Article 370 End of a Sordid Boon

Prof. Suresh Chander
A paradigm shift in any system or organisation results in hiccups and resentment among the individuals and all those whose place in the new setup is not what it used to be. It results in non-cooperation, go slow or sometimes strikes engineered by the vested interests.
The protests happened after Indira-Sheikh accord in1975 too. Pakistan termed it a “Sellout”. Bhutto called for a strike throughout Pakistan on February 28,1975. Bhutto further stated that the Accord had violated the terms of Simla agreement and the UN requirements for a plebiscite. The demonstrations were also held in the United Kingdom and UN by the POK people. China also disapproved the Accord.
It is a natural corollary, for Kashmiri youths to talk about and seek answers for some of the issues after decision to split the state in two Union Territories on August 5, 2019. Some of these issues are (not necessarily in the same order):
* Will of the people.
* India’s authoritarian regime.
* Kashmiris were not consulted.
* Roll back the steps taken by the Government of India.
* Democracy has been trampled.
Their unease and anger can be understood as they are young and have little understanding of the past. It is the problem with the youth of today. For them the present is all that matters. It has become a universal phenomenon and Kashmiri Youth are no exception.
Kashmiris had all the say in the world. In 1947 at the time Sheikh Abdullah was made the Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The first thing he did was to ban the entry of Maharaja Hari Singh in the state. He disbanded the National Conference unit of Jammu and instead opted for pliable people from Jammu. He banned Ranbir newspaper from Jammu. Ranbir was started by Mulk Raj Saraf father figure of journalism in the state. Ranbir was earlier banned by Maharaja before Independence. Sheikh was an autocrat, he did not like dissent.
Talking of democratic institutions, the Constituent Assembly, constituted in 1952, had hundred percent members from the National Conference. Nomination papers of opposition parties were rejected en bloc. Rolling back essentially means going to the days when Sheikh Abdullah was the Prime Minister. Did it resolve the problem at that time? Yes, the present generation will not have an inkling of what happened almost three generations ago. Sheikh did not care about democratic institutions (so dear to sections of people in the country who are so worried about the erosion of their independence). He did not want jurisdiction of Supreme Court of India, Election Commission of India, Comptroller General of India etc. These institutions would have curbed his unfettered powers. Azadi for whom? For a Sovereign Sheikh, the Sultan of Kashmir!
Sheikh Abdullah was arrested in August 1953. There was no BJP or Ajit Doval at that time. The Prime Minister was Jawaharlal Nehru with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad as second in command. No para military forces.Only one SP by the name of Ganderbali who controlled the situation. Those days Srinagar district as all other districts used to have one SP as the highest ranking police officer.
To Sheikh’s dismay, Jhelum was not set on fire. An opportunity to be masters of their fate faded away due to personal ambitions of one man.
The valley remained calm mostly afterwards with the exception of disappearance of Moi-e-Muqaddas from Hazratbal Shrine (27 December 1963 – 3 February 1964). Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then minister without portfolio in Nehru’s cabinet, with the help of then Mir Waiz restored the Moi-e-Muqaddas in the Holy Shrine. No untoward incident happened in otherwise a very volatile situation. Credit must go to the people of the valley for their matured behaviour at that time. Pakistan did try to foment trouble in the valley. There were no Pakistani agents to take advantage of the situation. The situation did remain very tense in that period. Maulana Masoodi administered the oath to 14 persons chosen for identifying the holy relic.
Shamus-ud-din was the PM during Moi-e-Muqaddas incident. He became PM for a short time after Bakshi Ghulam Mohd. was axed under the Kamraj plan. After a brief period Ghulam Mohd.Sadiq took over as PM of the state.
Another chance came in 1965 when thousands of infiltrators were pushed in the valley. Pakistan thought that these infiltrators will be welcomed with open arms. Kashmiris refused to take the bait. The Operation Gibraltar – code name given to the strategy of Pakistan to infiltrate Jammu and Kashmir -was a disaster. The planners of the operation had misread the Kashmiris willingness to rise in revolt. The failure of the Operation Gibraltar frustrated their would be Administrator of Kashmir so much so that he left India in disgust never to return back. He was from the state but not from the valley.
Chief Minister Ghulam Mohd. Sadiq handled a difficult situation with calm and poise during 1965.
Ghulam Mohd. Sadiq was a gentleman Prime Minister who had no problem with being designated as Chief Minister. It happened with his request through a resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly. Sadar-i-Riyasat became Governor in the process. Scrapping of Article 370 was on the cards but was abandoned due to 1965 war following Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar,
Mir Qasim became the CM after the death of Sadiq Sahib. Qasim willingly vacated the office of CM under Indira-Sheikh accord in 1975. Sheikh didn’t have a single member in the Assembly at that time. It was an undemocratic process. No one cried foul. Bhutto observed that this man who had set himself up as the champion of democracy was now about to become Head of a Government dominated by the Congress party, to which he did not belong in an Assembly of which he was not even a member Sheikh Sahib accepted the designation of Chief Minister without ay protest. He was a pragmatic man. Again no results.Azadi was forgotten. The power was all that mattered. Missed opportunity third time towards Azadi..
