June 2000 News

Include POK leaders also in talks

13 June 2000
The Hindu
Bhim Singh

New Delhi: There appears to be a fresh media wave in India on the proposed political dialogue with the leaders of Hurriyat Conference, to seek peaceful resolution of the situation in the State. Incidentally none knows about the objective, scope, and or even the subject matter of the talks. This issue has been revolving around between Delhi and Kashmiri leaders for the past over half a century. The people of Jammu region who constituted of the population of Jammu and Kashmir (India) and double in size remained ignored, neglected and discriminated against in the areas of development, recruitments, admissions to the professional colleges, tourism, state services and equitable representation in the state legislature. Exploited in the name of false sense of nationalism by Delhi, they bore all this subjugation at the cost of their identity, culture and development. The Ladakhies (including Kargil) after fighting for two decades were granted Hill Council Status which has not satisfied their aspirations. They have by their side arithmetic, the reasons and logic in their support for according them the Status of a Union Territory. The aspirations of the people of Kargil cannot be overlooked particularly after Kargil invasion and vigorous role and sacrifices made by the people of Kargil to resist the aggressors. Hurriyat Conference, National Conference, and other militant groups do not represent even the Kashmir Valley. They have no locus vis-a-vis Jammu Province, Ladakh region and POK (which formed part of the Union of India). With this situation at present the strategy and scope of the peace efforts have to be in response to the new wave of thinking as emerging at the threshold of the 21st Century. The Centre''s decision to hold dialogue with the genuine representatives of Jammu and Kashmir deserves appreciation. But it has to be genuine and scientific to settle all the existing issues in respect of POK as well. The natural question arises as to who represents the people of Jammu and Kashmir?. Whether talking to Hurriyat alone shall help resolve the crisis and help end bloodshed, gun culture and militancy in the state?. Inside the Hurriyat, there exist three parallel schools of thought. First, the Jamat, though holds minority view, yet wields a fundamentalist influence and is working under the dictates of the ISI. It is paid to plead for the merger of the state with Pakistan though it had lost support of the once friends inside POK and Gilgit. Second is the one which enjoyed the backing of the so-called free thinkers and double agents to carve out an independent state as was proposed in the infamous Dixon Plan in 1949 with a CIA plot to disintegrate India. It has few takers for it is not viewed as a viable solution. China and Pakistan, both are opposed to this proposition for different reasons. The third school is what Farooq Abdullah has instigated under the cover of the autonomy plan by suggesting division of Jammu Province on communal lines. This is also close to the Dixon Plan. 35 lakhs residents of Gilgit region and POK are opposed to the first and the third view. They may have a choice between independence and even maintaining status quo but would never accept Kashmiri domination directly or indirectly for historical and cultural reasons. out of 20 lakhs living in POK Azad Kashmir hail from the traditional Rajput ancestry having no love lost for Pakistan. They have nothing in common with the Kashmir culture, language or history. Moreover, they formed cultural, linguistic and ethnic constituent of Jammu Province. The recent developments in Pakistan following the dismissal, though illegally, of the elected Prime Minister and imposition of undeclared martial law in POK and Gilgit has caused tremendous resentment amongst the Shias of Gilgit and the people of POK. The strongest advocate of Kashmirs merger with Pakistan an old associate of Nawaz Sharif, a former POK Premier, Sardar Mohd Abdul Qayum Khan has advised his followers to go neutral. Death of Mumtaz Rathore (another ex-Premier of POK with Rajput background of Jaipur dynasty) has caused a loss to the liberation forces of POK seeking freedom from Pakistan. Present POK Premier, Barrister Sultan is a Benazir''s nominee and, therefore not trusted by the military Generals of Pakistan. He is a big suspect in the eyes of the ISI, though, they are still using him to send armed infiltrators to Jammu and Kashmir to continue to fuel terrorism. His stay is short-lived and can be shunted out any day at the pleasure of the military rulers. This is the right and appropriate opportunity to invite the leadership of POK and Gilgit who formed integral part of India to join the talks. A look at the past history of the State is necessary. Entire state of Jammu and Kashmir comprising of 84,000 sq. miles of territory acceded to the Union of India under the seal and the signatures of the only competent Authority, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir which was duly accepted by the then Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten on October 27, 1947. Thus entire state formed integral part of India and every citizen has a status of an Indian citizen. This point was vindicated in the unanimous resolution of the Parliament of India in 1994 by affirming that the unfinished agenda with Pakistan vis-a-vis Jammu and Kashmir was only the liberation of POK. 8,000 Square miles of the JK Territory in the Gilgit-Askardu division was annexed by Pak-military in July, 1948 six months after the cease-fire was declared in Jan, 1948. The so-called LoC was established in violation of the Cease-fire which itself is being violated by Pakistan repeatedly every year. Till date 12 lakhs of Indian citizens in the Gilgit region have been suffering under the Pak-military occupation since 1949 following a fraudulent agreement signed by the Pak-military rulers with the so-called Govt. of Azad Kashmir to transfer 28000 sq. miles of Gilgit region to Pakistan. The UN resolution had refused to recognise the so-called government of POK when the issue was raised by Pakistan in the Security Council in 1948. Pakistan in 1963 parted with 4,500 sq. miles of JK territory to China by another agreement signed between Chou-en-lai and Zulfikar Ali Bhutoo. This was an illegal transaction besides a violation of UN resolutions on which India kept quiet. People of Gilgit-Askardu region mostly Shiites have remained un-represented for half a century. They were separated from POK, what Pakistan called Azad Kashmir. Nor they had any representation in Pak Assembly. There has been an Assembly in the Azad Kashmir with nearly 20 lakhs people and 4600 sq. miles of territory who formed part of Jammu Province before its occupation. According to the Constitution of India read with the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir every citizen of POK and Gilgit is the citizen of India entitled to the benefits of all the civil and fundamental rights available to any citizen of India. There are 24 vacant seats in the J&K Assembly reserved for the citizens residing inside Azad Kashmir . Out of 111 Assembly Constituencies, elections are held only for 87 Assembly seats in J&K. So they cannot be ignored in the final say. There has been a strong movement growing inside POK and Gilgit supported by the younger generation of the politicians against the military hegemony of Pakistan. The latest opinion poll held by some social activists showed that 80% of the population inside POK and 95% inside the Gilgit regions are opposed to the merger of their territory with Pakistan. There has been a strong crackdown on the civilians inside Gilgit following the Pak Kargil debacle. The Northern infantry has been dismantled as Spies of India. Hundreds of the civilians, even advocates, are in jails without trial in Askardu and Gilgit for betraying Pak armies. India cannot abdicate its responsibility to attend to the genuine problems and the grievances of her citizens only because they are forced to live under foreign occupation against their will on the territory illegally occupied by Pakistan. To correct the previous blunders, it is therefore essential and inevitable that the representatives of the Political parties of POK and Gilgit regions are also invited to talk to the representatives of the Govt. of India. One-fourth of the population of POK (India citizens) have settled in UK following their eviction from their land where Pakistan had built up Mangladam. It is indisputable fact and admitted by the leaders of both sides of the state that the identity of the Kashmir Valley was not effected by division of J&K following the separation of Azad Kashmir in 1947. POK formed part of the Jammu province historically, socially, linguistically, culturally, ethnically and geographically. It had independent cultural identity different from the Kashmir Culture . It is the Jammu Province alone that had suffered division in 1947 and not the Valley. Similarly Gilgit was adjoining to the Askardu-Kargil geographically, linguistically, ethnically and socially. During the Maharaja Rule the three Tehsils of Leh, Kargil and Askardu were administered by the same Commissioner, whereas, Gilgit was looked after by a Governor nominated by the Maharaja with his headquarters at Astor. The last Governor of Gilgit, Brigadier Ghansara Singh, was arrested in June, 1947 by the Pakistan army when they annexed Gilgit in violation of the cease-fire ordered by the UNCIP. The dialogue must include the citizens of India living under humanitarian catastrophe for half a century only because the rulers of Kashmir do not want their return or reunification of the State for Kashmiri speaking population does not exceed of the total population of the State. Most important lessons that we drew from the past experiment must form the guidelines for the future line of action. Fifty two years back First Indian Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru started a dialogue with Sheikh Abdullah, the then foremost Kashmiri leader who was imprisoned by the Maharaja for launching quit Kashmir movement . Sheikh