Syed Neaz Ahmad traces the history of the historical Kashmir issue. This tree is there because of a man named Wu Kang. Wu's job was to guard the moon dragon but he was lazy, ignored his duties and often indulged in useless pursuits. One day Wu saw some people playing chess and he wished to join them. They advised him to go away as they knew he was an irresponsible person but Wu — stupid as he was — offered to wager the dragon pearl. After a few moves, Wu lost his precious pearl to the experienced players. When Wu King's superiors learned of the loss they became very furious. Immediately, Wu buried the replacement pearl and hoped some more pearls will grow out of ground. While the original pearl was gambled away, the other pearl was lost too. Instead of a tree full of pearls, a cinnamon tree sprouted out of the precious pearl. Soon the tree reached a great height. Now it was decided that Wu Kang would use his time and energy to cut down the “ugly” cinnamon tree. As Wu went about his job chopping off branches more cinnamon trees sprouted from the moon surface. People believe Wu Kang is still out there cutting off cinnamon branches. Obviously, he has an unfinished and unending job: The more of his axe the more of the “ugly” trees.
Next time you look up the sky and spot the shadows on the moon you will know that Wu Kang is still busy up there felling the militant cinnamon branches.
Here on earth the Kashmir “dispute” has also assumed a folklore status. At least that's what some people would like it to be. The fate of Kashmir has remained on the international agenda — in full sight of television cameras — for over 60 years; yet, no solution is in sight. Cutting off the “militant” trees and branches has been on Delhi's agenda for a long time yet the aspirations of the people — like the cinnamon tree — keep sprouting up.
To sift through the muck of deliberate distortions, one must look back and set some of the facts right. At the time of the partition of India in 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was one of the 584 princely states in India. The rulers of these states were advised by the British government to accede either to Pakistan or to India — keeping in view of the geographical proximity and cultural bonds but most importantly the wishes and aspirations of the people. However, in complete disregard to those considerations and amidst popular uprising against his despotic rule, New Delhi claimed that the Maharajah had signed an “Instrument of Accession”. According to this “document”, the state acceded to India. This “accession” had no legal, moral or political validity. A British academic Professor Alistair — through investigative historical research — has proved beyond doubt that Maharajah Hari Singh was forced to sign the document and that the timing recorded on the document is not correct. This renders the “document” invalid.
ON Oct. 27, 1947 Lord Mountbatten while “accepting” the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India added an important condition: “The question of the state's accession shall be settled by a reference to the people.” Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
in his telegram to his Pakistani counterpart Liyaqat Ali Khan on Oct. 31, 1947 said: “The people of Kashmir would decide the question of accession. It is open to them to accede to either dominion then.”
Addressing the Indian Parliament on Feb. 12, 1951 Nehru said: “We had given our pledge to the people of Kashmir, and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide.”
Grand diplomatic and “democratic” statements but all this was a façade. No action was taken either by Nehru or subsequent governments in New Delhi.
On the contrary, India went on to stress that the “accession” of the state was “legal and constitutional” on the basis of the document said to have been signed by Hari Singh.
As New Delhi's intentions became obvious the democratic world realized that the “dragon” had started to show its true color. What's happening in Kashmir is not much different from what has been happening in India for many years. Veteran journalist Mark Tully, an India-lover, reported (‘Vajpayee Reveals his True Colors', CNN, April 22, 2002): “Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, known to believe in moderation in politics, has now come out openly in support of Hindu hard-liners in his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). These hard-liners now seem determined to revive the campaign for a Hindu India. Vajpayee has often been described as the mask, hiding the true nature of BJP with its intention to establish a Hindu India. For years as leader, he has held that mask firmly in place but last weekend the mask slipped, or more accurately, he threw it away.”
Amnesty International in many of its reports mentioned that Indian authorities “have continued to use the lapsed Terrorist & Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) to detain people in Jammu and Kashmir by linking them to cases filed before 1995. Hundreds of people remain in detention under the TADA, despite Supreme Court's orders for a review of all cases.”
The situation has not changed since the dark days of TADA. The revamped Public Security Act allows the police in Kashmir immense powers. Freedom loving Kashmiris falsely accused of anti-state activities — when released by court — are routinely arrested on revamped charges making a mockery of the judicial system.
In a comment published in the New Age (Sept. 18) Maswood Alam Khan wrote: “About 100 Kashmiris have been killed since the latest protests began there last June. Of the killed most were very young, many were children. About 500,000 Indian troops deployed in Kashmir are viewed by Kashmiris as a force to be feared rather than trusted. Hopes of a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir quandary have remained elusive since the territorial dispute over Kashmir cropped up when British colonial rule in India ended.”
At Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent initiative, a meeting of political leaders from across the board held in New Delhi failed to come up with new ideas. The decision to send a fact-finding team to “meet all sections of the society and to gather all shades of opinion” is more of the same old feet-dragging process.
Manmohan, considered by many as a moderate, told the meeting of politicians that dialogue was the only way out of the crisis, but that peace and calm had to be restored first.
The Public Security Act plus the Armed Forces Special Power Act enable the army and paramilitary forces to detain suspected militants indefinitely and is seen as fueling a sense of injustice and military occupation for Kashmiris.
Militant shadows on the moon, secular-Hindu politicians, granting special powers to security forces, a toothless state government in Kashmir, and an eye on the next elections reveal the true intentions of New Delhi.
Lord Mountbatten's 63-year-old statement “the question of the state's accession shall be settled by a reference to the people” must be put to test now.