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Kashmir conflict A study Twesh Mishra 20-Oct-11 Roll no – 10/336 B.A.(Honors) Journalism Maharaja Agrasen College Delhi University
For the past six decades, Kashmir has been the bone of contention between India and Pakistan. This study attempts to discuss the problems and suggest a plausible solution.
The Kashmir conflict continues to be unresolved after more than six decades, fuelling a conventional and nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan by bleeding their economies. Both countries have gone to war on three occasions over Kashmir and the possibility of a confrontation still persists despite international glare and several attempts to instil peace in the valley. India insists that the accession of Kashmir to India is final and complete and hence Kashmir is an integral part of India and that all would be well in Kashmir, but for Pakistan's cross-border terrorism. Pakistan on the other hand, insists that Kashmir is a disputed territory and that it is merely providing moral and diplomatic support for an indigenous freedom struggle in Kashmir. A large number of Kashmiris do not believe that the 1947 accession is final; they insist that Kashmir is a disputed territory and demand self-determination. The Indian public is bombarded with the official version of rhetoric on Kashmir, as Pakistanis are bombarded likewise with their version. Could we objectively revisit this complex issue which continues to exact increasing death toll of civilians, as each day passes? All sides cannot be right at once in their claims of absolute moral rectitude, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.
"I cannot drink water It is mingled with the blood of young men who have died up in the mountains. I cannot look at the sky; it is no longer blue; but painted red. I cannot listen to the roar of the gushing stream It reminds me of a wailing mother next to the bullet-ridden body of her only son. I cannot listen to the thunder of the clouds It reminds me of a bomb blast. I feel the green of my garden has faded Perhaps it too mourns. I feel the sparrow and cuckoo are silent Perhaps they too are sad." A Kashmiri Poet
The rise of the issue The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 - Militant Muslim revolutionaries from western Kashmir and Pakistani tribesmen made rapid advances into the Baramulla sector. Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir asked the government of India to intervene. However, India and Pakistan had signed an agreement of non-intervention. Although tribal fighters from Pakistan had entered Jammu and Kashmir, there was no iron-clad legal evidence to unequivocally prove that Pakistan was officially involved. It would have been illegal for India to unilaterally intervene in an open, official capacity unless Jammu and Kashmir officially joined the Union of India, at which point it would be possible to send in its forces and occupy the remaining parts. The Maharaja desperately needed military assistance when the Pakistani tribal reached the outskirts of Srinagar. Before their arrival into Srinagar, India argued that the Maharaja must complete negotiations for ceding Jammu and Kashmir to India in exchange for receiving military aid. The agreement which ceded Jammu and Kashmir to India was signed by the Maharaja and Lord Mountbatten of Burma. In Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference volunteers worked with the Indian Army to drive out the Pakistanis. The resulting war over Kashmir, the First Kashmir War, lasted until 1948, when India moved the issue to the UN Security Council. Sheikh Abdullah was not in favour of India seeking UN intervention because he was sure the Indian Army could free the entire State of invaders. The UN had previously passed resolutions for setting up monitoring of the conflict in Kashmir. Following the set-up of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNCIP), the UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 on 21 April 1948. The resolution imposed an immediate cease-fire and called on Pakistan to withdraw all military presence. The resolution stated that Pakistan would have no say in Jammu and Kashmir politics. India would retain a minimum military presence and “the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.” The ceasefire was enacted on 31 December 1948.
Reason for not conducting plebiscite - The Indian and Pakistani governments agreed to hold the plebiscite, but Pakistan did not withdraw its troops from Kashmir, thus violating the conditions for holding the plebiscite. In addition, the Indian Government distanced itself from its commitment to hold a plebiscite. On 17 October 1949, the Indian Constituent Assembly adopted Article 370 of the Constitution, ensuring a special status and internal autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, with Indian jurisdiction in Kashmir limited to the three areas, namely, defence, foreign affairs and communications.
Implications of Article 370 This article specified that except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications, (matters specified in the instrument of accession) the Indian Parliament needs the State Government's concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus the state's residents lived under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to Indians. Indian citizens from other states and women from Jammu & Kashmir who marry men from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir. Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir Art. 1 of The Constitution of Jammu And Kashmir states that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. Art. 5 states that the executive and legislative power of the State does not extend to matters those with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws for the State under the provisions of the Constitution of India. These provisions cannot be amended. The constitution was adopted and enacted on 17/11/1956.
Attack by China In 1962 China attacked India on account of a border dispute in the Ladakh region. At the end of war, China occupied 37,555 sq. kms from Indian held Kashmir at Aksai-chin and Demochok in Ladakh. In December, 5180 sq. kms are conditionally taken over by China at Shaksgam in Northern Areas of Kashmir under Pakistan control.
1965 and 1971 wars In 1965 and 1971, heavy fighting broke out again between India and Pakistan. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 resulted in the defeat of Pakistan and the Pakistani military's surrender in East Pakistan, leading to the creation of Bangladesh. The Simla Agreement was signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan. By this treaty, both countries agreed to settle all issues by peaceful means using mutual discussion in the framework of the UN Charter.
