from attending the class owing to absence of mobile connectivity the parents were not prepared to take risk and connectivity with the bus driver was not possible. It appears that attendance in schools or offices may not be expected as long as telephone connectivity is not resumed. 
What big or small role has been played by J&K politicians-in-power in the making of the decision of New Delhi is an interesting question.  It is said that today there are no takers of mainstream politics in the valley as well as in the Chenab Valley and the Chenab region. The result of Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mufti Mahbooba’s politics of getting large numbers killed cannot absolve them of responsibility. Mahbooba cannot absolve herself of martyrdom of 70-80 youth by pallet guns in 2016.  They also failed to understand the spirit of the 21st century. For example, in case a Kashmiri female citizen married a non-state subject, she would lose the right to property in the State and so would her children. This was a blatant example of gender discrimination. 
Previously a woman did not lose her rights in the state even if she married with a non-state subject.  In 1957, the State imported manpower of Valmiki community from Punjab to render sweeping services in the State. They were promised all civil rights. These people actually had migrated from Pakistan at the time of partition.
They had the right to vote for parliamentary elections but their children despite attaining high educational degrees and continuing the menial job were not allowed the right to citizenship in J&K.  They were denied employment in government. Kashmir politicians, one and all, will be squarely held responsible for this grave crime against humanity. Their number has increased to nearly seven lakes and they have been struggling for their rights for last 74 years.

NC had imposed Public Safety Act (PSA) in the state under which political prisoners were put behind bars for any number of years from 10 to 14 without being prosecuted. This was Sheikh Abdullah’s gift to the people of the State this law destroyed so many houses and families.

Under the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh, British Government’s Enemy Ordinance Act 3 was imposed with some minor modifications to resist the consequences of the tribal attack of 1947.  The tribal marauders went away and the state has been divided into three parts but the Enemy Ordinance Act-3 continues to be in place. This Act deprives a person from accountability and is tyrannical in nature. The culprit is prosecuted in a special court. It is the prerogative of the court to allow or not to allow bringing the update of this type of case into public domain. There is no appeal against the decision of this court but there is only review.  The authorities have the power to keep the culprit imprisoned without a bail for as long a time as they like. When l returned aft thirty years of exile, Farooq Abdullah government imposed this Act in my case also although there already existed a case of high jacking against me under 15/71 in the Sadder Thana, Srinagar. Muzaffar Husain Baig was my senior advocate and participated on Enemy Act 3. At one time I had a meeting with Mufti Muhammad Saeed and we had talked about cancellation of PSA.

In any case, the story of the Kashmir mainstream politicians and parties perpetrating injustice and highhandedness with the people of the State and working for personal aggrandizement rather than rendering service to the people is a long one. Sadly, the mainstream politicians thought that what would keep them in power are not the goodwill and the support of the local people but the flattery and sycophancy of New Delhi Sultans. The events that have shaped now must have convinced them that loyalty and faithfulness to their own people are the only true and viable guarantee for power. It brings honour and dignity. 

Although it is not easy to enumerate the blunders of the Hurriyat in this article, still we shall try to underscore some of the more disastrous of these blunders which, in my opinion, the Kashmiri nation may not forgive them.

– Initiating an armed struggle without proper planning, without discipline and system, carrying it on without obtaining international support and without a definite destination means getting people killed in streets and lanes.

– Raising slogans for Pakistan and DAESH and  unfurling their flags, making announcements of raising Islamic Caliphate and Islamic system against which the entire world is fighting, and which are not prevalent even in one out of the 60 Islamic courtiers of  the world is a fallacy.

– Invitations were extended by the Indian authorities from late PM Narasimha Rao down to the Parliamentary delegation to the Hurriyat for talks from “the sky is the limit” to the knocking by the parliamentarians at their doors to engage them for talks were turned down. But the Hurriyat that sanctions burning of schools and hospitals had no face to begin their talk. The tragedy of the Hurriyat is that their bosses have been the colonels and majors of Pakistan army who are more interested in water than the aspirations and rights of the people of Kashmir.

– Instead of providing succour to the orphans and widows, the Hurriyat catered to the interest of their close relative and friends, provided their wards medical seats and inducted them into the prized bureaucratic cadres and opened vast business opportunities for them. Gradually the people became distrustful of the Hurriyat and when the NIA probed into its doings or misdoings, the Hurriyat could not organise even one public demonstration against the government nor could it bring the protesting people on the roads. And when they were put under house arrest, not a single soul came out on the streets to protest their internment. – – By advocating accession to Pakistan and distancing the nation from national freedom, Geelani Sahib dancing in the company of a few supporters and declaring “we are Pakistanis and Pakistan is ours” convinced the entire world that in Kashmir Pakistan had initiated a proxy war and it was not a freedom struggle. Despite the sufferings inflicted on us, no country and no people are prepared to support us- – The biggest shortcoming of the Hurriyat and the mainstream parties is that they failed to bring back the exiled Pandits back to the valley. I repeatedly wrote to the Hurriyat seniors that we should go and meet our Pandit brothers and sisters in their camps or wherever there is a concentration of them and prepare them out of free will to return to the valley. This would have strengthened our stance of our movement as non-communal in the eyes of the world community and moreover it would have washed off the misgivings which the Pandit community has against the Kashmir majority community. But working under the guidelines of Pakistan, the Hurriyat failed to understand how it could strengthen its position The Hurriyat did not want to lose the opportunity of allowing the mainstream parties to exploit the local people in the name of the Pandits as does the central government do.

