Jammu and Kashmir: the valley of turmoil

Author- Sumanta Karmakar, Burdwan

Jammu and Kashmir probably the most controversial landmass of south Asian region is again under the world attention for all the wrong reasons. Kashmir or it will be more apt to say Kashmiris have been subjected to abuse and ill-treatment from the very beginning as suggested by Kalhan’s Rajtarangini. During the colonial period, though Kashmir regarded itself as an independent state, it was deeply under British influence and after the independence of India, Kashmir refused to accede to either India or Pakistan.

 But soon after the independence of India and creation of Pakistan, the situation got worse as citizens from the western district of Kashmir and Pushtoon tribesmen from the Northwest frontier of Pakistan invaded the state on 22nd October 1947. Though Maharaja Hari Singh, the reigning monarch of Kashmir fought back, he soon realized it is not possible for him alone to keep the invaders back and guard his subjects, therefore he appealed India for help and India agreed to help Maharaja on the condition that Kashmir will accede to India.  Eventually, the Instrument of Accession was signed on 26th of November 1947 with the proviso that after Kashmir is cleared of its invaders only Kashmiri people and not the Maharaja will get to decide whether they want to be part of India or Pakistan.

Since then Pakistan has illegally occupied a large part of Kashmir which they have divided into two parts namely Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Though during the invasion of 1947 India raised the issue to UN security council and the security council tried to solve the issue between two neighboring countries by setting up UNCIP (United Nations Council for India and Pakistan)but peace was never achieved in the region. Later the relationship between the countries got worse due to the Indo-Pak war of 1965, 1971 and Kargil war of 1999. Indo-Sino war of 1967 made the situation far worse as China occupied the Aksai Chin region of Kashmir.

Though a large geographical part of the Kashmir is occupied by either Pakistan or China one cannot deny the fact that Kashmir is an integral part of India whoever is claiming parts of Kashmir as part of their own nation are totally wrong and illegal. But the problem of Kashmir is furthermore intensified by Pakistan and they have their own propaganda for their own interest. The reason the issue of Kashmir is never solved because of the strategic position of Kashmir since it connects the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia and whoever holds Kashmir can surely enjoy the strategic superiority over many countries.

The recent attention on Kashmir is because of India’s withdrawal of the special status of Kashmir provided by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Kashmir was endowed with a status of special state during the time of its accession and according to which clause they can have their own constitution, flag and the republic of India can legislate only in the case of defense, communication and finance. In other cases, the legislative assembly had the power to either take or reject any rule made by the constitution of India. With the abolition of Article 370, India also abolished Article 35a which made the state of Jammu and Kashmir exclusive for Kashmiris.

The current ruling of the Indian government garnered a lot of world attention and has been made a great issue by our neighbour but a thorough study of the situation suggests that the current situation is far more benign than it seems to be. Kashmir has been a reason of tension for a long time for the Indian government. Especially backed by Pakistan and ISI (Inter-services Intelligence, a Pakistani counterpart of Indian RAW) either Kashmiri separatist or the terrorist group of a various kind have time and again taken advantage of the situation of Kashmir or in other words, they have used Kashmir as a tool for their own purpose. There are different groups in Kashmir asking for different issues i.e. The Separatist Leader who wants Kashmir to be a free country liberated from both Pakistan and India, and there is another group who wants Kashmir to be part of Pakistan and many others with their own demands ad most of them aim to achieve their goal through armed militancy. But the irony lies in the fact that nobody is ready to hear the real Kashmiris. For a long time, we have seen Kashmir as place infested with terrorist and every now and then we hear about gore incidents that have only retrogressive effect on the life of common Kashmiris. As a result, a large number of armed forces have been deployed in Kashmir by Government of India only to look after the law and order situation out there. The local government precisely the local politics has taken advantage of the special status for Kashmir also. Though Article 370 was a temporary province it was never reconsidered in the last 70 years until August 2019.

The government of India by a simple presidential order scrapped most parts of Article 370 and Article 35a thereby making Kashmir one and uniform with other states of India. Currently, Kashmir got no separate constitution and they have to follow the constitution of India as the rest of the country. Further people of other parts of India can buy land in Kashmir and invest there this will economically strengthen Kashmiri thereby solving most the problems people facing there mainly the problems of insurgency and development hibernation. Further, the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is bifurcated into two different union territories i.e. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh thereby making it easy for the central government to rule this region and keep this region from both Pakistani terrorists and invaders of China. What expert believes is that investment in this region will change this region forever making it the true Switzerland of Asia.

But the reality is not as black and white as it seems on papers the implementation was not thoroughly thought out. Especially the communication blackout and presence of a large number of military personnel in the Kashmir valley to keep the peace during the abolition of article 370 and article 35a created a huge hue and cry among the commoners of Kashmir and other parts of India as well. Even after weeks, the situation is not normal in Kashmir. There is no doubt that what has been done is done for the betterment of the valley as well as for the unity of the whole country but the government could be more considerate of the common people living there and at least asked for their sentiments before taking the action.

Though the international response to the situation is almost null Pakistan is very much vocal and has already taken various steps to show their discontent over the measures taken by India for the “disputed region”. They have the plan to raise the issue to the UN Security Council and have taken many diplomatic measures to compel India to revoke its decision. But what is bizarre is that they completely failed to understand the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal issue of India and India have all the reasons to deal with it. Further, their argument of Jammu and Kashmir being a disputed region is only applicable to themselves since, in the recent past, they included PoK occupied region of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan into their administrative region making it the fifth province of Pakistan. Actually, Jammu and Kashmir are of great importance to Pakistan both geographically and politically. Since most of the rivers that make Pakistan green and alive originates in Jammu and Kashmir, therefore, they want actual control over the valley so that even if India cancels the Indus Water Treaty as a retaliation measures of the Pakistan funded terror attack lack of water will not affect them. Secondly, Pakistan needs Kashmir to be friends with China, Pakistan’s permanent moneylender, as China plans an Economic Corridor namely CPEC through Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

In between all the drama what is sad is that we are forgetting the real people who matter most in this situation, the Kashmiri. They have been in the dire situation for so many years and apparently, all the steps have taken for the betterment of those ill-fated people yet they are the one who is still suffering. The government must take into consideration the fact that the Kashmiri and their problems and the solution to their miseries will be the main concern. We as the sensible citizen of the country should raise our voice against any propaganda to create chasm and division among our brothers and stand along with our friends to keep us united and strong.   

The views are of the author, exclusively, not of the website.

News Reporter

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