Friends and Comrades, 

Warm greetings!

As we write this letter, the Kashmiri people have completed one year of a brutal, militarised lockdown imposed by the Indian government and borne the further indignity of having their state undemocratically and arbitrarily downgraded to two Union territories. While we unequivocally condemn this act of the Indian government, we offer our greetings, respect and solidarity to the indefatigable Kashmiri people who are fighting back. 

It was on 5th August last year that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution giving Special Powers to the state of J&K was abrogated. J&K, which has a long and illustrious history, was downgraded to two Union Territories, J&K and Ladakh. Fearing the repercussions such a dastardly act would undoubtedly cause, fearing the just resistance of the Kashmiri people, the abrogation of Article 370 was accompanied by a 'lockdown' and the whole of Kashmir was turned into a prison. Internet connections were cut, leaders and activists of all political parties except the BJP were detained, leaders of the liberation movements were arrested -- in effect people were reduced from citizens to subjects, and J&K, especially the Kashmir valley, came under even more complete occupation of the Indian military.

We are aware that the oppression on the Kashmiri people started from the time the British colonialists decided to hand over power and the destiny of the free kingdom of J&K to the leaders of India and Pakistan, who were not ready to accept the right of J&K to remain independent. Soon the clash of interests started and you, the people of Kashmir, were divided into 'Azad Kashmir', which is actually a Kashmir under Pakistani control, and a Kashmir under Indian Occupation, divided by the ‘Line of Control’. India did not take any initiative for implementing the plebiscite it had agreed at the UN in 1948, subjecting the people to naked suppression, imposing AFSPA-like draconian laws to crush all dissent, and engaging in all kinds of manipulations to keep it as a state with special powers, but going on diluting those special powers too over the years. 

After 73 years, still you, the people of J&K, remain divided; denied the right of self-determination, living under military boots. We are aware of the inhuman murders, rapes, arrests and tortures that you, the Kashmiri people, have been subjected to by the Indian army, with increasing brutality over the past years. What happened on last 5th August was an extreme step to subjugate you. It was a step that killed the very idea of self-determination and made it clear that the Kashmiri people were being completely stripped off every kind of democratic right.

The Modi government thinks that it can put down your national liberation aspirations through brute force. Modi is emulating what the Zionists in Israel are doing to the Palestine people with US support. Modi and his ilk, like autocrats the world over, refuse to take lessons from the struggling history of the Kashmiri people. The fight you have put up in the last one year, the fight you have put up against state repression and the turning of Kashmir into a killing field for the Indian military which is gunning down hundreds of youths dubbing them as ‘terrorists’, show that all this has only strengthened your resolve to continue to fight for liberation. 

In line with the international communist movement which always upheld the right of self-determination of the people, the CPI(ML) Red Star has always stood in support of this fight of the people of J&K for their basic rights. So, in spite of the restrictions imposed under the Covid-19 days, our Central Committee has called for observing 5th August as a day of protest, with the slogan 'Stand with Kashmir'. We extend complete solidarity to your struggles and raise the following demands before the Modi government:

  • Revoke Abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution!
  • Reinstate J&K as a State with Special Status!
  • Withdraw Military from Entire J&K, Release all Political Rights!
  • Implement Plebiscite; Let J&K People Decide their Future!

With revolutionary greetings,

KN Ramachandran

General Secretary 

On behalf of the Central Committee of

 CPI (ML) Red Star

A Report by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) sheds light on multiple instances of human rights violations in the region, challenging the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) narrative that ‘everything is normal in Kashmir’.

It has been 120 days to the state-sponsored siege in Kashmir. The revocation of Article 370 on August 5 had thrown Jammu and Kashmir, now a Union Territory, into the deep end. People were allegedly illegally detained, media services were hit, communication avenues were cut off, health services crashed, education came to a halt, religious freedom was curbed, trade dwindled and life as Kashmiris knew it, changed forever. Without consulting with those who mattered most – the people - Kashmir was under lockdown with military rushing in to ensure that nobody opposed the fate that was now imposed on them. The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), a collective of relatives of victims of enforced and involuntary disappearances in Kashmir, have come out with a report that states the facts as they are.  

The APDP was formed in 1944 by Parveena Ahangar and has always actively campaigned for an end to the practice and crime of arbitrary and enforced disappearances at the local, national and international platforms. In wake of the human rights violations that have ensued since the abrogation of Article 370, the report takes the reader through the political history of the state of J&K, the history of Article 370 and its incorporation in the Indian Constitution and the impact on the human rights in Kashmir since August 5.

Article 370 and Constant Efforts at Its Abrogation

Since its origin in 1950, the Indian government has constantly tried to weaken Article 370 through amendments, with first steps taken in 1954. After J&K had acceded to the Dominion of India in 1947 through the Instrument of Accession, the power of the Indian Parliament in J&K was restricted to only three spheres – defense, communications and foreign relations.

The Constituent Assembly was convened in October 1951 and before the work of defining the future relationship between the Centre and the state began, a set of minimum principles for working out future relations between the two were discussed and the Delhi Agreement of 1952 came about.

The Delhi Agreement, between Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru focused on ten subject matters mostly including the residuary powers of the state, the issue of citizenship, jurisdiction of Supreme Court, the question of fundamental rights, national flag of the state, powers of President and the issue of emergency powers. It was decided that all these would fall within the jurisdiction of the state government. The relation of Jammu and Kashmir with the Dominion of India was to be based upon the principle of “asymmetrical federalism” which in turn was based on the principle of “autonomy, popular consent and negotiability”.

But the Centre and the State had a fall out, and soon Sheikh Abdullah was detained. The idea of ‘asymmetrical federalism’ was hampered. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bhartiya Jana Sangh put forth nationalistic narratives that further created hurdles for the autonomy of the state.

While the Delhi Agreement, 1952 said that the sovereignty in all matters other than those specified in the Instrument of Accession would reside with the state, the state was to have a Prime Minister instead of a Chief Minister and it would have its own union flag and while it agreed to the modification of Article 352 (emergency powers), it stated that “no proclamation of Emergency made on grounds of internal disturbance” shall have effect in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir; among other provisions.

However, the with the Constitutional Order of 1954 being passed, the power of the Parliament was extended to make laws on almost all matters and the jurisdiction of the Union Parliament from three subjects of defense, communications and foreign relations was extended to almost all subjects on the Union List. This was a significant change from the Constitutional Order of 1950 which limited the power of the Indian Parliament to only three subject matters.

In 1986, another Constitutional order saw the extension of Article 249 of the Indian Constitution to J&K, which allowed the Centre to legislate on matters mentioned in the State list as well. This order was passed without the concurrence of the state government, a flouting of terms under Article 370 that made it imperative that the Centre seek the consensus of the State Legislature to pass a Constitutional Order such as the one in 1986.

