India’s Pledge for Integrated Jammu and Kashmir

Dr Ajay Kumar
India has completed 75 years of its independence from Kashmir to Kanyakumari under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsava to celebrate and commemorate the glorious history of India and its rich culture and achievements over the years. This year on 26th January 2024, India also celebrated 75th Republic Day with theme ‘Viksit Bharat’ and ‘Bharat-Loktantra Ki Matruka’. During this journey of past 75 years India has seen ups and downs battling against all odds with resilience and perseverance but India has also touched several milestones and attained excellence in different fields. The present Government has launched various initiatives ensuring the welfare of all the citizens of India without any disparity. The much debated article 370 of the Constitution of India got amended and whole Constitution is now applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. With this the slogan of ‘One Flag, One PM, One Constitution’ is reality today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to the development of different sections of Jammu and Kashmir. On his visit to Jammu on 20th February 2024 he said that “Jammu and Kashmir is moving towards overall development now”. The only unfinished agenda with regard to Jammu and Kashmir is now to reclaim those territories of Jammu and Kashmir which are under illegal occupation of Pakistan and China. Will India soon fulfill its pledge of integrated Jammu and Kashmir? Three decades have passed when Parliament of India unanimously adopted a resolution on February 22, 1994, emphasizing that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and that Pakistan must vacate parts of the State under its occupation.
Jammu and Kashmir was the 2nd largest Princely State after Hyderabad at the time of Independence. It had four main regions namely Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Gilgit having total area of 2,22,236 sq km. Being Muslim majority, Pakistan wanted Jammu and Kashmir to be part of Pakistan. For this reason Pakistan attacked Jammu and Kashmir on 22nd October 1947 under ‘Operation Gulmarg’. As a result of this attack, thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were brutally killed, women were raped, houses were burnt and their belongings were looted. This communal violence forced the Hindus and Sikhs to flee from their homes to safer zones in Jammu and other parts of India. Once displaced these people could not return to their homeland till date. Presently, they are scattered in more than 23 states of India. The areas that were affected by Pakistan in 1947-48 included Rajouri, Poonch, Mirpur, Muzaffrabad, Deva-Batala, Gilgit, Baltistan, Baramulla, etc.
After ceasefire was established on 1st January 1949, Jammu and Kashmir was divided across this ceasefire line. Pakistan gained illegal control on Mirpur, Muzaffrabad, Gilgit, Baltistan and four tehsils of Poonch district. Mirpur and Muzaffarabad had an area of 13297 sq kms whereas Gilgit Baltistan had 64817 sq km area. The total area of 78114 sq kms under illegal occupation of Pakistan was called as Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) till August 5, 2019. And the people displaced from POJK are called POJK Displaced Persons of 1947. After 31st of October 2019, erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was reorganized into two Union Territories namely UT of Jammu and Kashmir & UT of Ladakh. The territory of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir under illegal occupation of Pakistan is now called as Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) and the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan under the illegal control of Pakistan is now termed as Pakistan Occupied Territories of Ladakh (POTL). During Indo-China war 1962, China occupied 37555 sq kms area of J&K. In 1963, Pakistan ceded 5180 sq km area to China. Thus, the total area under the illegal occupation of China is 42735 and known as China Occupied Territories of Ladakh (COTL). Historically these regions form the important part of larger geo-cultural landscape of India and have Geo-Strategic, Geo-Political and Geo-Economic significance for India.
Later in India-Pak war of 1971, India declared a unilateral ceasefire on 16th of December when more than 93,000 troops of the Pakistan Armed Forces surrendered in East Pakistan what now called is Bangladesh. During this war, India had captured some strategic positions along the Ceasefire Line in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian Armed Forces entered deep into Pakistan territory, both in Shakargarh and Rajasthan sectors. At the same time, Pakistan had held Indian territories in the Chhamb sector, Hussainiwala and Fazilka. However, when Shimla agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in 1972, India failed to bargain the lost territories for the repatriation of 93,000 Prisoners of War. Hence, Chhamb having area of about 126 sq km was also lost permanently to Pakistan.
After its defeat in three wars against India, Pakistan realized that it cannot win through direct conventional war and therefore Pakistan adopted the doctrine of ‘Bleed India through a Thousand Cuts’ thereby changing its strategy from direct war to proxy war in terms of low intensity warfare with terrorism and infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, Pakistan continued to raise the case of Kashmir as a disputed territory on international platforms. Following the increasing terrorist violence and Pakistan’s attempts to highlight Kashmir as a ‘disputed territory’ between India and Pakistan, both houses of the Parliament of India unanimously adopted a resolution on February 22, 1994, emphasizing that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, and that Pakistan must vacate parts of the State under its occupation.
It is pertinent to mention that out of the total area of 222236 sq km of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to Dominion of India in October 1947, today India had only 101387 sq km area while 120849 sq km area is still under illegal occupation of Pakistan and China. Unfortunately, the successive Governments in India have remained silent most of the times over this issue. Moreover, it paid no heed to the incidents of Human Rights Violation by Pakistan in occupied territories. To liberate this occupied area is the only left agenda with regard to Jammu and Kashmir & Ladakh. And reclaiming these lost territories shall be one step towards reclaiming Akhand Bharat. It seems that present Government is determined to resolve this issue soon as it time and again mentions that the mission of full integration of Jammu and Kashmir started on August 5, 2019 will complete only when occupied territories of Jammu and Kashmir will reunite with India.
(The author is Assistant Professor Centre for Kashmir Studies Central University of Himachal Pradesh Dharamshala)