–  Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. Despite coming to this pass, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Muhammad Qureshi, gesticulating like a hero in a film made the announcement in the Parliament that Kashmir will become Pakistan and if we have to fight for it we shall fight. However, only a few days earlier he had stated that the UN members are not waiting for us to offer us garlands. Those whom you call Muslim Ummah, their commercial interests and investments are in India.”- – Pakistani rulers rub salt into our wounds by giving their meaningless statements. In Capital Talk programme of Pakistani TV Channel, three former ambassadors of Pakistan who had served in India also, namely Ashraf Jahangir, Basit and Shahid while answering the question of Hamid Mir said that “Kashmiris will have to take up the gun for their struggle and the world has given this right to Kashmiris.” The question is that if the world had given the Kashmiris the right to take up the gun then why did not any country of the world in question announce support to the movement for thirty long years during which o fewer than ninety thousand people have lost their lives. Do you want to continue the business over the dead bodies of Kashmiris? If Pakistan wants to wrest Kashmir from the hands of India, why does not its 9 lakh strong army undertake the task particularly when Pakistan’s stand on J&K is that that of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. If Pakistan considers J&K as the jugular vein of then why does not she deploy the efficient 9 lakh-strong army to wriggle the jugular vein out of the grip of India? It appears that this powerful army has been raised only to perpetrate tyranny on your own people. Pakistan has no courage to fight India and, therefore, it has made hapless Kashmiris the scapegoat. – – Many intellectuals in Pakistan and also in Kashmir ask  what benefit it brings to Pakistan to raise so much of hue and cry on the scrapping of Article 370 and 35-A.  After all these constitutional provisions were not included I any resolution of the Security Council so that the world body would take its notice. These constitutional provisions had come into being after agreements between the government of India and Kashmir leadership after 1950. The word or the Security Council had no concern about the benefits or harms of keeping or not keeping the term of the agreement. It is just possible that protest on wrong issues before serious and right thinking organizations has been the cause for the world community not to pay heed to the protests of Pakistan on India’s reorganization policy in Kashmir. Pakistan, too, has revoked the state subject law in Gilgit Baltistan in 1974.

– K.H. Khurshid happened to be the private secretary of the founder of Pakistan M.A. Jinnah. In 1963/64 he had given a very good suggestion to Pakistan. The suggestion was that Pakistan should unite Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir as one unit and declare it an independent state like the one ruled by the last Maharaja of J&K Hari Singh, get it recognized by China and other Islamic countries and enter into a defence pact with China. Instead of that Pakistan should have approached the r Council with the proposal of Pakistan willing to withdraw her troops and authority from GB and Azad Kashmir and instead request the UN to deploy its troops in the state and categorically state that Pakistan was prepared to see the State of Jammu and Kashmir with its original borders that existed in 1947. Pakistan should have said that they have come to the UN Security Council with the proposal that Pakistan is prepared to withdraw all of its forces from J&K and let the UN deploy its forces there so that peace and tranquillity prevail in the Asian Continent. This would have convinced the world that Pakistan is a real friend ad sympathiser of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and it would stand by the side of Kashmiris. India would have been obliged to leave the part of Kashmir under its occupation. But why will the world stand by the side of Kashmiris when the issue is of accession either to India or to Pakistan? India gives business opportunities to the entire world, it is a country of 130 million people and they have the document of the accession of the State to the Indian Union signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the state.- – The rulers of India will have to consider whether it can win the hearts of the people of Kashmir especially of the valley and the Chenab valley and Kargil by the policy she has adopted?  Is not the State of Jammu and Kashmir divided on the basis of religion by what she has done? Large security has been deployed in Kashmir sealing every inch of the area and suspended internet and mobile connectivity and forced the closure of educational institutions to create the silence and the peace of the graveyard. Will this be the right way of making things go in this state?- – Article 370 had given India the right to rule over the State of the Maharaja on the basis of the instrument of accession… But what India has done is to put an end to the status of the State, bifurcate it into two and put 130 million people under house arrest. Is not India walking in the footprints of Pakistan by adopting the reorganization scheme? It is foolhardiness to imagine that the process of evolution can be stopped by someone- – A number of writ-petitions have been filed in the Indian Supreme Court demanding cancellation of reorganization of the state decision. All of these petitions have been put together for consideration of a constitutional bench comprising five judges and headed by the Chief Justice of India. It began hearing the cases in October last. The court has not given any interim relief but of course has asked the government to improve the situation. By not giving any interim relief, different people make different interpretations. We must remember that we should fight a case on the basis of strong arguments.
We shall have to stand against violence come what may because violence weakens our stand. The government’s effort is that human lives should not be wasted. In comparison to the situation in 2008, 2010 and 2016 when the governments were headed by Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mahboba Mufti, and innumerable human lives were lost in Kashmir, the government now claims that not a single life was lost ever since the Reorganization Act came into being. On the other hand, militants kidnapped two persons of Gujjar community and murdered them in cold blood.  One truck driver was hit with a stone and killed in Bijbehara and a shopkeeper was shot dead by “unknown” gunman. In these circumstances, the people of the State shall have to distance themselves from violence in all situations. Of course, people in all the regions of the State shall have to fight against their occupational powers in their respective regions and that only on the basis of secular ideology and civil disobedience methodology. 

Mainstream political parties shall have to learn on the basis of their past experience that loyalty to their people and the state are the real source of power and strength. The masses of people will become the real fountain of power only when they are provided service, welfare, sympathy and sharing in their suffering.

Wuh jis ki roshni kachhe gharon tak bhi pahunchti haiNa wuh suraj nikalta hai na apne din badalte hain

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