In 2019, the Centre abrogated Article 370 on August 5 amending the Indian Constitution (Article 367) in order to do so. Clause 3 of the Article 370 provides the provision of abrogation of Article 370 by a Presidential Order, with the consensus of the Constituent Assembly. It is pertinent to mention here that the Constituent Assembly was dissolved in 1956 itself after the enactment of the constitution. At the time of passing this order, the state of Jammu and Kashmir did not have a legislature. The State legislature was dissolved in 2018, when the state was put under Governor’s rule and later President’s rule. This amendment is also in conflict with the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution’s Article 147 that bars the Legislative Assembly from excising the powers of the Constituent Assembly with respect to the provisions of the Indian Constitution relating to the state of J&K.

The APDP reports states that the Indian Parliament abrogated Article 370 relying on the circuitous and malafide reasoning that since the state was under President’s rule, and there was no legislative assembly, the power to make laws rested with the Indian Parliament, thus substituting the concurrence of the State (as mandated in the constitution) with that of the Centre.

The Article 370 that protected the cultural and political integrity of Jammu and Kashmir had been eroded over the years through Presidential Orders almost 56 times.

Torture and Detentions in the Wake of the Abrogation

Human rights violations have been widely reported since the revocation of J&K’s special status in 2019. People have been detained under the mechanisms of existing laws and some are held allegedly outside the purview of law, all in a bid to suppress any political opposition by the people.

There have been numerous reports of the Centre detaining people under the Public Safety Act (PSA) – civilians, politicians and even children. The PSA allows for administrative detention of up to two years “in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State,” and for administrative detention of up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.

How the PSA Works

Under the PSA, the police make a dossier which contains details about the person and the grounds on which the detention is being done. The dossier is then communicated by the police to the administrative officials i.e. the Divisional Commissioner or the District Magistrate for the approval of his detention. The administration, allegedly with little or no application of mind, decides on the detention. Once a person is detained, the reasons for detention must be communicated to him within 5 days or a maximum of 10 days. If the grounds of detention are in “public or national interest”, the grounds need not be communicated at all. The authorities are required to place on record all the detentions in front of an Advisory Committee within a period of four weeks from the date of such detention. It is the Advisory Committee’s responsibility to review the detention orders and to scrutinize them and their validity. Upon scrutiny, the Advisory Committee may either uphold the Detention Order or quash it. The decision of the Advisory Committee is binding on the administration. The only legal remedy to appeal against detention under the PSA is to file a writ of Habeas Corpus before the High Court or the Supreme Court.

Reports of torture, cruel and inhumane treatment in detention have come forth. A report from Reuters shows that more than 3000 people have been detained under the PSA. Politicians like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti; apart from youth leaders like Shah Faesal were placed under house arrest.

The APDP reports states that civilians detained pre and post the abrogation have been tortured and even shifted to prisons outside J&K. They have not only been detained under the PSA, but have also arbitrarily been booked under offences of rioting and attempt to murder.

The State Police itself has admitted to detaining 144 children since August 5, but also claims that most of them were released on the same day.33 .But the number cited by the police cannot be treated as autho-ritative, as reports indicate that there have been many occasions where the police have treated children as adults and detained them accordingly, using the PSA.

The report also highlights the arbitrary detention practices of the Army which has raided people’s homes or summoned people to police stations. People are picked up from their homes in nocturnal raids carried out regularly by these forces. The forces are also summoning people to the police station or army camps, usually by confiscating their mobiles or identity cards, and asking them to collect it from the camps or police stations. Once the person reports to the camp, the authorities either detain them indefinitely, torture them or treat them in a manner that constitutes cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

India has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and several provisions of the PSA are inconsistent with the Indian government’s obligation under the Treaty. For example, according to Article 9(2) of the ICCPR “[a]nyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.” However, Section 13 of the PSA allows the detaining authority to not communicate grounds of detention for up to 10 days of detention, and also to withhold any information that it considers “to be against the public interest to disclose”. India is yet to ratify the Convention against Torture (CAT) even after 22 years of signing it in 1977. But it is still a part of several other international law instruments, the ICCPR being one of them, the Article 7 of which states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The CAT requires state parties to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under their jurisdiction. However, not being a part of CAT and having no domestic anti-torture laws in place, the impunity to the imposers has increased and the accountability for their acts has been reduced to the ground.

Media Blackout

The autonomy of the Press in Kashmir has always been allegedly restricted and violated. There has been a visible absence of news from Kashmir in the Indian media barring few over the past few years. Where these exist, they were usually concocted stories in line with the majoritarian and communal propaganda. Misreporting by news channels has factored out the self-determination angle and changed the narrative of Kashmir in people’s minds. For example, the fake encounter of Junaid Ahmed Khuroo, in2001, was reported in The Hindu as “a militant committing suicide inside a mosque”. It failed to show the truth, later, proceedings of the SHRC (State Human Rights Commission), found the case to be “cold blooded murder”. Although Greater Kashmir followed up the story, a Kashmir based paper, it has hardly any readership in Indian mainland.

The murder of a renowned journalist Sujhat Bukhari, who was a regular contributor to The Hindu and the Editor of Rising Kashmir in 2018, did not lead to extensive coverage by the Indian media. They did not raise the issue, and his murder remains unresolved, like many other killings in Kashmir.

The APDP report asserts that since the change of government in 2014, Kashmiri journalists have been stifled time and again. Aasif Sultan, a journalist with the Kashmiri Narrator, who recently won the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award 2019, has now been jailed for over one year. He has not been charged for any crime or tried by a court. The police only said that his laptop contained ‘incriminating’ evidence. The local journalist association protested against Aasif’s arrest and his editor went on record that the crackdown was because of a well-reported article he wrote on slain militant commander Burhan Wani. The report traced the life story of Burhan Wani and some of his fellow mates; it was published on his death anniversary.

Kashmir was placed under a virtual curfew post abrogation on August 5. National and international media agencies came out with many contradicting reports, with the mainstream media being heavily in favour of the government. The international news media presented its concern regarding the abrogation, but there was no on-ground report for the Kashmiri media had been completely silenced. The internet shutdown too meant that whatever rare reports were coming out could not be accessed by the public.

International human rights law guarantees the freedom of expression. Article 19 of the ICCPR states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. But the government has scrapped the advertising avenues of non-conformist newspapers and has arbitrarily detained journalists apart from continuously forcing them to disseminate pro-state propaganda.

Healthcare Services Hit

The valley has been under a total curfew for more than two months, critically affecting the medical and health care system in the region. This massive siege continuing for such a long period has severely impacted peoples’ right to access to health care and medical facilities, as guaranteed under international human rights law, reports the APDP.

The link between drug stores, stockists and depots has been broken due to the clampdown. There has been a reduction in patient admissions in hospitals, with patients not being able to visit the facilities due to a curfew and lack of public transport. Doctors had routinely raised concerns about the situation, especially regarding patients needing dialysis and chemotherapy, pregnant women and those in need of emergency surgeries. With the internet and landline services being hit, there were no means to call for ambulances and more than 8 million people have been denied the fundamental right to healthcare in light of the abrogation.

