Independence Day for Kashmir – By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar – TOI



Independence Day for Kashmir


17 Aug 2008, 0338 hrs IST,


By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar


On August 15, India celebrated independence from the British Raj. But Kashmiris staged a bandh demanding independence from India. A day symbolising the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolising Indian colonialism in the Valley.


As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will. True, nation-building is a difficult and complex exercise, and initial resistance can give way to the integration of regional aspirations into a larger national identity — the end of Tamil secessionism was a classical example of this.


I was once hopeful of Kashmir’s integration, but after six decades of effort, Kashmiri alienation looks greater than ever. India seeks to integrate with Kashmir, not rule it colonially. Yet, the parallels between British rule in India and Indian rule in Kashmir have become too close for my comfort.


Many Indians say that Kashmir legally became an integral part of India when the maharaja of the state signed the instrument of accession. Alas, such legalisms become irrelevant when ground realities change. Indian kings and princes, including the Mughals, acceded to the British Raj. The documents they signed became irrelevant when Indians launched an independence movement.


The British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of their Empire, the jewel in its crown, and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial on Kashmir.


The politically correct story of the maharaja’s accession ignores a devastating parallel event. Just as Kashmir had a Hindu maharaja ruling over a Muslim majority, Junagadh had a Muslim nawab ruling over a Hindu majority. The Hindu maharaja acceded to India, and the Muslim nawab to Pakistan.


But while India claimed that the Kashmiri accession to India was sacred, it did not accept Junagadh’s accession to Pakistan. India sent troops into Junagadh, just as Pakistan sent troops into Kashmir. The difference was that Pakistan lacked the military means to intervene in Junagadh, while India was able to send troops into Srinagar. The Junagadh nawab fled to Pakistan, whereas the Kashmir maharaja sat tight. India’s double standard on Junagadh and Kashmir was breathtaking.


Do you think the people of Junagadh would have integrated with Pakistan after six decades of genuine Pakistani effort? No? Then can you really be confident that Kashmiris will stop demanding azaadi and integrate with India?


The British came to India uninvited. By contrast, Sheikh Abdullah, the most popular politician in Kashmir, supported accession to India subject to ratification by a plebiscite. But his heart lay in independence for Kashmir, and he soon began manoeuvering towards that end. He was jailed by Nehru, who then declared Kashmir’s accession was final and no longer required ratification by a plebiscite. The fact that Kashmir had a Muslim majority was held to be irrelevant, since India was a secular country empowering citizens through democracy.


Alas, democracy in Kashmir has been a farce for most of six decades. The rot began with Sheikh Abdullah in 1951: he rejected the nomination papers of almost all opponents, and so won 73 of the 75 seats unopposed! Nehru was complicit in this sabotage of democracy.


Subsequent state elections were also rigged in favour of leaders nominated by New Delhi. Only in 1977 was the first fair election held, and was won by the Sheikh. But he died after a few years, and rigging returned in the 1988 election. That sparked the separatist uprising which continues to gather strength today.


Many Indians point to long episodes of peace in the Valley and say the separatists are just a noisy minority. But the Raj also had long quiet periods between Gandhian agitations, which involved just a few lakhs of India’s 500 million people. One lakh people joined the Quit India movement of 1942, but 25 lakh others joined the British Indian army to fight for the Empire’s glory.


Blimps cited this as evidence that most Indians simply wanted jobs and a decent life. The Raj built the biggest railway and canal networks in the world. It said most Indians were satisfied with economic development, and that independence was demanded by a noisy minority. This is uncomfortably similar to the official Indian response to the Kashmiri demand for azaadi.


Let me not exaggerate. Indian rule in Kashmir is not classical colonialism. India has pumped vast sums into Kashmir, not extracted revenue as the Raj did. Kashmir was among the poorest states during the Raj, but now has the lowest poverty rate in India. It enjoys wide civil rights that the Raj never gave. Some elections — 1977, 1983 and 2002 — were perfectly fair.


India has sought integration with Kashmir, not colonial rule. But Kashmiris nevertheless demand azaadi. And ruling over those who resent it so strongly for so long is quasi-colonialism, regardless of our intentions.


We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Almost certainly the Valley will opt for independence. Jammu will opt to stay with India, and probably Ladakh too. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.




Tags: , , ,

3 Responses to “Independence Day for Kashmir – By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar – TOI”

  1. Sandip Says:

    there’s no harm if people disagree – but a debate on this subject is certainly overdue and required now more than ever before. and yes, this doesn’t come as a surprise from Swami who is known to be of liberal disposition – but certainly remarkable for ToI to publish it. but, is it just a co-incidence that on the same day HT carries Vir Sanghvi’s “Think the Unthinkable” (voicin voicing almost identical views !!


    22nd, 2008
    3:39 pm GMT

    You are poor journalist just visualizing kashmir issue sitting in office and writing anti India columns.

