Kashmir: The Gathering of a Storm
By: Sohail Parwaz
The Muslim block is finally at a crossroad, where it is completely lost and doesn’t find a way out. The Muslim Ummah has not only lost its destination but has also lost its identity, courage, character and faith (Eman). The British member Parliament George Galloway updated his Facebook status yesterday and bashed the Muslim leadership of the world for their indifferent attitude and criminal silence over ruthless killings in Gaza strip by the brutal Israelis. He openly said, “I address the Arab and Muslim leaders sincerely with the question. Have you no sense of shame? Judge yourselves before you are judged”. He never hesitated to condemn, the Indian atrocities in the blood bathed valley of Kashmir, in past. Although both the issues have centuries old historic background, nevertheless, in near future the both were founded with hardly six months difference; the announced siege of the Kashmir valley took place on 26 October 1947 while Israel was founded hardly 200 days later on 14 May 1948. Hence I always call them twin mayhem.
Unfortunately the Muslim Ummah remained divided all along thus could never keep themselves as a united block to show strength or display their worth. It reminds me of few lines from a famous German poem, through which the German intellectuals were condemned and criticised for their silence and cowardice;
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Socialist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
Keeping Gaza issue pending for some other day soon, like Muslim Ummah I shall also prefer to shed few tears for the burning valley where the children of lesser god are facing the atrocities at the Indian hands, no less bad than what the Palestinian brethren are facing at the hands of Israeli goons and inhuman soldiers in Gaza. The plight of inopportune Kashmiris is a never ending saga. Like 26th October and 5th February there are many other dates also associated to the Kashmir freedom movement. One more historical day was 13 July 1931, a day that was not only a mile stone but a turning point in the history of Kashmir. That was the day when the Kashmiris bluntly spelled their hate and revulsion against tyranny and oppression and ever since then, every day in the Valley is 13th July.
According to a systematic and deliberate planning the Kashmir issue is being shoved in the dusty draws. The basic issue was the freedom and Kashmiris’ right of self-determination, which was molded with the passage of time as an unfinished business of partition. The deliberate efforts were made to minimize its gravity as some ‘internal matter’ or some bilateral matter, while the history suggests that the issue existed even before India and Pakistan were founded as independent and separate nations.
As aforesaid that the dilemma of Kashmiris is a compilation of dates while 13th July is just another important date in the resistance of Kashmir. It is by no means the date when resistance started in Kashmir. There have been incidents of equal importance before this date like the deal between the East India Company and Maharaja Ghulab Singh, merely for rupees seventy-five lacs in 1846. Hence, July 13th, 2031 was by no way the start of people’s movement against Dogra aristocracy and oppression as some historians seem to have chosen this date to mark it so. However, it was certainly the turning point in freedom movement.
It was the Maharaja and his forces’ highhandedness that forced the people to turn against them in 1865. The Kashmiris, mostly the Muslims were marginalized and persecuted. Severe taxes; almost 300% was imposed on the Kashmiri working classes which was hundred percent Muslims, and these taxes ended pushing the commoners to dispossession and poverty. Among other oppressive tactics, ruining of Shawl industry was one, which the weavers, having no other option available were ultimately compelled to close but were not allowed to, by the State. Those who tried to flee the trade were heavily fined or sentenced the imprisonments. The struggle didn’t die during all that time.
However, sixty-six years later 13th July 1931 had its own significance as it announced another start of a prevalent movement against the Dogra aristocracy. The things started with the address of an unknown and non-political figure Abdul Qadir to the protesters who gathered at the central mosque in Srinagar against the Dogra rule, on June 25th. His speech drew huge support from the public who had been subjected to centuries of tyrannical and primitive domination. Abdul Qadir was arrested immediately by Dogra soldiers, and was tried at the Srinagar Central Jail on 13th July. When common Kashmiris gathered to protest against his prosecution, they were fired upon by Dogra forces killing a large number of people, some claim 21, others 22 and few believes that the martyrs were 23, however through cyber research an authentic list of 28 people is found where their names have also been mentioned. Such brutal action by the Dogra forces was repeated across Srinagar, coming down heavily against other protests across the city and painting the city with blood. The incident shook the whole State and the traffic from Srinagar to Rawalpindi and to Jammu was halted from 13th to 26th July. That’s why the martyrs’ day is remembered every year, in the memory of those fallen heroes of July 13th, 1931.
Consequent upon these brutal killings, the Kashmiri leadership realized the need to form a political party i.e. Muslim Conference (MC) with a view to kick struggle for their freedom. Later in 1934, during the State’s first elections Muslim Conference won 10 out of 21 seats and after two years in 1936, it bagged a landslide victory by getting 19 out of 21 seats. Indian Congress was upset with this situation and tried to create division in the ranks of Kashmiri leadership. Later on 19 July 1947, MC passed a historical resolution to merge Kashmir with Pakistan considering the geographical proximity, majority of Muslim population (77%), language and cultural relations of Jammu and Kashmir.
In July 2011, British parliamentarian George Galloway, the veteran campaigner on Kashmir, while addressing a seminar at the UN in Geneva had said that Kashmiris simply want plebiscite which was promised to them by the UN and former prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru. He pointed out to the world that due to a crime committed by the British empire the sufferings of the Kashmiris were greater than the Palestinians and some 80,000 had died in more than 20 years of freedom struggle, uncountable numbers had been imprisoned, exiled, wounded and maimed, while the rape was used as a tool of occupation. Mr. Galloway stated in unambiguous words that Kashmir was never the part of India.
The same prejudiced West, that shows concern for Arab Spring and lost sleep for people’s rights in Libya and Syria is ironically seen indifferent to the miseries of the Palestinians and the Kashmir quandary. It’s a point of great concern that due to the atrocities by Indian security forces from January 1989 till mid June 2014, around 94,038 innocent Kashmiris have been killed and that excludes custodian killing which comes around 7,023. During this period approximately 126,209 arrests have been made while 22,778 women have been widowed and 107,469 children have been orphaned. The most heinous crime is of gang-raping which the inhuman Indian soldiers, shamelessly committed, thus raped and molested 10,120 women.
Dr. Subramanian Swami of BJP has recently said in a television interview that the only solution to the Kashmir problem is a decisive war against Pakistan and latter must be nuked if India is interested in a peaceful Subcontinent.
It reflects the mindset of Indian leadership and their interest for the peace but still if someone is interested in presenting the other cheek to the Indian hardliners then he is certainly living in a fools’ paradise. Ironically, despite a lapse of 66 years, Kashmiris are still struggling and sacrificing to achieve their alienable right under UN resolutions for the plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. What the world needs to understand is that the global village will always remain restive if the flashpoint Kashmir remains unresolved and is not handled seriously. Instead of showing love lost for the Arab Spring, the peace custodians of the world better worry for the speedily approaching Asian Autumn that may turn world into a barren globe.