No government facility like mobile medical vans for patients had been provided and senior consultancies required to discuss critical cases couldn’t take place due to the internet restrictions.

Most importantly, the mental health of the people of Kashmir has been toyed with. Nobody can put a number to the casualties that have ensued due to the healthcare services being destroyed due to the abrogation.

Children’s Rights and Education

The APDP reports that various human rights organisations have emphasised the negative impact of conflict on children. There are various forms to it such as structural, social and psychological. In general, the situation in Kashmir has gravely impacted children: many children have been detained under the PSA for “stone-pelting”, many have lost their vision due to pellet firing on their eyes by security forces, some have died due to tear gas shelling, and many experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

The security forces have conducted many night raids in which children were picked up owing to a significant negative impact on their mental health.

It also reports that through board exams have been held in the Valley, the schools have been shut for the past four months. Though some schools have been reopened, the attendance still remains low due to the fear post the lockdown. The close proximity of security camps to schools makes students victims of surveillance and sexual violence. Schools in Kashmir in the past were occupied by armed forces. They often became sites of interrogation, and encounters with militants.

The security of students in Kashmir has always been at stake with 162 student killings taking place from 2003 to 2017. Holistic learning has been disturbed and there even e-learning cannot be resorted to due to the internet services being shut. Where does this leave them? Without an education what jobs are they going to aim for in the future?

Trade Plummets

The abrogation of Article 370 has had a tremendous impact on the trade in the Valley. The availability of essential commodities has dwindled and the lockdown has affected the ability of the people to access food and conduct trade.

Trade bodies in Kashmir have pegged that the people have suffered a collective loss of over Rs. 10,000 crore with apple traders and weavers being hit the worst. More than 60,000 weavers have been rendered jobless because of the dearth of online orders and the militants have increased attacks against apple traders, mostly non-locals, post the abrogation.

Warehouse management has failed and stocks meant for exports are now sitting stuck in warehouses. According to the latest reports, the security restrictions and communication blockade have resulted in empty markets. The Sopore Market, 2nd-largest fruit market in Asia, was seen to be completely empty during this time, with growers selling Rs 750-apple-crates at a nearly 80% reduced price. The government has set up a National Cooperative to help the farmers sell their produce but till now 80% of the produce has been rejected on the basis of quality restrictions. With the increasing restrictions in the movement of vehicles and the communications blockade, apple traders have been unable to get in touch with growers in Kashmir and saw a fall in 50-60% of the arrival of produce in the beginning of the season in august. This is particularly significant since the apple industry in Kashmir employs over 3.5 million people.

The walnut trade is considered to be the backbone of the economy in Uri district, those associated with it are saying that this year they had to bear losses worth crores due to the situation that has arisen post August 5. Supply of perishable items has been hit and people haven’t been able to meet their daily nutritional requirements because of not being able to access government stores and other shops.

Due to the curfew-like situation imposed, even as the situation looked like it was improving (before the militant attacks on traders), the shop owners observed a self-imposed civil disobedience and did not keep their shops open all day. Shops opened for a few hours each morning and evening, but remained largely shut, also due to the fear of being attacked.

Religious Freedom Curbed

APDP reports that mosques in Kashmir, as critical sites of community mobilization and participation, have been continuously barricaded/put under indefinite curfew in a move that separatist leaders have identified as an effort to suppress religious practice. Several reports have been published since at least 2009, highlighting the severe crackdown on mosques, religious processions, and even weddings and funerals. In other words, the Indian State has deliberately put an end to large assemblies of people, and prevented community gathering.

In 2019, after the entire Valley was shut down following the abrogation of Article 370, Muharram processions were once again banned in several regions. According to reports by Greater Kashmir and Scroll, the J&K police in July 2019 (some days before the communications blockade and before Article 370 was abrogated in Parliament) ordered the zonal superintendents to submit details of all the mosques within their jurisdiction.

Despite some reports that Eid passed peacefully, residents of the Valley actually spent the day in complete lockdown, unable to contact their loved ones or gather for their prayers. Safwat Zargar also documents instances of intimidation by the security forces where clerics have been summoned to army camps and “counseled” and threatened not to speak out against the removal of Article 370.

The ban on religious gatherings and the ability to commemorate holy days has been severely curtailed especially since August 5 with curbs on movement at religious places and congregational prayers, the arrest of religious preachers and the constant surveillance of religious institutions instilling a sense of fear in the public.

Justice Denied

Unfortunately, Kashmir has always been the place where law has been constantly used to suppress and oppress the people. Access to justice, as per Indian Constitution is a fundamental right of every citizen and is one of the facets of life under Article 21 and equality under Article 14. Since the Indian Government used Art. 370 to abrogate Art.370 itself, the Indian Constitution apply to Kashmir now in too. However, under the same constitution, the residents of Kashmir are being deprived of their basic fundamental rights which are a clear violation of Part III of the Constitution of India.

Post the abrogation in 2019, High Courts and lower courts have been out of order due to the blockade. Legal aid is a constitutional right guaranteed by Articles 21 and 39-A of the Constitution of India. “Access to Justice” is a basic human right recognized by the Indian Constitution as well as various international covenants. However, it is pertinent to mention here the fact that despite so many detentions (nearly 16000 detentions) made by the concerned authorities, only few judges are present to hear and adjudicate the Habeas Corpus writ petitions. At present, only two benches are present in the High Court to dispose of the said petitions, the APDP reports.

The former President of the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association – Nazir Ahmad Ronga had been held in preventive detention since August 9, 2019 under the PSA. Also, the present Presidents of the JK Bar Association-Mr. Mia Abdul Qayoom has been held in preventive detention under the Public Safety Act (which the Amnesty International has termed as “Repressive and Draconic”) even before the passing of the bill and lodged at Agra jail of state of Uttar Pradesh which is approximately 1000 kms away from the city of Srinagar. Even the President of Baramullah (Abdul Salam Rather) and Anantnag (Fayaz Sodagar) District Bar Association have been detained. The High Court Bar Association filed a petition before the HC of Jammu & Kashmir to allow two of its members to meet the Bar President. However, the same was rejected by the Court. This has just proved that apart from denying justice and twisting the law to suit their agenda, the government has now taken the law in their own hands and turned a blind eye to the citizens of Kashmir and their plight.

The De-facto Emergency and the Issue of Normalcy

The Central Government of India has plunged Jammu and Kashmir in a de-facto state of emergency starting August 5. The fundamental rights of the people have been trampled upon and the indefinite curfew still goes on today. Every aspect of normal life has been hit – healthcare, education, freedom of movement, right to information, right to the internet and most importantly fear reigns in the mind of every Kashmiri. Yet, in a pitiful and shameful manner, the government and mainstream media, its accomplice has painted the picture that ‘all is well’ in Kashmir. Nobody can access justice because the judiciary in Kashmir itself is under siege. So who will rescue Kashmiris from this ‘collective punishment’ asks the APDP. The outright falsehood that everything is normal in Kashmir, is a shame. Losses have mounted, of lives and livelihoods, but will the Centre ever acknowledge that fact?

