Sunday, September 12, 2010

10 Reasons why Kashmir must be given the Right to Self-determination

1. Kashmir was already Independent in 1947.

Pakistan and India invaded it. India could have helped to protect Kashmiri Sovereignty from invading Pakistanis. Instead India blackmailed the Dogra King to join the Indian Union.

2. India promised a Plebiscite and then reneged on its promise.

There really is no excuse for this. Pakistan is more than willing to withdraw its forces from POK, if India did so from IHK. There is even a UN mission (UNMOGIP) established specifically to monitor troop positions in Kashmir.

3. The Betrayal of 1953.

India betrayed Kashmir in 1953 by going back on many of the terms of the 1948 accession. Karan Singh (son of Maharajah Hari Singh, an Indian puppet and even today a Congress leader) dismissed Sheikh Abdullah, the Prime Minister of Kashmir, without allowing him the opportunity to prove his majority in the assembly. The Sheikh will spend the next 11 years in Jail (till 1964), 3 years (1965-1968) under house arrest and another 18 months (1970-71) exiled in South India (Kodaikanal).

4. India makes cunning deals with two Kashmiri families; never with the people.

India's involvement with Kashmir is mostly through deals with two families, Maharajah Hari Singh family or the Abdullah family. Never with the people of Kashmir. There is no reason to believe Kashmiris supported Hari Singh's decision to accede to India or Sheikh Abdullah's decision (in 1974 after 15 years spent in jails) to drop the Plebiscite demand.

5. India continuously rigged elections in Kashmir until 2002.

Or didn't conduct elections at all. When separatists contested elections, India rigged the polls to defeat them. India also claims that separatists who contest elections under the Indian constitution are accepting Kashmir's accession to India! Worse, India even claims that people merely voting in the elections, is evidence of their accession to India. Most Kashmiris reject this assertion.

6. Kashmiri Pandits are ... well, Kashmiris.

Pandits are a very small minority community who don't necessarily support the Kashmiri freedom struggle. They were harmed by predominantly non-Kashmiri militants from Pakistan. Some Kashmiri's did try to save Pandits from the militants. Nevertheless, the Kashmiri civil society will have to do more to accommodate the interests of Pandits. And these Pandits can very well vote (from refugee camps in Jammu or Delhi) to keep Kashmir within the Indian Union, if they want to.

7. Human Rights violations.

Almost every government or human rights organization in the world has called out India for gross human rights violations in Kashmir. Even Indian media report staged killings, fake encounters, disappearances and custodial murders by the Army, CRPF and the erstwhile STF of the J&K police. While some misdemeanor by Armed forces is expected in any conflict, India has provisions like AFSPA which give the Armed forces unlimited powers (and near complete judicial immunity) to harass the civilians. 7 Indian states are currently under such Military rule.

8. India doesn't trust Kashmiri Police.

Why isn't India allowing Kashmiris to police themselves? Militancy that raged since 1989 mostly stopped in 2002. Why are so many outsiders (Army/CRPF) still there? One possible explanation is that India doesn't trust Kashmiris to make a strong police force out of them. And India offers to train the Afghan Army!

9. There are precedents - East Timor, Eastern Europe

Independence movements are not old history book stuff. There are contemporary examples of Republics letting some of their citizens to form separate states. Indonesian occupation of East Timor is remarkably similar to that of Kashmir.

10. Indian Republic is not a Kashmiri concern.

The argument that Indian Republic will fall apart or get balkanized if we let Kashmir go, doesn't wash. India's failures to protect the liberty of people in the North-East is not really a Kashmiri concern. Its India which has to sort out the mess. I support referendums to resolve such issues as Nagalim or Telangana too.


And finally, a part of me wishes that Kashmiris will vote to stay in the Indian Union instead of choosing Independence (most likely) or merger with Pakistan. But its Kashmiris who have to decide for themselves.

A place where the will of the people isn't reflected in the Union or its Government is neither a Republic nor a Democracy.

ps 1: I have deliberately used the word Kashmir instead of Jammu and Kashmir. In general, Kashmir refers to the Kashmiri speaking regions, Kashmir Valley, the surrounding mountains and POK.

ps 2: The people in the plains of Jammu, plains of POK, rugged hills of Gilgit-Baltistan (extending to Siachin and Kargil) and the Ladakh plateau will also have to vote in the referendum for Kashmiri Independence. Hence all these regions will first have to vote in a referendum to formally dismantle the J&K state. Only if they want to, ofcourse.


Junaid said...

Also found this on the internet. Very disturbing.

Anonymous said...

A place where the will of the people isn't reflected in the Union or its Government is neither a Republic nor a Democracy.

