Views from Srinagar
Dr. Abdul Majid Siraj
THERE are over ten million men and women in Kashmir in a population of 14.3 million who have never witnessed a sustained patch of peace. They were born in turmoil and have lived through the strident voices raised by people for liberation and the extreme suffering in its aftermath. People of Kashmir easily revert to demure mode of living once a burst of offensive forces is over but show resilience to endure and build a life around circumstances that surround them. Majority understand the genesis of the situation and conform to prevailing constraints of living but there are isolated groups of cynics who surface with doubts lurking in their mind. They use social network sites as regular subscribers and express critique with capricious noises about the wisdom of resistance, why kashmir is not at peace with existing systems inplace and why shutdown calls or demonstrations or why this part of the world is abandoned in turmoil and there is no propress? However it is routine news that people face very harsh treatment, bullets fired at them with the intention to kill, pellets showered at random with the intent to harm their bodies and blind them for ever. A feeling crosses ranks that peace is an exquisite attribute of life but why is it denied to them?
It will help the sufferers if an insight is given about the cause of the turmoil like pain is alleviated as soon as they understand reasons of why the pain came into being. Most people with adept understanding know why Kashmir is in this dire state and the conundrum behind it. I have very briefly summarized the salience of the foundational issues for those in pain with misgivings lurking. Jammu & Kashmir territories are home to them and if they feel incarcerated like not being able to roam without a fear of being accosted or shot, they are repressed. When did it all start? There is a linked chain tied from the time of Instrument of Accession (1947) , Standstill Agreement (1947) , Delhi Accord (1952), Delhi Agreement 1975 that props the pillar of Atoot Ang accession to India. Examine this proclamation under the lens of law. In the absence of UN remit, Chapter 7 of the Chater (1945), people verdict, or a binding treaty the edict is ultra vires. The local assembly has no power to influence an outcome. They can ask them to stay at home and out of the way of security operations but they cannot give them a guarentee of safety if they do venture out. They may declare a verdict of the dispute for their future but in law their hands are tied. International law forbids any State in occupation or administration or a mandate territory (in dispute) to decide the future polity of that State.
In a manifest appraisal of the drama what transpires is an atmosphere of cold war rhetoric popping up and still pervading political relations between India and Pakistan. Timed with deliberations are an increase number of LoC violations, cross-border shelling and an increase in border violations killing people who have no part in politics. People talk about imponderables like impending change in the outside world. The fall out of Afghanistan politics on the subcontinent or the balance of the security equilibrium between India and Pakistan or the Chinese expansionist programmes like OBOR may influence an outcome. One imponderable that is overlooked is the hubris of nuclear war looming over like a cloud.
The Kashmiri dissident groups’, India’s conformist parties, voices emanating from Pakistan Foreign office and all others keen on resolution of all disputes between India and Pakistan endorse one view emphatically that people of Kashmir must be included in negotiations and deliberations on Kashmir. It is natural for people power to emerge as a force to ebb on insurrection forces. What strikes as an elusive impasse in this process is why views of the people of Kashmir are so ill understood that they are required to reiterate their demands, again and again. In a metaphoric elucidation, a family unit of people have the structure of their home broken down, their household disrupted, their children killed and for media the centre stage event for the world to see becomes a reality – they are then asked about what is it they want! People want their home back. It is not money; money may buy bread but it will not help peace and an imaginative fulfilled life.
It is very unfortunate that Kashmir is placed as a morass in the middle of a democracy. Figuratively in a kingdom the king takes a decisive step without any need for obdurate political posturing. If people are important to him, he would release them, give them a breath of freedom even at the cost of a reduction in his territorial borders. The king may want to expand his empire at any cost, then he would eliminate the inhabitants and just keep the land. Democracy is not kingdom. Consequently a majority who empathise with people of Kashmir in India are not majority enough to deliver truth and justice to people of Kashmir. “Liberation sentiment” gets ingrained when their demands are resisted.
It is unfortunate after what Mr Nehru told them in Lal Chowk in early 1948, no one in authority in India or elites in political world have spoken to them. People may be wrong and their loyalties misplaced to be facing ambiguities over shadowing a better, happier and secure future that lies someplace else. Instead in reality, opinions are forced down their throat, laws enforced on them, a pre-conceived format of living pattern laid out backed by peremptory laws. These are the feelings that in some form or other agitate their minds and they get ready for the ultimate sacrifice of causing their own death for a future for others. Kashmir is treated as a patch of insurrection where people want to separate from Union of India. This is the antithesis that starts the conflict and people cannot reconcile with it, neither has an attempt been made to validate the claim. The marriage for them has not consummated yet therefore how can they ask for a divorce. The vows before marriage taken offered them right to self-determination, a fair treatment through the interim period, a guardianship of their assets and resolution with Pakistan to redeem territories broken away from their home. It is only right that their cries to relieve their pain are heeded, their slogans for liberation are taken on board and their identity preserved.
There are some arguments in Kashmir case that have defied logic all through the years in dispute. In the liberation process facts available in records will be considered, such as examples and artefacts in the form of landmark agreements. The British did give a blanket verdict on existing treaties that they will be assumed to be cancelled when the Independence Act of India 1947 was enforced. This act would not over run TOA because there was no such provision in the document. This treaty in force would invalidate all subsequent treaties. If Standstill Agreement was the instrument to replace TOA, then because the agreement was not terminated, Instrument of Accession would not be legal. Treaty over treaty on the same subject is illegal. If IOA was taken as the valid treaty to define relationship with India, then this treaty has to be examined fully to substantiate its validity. All these facts that validate or invalidate accession to India or Pakistan must be examined. That is the least attempt at stopping such enormous loss of life on all sides.