(Abridged)

During the last six months after returning to power with bigger strength, Modi-2 has moved very fast further intensifying corporate- fascist policies. It has diluted RTI like laws, made NIT, UAPA like acts more anti-people. Article 370 and 35A were scrapped, reducing J&K to two union territories after imposing clampdown and militarization, turning Kashmir in to an open prison. NRC/Assam was announced, making 19,06,657 people stateless. It is in a hurry to get the Citizenship (Amendments) Bill denying Muslim migrants citizenship, passed somehow in the next parliament session. Orders are issued to get the countrywide NPR ready by next September 30th, with the possibility of 4 to 5 crores people declared stateless. Construction of Detention Camps is speeded up in Assam, and even in some other states, with BJP chief ministers clamouring stringent NRCs in all states. Along with these, hatred, intolerance, and Islamo/Pak phobia is spread more heinously, provoking more mob-lynching. In short, fascistization of all fields is intensified dangerously, advocating muscular nationalism.

At the same time, the post 2014 policies of Modi raj starting with de-monetisation and GST have led to intensifying slow down in all fields of economy. As sales falls steeply, many production units are closed down or locked out throwing out many millions of workers, making unemployment worse. All industrial areas are in recession. At the same time, all sops announced in the name of reducing the impact of slow down, are swallowed by the corporate giants, making them fatter, while vast masses are thrown to more miserable condition. Remaining PSUs including the railways are privatised fast. All doors are opened for all round corporatization, devastating the nature creating climate crisis and severely pauperizing the masses.

 As a result of all these, our country is in a critical situation. This demands uniting struggling left, democratic, oppressed classes and forces at every level, and launching people’s movements to expose and challenge the corporate fascist RSS/BJP forces who are trying to transform the country in to majoritarian Hindu Rashtra! Still even after continuation of the clamp down in J&K for more than two months, crores of people facing the danger of becoming stateless under the communal NRC process, and worsening recession further impoverishing the masses, the BJP continues its winning spree in assembly elections since the parliamentary opposition is disintegrating, with many of its leaders flocking to BJP and Modi claiming increasing international support to his Rath yatra towards Hindu Rashtra!

But, the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir has led to non-cooperation movement by the Kashmiri people. The opposition to the NRC is increasing all over the country.  It is taking massive forms in Manipur, Nagaland, Assam etc.  Resistance from workers and peasantry and the democratic forces against Modi’s efforts to impose a Hindu-Hindi-Hndustan; one nation-one election, one nation-one tax like exclusive policies arrogantly rejecting the diversity of the country, is also growing. At international level opposition to Modi-2’s moves which are creating humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and in Northeast are increasing In spite of much orchestrated ‘Howdy Mody’ with efforts to appease Trump, outside the stadium almost equal number of people demonstrated condemning Modi-rule. This international opposition to Modi rule is intensifying fast. Even though many form the parliamentary opposition forces are surrendering to RSS/BJP and others are still not organizing any movements in opposition, larger number of people’s movements against consequences of ever intensifying corporatization and fascistization under Modi-2 are coming up in different parts of the country. A polarization of public opinion against RSS/BJP is also slowly taking place as reflected in the elections to Maharashtra and Haryana assemblies.

It is in such a  crucial situation, the Central Committee of CPI(ML) Red Star calls for launching a powerful Jan Akrosh Abhiyan  from 25th November, International Day against violence on women, to 10th December, International Human Rights Day in all the states we are working, based on the slogans: Restore Article 370 and autonomy of J&K people; End clampdown on J&K people; Resolve J&K Conflict based on right of self-determination of the people; Cancel Assam NRC; Withdraw Citizenship (Amendments) Bill; Stop all efforts to expand the NRC all over India; No to RCEP, privatization of PSUs, and corporatization; Stop all Brahmanical Manuvadi measures which pollute Indian polity ,create atmosphere of fear among  people, especially minorities; Down with RSS and its Hindu Rashtra!; Struggle for secular, casteless, egalitarian society expanding boundaries of democracy with the vision of all powers to the  people, and a development paradigm which rejects neo-liberalism in toto and works for building people oriented alternative development perspective! n

There has been a lot in the press recently about Kashmir and Article 370. Even more on the social media. It is astonishing as to how much of this is plain false. Sometimes propaganda and sometimes just idiotic tweets. To set the record straight, here is the factual history and situation with references.

Kashmir has known human habitation since the neolithic period as can be evidenced by the archaeological digs at Burzahom, Gufkral and Kanispur.1 However, it is the history of the region rather than its prehistory which excites much comment today.

There are references galore in unreliable sources about how Kashmir is referred to in the Mahabharata etc. It is said to have been ruled by the Kamboj kings. However there is no historical record of any such Kings having existed much less of them having ruled Kashmir. Be that as it may, what is known is that Kashmir from prehistory to history had a close affinity to those who ruled in the areas that are today known as Persia and Afghanistan. The Rajtarangini is clearly a history of Kashmir written in Sanskrit by Kalahana in the 13th Century. However, many of its more remote references cannot be believed and it transfers to history from myth as it approaches the 12th and 13th Centuries.2

Many parts of Kashmir were ruled by different kings and dynasties. In around 1320 CE it is generally accepted, Zulju came and defeated Sahadeva of the Lohara dynasty and became ruler of Kashmir. There is a lot of uncertainty about where he came from but was most likely a descendant of the Chagatays from Central Asia (descended from Changiz Khan). It is also unlikely that he was a Muslim.3 After Zulju, Rinchan who was a Tibetan Buddhist from Ladhak and who had been a minister under Sahadeva, became the King of Kashmir, He converted to Islam and is often called the first Muslim king of Kashmir. Why he took to Islam has many stories associated with it. Some say he tried to convert to Hinduism first but was refused by the Brahmins. In any case, we can safely assume that there must have been a large number of Muslims already in Kashmir for him to have made this conversion almost immediately after becoming a king. After Rinchan, his minister, Shah Mir ruled as did his descendants from the Shah Miri dynasty till 1561.

From 1320 till 1561 the Shah Mir dynasty ruled Kashmir. The Islamisation of Kashmir was more or less complete at this time, what with such tyrannical rulers like Sikander Shah or Sikander Butshikan (Sikander the idol-breaker) who forced many to convert to Islam. In 1561, Kashmir was conquered by Akbar who added it to the Kabul subah. Later, under Jehangir, it was made into a separate subah itself. Mughal rule continued till the beginning of the 17th Century when it was run over by the Sikhs in around 1819. However, the Sikhs in turn, lost it to the English in the Anglo-Sikh war in 1846. It is said that Gulab Singh of Jammu was a subsidiary of the Sikhs. However, he kept out of the war till the end when he came out as a mediator of the British. In appreciation – and at the price of Rs.7500000 (Rupees Seventy Five Lakhs) – the British sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh.