Well, democracy does not mean that we will allow the country to be divided again. If people of any region, not just Kashmir have any problems, they have legal means like parliament, state assembly and media to let their voices heard.
If they resort to violence, of course they will be put under army rule.

BTW, Telengana is not a movement for independence. They just want a separate stae.

Balaji said...

Parliaments and Assemblies are established under the existing constitution. Secession or division of states significantly alters the state for which the constitution was made. Amendment's won't do for such major changes. Referendums are needed.

oh please, i know about the Telangana statehood issue.

my point is: some people want to split a unit of governance, namely the state of Andhra Pradesh. that has to be decided in a referendum.

similarly if Kashmir or Manipur or Tamilnadu want to secede, there shud first be a referendum at the state level. based on the result of such a referendum, Parliament can vote or even call a nationwide referendum.

Jaikumar Ganesh said...

Have you come across any evidence for point # 5 ?

Balaji said...

oh, yes. 1987 election especially was a joke enacted after the Farooq Abdullah-Rajiv Gandhi deal.

there will be countless articles online but this I cud grab within seconds.

i also very much remember how BJP under Vajpayee touted 2002 elections as free and fair unlike the previous ones. but it still didn't get too many voters to the polling booths. 2008 was better though.

addytude said...

you are peddling disinformation.

Point 2: Are you even aware of the plebiscite clause?
First pakistan will withdraw, then india will establish that the pakis has withdrawn, only then india will hold plebiscite.

Have the pakis withdrawn?
Utter rubbish! same holds true for this whole post of yours.

Anonymous said...

you are eating from the Indian govt's coffers and you have the balls to say you want to kashmiris are one filthy valley in a whole big state. you cannot decide on everybody's just back off and stop spreading disinformation.

Balaji said...


why wud Pakistan withdraw from POK if there is no assurance from India that it will do so too from IHK and allow a plebiscite. remember both Pakistan and India are invaders.

Musharraf-Vajpayee talks were on the lines of this mutually assured withdrawal of both countries from selected districts in both sides of the LoC. sadly the discussion fell apart.

in anycase, Kashmiris cannot be held hostage to the blame game amongst the two aggressors.

Dev said...

Balaji bhai... this one's a gutsy post..

It's hard to find writers a clear cut as you these days..

Keep it up

Surya said...

Great post. You have had the guts to bell the cat. I understand the general tone of your argument and sympathise entirely with the Kashmiris. But Indian state cannot afford to lose Kashmir for geo-political reasons. India has a historical fear for the invader from the north and the hence people in Delhi would not want to lose the Kashmir valley and thus directly expose our plains. For the same reason, China and Pakistan would also never allow an independent Kashmir to exist peacefully. In this case the plight of Kashmir is sadly similar to the Afghanistan. It's strategic location means that other powers will never leave it alone. I feel the best bet for Kashmiris is to demand complete autonomy within the Indian setup and to demand that Indian Army be confined to the borders. This will not sacrifice India's concerns and allow Kashmiris maximum political freedom. India for it's part can play the trade card. Kashmir is a land-locked region and will need access to mainland India for trade. India can put across to the Kashmiris that in the event of complete Independence it will become impossible for India to allow movement of goods and people from Kashmir into India ( It is already restricted indeed ). This will convince Kashmiris of the practical impossibility of azadi however noble it sounds.
Please do not mistake that I am sounding authoritarian. I just feel that by moderating their demands a little, Kashmiris will gain the moral high ground and gain sympathies for their demands from the rest of India too.

Balaji said...

yes, geo-political considerations exist for the indians. But as I argued above, thats not a Kashmiri problem.

in anycase, a plebiscite may not lead to a Independent Kashmir. India promised a plebiscite and should deliver. Once India commits to plebiscite, there are several hurdles.

1. Pakistan might develop cold feet and stonewall saying Jammuities, Ladakhis, Pandits and people in Gilgit-Baltistan cannot vote. If so, we'll no longer be the problem side.

2. We can insist on J&K and PoK assemblies passing a motion with 2/3rd majority authorizing a plebiscite. It'll put the local politicians to test.

3. Pakistan and Syed Ali Shah Geelani may not agree to Independence being one of the options in the plebiscite. That'll expose them to the Kashmiris and render a plebiscite impossible.

4. And eventually if and when the vote takes place, we may still get a vote in favor of India courtesy Jammu, Ladakh and moderate Kashmiris.

So a commitment to honor the promise of plebiscite may well help Indian Union wash its hands off and force the issue to be a local J&K issue.

But if Kashmiris pass all these hurdles and vote to become Independent or join Pakistan, we should allow them to do so.

Meghana said...

Total bullshit!

Sai Nageswar Satchidanand said...

Well written... True.. once plebiscite is promised, it should be kept..