    Did China has given freedom to tibet even they fought with people of 50 lakh majority coming out on the street. Demonstrating like do and die situation in Lhasa. THOUSAND DIED FOR CAUSE OF FREEDOM FOR TIBET.
    Did they acheived freedom .

    How kashmiris can get freedom by gathering two lakh people on the street. In Mumbai itself have 1.2 crore population and outer area one crore. for morcha they gather in 20 lakh. can you assume freedom in this moment.

    How Bangaladesh has become independent country, even pakistan and Bengaladeshi were muslim this is case we distinguish situation provisional way that is language. NOW SIMILARLY PAKISTAN HAS TO SPLIT INTO FOUR COUNTRIES BALUCHISTAN,SINDH, PUNJAB{WEST}, NORTH FRONTIER STATES.I AM NOT TELLING THIS WORDS BUT IS OF MUSHRAF’.

    you will wonder this word because this is suppose to happen very soon. religion of islam is not the cause, the pakistan are doing wrong and against interest of people. Most of kashmiris are poor in ruler area they from lower caste people. just srinagar bussness lobby is supporting this cause for there wasted interest.


    What gelani and company tried is totally wrong and fooling poor kashmiris by bringing them in front.
    your article is totally wrong on the subject issue . there is no constraint of the money for India in protecting territory of country.

    May be prime minister has said to published this matter in newspapar.we are suspicious about him now.
    – Posted by parshuram masurkar


    I am sending email message in respect to your opinion on the Kashmir .



    First you are Member Parliament of luton south of England , your present voters are south asia peoples. You have to first keep your duty to fulfill wish of kashmiris people settle in the

    England . More or less I will not comment on the your legislature functioning. But as you are British citizen you must be careful of the terrorism in world through Pakistan and its provisional constituencies that is from Pakistan occupied Kashmir specially. You will find that maximum training camp are in Pakistan occupied Kashmir . Visualizing present state of the terrorism mechanism in Pakistan occupied Kashmir every town is having training camps.

    Actually government of the India is helping every kashmiris to raise their living hood by better education, employment etc. If people in four district of Kashmir demands for separate country on basis of religion ,it is impossible. They are from srinagar district and people remaining are supporting the India . If you come to India you will find that more than 200 million population is of muslim community. All state in India is having muslim population. Just in the name of islam if they demand for separate country it is impossible. How can 15 lakh people can demand for separate country in India . At present India population is about 1200 million as compare to Pakistan population of 200 million. In the Pakistan you find that 5-million people are non muslim who are in struggle for rights of citizenship in equalities. Why you are not working on Christian people rights in the Karachi . it is since inception poor Goan are in Karachi are struggling for rights . Pakistan is mostly controlled by the military rulers due to prediction of the splitting into four countries. Islam was not main reason in the Pakistan for internal violence. In India you will find muslim are protected and having equal rights in society and India is worlds biggest democratic country . Even muslim women are given protection by the government by the widow pension scheme.

    In Bombay , people gather in 5 million for general strike. Why I am running from subject issue living behind Kashmir agitation. I just now joined with similar issue of Tibet . Before the Olympic in china Tibetans protested for freedom from china , did they got freedom. I was reading Lhasa newspaper daily what every one opinion was that tibet cannot get freedom before new life on this planet. Whom to blame or why to blame . Similarly china accession of the Hongkong from UK . Every one from Britain or Hongkong made similar demand of the separate country status to Hongkong people. Are they in china or free independent country. why Britisher left HongKong , leaving behind 10 million people to china. How your country supported freedom movement in the HongKong. left all HongKong people to hell status of china under cummunism.

    Bangladesh separated from Pakistan by means of the language differences and not on basis of islam. Religion is way of the life . but traditional/culture/language/custom is the identification of community and intact of communal rule/feature. It is harmony among the same community person for protection of the life. May be Irish people are more mentally strong as compare to the England people. But they identifies as separate people.

    You are really interested in this issue you will find that in Pakistan four provisional region people are obeying islam but there difference among them on the basis language/ custom .

    Pakistan have to split into four countries for sake of the world because due to one reason fight for right of self determination by sindhis, baluch , Punjab, pactunis or pathanis as they have traditional rule of the tribes . Restriction of marriages, adoption ,sucession, language, protection , education are the main feature in the differences of the communities…

    Large people are interested communal harmony in the Kashmir . But some miscreant or radicals elements of lslamic are protesting in srinagar . In district places large people are illiterate and doing farming work in kashmir. No one in world can demand separate countries status for just 15 lakh people. If it is case of London to be separated from England do you support. What you want to achieve it is impossible dear. If HITLER predicted to conquer world by means of the war, it was impossible for him. We must think of achieving more value based principles rather than the fights/war/freedom etc. world must joined for peace and harmony. And extinguish fire of hatred to other.


    You will definitely support India on this issue reading above column. write to me

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: