JAMMU & KASHMIR - THE LONG LOST PARADISE



CHRONICLES

Kashmir dawned with the sage, Kashyapa, who drained the valley out of the lake (mir) by cutting the gaps in the hills at Baramulla. The incident has been beautifully portrayed in Kalhana’s Rajatarangini. Since then, Kashmir has been a melange of a smorgasbord of religions and beliefs. Till 14th century, there existed Hinduism and Buddhism that stayed together in harmony. It is believed that Buddhism travelled from Kashmir through the mountains to Tibet and China to spread its influence there. However, the advent of 14th century marked an exponential proliferation of Islam in the region with the reign of Sultan Dynasty that got its way through the Khyber pass. The Hindus became a minority then. This period also witnessed the emergence of Sufism, a tolerant religious ideology accepting the co-existence of all other religions. For around 500 years the region was under Muslim rule with the Mughals and then the Afghans having conquered it. Though the Hindu Brahmins were in minority, their inclination towards education helped them gain profits for the king and they dominated the bureacracy. The Muslims on the other hand  worked as artisans and peasants. All of this concluded in 1819 with Ranjit Singh vanquishing the Durrani. This marked the etymology of the present day Kashmir. 


NATIONAL CONFERENCE

After a few years of Maharaja Gulab Singh ascending the throne, the air was thick with the rumours of his allies with the British. This can also be established by the fact that he helped the Britishers triumph in the Anglo-Sikh war and thereafter, the British sold him Kashmir for a sum of 7,500,000 Nanakshahee Rupees in the Treaty of Amritsar. This was the exact expenditure of the Britishers in the Anglo-Sikh war. With the passage of years, Nationalist movements against the British Raj accelerated in the rest of India while in Kashmir the protest was against the arbitrary laws of the then Maharaja Hari Singh. This protest was led by Sheikh Abdullah who even after having pursued M.Sc from the Aligarh Muslim University was unable to get employed there. He dissented against this and soon the All India Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference which later became the National Conference gained popularity and a colossal support there. Hari Singh reciprocated to the protest by arresting Sheikh Abdullah. At 1947, India gained Independence and the resulting partition was going to leave Kashmir in a state of ferrago with the disturbance from all the countries sharing borders. Pakistan was keeping an eagle’s eye on Kashmir because of its majority Muslim population and the rich water system. India sensed the approaching insurgency from Pakistan to Kashmir for its accession and sent Mahatma Gandhi to advice Hari Singh to release Sheikh Abdullah and plan its accession. It was on 26 October, 1947 that Kashmir acceeded to India because the Pakistani troops had already started to annihilate Kashmir in the most cruel ways, and the Maharaja wanted Indian Army to advance its help. However, Pakistan was not ready to accept this Instrument of Accession between India and Kashmir and alleged for it having done forcefully. India finally decided to take this matter to the UN under Chapter VI of the UN charter for it to assist in formulating peaceful solutions. UN stated Kashmir as a ‘disputed area’ and asked to hold a plebiscite there after the Pakistan having removed its army from the area it occupied and with India minimizing the army force from its area of occupation. But none of the conditions were fulfilled and as a result, the plebiscite never took place. 


DELHI AGREEMENT

A meeting was held between Sheikh Abdullah and the Indian Government with Jawaharlal Nehru as the Prime Minister. This came to be known as the Delhi Agreement. It discussed the conditions of the Instrument of Accession and to incorporate the same into the Indian Constitution, Article 370 was brought. Article 370 provided a special status to the State of Jammu & Kashmir which majorly included having its own Flag, Constitution, limited the intervention of Central Government in matters of only External Affairs, Defense and Communication, the extra step of ratification by the State Legislative Assembly in passing laws, and the applicability of only Article 1, Article 370 and the provisions of the Presidential Order of 1954. The Presidential Order of 1954 led to the stringing out of Article 35A from Article 370 of the Constitution of India which defined the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu & Kashmir and only permitted them to buy land, get government jobs, scholarships for higher education and voting rights. 


ARTICLE 370 REPEALED

Article 370 was introduced to integrate Jammu & Kashmir to India but many of its provisions proved to be cumbersome for a huge population there. Thus, it was required to abrogate Article 370 which was done by a Presidential Order at August 2019. This automatically scrapped down Article 35A as well. It might be a progressive step but the conditions people are having to face there is violating their basic humanitarian rights. Innumerable curfews, internet suspensions preventive detentions has not only shattered the lives of the people there but also deteriorated the global image of India. Internet is a basic human right as was held in Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of India and the country cannot impose Section 144 of the CrPC to restrict any such legitimate freedom based of some vague apprehension. The reasons need to strictly abide by the ‘Doctrine of Proportionality’. The world is clamoring for allowing Jammu & Kashmir to get back to a state of normalcy and practice a peaceful, prosperous and liberal democracy.

 - CHANDREYEE RAY

ICFAI UNIVERSITY DEHRADUN YEAR II


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