Jammu and Kashmir thus presented a very complicated picture at the time of independence. When partition was finally agreed to, the princely states in what was to become India and Pakistan were given the right to either accede to one of these or to remain independent. This right was granted to them under the Indian Independence Act, 1947.4 There were many princely states which almost took positions which were not acceptable to their people – like Jodhpur, Baluchistan and Travancore. These questions were solved and the states acceded to Pakistan or India.

However, Kashmir presented a totally different question Whereas the majority of the population was clearly Muslim in this state, the ruler was a Hindu, Maharaja Hari Singh. He was of the mind to continue Kashmir as an independent entity. This position continued till October 1947. On around 24th October 1947, armed tribesmen from the North went on the rampage, taking over rule into their own hands. They were threatening to overrun the whole of the state of J&K when the Maharaja of Kashmir called upon the Indian Government to come to his aid and signed the instrument of accession on 26th October 1947.

There has been a lot of talk that the instrument of accession only allowed for 4 topics (Defence, External affairs, Communication and Ancillary subjects) be left to the dominion legislature for making laws. However, this was the same as the instrument of accession signed by all other princes and princesses. All were encouraged to form their own constituent assemblies and some of them did5. It was in May 1949 that the states met the leaders of the Indian Constituent Assembly and agreed that they did not need any separate constitutions and that the Indian Constitution would suffice. This is also when the representatives of J&K to the constituent assembly asked that their state be treated differently. But we are getting ahead of the story.

On 26th October Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession. The instrument of accession signed by him was the same as that signed by more than 550 different princely states in India. All of them provided that the Central Indian legislature could only legislate on Defence, External Affairs, Communication and ancillary matters. All of them had a clause that the acceding royal did not have to accept the Indian constitution which would eventually be passed. This is the basis of the argument of those who say that Kashmir is an integral part of India.

The difference between Kashmir and other princely states lies in other factors. It is clear that the Indian authorities had accepted that there would have to be a plebiscite in Kashmir where the people would have to be given a chance to decide whether to stay in India or to go with Pakistan or stay independent. Though the instrument of accession does not mention any such assurance, nor was there any separate instrument at that time assuring the Maharaja of any such plebiscite, this promise of a plebiscite can be accepted as a basis for the accession from the surrounding circumstances.

The Indian side had always made it clear that the only correct method would be to accept the will of the people of Kashmir. This had to be so as the Indian leadership of that time had clearly accepted the concept of “self-determination”. Though the instrument of accession did not mention anything about determining the will of the Kashmiri people, the letter of Mountbatten, written as the Governor General of India, immediately after accepting the accession of Kashmir said, “it is my Government’s wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of Kashmir’s accession should be settled with reference to the people”6 Nehru had repeated this assurance many times. On 25th October 1947, Nehru wrote to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, by telegram, “I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or State must be decided in accordance with the wishes of people and we adhere to this view.”7

The same telegram was repeated to Clement Atlee, the Prime Minister of UK. On 28th October 1947 after Indian troops had entered Srinagar by air on 27th, Nehru sent a telegram to Liaqat Ail Khan, “I would welcome an early opportunity of meeting you and discussing various problems that have arisen, more specially developments in Kashmir about which I have informed you. I earnestly hope that there will be cooperation between Pakistan and India in stopping raids and putting down disorder and then leaving choice about future to people of Kashmir. I am glad to learn that you are likely to visit Delhi for Joint Defence Council meeting soon.”8

There are many instances where Nehru reiterated that though Indian troops entered Kashmir in October 1947, this was only to help Kashmir to defend itself and the future of Kashmir would only be decided by the will of the people of Kashmir. For instance, his broadcast to the nation on All India Radio on 2nd November 1947. Nor was this only Nehru. As shown earlier, Mountbatten writing on behalf of the Government as the Governor General had stated that the people of Kashmir would be allowed to choose whether to remain with India immediately after accepting the accession of the Maharaja.

Even before the accession, Gandhi visited Maharaja Hari Singh on 2nd August and had issued a statement from Wah (a place in West Punjab in Pakistan) on 6th August. Gandhiji’s statement indicated that the will of the Kashmiris was the supreme law in Jammu and Kashmir and that the Maharaja and Maharani agreed with him.9 Gandhi wrote to the Nehru and Patel that the leaders of the National Conference were “..most sanguine that the result of the free vote of the people, whether on the adult franchise or on the existing register, would be in favour of Kashmir joining the [Indian] Union provided of course that Sheikh Abdullah and his co-prisoners were released...”10

The best proof that India wanted a plebiscite to be held was that on 1st January 1948, it was India which moved the UN to hold a plebiscite. India complained to the UN Security Council under Artilce 35 under which a state could bring to the notice of the UN any situation which might threaten internationa peace. The Indian compaint stated that Pakistan was aiding armed incursion into Kashmir and India had therefore sent troops there. It stated in the complaint that as soon as normalcy was restored, it would want a plebiscite or referendum to be held to determine the will of the people.11 Pakistan responded by refuting the allegations and suggesting that India had staged the accession of Kashmir in a fraudulent manner and that there was presently a genocide against Muslims and aggression against Junagadh. On 20th January the Security Council passed a resolution constituting a three member commission to investigate the complaint and try to resolve the dispute. There followed a period of intense campaigning and discussion. Not only between India, Pakistan and the UN but also with the State Government of Kashmir (led by Sheikh Abdullah), the administration of Azad Kashmir (led by Ghulam Abbas) and other countries taking part. For instance it was the Canadian delegation which first suggested that a third option of independence for Kashmir be a part of the plebiscite. There were also attempts to get an agreement for independence for Kashmir with guarantees from Indian and Pakistan. A plan was also put forward that areas like Poonch, Gilgit and Mirpur would go to Pakistan while the rest would remain with India. However, none of these options could get the required consensus.

