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Assimilating Kashmir Into Indian Union

Issue August 2019

Assimilating Kashmir Into Indian Union

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


India took historical and courageous steps to assimilate Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh into Indian Territory ending the ever-disputable so-called Kashmir problem, and leading the South Asia to be a stable and peaceful region. Pakistan has been nervous and has quickly trashed the trade agreement and downgraded the diplomatic relations with India. Understandably, all these things were done in anger. Pakistani Prime Minister said that Pakistan would fight until the last drop of blood. Such statement would incite the Kashmiri people to indulge in terrorist acts, which would be detrimental to Pakistan, too. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made attempts on improving the relations with Pakistan and the situation in Kashmir inviting the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the oath-taking ceremony held in New Delhi in May 2014 but it did not work making India has no alternative but to take the extreme action, which would resolved the Kashmir problem of seventy years once and for all for which the Indian leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi deserves congratulation and appreciation. Nepal has to be watchful the foreign terrorists might make Nepal the gateway to India.


The president of India revoked the Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution of India making Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh the integral part of India on August 5, 2019. Then, the Indian parliament passed bills on uniting Jammu and Kashmir into a single union territory, and then split Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir to make another union territory. Jammu is the Hindu majority region whereas Kashmir is the Muslim majority one. Ladakh is of the folks of the Tibetan origin, and they have the Tibetan culture and language and everything Tibetan.


Revoking Article 370 and Article 35A, India has anticipated the eruption of violence in Kashmir. So, the Indian Government evacuated all the pilgrims and tourists from Kashmir, and then sent the Indian army to patrol the area to control any unwanted violence there, and even made ready for the eventuality of a war with Pakistan. India has mobilized its all three security forces to face the Pakistani army along the Line of Control in case of a war.


A war between India and Pakistan is quite unlikely but if Pakistan were to launch an attack on India, it would be the last war and Pakistan would lose it as it did every war fought with India, and lost some territories of the Pakistan-administered Kashmir every time. Pakistan lost its East Pakistan in the war between India and Pakistan in 1971. East Pakistan became Bangladesh of today.


Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan would fight until the last drop of blood. Pakistan abrogated the trade agreement with India, and recalled its ambassador from India, and asked the Indian ambassador in Pakistan to leave the country. The immediate threat to India from Pakistan is done in haste and in anger. Pakistan could go to the UN Security Council and complain about it but what India had done was its domestic affairs, and it had the rights to do what it had done. No matter what Pakistan would say and even do, the current action of the Indian government would solve the Kashmiri problem forever, and the relations between India and Pakistan would improve in the future and it would be stable and for the benefits of both the countries.


Integrating the Kashmir region into the Indian Territory, the government of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has simply met one of its election commitments. BJP had included the incorporation of Kashmir in India in its election manifesto, and the Indian voters gave the overwhelming mandate to BJP in the general elections held in 2019. So, it was not an unexpected action of the Indian government; Indians were for it. It was well planned and probably well done. This had to be done well before 70 years but the lack of visions of the then Prime minister had lead the South Asia to turmoil because of the Kashmir dispute for the last seven decades. India had to fight several wars with Pakistan for Kashmir. Both the countries have been claiming for the entire Kashmir. Both have its share in Kashmir. However, this situation had created untold miseries to the Kashmiri people, and the relations between the two countries had strained for over 70 years.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited all the heads of State of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) to the inauguration for his first term in office in May 2014. The then prime minister of Pakistan attended the ceremony. Then Modi dropped in Pakistan to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan, and Modi went on trying to improve the relations with Pakistan in the hope of bringing the permanent peace in the South Asia in general and the Kashmir region in particular but all his efforts went astray. Thereafter, Modi tried to isolate Pakistan postponing the SAARC summit probably forever, and then Modi went ahead to take an extreme action of taking in Kashmir.


India is a rising economic and even space power, and soon to be a super power in almost all aspects. So, it did not join India-Pacific Alliance America has sponsored, and also did not take part in the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) of China. India has been going on its own way and its own path indicating India would be a super power. So, it does not like to be under any umbrella of the foreign alliance.