After Sheikh Sahib’s death, Farooq Abdullah became the CM. He did not talk of erosion of Kashmir’s autonomy or special status at that time. He was happy to be CM. Behold now what he does in 1987. He rigs the elections on a large scale, and Kashmir was not the same again after rigging of elections in 1987. They, the people of the valley, lost faith in democratic process and some of them took to guns. Whose fault was it? When Kashmiri Pandits were hounded out of the valley, today’s storm troopers and champions of Human Rights remained silent. Their silence was deafening.
The problem over the years has not been created by the Government of India or people at the helm of affairs at various points on the timeline. It may be too simplistic to conclude that it was essentially the desire of some leaders of the valley to be Sultans of the valley with Jammu and Ladakh as their colonies. The facts do point to that.
It was after 1987, Pakistan became an active agent from a passive one to create unrest in the valley. Who was responsible? None other than Farooq Abdullah who wanted to remain CM at any cost.
Trust! On the contrary Kashmiri leaders do not trust people from outside the valley. Without going into details, Sheikh Sahib didn’t trust even one of his close lieutenants, MaulanaMasoodi. He was Kashmiri speaking and a very learned person with a heart of gold. But he was not a Kashmiri but a Gujjar. There goes the Kashmiriyat for a toss.
At various times Indian leadership talked of ‘sky’s the limit’, Kashmiriyat, Democracy, Insaniyat etc. The Kashmiri leadership was confused, like a child in a candy store not knowing what he wants. They were never serious about their demands. They only wanted to keep the pot boiling.
(The author is former Head of Computer Engineering Department in G B Pant University of Agriculture & Technology)
Most commentators talk of 9 million Kashmiris. Currently, the population of the state is around 14.7 millions. Roughly 9 millions is the population of the valley which includes Gujjars and Bakarwals in the valley and Kashmiri Pandits in exile in their own country. So roughly 6 millions will be Kashmiri Muslims.. It should be remembered that the State of Jammu and Kashmir does not belong to only Kashmiri speaking Muslims from the valley.
Freedom Azadi, self rule etc. are illusions. The present author is all for it. The reality is something different. It is a jungle raj out there.
Dr. Ved PratapVaidik, a veteran journalist, political commentator and votary of free speech in his column observes (Gurgaon Today, 20 August 2019) thus:
“I have had long talks with the three Prime Ministers of the so-called Azad Kashmir. When I told Benazir Bhutto that your Kashmir is free, a separate country. Where can I get a visa to go there? How will I meet the Prime Minister? She started laughing. She told her Home Minister General Nasirullah Babar. General Babar invited me to his house for breakfast and said, ‘Who’s donkey there, Wazir-i-Azam (Prime Minister)?’ ‘You phone him. He is the ‘Sadar (chairman) of a Municipality’. He himself will come to meet you here (Islamabad). That happened the next day.”
When were Kashmiris really Masters of their own fate?
Sultans, Chaks, Mughal, Afghans Sikhs etc.from as early as the 14th century, from 1346 to 1580, ruled the Valley. It was ruled by the Sultans who had come from Central Asia and other neighbouring areas. They were anything but benevolent rulers with the exception of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin. The Mughals ruled the valley from 1580 to 1750.
In 1586, the Mughal imperial army entered the valley of Kashmir, after being defeated twice by Kashmiri forces. The Kashmiri emperor, Sultan Yusuf Chak, had already been taken prisoner by Akbar and exiled to Bihar.
As the Mughal empire consolidated itself in Srinagar, it was met with local resistance during its rule. Noted Kashmiri poet and historian, Zareef Ahmad Zareef, says that this was the first time young Kashmiris started throwing stones at foreign rulers, (sounds familiar to present day Kashmir)
He notes that “the resistance was such that the Mughals had to build a wall known as Kalai around their administrative capital called Nagar Nagari in Srinagar”.
It was followed by the invasion of Nadir Shah followed by Pathan rule. Afghan rule was one of the worst periods. Kashmir later came under the Sikh rule. This entire period is history of oppression of Kashmir. In 1846 Kashmir became part of the Dogra Empire. It is naive to think that people of Kashmir had enjoyed any kind of self rule before that.
It wasn’t anything peculiar to Kashmir but in those days practically all over the world people were ruled by kings and the territories were constantly coming under one ruler or the other. People had no say. It was only after 1947 that people of Kashmir had a chance to be master of their own destiny. However, they misused their newfound freedom to become the new rulers and treated the people outside the valley as there subjects.
It is their failure to treat every citizen of the state as equal that led to dissatisfaction in Ladakh and Jammu. What is unfortunate is the fact that the very people who are asking Azadi have submitted themselves to the dictates of terrorists from across the border. Have they ever questioned the type of Azadi people in so called Azad Kashmir are having. In this turmoil the facts and reasoning have been lost somewhere.
Unfortunately, the vale of Kashmir is suffering from self inflicted wounds.
William Wordsworth talks of Sordid Boon in the sonnet The World Is Too Much With Us’, in 1807.
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
Article 370 was a blessing to define centre state relationship for development of a state as per the wishes of the people in accordance with their culture and value system. It became a sordid boon highlighting the worst aspects of human nature such as immorality, selfishness and greed, while a boon is something that functions as a blessing or benefit.


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