Youths’ take on Kashmir?
It is a truth worth studyingt gathered during interaction with grown-ups, and that is: Kashmiri and Pakistani youths share each other’s sorrow and joy, they feel and think alike. They assert they are victims of injustice: social, economic, cultural and political. They hasten to make up their mind to resist a person, or a group, a country or a group of countries, or a self-appointed custodian of the global village, whom they consider guilty of tyranny and violation of human rights.
The Kashmiri youths, whether living in AJK and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, or visiting Pakistani cities to meet their relatives, seem so well-equipped with knowledge of the past and present that one can read from their faces what they want of the United Nations Organisation which they say boasts of freedom from dictation of any superpower. They tell Pakistani brethren: “How can we forget 13 youths, including students, killed in a week by the Indian forces in Kashmir? Such brutalities will never vanish from our memory, nor shall we forgive the tyrant, we seek your moral support.”
The Pakistani youths, reportedly facing job insecurity, inhuman behaviour of ‘atta’ and sugar barons and fixation of wheat price at Rs.950 in favour of landlords, respond to Kashmiris: “We are undaunted by what has been occasionally described as foreign-sponsored terrorism and militancy, aiming to weaken Pakistan and its economy, so should you do and be steadfast against the enemy who is against your right to self-determination, we back your resolve to fight for your fundamental right endorsed by the US and the UK.”
The argument has radical wisdom, intelligence and foresightedness. The Pak youths rightly resent Indian breach of the agreements that country had signed in respect of distribution of river water and building of dams. Such attitude causes economic misery to millions of humans in Pakistan. That’s why the Pakistani and Kashmiri youths, sharing each other’s problems, call for solution to Kashmir question according to the international resolutions and Kashmiris’ aspirations.
The youths come up with facts of the struggle to determine future food for thought. In October 1924 Muslim notables presented a memorandum to the British Viceroy on Maharaja Hari Singh’s misrule following a labour strike in the state-run silk factory in which the workers were charged by troops and their leader was tortured to death. In March 1929 the maharaja’s prime minister Albion Bannerji, a Bengali Christian, resigned and stated publicly: “The large Muslim population is governed like dumb-driven cattle…the press is non-existent…the economic conditions are appalling.”
A committee, formed in Lahore in August 1931 and led by poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal, began organising support for freedom of Kashmir. An All-India Muslim League resolution commended the “gallant struggle both inside and outside Kashmir for the rights of humanity in the state.” Armed encounters between the soldiers and local freedom-fighters took place in Kotli in1932 following a no-tax campaign in Mirpur, and the oppressive administration collapsed in areas now part of Azad Kashmir.
April 1943 witnessed protests over the maharaja’s Hindu bureaucrat prime minister Ayyangar’s statement that Kashmir would be the first to accede the Indian Union. The maharaja shirked meeting Mohammad Ali Jinnah when he visited Kashmir and addressed the largest-ever public meeting in Srinagar on June 17, 1944. Jawaharlal Nehru faced hostile demonstrations during a boat procession up the River Jhelum in 1945. A ‘Quit Kashmir’ declaration against the maharaja in 1946, which the Hindu press opposed, drew attention of the British to Kashmir claim to freedom at the end of the Raj. A Muslim Conference convention on July 19, 1947, urged the state’s accession to Pakistan.
London barrister Cyril Radcliffe’s Award gave India a road-link to Kashmir, facilitating the maharaja to accede to India or establish a military alliance with it. Military plans for “re-conquering Kashmir” in the wake of mass uprising against the maharaja were advanced with promise of arms supplies from India. Patiala state troops reinforced the maharaja’s army. Poonch villages were seen burning from the Murree Hills. Indian flew troops to Srinagar on October 27, 1947, and it was Mountbatten who supervised the military operation planning. General Gracey, acting C-in-C of the Pakistan army, played trick and Mr. Jinnah had to withdraw his order for despatch of troops to Kashmir.
Mr. Nehru conveyed to Liaquat Ali Khan on October 31 that Kashmir’s accession had been accepted on the condition that “the people of Kashmir will decide the question of accession themselves as soon as peace and law and order are restored…Our assurance that we shall withdraw our troops from Kashmir and leave the decision regarding the future of the state to the people of the state is not merely a pledge to your government but also to the people of Kashmir and to the world.” He repeated the undertaking in a radio broadcast on November 2.
How well reproduce the Kashmiri youths the facts of struggle for freedom to listeners in Rawalpindi and Islamabad! They say an American official hurt “our feelings” when he said publicly India was their natural ally.” Reportedly, India now has about one million troops in Kashmir, peace and law and order have not returned till today. The
youths say peace-loving countries ought to help the oppressed men, women and young children of Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination. Such a democratic step will ensure peace, prosperity and security in the region, leading up to eradication of poverty, illiteracy and disease, and eventually spur the pace of socio-economic development? That’s how they think and argue.(Zafar Alam Sarwar)