Abdullah because of his mercurial and irresponsible utterances on Kashmir was dismissed and detained by the Sadar-I-Ryasat (elected Head of the State) Yuvraj Karan Singh at the instance of Jawahar Lal Nehru on August 9, 1953. It was after the death of Jawahar Lal Nehru that his daughter Indira Gandhi the then Prime Minister of India concluded a dialogue with the Sheikh in 1975 after so much turbulence and setbacks which resulted in replacing of the sitting Chief Minister, Sayeed Mir Qasim by Sheikh Abdullah. Men like Parthasarthy with their patience and commitment succeeded in persuading leaders like Sheikh Abdullah to accept the reality of the political situation that had arisen following the signing of the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan after the creation of Bangladesh. Elections to the Assembly in 1977 were held under the Governor rule with Morarji Desai as the Indian Prime Minister. This was, perhaps the only election that was adjudged by the critics as free and fair. This author was also elected to that Assembly. Sayed Ali Shah Geelani and Mr Abdul Ghani Lone (Chairman and senior Member of the Hurriyat Conference respectively) both, were also elected to the same Assembly. Why and under what circumstances they have chosen a different Path. It needs a thorough study of the past and the present in order to rebuild confidence among the people of all the regions of the State. Regions of Jammu and Ladakh have been suffering from discrimination and neglect for the past 50 years, because the focus has remained on the Valley so far. The people of Jammu are rightly asking for statehood, the Ladakhies are agitating for the status of Union Territory and the Kashmir fighting for democracy. The people of Jammu province have their independent culture, identity and nothing in common with the people of Kashmir except the treaty of Amristar and mutual distrust . The Ladakh region has the same problem. As Kashmir is represented by the National Conference, the Hurriyat. Awami Action committee, Jamat Islami, Peoples Conference and of course by a section by the congress and Panthers. None of the Kashmiri group represents the aspirations of the people of Jammu, POK, Ladakh or Gilgit. Whereas the Kashmris have remained deprive of the rule of law. It is the time for a comprehensive settlement. There is a need for a comprehensive dialogue to ensure justice and equity to the people of all the regions of the state lest the volcanoes already smouldering beneath the artificial cover of a quiet in Jammu and Ladakh get exploded. Reorganisation of the State can settle some of the existing conflicts and problems. The aspirations of the entire people of Jammu and Kashmir have to be honoured so as to involve them in the process to restore peace in the State. To ensure a lasting and scientific result of the exercise that Indian Government intends to undertake, this is essential to set up a committee of the three to five persons of credibility having no political and vested interest in J&K to initiate the proposed talks to seek peaceful resolution of the problems. The political leadership of all the three regions, Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh should actively be involved including all those parties which have the representation inside the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir besides Hurriyat Conference, Ladakh Buddhists Association, Kashmiri Pandits, Gujjars, Shia leaders and other political groups. The leaders of the occupied regions that of POK and Gilgit should be invited. False sense of Nationalism and Kashmiri opportunism should no longer hijack the agenda of resolution of the problem by reorganising the State in the light of its historical and cultural identities and geographical and political realities. The Kashmiri Pandits, after being thrown out forcibly and mercilessly by a well planned conspiracy hatched when Mufti Mohd. Sayeed was the Union Home Minister and Jagmohan, the Governor of J&K. Kashmiri Pandits the Principle victims have too, to be consulted along with the Dogra-migrants of the Valley. There are allegations supported with substantial evidence that Jammu&Kashmir''s demography has been effected by the unscrupulous administration with ulterior motive. Dogra character of the historic city of Jammu is under a serious threat of erosion. Autonomy formula of Farooq Abdullah is a dangerous ply to divide the Jammu Province on communal lines. Centuries old union of Jammu-Poonch-Udhampur-Doda has been put on the rocks by the autonomy report adopted by the henpecked ministers from Jammu. Silence of the Centre on this report is equally disastrous. The Central leaders have no time to think or any idea about the consequences of such a mischief that is hidden in this Pandora''s Box. It is therefore essential and is in the larger interest to involve the representatives of Jammu along with Ladakhies and Kashmiris in the meaningful dialogue besides the residents of POK. Comprehensive talks is the call of the situation and time.


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