In March 1948, China (then the Republic of China and not the People’s Republic of China) put forward a resolution in two parts. Firstly Pakistan was to persuade the tribesmen and its nationals to leave Kashmir, secondly conditions for a plebiscite were to be created which included withdrawal of Indian troops and appointment of a plebiscite administrator and thirdly the state government was to be reformed to represent all political groups. After much discussion, this finally resulted in UN resolution 47. The gist of the resolution finally accepted:

  1. Pakistan was asked to use its “best endeavours” to secure the withdrawal of all tribesmen and Pakistani nationals, putting an end to the fighting in the state.
  2. After the commission is convinced that point 1 is being put into force, India was asked to “progressively reduce” its forces to the minimum level required for keeping law and order. It laid down principles that India should follow in administering law and order in consultation with the Commission, using local personnel as far as possible.
  3. India was asked to ensure that all the major political parties were invited to participate in the state government at the ministerial level, essentially forming a coalition cabinet. India should then appoint a Plebiscite Administrator nominated by the United Nations, who would have a range of powers including powers to deal with the two countries and ensure a free and impartial plebiscite. Measures were to be taken to ensure the return of refugees, the release of all political prisoners, and for political freedom.12

Both India and Pakistan rejected this resolution. The Indian objections had to do with the fact that the Plebiscite administrator was to be given too wide powers (including appointing special magistrates), that the Muslim Conference (the opposition in Kashmir) and the Azad Kashmir representatives were to be chosen by themselves, that Indian troops were required to withdraw totally not even being retained for defence, etc. It also felt that asking for the return of all refugees was not realistic. Pakistan’s main objections were that there must be equal representation for Azad Kashmir and the Muslim Conference in the Government as the National Conference and it did not want even the minimum Indian forces retained in Kashmir as allowed by the resolution. Both however welcomed the UN Commission called the UNCIP (United Nations Commission on Indian and Pakistan). One important result however was the acceptance of ceasefire and the demarcation of a ceasefire line.

The UNCIP tried to make both India and Pakistan agree to the terms of a plebiscite. A plebiscite administrator was appointed in Admiral Chester Nimitz of the USA. The main stumbling block was the demilitarising of Kashmir. The UN appointed a Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to try and demilitarise, which still exists.13 However, though both parties accepted the solution, they had different interpretations of if. Especially the portion where India was to withdraw the “bule of its forces”. Also India had concerns about the Azad forces which in the period of negotiations had grown into an army of 32 battalions. To sum up in the words of Josef Korbel the Czech chairman of the commission, “Accordingly, the Commission did not see any other way out of the impasse than to propose an arbitration of differences. Pakistan accepted, India refused. The Commission’s report to the Security Council was quite critical of India’s attitude.”14/15

Since the commission could not achieve its aims, in December 1949 the UN appointed Gen. McNaughton, the Canadian President of the Security Council to informally mediate. He put forward a plan for demilitarising the area. Pakistan agreed but India did not. The UNCIP was succeeded by Sir Owen Dixon, an Australian jurist16 Dixon tried different approaches. He said if demilitarisation be not possible then it might be possible to take portions to be apportioned to India and Pakistan (like large parts of Jammu to India and Poonch, Gilgit and Mirpur to Pakistan) leaving the plebiscite only for the valley. This was also not accepted. He was succeeded by Dr. Frank Graham of the United States as the UN Mediator. Graham continued to try to mediate a solution till March 1953. At that point he reported that the differences between India and Pakistan (over how to demilitarise Kashmir, who should hold power in the meantime and how the plebiscite should be conducted) had been narrowed down and they should now discuss on their own. In 1953, therefore, from 17th to 20th August17, Prime Ministers Nehru and Liaqat Ali met in New Delhi and finally issued a joint communique. The communique stated that though there remained many preliminary questions to be thrashed out, all such questions would be thrashed out and a Plebiscite Administrator would be appointed by the end of April 1954.18

Without putting too fine a point on this, it can be seen that till 1954 the Indian stand was clearly that the Indian army had entered Kashmir only in response to the invasion by the tribesmen and that they intended to decide the actual fate of Kashmir by a plebiscite. The instrument of accession was only seen as a legal document to justify the entry of Indian forces in Kashmir. India therefore assumed a moral stand that Kashmir could not be signed away by the Maharaja but required the consent of the people. This stand was changed in 1957. When Krishna Menon spoke in the UN in 1957, he took a different stand. His stand was that the instrument of accession had made Kashmir irrevocably a part of India. He said that though India stood by its commitment to determine the will of the people by a plebiscite and to implement that will, this was a question between India and the people of Kashmir and neither Pakistan nor anybody else had any say in this.

There is a lot more to be said on Kashmir and the contradictory stands that the Indian Government took in later times but that would be another story and would detract from our aim to understand the true nature of the revocation of Article 370. We may mention that there was a meeting on Kashmir between India and Pakistan in 1963 between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Swaran Singh (both then foreign ministers). They agreed to try and resolve the Kahmir problem peacefully and effectively to demilitarise. In 1966, in Tashkent, Prime Ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri and General Ayub Khan met and could only issue a declaration of good intentions. In 1972 the Simla agreement was reached between Prime Ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi. Innumerable more attempts have taken place but more in the nature of show than any real intent to solve the Kashmir problem.

Besides the official proposals of India, Pakistan and the UN, many other proposals have come up for solving the Kashmir issue. Such proposals cover the entire gamut of possibility. Kashmir to be partitioned between Indian and Pakistan or to be free or to have various degrees of autonomy. Such partitioning to be either on the basis of a comprehensive plebiscite or a partial one (only in the valley, mainly) or on the basis of a negotiated settlement. Only two proposals need to be mentioned for the purpose of this article. The first that we need to note, a stand rather than a proposal, is the one taken by the BJP. They hold that Kashmir is an integral part of India and there is nothing to discuss and, in fact, their manifesto of 1998 calls for seizing control of all areas “under foreign occupation”.

The other proposal which is necessary to note is the one by JKLF (the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front). From the very beginning, there were three trends in Kashmir. Two were major. The National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah represented the trend to stay with India because the national conference had been fighting to remove monarchy and establish democracy even before independence. The other trend was of the Muslim Conference. They wanted a muslim state to be established and therefore wanted to lean towards Pakistan. At the same time there wee a large section within the National Conference and outside it which wanted an independent Kashmir. This remains a popular demand. A poll in 2007 showed that 90% of people in the Kashmir valley wanted independence.19 The JKLF therefore proposes that there should be an independent Kashmir which will then unite and demilitarise for 15 years at the end of which there will be a referendum.

However it is not these proposals that we are concerned with now. To return to Article 370, one can immediately see what was the nature o the situation in which Article 370 was enacted in 1950. It was first introduced in 1949 as an amendment to the draft constitution then under the consideration of the Constituent Assembly – Article 306A (as it was then called).

At the time of independence in 1947, there were two types of territories in India. The Provinces which were directly ruled by the British (which were clearly like today’s states) and the princely states which enjoyed a greater of lesser degree of autonomy. Each princely state had its own relationship with the British. Mostly Defence, External affairs and communication, along with ancillary subjects were under the British whereas many others remained with the princely state itself. There were various types of relationships. For instance in Berar, the region belonged, till the 1940s, to the Nizam of Hyderabad but was leased to the British at the end of the Nineteenth century. The citizens were expected to owe allegiance to the Nizam but to obey the laws of Her (or His) Majesty and both flags were flown. In most princely states there were two types of courts – the local courts to settle the more “mundane” local issues and the British courts which could be invoked by European citizens and which governed “federal” subjects. Most princely states has their own armies, own flag, own boundaries and own customs duties.

There were more than 550 princely states in existence in 1947 which accounted for over 40% of the area of what was to become India and about 23% of the population. The largest by area and the 3rd largest by population was Jammu & Kashmir (with only Hyderabad and Mysore having larger populations. It was one of only 5 Indian states whose ruler was entitled to a 21 gun salute. This was the actual measure of the importance of the state.

