The Day Kashmir was sold

17 Mar

 

By Reema Shaukat

While making pronouncements, very few decision makers or authorities notice their impact in the long term. History reveals that occasionally, wrong decisions prove to be very drastic, though at that time, they seem quite enthralling. One such wrong choice, which has an astounding impact, was the day in history when the Treaty of Amritsar was signed. This treaty was signed on March 16, 1846 and has ten articles which suggest how Kashmir was cleverly vended. March 16, therefore, is noticeable as a day on which the beautiful valley of Kashmir was sold for just seventy-five lakh rupees.

Against the desires of its inhabitants, Gulab Singh Dogra, the ruler of Jammu at the time, sold this valley to the British Government in India under a contract. Gulab Singh Dogra had long-term relations with the British Indian government and to further strengthen ties, he worked as the British wished. It is worth noting that under the suppression of Gulab Singh Dogra, the wishes of Kashmiris were never addressed by the British government, nor this whole business of the Amritsar Treaty was in their knowledge. According to Article 1 of this treaty, the British Government transferred independent possession to Maharajah Gulab Singh and the heirs male of his body all the hilly or mountainous country with its dependencies situated to the eastward side of the River Indus and westward of River Ravi, including Chamba. Under Article 3 of this treaty, Gulab Singh was to pay 75 lakhs (7.5 million) of Nanak Shahi rupees (the ruling currency of the Sikh kingdom at the time) to the British Government, along with other yearly honours. History actually narrates that the Treaty of Amritsar is the foundation of Dogra rule in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. During Dogra raj, the plight of Kashmiri Muslims is known by the act of brutalities on them as they were ruthlessly tortured and were deprived of basic human necessities. So this seed of oppression was sowed centuries ago by the Indians against Muslims, which has stronger roots today and proves how this wrong decision taken to please authorities of the time had drastic consequence even after more than a century has passed.

Going a little back in history will help to understand the Kashmir predicament. During the partition of the Sub-continent, the people of Muslim majority State, Jammu and Kashmir (JK) decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja Hari Singh, then Hindu ruler of JK, in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten, joined India. The real design to forcibly gain Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the announcement of the Radcliffe Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur district, which was a Muslim majority area, to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. This led to a rebellion by state forces, which stood against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect on January 1, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding a plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India, an integral part of the Indian union.

The bloody tragedy of poor Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their legitimate and UN approved right to self-determination. As a natural outcome of Indian injustice, people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) organised themselves and launched a war of liberation which India tried to crush through coercion and brutalities. Later, in 1988, India positioned a very large number of its armed forces to suppress the Kashmir struggle at gunpoint. With the advent of Indian occupational forces, the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kashmiri people has intensified manifold. So far, more than 100,000 people have been killed at the hands of the Indian occupational forces. The number is growing logarithmically as Indians are using increasingly brutal methods to suppress the people of IOK and their legal struggle for freedom. Many human rights organisations including Amnesty International in their reports have mentioned the sufferings of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian forces. The recent Amnesty International Report of 2016-17 shows that Indian security forces used arbitrary or excessive force against demonstrators on several occasions. Many people were killed and hundreds blinded by security forces’ use of pellet-firing shotguns, which are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate. Likewise, after the death of Burhan Wani, a curfew was imposed, private landlines, mobile and internet service providers suspended their services for weeks on orders from the state. The communication shutdown undermined a range of human rights and residents reported being unable to reach medical assistance in cases of emergencies. Hundreds of people, including children, were placed in administrative detention and dozens of schools were set on fire by unidentified people. India has been victimising Kashmiri leaders off and on through dirty tactics to break their will and resolve. They have been repeatedly harassed and physically intimidated. Instead of accepting the existing reality, India has sought to blame Pakistan for allegedly promoting the Kashmiri uprising. These Indian accusations against Pakistan is a tactic to delude the international community on the Kashmir issue and a concealment of their state sponsored atrocities against the innocent people of IOK.

A peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions has always persisted as Pakistan’s foreign policy. In order to find an early and just solution to the decades old Kashmir dispute, Pakistan has always urged the international community to play an active role. So the long past mistake of signing a treaty and handing over a territory without the consent of its people must now be resolved according to the will of its dwellers.

 

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