1987 elections and onwards In 1987, Farooq Abdullah wins the elections. The Muslim United Front (MUF) accused that the elections have been rigged and insurgency in the valley increased in momentum from this point on. The MUF candidate Mohammad Yousuf Shah is imprisoned and he later became Syed Salahuddin, chief of militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahedin; His election aides called the HAJY group -Abdul Hamid Shaikh, Ashfaq Majid Wani, Javed Ahmed Mir and Mohammed Yasin Malik joined the JKLF. Amanullah Khan took refuge in Pakistan, after being deported from England and began directing operations across the LoC. Young disaffected Kashmiris in the Valley such as the HAJY group are recruited by JKLF. 1988: Protests begin in the Valley along with anti-India demonstrations, followed by police firing and curfew. 1989: End of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan releases a great deal of militant energy and weapons to Kashmir. Pakistan provides arms and training to both indigenous and foreign militants in Kashmir, thus adding fuel to the smouldering fire of discontent in the valley. 1990: In January, Jagmohan is appointed as the Governor; Farooq Abdullah resigns. On 20 January, an estimated 100 people are killed when a large group of unarmed protesters are fired upon by the Indian troops at the Gawakadal Bridge. On 13 February, Lassa Kaul, director of Srinagar Doordarshan, is killed by the militants for implementing pro-indian media policy. In the end of February, an estimated 400,000 kashmiris take to the streets of Srinagar, demanding a plebiscite. On March 1, an estimated one million take to the streets and more than forty people are killed in police firing. Massive protest marches by unarmed civilians continue in Srinagar. Though the JKLF tries to explain that the killings of Pandits were not communal, the murders cause a scare among the minority Hindu community. The rise of new militant groups, warnings in anonymous posters and unexplained killings of innocent members of the community contribute to an atmosphere of insecurity for the Kashmiri Pandits. Most of the estimated 162,500 Hindus in the Valley, including the entire Kashmiri Pandit community, flee the Valley in March. 1990-2001: An officially estimated 10,000 desperate Kashmiri youth cross-over to Pakistan for training and procurement of arms. The indigenous militant groups include the pro-independence JKLF and the pro-Pakistan Hizb-ul-Mujahedin (Hizb). The Hizb which is backed by Pakistan, increases its strength dramatically; ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence: Pakistan's secret service) favours the Hizb over the secular JKLF and cuts off financing to the JKLF and in some instances provides intelligence to India against JKLF.
Since 1995, foreign militant outfits with Islamic agenda such as Lashkar-e-Toiba(LeT) and Harkat-ulMujahedin have dominated the militancy in Kashmir, besides the indigenous Hizb, all of them under the umbrella United Jehadi Council(UJC).
1999-2009 In May 1998, India conducted nuclear tests; Pakistan responded with the same. On 21 February 1999, India and Pakistan sign Lahore Declaration, agreeing to 'intensify their efforts to resolve all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.' Soon after his visit to Lahore, the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee states that 'Kashmir is an integral part of India and not a single area of Indian soil would be given away.' In June 1998, Regional Autonomy Committee (RAC) proposes devolution of political power at regional, district, block and panchayats levels and allocation of funds according to an objective and equitable formula. Measures are also suggested to safeguard and promote cultures of various ethnic communities. Subsequently, the State Government substitutes the RAC report with its own report recommending the division of the three regions (Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu) into eight autonomous units on ethnic-religious lines without proposing any devolution of political and economic powers. In May 1999, the Indian Army patrols detect intruders from Pakistan on Kargil ridges in Kashmir. India fights to regain lost territory. The infiltrators are withdrawn by Pakistan in mid-July, following Washington Agreement with US. War between India and Pakistan becomes more frightening given the nuclear weaponry possessed by both countries and Kashmir remains the underlying flashpoint. In March 2000, around the time of US President Clinton's visit to India, unidentified gunmen gun down 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora; India blames foreign militants; Kashmiris blame renegade militants employed by Indian security forces; No judicial inquiry has been conducted till date. In June 2000, the State Autonomy Committee (SAC) Report is discussed and an autonomy resolution is adopted in the J&K Assembly. The SAC Report recommends restoration of Article 370 to pre-1953 status with Indian jurisdiction limited to defence, foreign affairs and communications. Subsequently, the Indian Cabinet rejects the autonomy recommendation in July. In November 2000, India announces an unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir which continues through May 2001; APHC welcomes the ceasefire but states that the ceasefire will not be effective unless it is supplemented with unconditional dialogues to resolve the Kashmir dispute and an end to human right violations by the Indian forces. The Hizb declares unilateral ceasefire in July which is withdrawn only two weeks later, following India's refusal to include Pakistan in any trilateral talks over the Kashmir dispute proposed by the militants. In July 2001, India and Pakistan fail to arrive at a joint agreement at Agra Summit, given the deadlock on Kashmir.
