Hurdles in reunification of divided Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhry’s presentation in a seminar held in London.
President JKNAP Britain, Sajjad Raja, Chief Guest, Gulchain Singh Charak, President Dogra Sardarsabha and former Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Manu Khajuria Singh, Fonder of Voice of Dogra, Shazia Shaukat Butt, Chairperson, JKNAP Ladies wing, Amjad Yousaf, President UKPNP Europe and friends and colleague Asalamo alaykam and good after noon.
It is pleasure to share a podium with fellow citizens from Jammu. I am grateful to Sajjad Raja and JKNAP for arranging this seminar that we can interact with each other and share our views.
After a comprehensive speech by Sajjad Raja and few others, there is not much left to add on this topic. However, I would take this opportunity to elaborate some of the points and hurdles from a different perspective.
If Kashmir means State of Jammu and Kashmir, which represents regions of Jammu, Valley of Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, then in that sense I can be called a Kashmir. However, I live in Bhimber, which is part of Jammu. In that sense, I belong to Jammu. Culture and history of Kashmir is different to that of Jammu. I have more in common with Jammu than Kashmir.
Our demand is simple. We want reunification of the State of Jammu and Kashmir that existed on 15 August 1947. My demand is not Kashmir of Budshah. Whether someone like it or not, the founder of the State we demand was Gulab Singh. Its last ruler was Maharaja Hari Singh.
I am not interested in what religion the Dogra rulers followed, or whether they believed in any religion or not. They were our rulers. We cannot change history according to our whims. If we want to judge their rule, don’t judge them by the standards of 2018, and what we see in Britain and in Geneva. Judge them by the standards of that time, and then see how they ruled us.
We criticise non-Muslim rulers, but ignore rule of Muslim rulers of Princely States. Take one example of Ruler of Junagarr, when he had to flee his State, in his plane he did not bring any of his subjects, he brought more than hundred his beloved dogs and close family members to Pakistan. He was not a people friendly ruler, but no one speaks about him because he was a Muslim.
Murder of history
In my considered opinion, the first hurdle is the murder of history by Pakistan. Pakistani government, media, secret agencies, their political parties, their proxies and paid authors have worked hard and systematically to distorte history of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. They have fooled us and the people of Pakistan in name of Islam.
People of Jammu and Kashmir realised that the name of Muslim Conference did not appropriately reflect the sentiments of all sections of Jammu and Kashmir State. Therefore, the name of Muslim Conference was changed to National Conference in 1938. When the Lahore Resolution was passed in the 1940, the leaders of Muslim League instructed Muslim Conference leaders of Jammu to revive the old Muslim Conference. Muslim League knew they will play a religious card in the British India and in Jammu and Kashmir; and for that purpose, proxies were needed.
One can see the logic of starting a Quit India Movement in India against the British, as they came from Britain. What was the logic of starting a Quit Kashmir Movement against Maharaja Hari Singh? He was ruler of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Did not this Movement have inbuilt religious and regional sentiments?
Syria is controlled by different warring factions. Even the capital is not under the control of President Bashar Al Asad. Anywhere in the world you ask who is the President of Syria they will say, Bashar Al Asad. Similarly, in neighbouring Afghanistan, majority of the territory is not under the control of government in Kabul. If you ask people in the world who is president of Afghanistan, they will say Ashraf Ghani.
Now look at our foolishness. A few people sit in Rawalpindi, a city in Pakistan, a country that has obsession to capture Jammu and Kashmir. These political non-entities who had no support of any political party, issued a statement that they have dismissed the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir and formed a Provisional government. We illogically have embraced that statement as a gospel truth, and believe that on strength of the statement the Maharaja was dismissed and his right to rule was abrogated.
No one ask who gave them this right to issue this statement? What authority they had to dismiss the Ruler of a State? What happened to the person who issued that statement? People failed to understand that it was another conspiracy against the Maharaja and Jammu and Kashmir State.
Many of us are very keen in attacking India, even when Pakistan is at fault. We had a written agreement with Pakistan. Did India ask Pakistan to violate the Standstill Agreement and attack Jammu and Kashmir?
Tell me why I should attack India, is it because Pakistan attacked us by violating the Standstill Agreement? Shall I condemn India because Pakistan attacked us with intention of occupying our State and loot and plunder our resources? Those who attacked us were told that anything which is removable is yours, it means girls, women and everything else that can be carried on trucks belonged to attackers.
Muslim soldiers of the Maharaja army were under oath to protect him and his State of Jammu and Kashmir. For this they were trained, given guns and bullets, given uniforms and other facilities which were available to other soldiers of the time. When in name of jihad, the Pakistani sponsored attack came, these soldiers, instead of honouring their pledges made to the Maharaja betrayed him and joined the attackers.
For this betrayal of Muslim soldiers, shall I condemn the Maharaja Hari Singh or condemn India. Shall I call these people heroes or collaborators, who helped a neighbouring country to invade Jammu and Kashmir, kill innocent people, rape women and loot and plunder.
India’s entry in Jammu and Kashmir
1. Unlike Pakistan, India entered Jammu and Kashmir on request of the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir.
2. India entered Jammu and Kashmir after a written treaty, which in my view is not final as people have the final say on that.
3. According to this treaty, India was to push out the Pakistani attackers and clear the State of foreign invaders.
4. India was to protect life and liberty and property of the people.
India failed to fulfil its obligations; and people are suffering and are being killed on both sides of the forced division. Still territory of Jammu and Kashmir is under occupation of those who attacked Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947.
India is under obligation of this treaty; and also under obligation of the UNCIP Resolutions to protect life and liberty, and protect other fundamental rights of the people. India has miserably failed to do that.
Remember, if Pakistan sends trained militants to Jammu and Kashmir to kill and destabilise the region, it is not my responsibility to stop them and fight them. I am not trained for that purpose. It is India’s responsibility to stop them and protect people of Jammu and Kashmir that everyone feels safe in all parts of State.
If India cannot or does not want to protect life, liberty and property of the people, then they should make it clear. Tell people that we can’t defend you, or we have no will to defend you and protect your fundamental rights.
India cannot and must not allow its para military forces to commit human rights abuses under the pretext that Pakistan is sending militants; and in order to fight them they have to commit human rights abuses.
Accession or independence
Nations seek independence; and sooner or later they get their independence. Those who seek accession, they end up receiving what we people Jammu and Kashmir have – forced division, oppression and injustice and no future in sight.
Our struggle is for unification and independence of the State that existed on 15 August 1947. I am not interested in state of Budshah. I am not saying after unification impose a Dogra ruler on throne. I am not saying glorify their religion, but at least, appreciate some of the good work they have done. They have given us identity. A sense of belonging. We want that identity and sense of belonging to a nation.
Here, I want to ask a question from our guests from Jammu. Your ancestors established State of Jammu and Kashmir. They ruled this State up till 1947. That state is forcibly divided. What have you done for the reunification and independence of Jammu and Kashmir State?
If you are happy with accession to India, then what is difference between you and Sardar Atiq and others who want accession to Pakistan?
A common point for all of us can be unification and independence of the State. Our struggle must be peaceful. We know what gun has given to our fellow citizens on the other side of the divide. Here, I must admire vision of Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, who opposed militancy at a time when everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon of Jihad. He called it a proxy war.
Our struggle, therefore, must remain non-violent and non-religious, as religions divide people on religious lines. State belongs to all of us; religion is a personal matter.
Writer is a renowned writer and author of many books. He is also a senior leader of UKPNP and Chairman South Asia Watch, London.
Email: Drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com Twitter: @Drshabir