Freedom Struggle

Background of Kashmir Issue

From 1846 to 1847, Kashmir was one and the largest of over 500 semi-independent princely states of what was then called the Indian Sub-Continent. These princely states which were under overall British suzerainty covered only a fraction of the Land and the population of the Sub-Continent. The rest, called British India, was under direct rule of the British. 

Towards the end of the first quarter of the present century, both the main political parties of the sub-continent, Indian National Congress and All India Muslim league had accelerated the struggle for freedom of the subcontinent. The Second World War further strengthened their movement and the British had to pledge them freedom after the war. The war ended in 1945 and by the end of 1946 it was clear that British Indian would be divided into two independent states. One confirmed by the declaration made by the British government on June 3, 1947 and on August 14 and 15, 1947 respectively came into existence two independent states of Pakistan and India, Pakistan comprising of the Muslim majority and India of non-Muslim majority areas of British India.

Although the ruler of Kashmir was Hindu but 77 % of its population was Muslim. Moreover the State was geographically far more contiguous with and economically far more dependent on Pakistan than on India hence Kashmir had, in principle, to choose only between complete independence and joining Pakistan. There was no justification whatsoever for Kashmir becoming part of India. Since the ruler was Hindu, he would not like to make his State part of Muslim Pakistan where his own position would be unsafe. So he was seriously thinking of declaring full independence for the State. His Prime Minister, Pundit Ram Chand Kak, the first local Prime Minister from a well known Hindu family, fully supported him in his plans. But the Indian leaders had different and nefarious intentions. They wanted to grab Kashmir by hook or by crook and started adopting most unfair and conspiratory means to achieve their e nd. 

They got the Prime Minister of the State dismissed only four days before the expected declaration of independence. Some very shortsighted Kashmiri leaders especially Late Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad were also instrumental in removal of Premier Kak who was replaced firstly by a staunch pro-Indian general and subsequently by Justice M. C. Mahajin. Mahajin, as a member of the Boundary Commission had earlier got, most dishonestly and with the help of its chief Red-Cliff, a large area of the Punjab with Muslim majority (which should have gone to Pakistan) included into Indian territory to create a road-link between Kashmir and India. When these activities of their own ruler and Indian leaders came to the knowledge of Kashmiri Muslims especially of the militant tribes of what is now called Azad Kashmir, they rose in revolt against the ruler. In the mean time armed tribesman from Pakistan’s tribal areas also entered Kashmir. 

The ruler left his summer capital (Srinagar) and fled to Jammu, the winter capital. Pakistani tribesmen were knocking at the very door of Srinagar when the ruler made a request to India for military help which India preconditioned with Kashmir formally joining Indian which the ruler had to do under duress. But before his instrument of accession reached Indian capital, Indian leaders had already dispatched their armed forces to Kashmir by air which captured Srinagar airport just before it was to fall to Pakistani tribesmen. The first Indian contingent advancing towards areas under occupation of the tribesmen was routed but Indians started having an upper hand over tribesmen once they settled down. After some time Pakistan sent its regular armed forces to Kashmir to check fast advance of Indian force. Most of the tribesmen had got involved in loot and plunder hence lost the sympathies and support of the local population.

In the meantime India took the issue to the United Nations whose Security Council, after hearing the representatives of Indian and Pakistan, appointed a commission, the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to deal with and settle the issue. The Commission after detailed negotiations with the governments of India and Pakistan, adopted two resolutions (of Aug. 13, 1948 and Jan. 5, 1949) which were agreed to and signed by representatives of both the countries. These resolutions provided for cease-fire in Kashmir and its demiliterisation followed by a plebiscite in the whole of Kashmir under UN supervision to determine the future of the State. Cease-fire came into effect on the first of Jan. 1949 but demiliterisation could not be brought about mainly due to wrong interpretations of the UNCIP resolutions by India. A number of UN representatives, sent one after the other, also failed to persuade India to see reasons. Pakistan also committed some follies. After 1957 Indian, started flatly refusing to implement UNCIP resolutions claiming that Kashmir was her integral and constitutional part.

India got two UN Security Council resolutions reiterating Kashmiri’s right of self-determination vetoed by the former Soviet Union in 1957 and 1962. Indo-Pak talks held in 1963-64 under US, UK auspices also failed to bear any fruit mainly due to unfair intransigent attitude specially that of India. Again in 1965 India and Pakistan waged a war which followed the armed people from Azad Kashmir and Pakistan entering Indian occupied Kashmir, could not also solve the issue. The Simla Agreement of 1972 between Indian and Pakistan which provided for ‘final settlement’ of the problem concerning the future of Jammu Kashmir State also failed to bear any fruitful results. And though the Kashmir issue went into cold storage after Indo-Pak War in 1971,.

Kashmiri people rose themselves into revolt in 1988 and started armed struggle to liberate their motherland to make it an independent and sovereign State with a democratic, federal and non-communal State-Craft. For the last two decades Kashmiris are facing unabated human rights violations at the hands of Indian armed forces. Nevertheless the armed struggle and the unparallel sacrifices by Kashmiri for the last over 20 years have pushed Kashmiris to the front row from oblivion, as the most important party to the issue which can no more be ignored.