Dec 13, 2001: Following the terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament, India and Pakistan build up massive troops along the border triggering another threat of a nuclear exchange. After months of diplomacy, troops are withdrawn on either side. May 21, 2002: Abdul Ghani Lone, a leading and popular moderate Hurriyat leader is assassinated by unidentified gunmen. It is instructive to note that Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq had been assassinated by unidentified gunmen exactly 12 years back. On both occasions, India blames Pakistan sponsored militants while Kashmiris blame Indian sponsored renegades. Unless an impartial investigation is carried out, it is not possible to ascertain these claims in such attacks by unidentified gunmen who could be either separatist militants or renegades.
2002-2008: There have been numerous attacks on Hindus by unidentified gunmen including 2003 Nadimarg massacre and 2006 Doda massacre. India blames it on foreign militants and Kashmiris blame it on renegade militants used by Indian security forces. The State assembly elections held in 2002 and 2008 have been relatively free and fair but the voters turned out in large numbers more to improve local governance than to signal their support for Indian rule in Kashmir. 2008-2009: Huge anti-India protests were held against the transfer of land to SASB (shrine board), which was an outside state organization, as it was a direct violation of article 370 of the Indian constitution. In May 2009, there were huge anti-India protests against rape and murder of two young women by Indian armed forces in Shopian village.
Kashmir – The solutions While many observers agree that the need of the hour is cessation of hostilities from militants and Indian forces, accompanied by withdrawal of bulk of the half a million Indian soldiers from the Valley (which is seen as oppressive by the locals) and unconditional dialogues between all parties involved India, Pakistan, Kashmiris- Muslims, Kashmiri Pandits and other minorities, it is not clear what could be a solution acceptable to all parties. There have been some interesting and innovative solutions proposed by various groups- which take into account the ego and territorial concerns of various parties involved.
Andorran Solution This was proposed by Alastair Lamb in 1998- considered as the most eminent historian on Kashmir. Well established precedent of Andorra: on the border between France and Spain, internally autonomous; externally under a measure of French and Spanish influence and protection. Both Azad Kashmir and the Kashmir Valley could be declared as autonomous regions with its internal self-government but with its external defence and foreign affairs controlled jointly by India and Pakistan - India in the case of Valley and Pak in the case of Azad Kashmir. Major advantage of this Andorran solution: No territory under Indian control would be transferred to Pakistan and no territory under Pakistani control would be transferred to India. Existing LoC will become the border. India retains Jammu and Ladakh, Pakistan retains Northern Territories.
Solution by Kashmir Study Group (KSG) A portion of former Princely State of J&K (mainly Valley and Azad Kashmir) be reconstituted as a sovereign entity (but one without an international personality) enjoying free access to and from both India and Pakistan The new entity would have its own secular, democratic constitution, as well as its own citizenship, flag, and a legislature, which would legislate on all matters other than defence and foreign affairs. All displaced persons, including Kashmiri Pandits, who left any portion of the Kashmir entity, shall have the right to return to their homesteads. The borders of Kashmir with India and Pakistan would remain open for the free transit of people, goods, and services in accordance with arrangements to be worked out between India, Pakistan, and the Kashmiri entity.
Other solutions Various alternative scenarios for the future of Kashmir have been envisaged by other observers. There is also a growing body of opinion from expert analysts like Professor and Peace Activist Pervez Hoodbhoy from Pakistan, which argues along the following lines: While independence for Kashmir Valley is not a practical solution, even internal autonomy along the lines of Andorran solution may not be forthcoming. That Kashmiris may have to reconcile to the prospect of living under Indian rule, with a negotiated solution of cessation of hostilities accompanied by withdrawal of Indian troops from the Valley and with free movement of Kashmiris across the border with Azad Kashmir.
Personal Opinion In my opinion, a conflict that has persisted for over six decades needs to be meticulously resolved rather than be carried away by sentiments and be subdued by fundamentalism.
Elimination of interference from cross border entities. Kashmir and its residents need to be given the liberty to frame their opinions. Introduction of image makeover initiatives among the masses to nullify the anti-India campaign being promulgated by separatist leaders. Reduction of army influence in the state once normalcy resumes in the territory. Further investment by the Indian Government in the administrative, economic and defence related fields only if the residents of the valley vouch for Indian rule in the state and submit to the supremacy of the Indian Constitution. Ensuring constant monitoring by international authorities for identifying hardliner criminal entities and eventually reforming or eradicating them. Educating the Kashmiri population o Of the hardships to be faced at the international front once exposed to the status of nationhood. o Of the economic instability of Pakistan and the aggressive annexation policy of neighbouring China. o Of the inability of Kashmir to sustain itself on the international front.
On the whole, the residents of Kashmir need to realise the futility of their resistance. India has been a soft state in regard to this territory and this has resulted in further ravaging of this territory at the hands of extremist militant organisations. India as a sovereign nation needs to assert her stance and ensure that the troubled state of Kashmir an indispensible entity of our nation is not further amputated.