After the demise of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the second Prime Minister of independent India in 1966. He went to Tashkent: the capital of Uzbekistan: one of the Soviet Republics to meet with Pakistani President Ayub Khan for the peace talks after the 17-day war in August–September 1965. The then Prime Minister of USSR: Alexei Nikolayevich Kosygin brokered the summit. It went as anticipated. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Shastri died on the night after the completion of well-organized and fruitful summit. The family of Shastri never accepted the death of the prime minister as a natural one.


Then, on July 02, 1972 after the war between India and Pakistan in December 1971 that ended with the creation of Bangladesh, the then President of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to Simla in India to meet with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and made a historical agreement on the Line of Control accepting it as the de facto border between India and Pakistan along the Kashmir area. Unfortunately, Bhutto was over thrown in the army takeover, and ultimately the death sentence was passed on him and executed in 1979.


The agreement stated, “In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this Line.”


Pakistan remained the source of inspiration for the Kashmiri Muslims to fight for the independence from India and then integrating it with Pakistan. This inspiration alone had been the source of violence in Kashmir, and killing of the Indian security personnel, and certainly of the terrorists and some innocent folks who had taken part in the protests and demonstrations, and who had pelted stones at the security personnel losing their lives. That inspiration alone made India to fight wars with Pakistan. Both Pakistan and India had remained in tense and had been ready to fight at any time required.


In 1947 for accepting independence to India, the British parliament passed a bill on dividing the Indian Territory into Pakistan and India. Pakistan had two territories: East Pakistan means the current Bangladesh, and West Pakistan. All the former Indian Princely States either went under the Indian administration or the Pakistani administration.


Kashmir had the Muslim majority population but the ruler was the Hindu. The Kashmir prince called Maharaja Hari Singh wanted to keep Kashmir as an independent state but Pakistan invaded Kashmir. So, Maharaja Hari Singh decided to take Kashmir to India on condition of Kashmir having its own constitution, and the flag, only the defense and the foreign affairs India would taken care of.


Then, India and Pakistan had fought for Kashmir for one-and-a-half year from October 1947 to December 1948 until the ceasefire agreed between the two new countries became effective in January 1949. Since then Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. They went to wars for it several times.


Such a bone of contention has been probably ended after the presidential order of revoking the Article 370, which was inserted into the Indian Constitution by the Presidential Order in 1954. The Article 370 of the Indian constitution gave the region of Jammu and Kashmir, the special status to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state within the Indian Union.


This Article 370 along with Article 35A gave the residents of Jammu and Kashmir to live under a separate set of laws including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights that other Indian states don’t enjoy. Following this provision, other Indians could not purchase land or property in Jammu and Kashmir.


On August 5, 2019, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind issued the presidential order revoking the 1954 presidential order making all the provisions made in the Indian constitution applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. Following the resolutions passed in both the Houses of Parliament, the president issued a further order on August 6 declaring all the clauses of Article 370 inoperative. In addition, both the Houses of Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill, which divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories to be called Jammu and Kashmir, and then Ladakh.


The Kashmir problem was the Indian and Pakistani made. Probably, Kashmir would have remained an independent country if Pakistan had not invaded, and then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had not taken the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council. Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel had objected Nehru taking the Kashmir problem to the UN but Prime Minister Nehru ignored the advice of Home Minister Patel and took it to the UN.


Then, the UN Security Council passed the resolution on the Kashmir issue stating to hold referendum on what the Kashmir people wanted whether they wanted to join India or Pakistan or stay independent. Then, the Kashmiri Muslims chased away most of the Hindus believing the referendum would be held. Thus, the Kashmir people had done nothing less than ethnic cleansing. Obviously, India never held the referendum.


Pakistan might use Nepal as a conduit for sending the terrorists and other operatives to India. So, Nepal needs to be careful not to let such things happen in the future. Nepal’s foreign policy needs to be based on taking a neutral position on any issues disputed between the neighbors of the South Asian countries. Nepal has been uniquely placed geographically; so, it needs to have an equally unique foreign policy to keep its head well above its shoulders.


August 8, 2019

Updated August 9, 2019

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