This was the situation when the Constituent Assembly of India undertook the task of preparing a constitution. The instrument of accession finally signed by the 550 states did not give full rights to the Dominion of India. As pointed out only the right to legislate on matters relating to Defence, External Affairs, Communication and Ancillary subjects were ceded to the Indian legislature. Each state was given the right to draw up its own constitution. The instrument of accession provided that the acceding state would not be bound by the Constitution of India. Some states like Mysore, Travancore-Cochin and Saurashtra Union had already formed their own constituent assemblies.

It was a long and tortuous process to integrate the Indian states with India. The British Cabinet Mission plan had envisaged only a loose federation of states with only three subjects with the centre. To allow the 550 odd states to become part of India in a full fledged way required many improvisations. Some of the smaller states (and some larger ones like Kolhapur) were integrated into the Provinces. They formally ceded their power to rule in every way to the Indian Government. They were given privy purses and allowed to retain their titles in return. Some other states were united into a larger state (for instance Saurashtra Union, PEPSU (Patiala and East Punjab States Union), etc. These states then had a Rajapramukh appointed by the President. They had to sign fresh instruments of accession and then were persuaded to hand over rights to legislate on all matters in the Central List and the Concurrent list, as per the Government of India Act, 1935 (broadly corresponding to the same lists in the present Constitution) to the Union Government. These latter agreements, made in 1948-49 with all princely states are called Merger Agreements. By the first article the ruler ceded to the Dominion Government full and exclusive authority, jurisdiction and powers for and in relation to the governance of the State.20

All other states have signed such a “Merger Agreement” - except for Jammu & Kashmir. It is true that in 1954 the State Constituent Assembly of J & K agreed to adopt the Indian Constitution. However, it was the Indian Constitution with Article 370 that was agreed to be abided by. It was this article which was a special article for Kashmir which gave the centre only the right to make laws for defense, external affairs and communications as envisaged by the instrument of accession. Other central laws could only apply to the state if agreed to by the State Assembly

This article was not merely put in as a “sop”. As pointed out, J&K had a different history from the rest of India. At the very time of accession, they were promised a plebiscite to decide their fate. They were the only Indian princely state which did not sign a merger agreement. V. P. Menon21 has written in his famous book, “The Story of the Integration of the Indian States”, about Kashmir, “When the Constitution was being finalised, the choice before us was either to leave the State our of the purview of the Constitution or to include it as a Part B state22. Since the legal fact of accession was beyond question, we decided to include it among Part B states; but its relations with the Government of India were confined to the terms of the Instrument of Accession, namely defence, external affairs and communication subject to the proviso that other provisions of the Constitution could be applied to Jammu and Kashmir in consultation with the Government of that State”.

Thus it can be seen that Article 370 (which was introduced by the Drafting Committee by way of an amendment during the Constituent Assembly debates as Article 306A) was not introduced due to the need to appease anybody but was the embodiment of the fact that there had never been any merger agreement with J&K. N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, one of the representatives involved in drafting the Constitution said, while replying to the question raised by Maulana Hasrat Mohan about why J&K was being discriminated.23

“The discrimination is due to the special conditions of Kashmir. That particular State is not yet ripe for this kind of integration.”

“In the case of the other Indian States or Unions of States there are two or three points which have got to be remembered. They have all accepted the Constitution framed for States in Part I of the new Constitution and those provisions have been adapted so as to suit conditions of Indian States and Unions of States. Secondly, the Centre, that is the Republican Federal Centre will have power to make laws applying in every such State or Union to all Union Concurrent Subjects. Thirdly, a uniformity of relationship has been established between those States and Unions and the Centre. Kashmir’s conditions are, as I have said, special and require special treatment.”

“We are entangled with the United Nations in regard to Jammu and Kashmir and it is not possible to say now when we shall be free from this entanglement. That can take place only when the Kashmir problem is satisfactorily settled.”

“Again, the Government of India have committed themselves to the people of Kashmir in certain respects. They have committed themselves to the position that an opportunity would be given to the people of the State to decide for themselves whether they will remain with the Republic or wish to go out of it. We are also committed to ascertaining this will of the people by means of a plebiscite provided that peaceful and normal conditions are restored and the impartiality of the plebiscite could be guaranteed. We have also agreed that the will of the people, through the instrument of a constituent assembly, will determine the constitution of the State as well as the sphere of Union jurisdiction over the State.”

“The effect of this article is that the Jammu and Kashmir State which is now a part of India will continue to be a part of India, will be a unit of the future Federal Republic of India and the Union Legislature will get jurisdiction to enact laws on matters specified either in the Instrument of Accession or by later addition with the concurrence of the Government of the State. And steps have to be taken for the purpose of convening a Constituent Assembly in due course which will go into the matters I have already referred to. When it has come to a decision on the different matters it will make a recommendation to the President who will either abrogate article 306A or direct that it shall apply with such modifications and exceptions as the Constituent Assembly may recommend. That, Sir, is briefly a description of the effect of this article, and I hope the House will carry it.

Besides Maulana Hasrat Mohani, the only other person who even spoke during this debate was Mahavir Tyagi who only rose to say that he was not in agreement with the wording of the Article but would not move any amendment.

So, it is clear that, firstly, Kashmir acceded to India only on the basis of an assurance that a plebiscite would be held soon. Though such an assurance was not written into the instrument of accession, it is clearly discernible from surrounding circumstances. The Indian Government only brought the army into Kashmir to protect it against the invading tribesmen. Though such invasion may well have had the support of Pakistan, it is no excuse for occupying territory. This only leaves Kashmir in the position of being a region occupied twice over. Thirdly, even legally, if we were to say that the instrument of accession is a completed action, still, there has never been any agreement of merger and there cannot be any justification for any powers to the Indian Government further than those fouind in the instrument of accession.

But all such arguments are merely formal and pale into insignificance when faced with the biggest argument of all. What of the will of the people? Kashmir has had an independent history. It has its own language and culture. It has its own economy. In such a situation, can we claim a right to Kashmir only on the basis of an instrument of accession signed by its ruler? Leave aside the fact that he is a Hindu ruler of a Mohammedan people. If we claim our right to Kashmir on the basis of this “legal” document, then we relegate our independence to being a creation of the Indian Independence Act of the British parliament. The Indian Constitution starts with “We the people of India give unto ourselves...” not “Whereas the British Parliament had enacted the .....Act”. What then of the people of Kashmir? Have they no say in what is to become of Kashmir?

India has held onto Kashmir dressed only in the fig leaf of the instrument of accession for too long. Now along comes Modi to tear away even this fig leaf by denuding the Constitution of Article 370 and struts around in the Emporers new clothes not realising that he is actually naked. India today stands in Kashmir as a naked occupying force. At least Article 370 had given it some legitimacy in saying that we are still waiting for the will of the people through a plebiscite. Even the National Conference which had for so long supported the unity with India is now totally alienated. Nobody in Kashmir is willing to accept the rule of India. To keep ruling, there is a clamp down with all internet and mobile communication being shut down in the valley for almost two months. Since the last seventy years and especially in the last two decades, Kashmir has become the most militarised zone in the world. So the average Indians cough up lakhs of crores of rupees to maintain a huge military presence in a hostile territory the only result of which is that the people of that region will hate India even more! This makes no sense at all.

Footnotes:

1        See Prehistoric Archaeology of Kashmir : An Overview by Dr. Abdul Rashid Lone accessible at www.sahapedia.org/prehistoric-archaeology-of-kashmir-overview

2        See  A. L. Basham and also R. C. Majumdar “Ideas of History in Sanskrit Literature”

3        The Mongol Invasion of Kashmir A.D. 1320 by Sameer Ahmed Sofi of the Aligarh Muslim  University published in the International Journal on Advances in Social Sciences and Humanities in February 2016

4        10 & 11 GEO. 6. CH. 30.

5        Saurashtra Union, Travancore-Cochin and Mysore for example

6        White Paper on Jammu and Kashmir, 1948, page-47

7        Various sources show this telegram to have been written on the 27th October. However, the 10  volume tome by Avatar Singh Bhasin published in cooperation with the Pubic Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of Externa Affairs of the Government of India gives this date. Hence this date has been put.

8        From the same writing by Avatar Singh Bhasin on page 4775

9        Reported by Pyarelal in Mahatma Gandhi : The Last Phase, Vol II pg 355

10      as per Ramachandra Guha’s artice in the Telegraph online edition found at https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/gandhi-in-kashmir-gandhians-on-kashmir/cid/1698228. Incidentally Sheikh Abdullah and his colleagues were released in September 1947 and Ramchander Kak the Prime Minister of Pakistan who was seen as pro Pakistan was dismissed at around the same time.

11      The text of this complaint is at http://www.jammu kashmir.com/documents/jkindiancomplaintun

12      The text of the resolution can be found at http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/doc/47

13      The Indian Government withdrew the 7000 square foot bungalow given to it in 2014. They however asserted that they will continue to work towards demilitarisation of Kashmir in rented premises.

14      Korbel, International Organisation, Vol 7, No. 4, (Nov. 1953) pp 498-510 published by University of Wisconsin Press

15      Korbel footnotes his comment to show that the report of the Commission can be found at “Security Council Official Records (4th year), Special Supplement No. 7

16      Owen concluded his report, “There is, I believe, on the side of India, a comception of what ought to be done to ascertain the real will of the people, which is not that tacitly asssumed by me. Doubtless it is a conception which Pakistan does not share.”

17      It is important to note that just 9 days before this Sheikh Abdullah, who was a supporter of India throughout, was arrested because slogans were raised in Srinagar calling for the evacuation of the Indian army.

18      The text of this joint communique is also available at the above cited artice of Josef Korbel.

19      See https://www.bbc.com/news/10161171

20      This is discussed in para 15 of the judgement of ht Supreme Court in the privy purse case at 1971 SCR(3) 9

21      V. P. Menon was seen as Sardar Patel’s right hand man. He has universally been held as the architect, with Patel of the integration of Indian states. In respect of Kashmir, he was sent to Kashmir on 26th October 1947 to get Hari Singh’s signature on the deed of Accession. L. K, Advani has also praised him as a defender of Hinduism

22      Part B states included the very large Indian states like Hyderabad, Mysore and J&K and also the large states formed by uniting other states like Saurashtra, PEPSU, etc

23      He was the only person who had any question on the article. He decried the discrimination to J&K, mostly on the ground that the Maharaja of Baroda was made to accept Merger while J&K was not. n

The prime minister and home minister are repeating everyday that abrogation of Article 370 shall put an end to terrorism which killed 41,000 people during last seven decades, will lead to more investments and progress of Kashmir and except for few miscreants vast majority of the people are happy with it. But even during the important Muslim festival of Eid the Kashmir valley was and even two weeks after the presidential order abrogating Article 370 and down grading J&K state in to two union territories, vast areas were under curfew and communications through  landlines, mobile and the internet blocked. Contrary to government’s claims, the situation continues to be far from normal even now.

If as Modi government claims the people are happy with their decision, why the curfew was continuing and why the valley was virtually turned in to an open jail? Why the government is restricting even the Indian media from reporting truly from Kashmir? How long the government is going to continue this clamp down? The condition in the valley is turned in to worse than that of Gaza where the Palestinian people are attacked by the Zionist Israeli forces.  The people in this country have the right to ask Modi-2: how long you are going to continue this? It is nakedly continuing the divisive politics of the imperialists.

After all that has happened from 5th August, the unfolding scenario with respect to Kashmir now reveals a well-thought out strategy behind abrogation of Article 370 and 35A as these clauses had been a barrier to the unfettered plunder and loot of the Kashmiris and their resources by the corporate speculators and financial cronies. The Modi regime, which in its compradorial role acts as a facilitator of corporatization, has already led India to an unprecedented economic collapse as manifested in diverse forms. But, due to its ‘special status’, unlike in other parts of India, J&K has been relatively immune from this predatory plunder and pathetic situation thereof.  

However,  following the Constitutional coup transforming Kashmir into the most militarized region in the world and caging the entire Kashmiri people violating all their fundamental rights, now Modi regime is laying down red carpet for all corporate plunderers, both foreign and Indian. To facilitate this neoliberal task, the comprador Modi regime is going for a Global Investors Meet in Srinagar during October 12-14 this year and the task of accomplishing this has already been entrusted to Reliance led by Mukesh Ambani along with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).  Revealingly, to tide over its crisis, the RIL has entered into a strategic deal with Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, the biggest oil giant, transferring 20 percent of RIL owner-ship at a price of Rs. 1.1 lakh crore. This deal among other things has ensured the support of Saudi Arabia, the embodiment of reaction, so called guardian of ‘Ummah’ (Islamic Community), and above all the West Asian pillar of US imperialism, to Modi’s Kashmir move — once again underlining the power of finance capital, the supreme arbiter in all political dealings today.     

It is by its naked sell-out of Kashmir to corporate financiers along with the ongoing surrender of Indian economy as a whole to imperialist capital, the Modi regime has succeeded to ensure the support of all imperialists to his moves in Kashmir. In this context, Pak foreign minister’s desperate comment that the leading world powers “will not back Pakistan on the issue due to their economic interest in India where many have strongly invested” conveys the political undercurrents behind the move.

In this situation the democratic forces should expose the real intentions of the Modi regime behind the abrogation of Article 370 and down grading of J&K into two union territories, extent support to the people of J&K for their right of self-determination and work for the broader unity of the peoples of South Asia based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, against all imperialists’ efforts to continue their hegemony over the region. n

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.