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Kashmir: Why 22-year-olds still speak of plebiscite and referendum, ignorant of their own history


By Rajiv Tyagi*

Because the Government of India has abdicated its responsibilities in Kashmir right from the beginning, we have a State of the Union today, where almost 7 decades after it became irrelevant, 22 year olds still speak of a plebiscite and a referendum, unmindful of the amount of water that has flown down the Jhelum since 1947.
For my Kashmiri friends who are still ignorant of their own history and glean their history from the semi literate lumpen, by chance or design, here is your history, shorn of emotion. For to live life without a notion of your own History or worse, a twisted notion of it, can make for the kind of pain our brothers and sisters in J&K live with...
1. 1947. A little over a month after Independence, Pakistani Army regulars and tribals from Waziristan, overran Kashmir and tried to capture Srinagar. However, they got delayed at Baramullah as they decided to engage in looting. Raja Hari Singh, the ruler, asked for help from India and signed an Instrument of Accession with India. A ceasefire was signed in December between India and Pakistan. By this time, India had recovered a major portion of Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan. Pakistan was still in control of the regions of Gilgit and Baltistan. On the ceasefire, the border was declared a provisional Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan.
2. Meanwhile, India had taken the dispute to the UN. In April 1948, the UN Security Council, in its resolution number 39 created a Council for the resolution of the dispute. Following this, under resolution 47 of 21 Apr 1948, the UNSC asked India and Pakistan to decide the future of Jammu & Kashmir through a free and fair plebiscite. For the conduct of the plebiscite, conditions were spelt out...
* Pakistan was to completely withdraw all troops and irregulars not ordinarily resident in the state of J&K
* Thereafter, India was to withdraw troops, keeping a minimum number in J&K for aid to civil power, to the satisfaction of the Council.
After the above two conditions were met, the Council would conduct a plebiscite on behalf of the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile Nehru, ever the democrat, elated that a solution to the dispute was within sight, informed citizens of Jammu & Kashmir at a meeting in Lal Chowk in Srinagar, that a free and fair plebiscite would soon be held to decide the future of J&K
Pakistan however, failed to withdraw its troops from the areas under its control, thereby rendering the plebiscite impossible to conduct, as the first condition of holding the plebiscite had not been met.
3. Life carried on apace, with the LoC as the de facto border in Kashmir, between India and Pakistan.
4. Meanwhile, India's Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution of India on 26 Jan 1950, inserting Article 370, granting special status to J&K.
5. Thereafter, J&K constituted a Constituent Assembly, firmed of citizens of J&K, in 1951. In 1954 the Constituent Assembly cast a unanimous vote in favour of permanent accession with India, without a single abstention. In 1956 the draft of the Constitution of J&K was ready and it was adopted by the State of J&K on 26 Jan 1957, a full 10 years after the dispute began. The adoption of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, is the legal end-point of the 'dispute' that started in 1947. For anyone to speak of a plebiscite even after the adoption of a Constitution, reeks of a lack of education in the History of J&K.
6. This was however, not the end of the story. Not content with control over Gilgit and Baltistan and the failure of the plebiscite, Pakistan attempted successfully for three days, during the 1965 war, to cut off Ladakh from J&K, by gaining control over the Zoji La (Zoji Pass), effectively blocking Indian access. The pass was retaken and communications restored.
I hope my young and older Kashmiri friends will use the short history I have recounted, as the basis of further personal research into their tortuous history.
It is important to research this personally, to save oneself from the trap laid by separatist Pakistani ideologues in the Kashmir Valley. The separatists have had the best of both worlds - they are paid by the Pakistani establishment to foment trouble and by the Indian Government for keeping shut and lying low. Their children are settled in comfort outside of Kashmir while they incite young Kashmiris to violence, with stories that are vastly different from fact.
In the intervening years of the 1980s, the notion of choice via plebiscite on the basis of Kashmiriyat, was turned on its head by the separatists, by creating conditions of fear and terror for the Hindu residents of the Kashmir Valley, culminating in the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus, who exited Kashmir in fear, abandoning homes and memories in their flight to safety. Kashmiriyat, the product of a syncretic Hindu culture and a Sufi Islam, had been replaced by an ugly communalism. Yasin Malik was accused of murdering three Air Force officers standing by the roadside, waiting for transport. The case is still sub judice.
In the last few years, the separatist narrative has steadily been overtaken by a new ideology from across the border -- a rabid and violent Wahhabi/Salafist ideology that seeks to establish by violent force, the pan Islamic, supra national entity of an Islamic State, a throwback on the Islamic Caliphate that was dismantled after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in WW-I.
Burhan Wani, a young man who could have had, who should have had a different future, fell to the rabid ideology and transmitted its aims across the ether via video messages. In a rapid descent to the bottom of an endless pit, today's youth, completely broken in spirit and hope, after decades of violence and Government apathy, is ironically looking up to a character like Burhan Wani, as a heroic role model.
One of the biggest contributions to the waywardness of Kashmiri youth has been that of the Government of India. Instead of seeking solutions in education, commerce, health and the future of a generation of youth, it has repeatedly jumped in with the disgruntled, in an endless cycle of adversarial confrontations. The anger over all the mess caused by Government apathy, is taken out by the Indian citizen and the Kashmiri citizen upon the only visible component of state power in Kashmir today, the Armed Forces and the Police, while the political and bureaucratic establishments strike deals with all sorts of players in the Valley.
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*Source: Author's Facebook timeline

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