KASHMIR: A DISTORTED PICTURE

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November 14, 2019

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The letter below by Dr Vivian was a response to Dr Chandra’s article (KASHMIR : SELF-DETERMINATION IS THE SOLUTION)

I refer to “An Edge in Knowledge of the Kashmir issue” (The Star, 7 November).

Dr. Vivian’s ‘on the spot’ knowledge of the Kashmir issue has not helped to overcome the obvious biases in her approach to the conflict. These biases have given a distorted picture to the reader of the situation in Kashmir. I shall highlight five of these biases and their implications.

One, that Jammu and Kashmir ( J&K) is disputed territory is a fact in international law. This is embodied in the more than a dozen UN Security Council Resolutions on the dispute starting from 1949. It is not just the proposal for a UN supervised plebiscite that draws Kashmir into the international arena. In January 1949 both India and Pakistan had agreed to the establishment of a UN Military Observer Group (UNMOG) under the auspices of the UN Security Council (UNSC) which has continued to operate though in recent years the Indian government has attempted to terminate its role.

Two, it is partly because of its disputed status that the Indian government under its first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru granted a special status to J&K in the Indian Constitution. That decision — contrary to misrepresentations by the current Indian leadership — had the approval and support of then Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Patel, as reflected in historical documents. The abrogation of Article 370 is therefore a negation of a certain understanding of the status of Kashmir. This is why there has been such a strong reaction against abrogation among those committed to the Kashmiri cause.

Three, rather than outright annexation to the Indian Union through abrogation, Kashmir’s champions prefer a genuine plebiscite which would allow the people of J&K to express their stand on the future of their land. It is their will that is paramount; it goes beyond the interests of both India and Pakistan. Of course, it is not possible for Kashmiris to exercise their will as long as armed elements from Pakistan and half a million Indian soldiers are on Kashmiri soil. The Indian military presence makes Kashmir the most militarised conflict zone in the world today.

Four, it is this military occupation that has resulted in the suppression of the rights of the people of J&K. Dr Vivian does not acknowledge this. It has become more pronounced over the decades. Killings and torture have become widespread. They have in turn evoked a reaction within a segment of the Kashmiri Muslim population which manifested itself to some extent in the ugly murders of Kashmiri Hindus, the Pandits, in 1989 and 1990.

Five, instead of coming to grips with realities, Dr Vivian indulges in sweeping generalisations which are grossly inaccurate. She suggests for instance that the partition of India with its horrendous consequences “was all due to one man’s insistence.” The deterioration in Hindu-Muslim relations under British colonial rule, the communal forces within the Indian National Congress and vested interests within the Indian Muslim elite stratum — apart from Jinnah’s “insistence” — were also responsible for the tragedy of partition.

Finally, the challenge before all of us is to strive towards a just, peaceful solution to the Kashmir conflict which is anchored in the collective will of the Kashmiri people, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Dr Chandra Muzaffar,
President,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

10 November 2019.

 

 

 

The Star Online ( 7 November 2019)

An edge in knowledge of the Kashmir issue

I REFER to the letter “Ideal solution for Kashmir” (The Star, Oct 30). There are more opinions about how to solve the Kashmir imbroglio than there are arm-chair critics, but the views of the president of International Movement For A Just World (JUST) must demand closer attention.

That said, one would expect a modicum of independent views from JUST as well as close consistency to facts. Unfortunately, that appears to be lacking.

It may be true that having been on the spot as a pre-university student in 1947, I have an edge over the president of JUST, who apparently was born that very year and may have had to depend on hearsay or reading about it later.

Despite that advantage, I will not venture to proffer any solution to the Kashmir issue, for, as the old adage goes: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

Resolution 47 of the UN Security Council of April 21,1948 did indeed suggest a plebiscite but that was the third item and it was preceded by two others: 1) Pakistan to

withdraw all its citizens from Jammu and Kashmir, including its armed forces and 2) India to reduce its forces to a minimum level required for maintenance of law and order. In the third item, India was asked to appoint a Plebiscite Administrator nominated by the UN to conduct a free and impartial plebiscite.

Over 72 years later, the first condition not being complied with, the subsequent two items have also remained unfulfilled. It is also noteworthy that Resolution 47 was adopted para by para but no vote on the resolution as a whole was taken.

Implied by Resolution 47 was:

1) India was a legitimate occupant of Jammu and Kashmir due to:

a) Instrument of Accession to India on Oct 26,1947 signed by Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir;

b) Being asked by the UN Security Council to maintain minimum forces to maintain law and order; and

c) Being asked by UNSC to appoint a Plebiscite Administrator to be nominated by the UN; and

2) Pakistanis having crossed the border with Jammu and Kashmir on Oct 22,1947 without a legitimate reason or request were required to vacate Jammu and Kashmir first, and that has not happened even to this day.

Neither the British government nor the UNSC suggested that Jammu and Kashmir should become an independent state. The British government handed over power in the Princely States to their respective hereditary rulers and advised them to choose and accede to either India or Pakistan. Land-locked as it was, having borders with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, the Himalayas and India, an independent existence for Jammu and Kashmir would have been pretty difficult. Over 500 Princely States joined India but Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir dithered initially.

The gripe regarding abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is ill-understood, if not ill-conceived. Article 370 from its outset had been introduced in the Indian Constitution as a temporary article and was stated so in the Indian Constitution itself. The temporary status had lasted some seven decades.

Either the word temporary was a misnomer or the Article had to be abrogated. Does any country in the world need the sanction of outsiders to amend its own constitution? Or is the sanction of its own Parliament suffice to do so?

As regards the “Jammu massacre of Nov 6,1947”, it remained a secret and was unknown till a much later narrative by historians. But JUST’s estimate of half a million deaths does not bear out. Al Jazeera estimated between 20,000 and 100,000 deaths in Jammu (“The forgotten massacre that ignited the Kashmir dispute”, Nov 7,2017).

All these are mere “guesstimates” since Al Jazeera was born in 1996, some half a century after the partition of India. Granted that even one single “religion-causative” death is one too many, but one needs to consider that in those hectic, frantic and emotionally charged times, estimates by BBC were that one to two million had died and about 15 million had been displaced by the partition of India. These figures include those from the divided provinces of Punjab and Bengal, which suffered the most, as also those within the two independent countries of Pakistan and India. These are horrendous figures even when compared to the human lives lost in the two world wars combined.

Partition of India brought to the fore the horrid, base instincts of people and is the biggest disaster for humanity since commencement of human life on earth, and it was all due to one man’s insistence on partition of the country. And the irony of it is, he survived a mere 13 months after partition.

DR VIVIAN

Kuala Lumpur

 

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