Question of Plebiscite in Kashmir
Every year, January 5 is celebrated in remembrance of the pledges of the UNO which had guaranteed the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people through plebiscite, while these people have been living under Indian occupation for the last six decades.
During the partition of the Sub-continent, the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) which comprised Muslim majority decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja, Sir Hari Singh, a Hindu who was ruling over the J&K in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten joined India.
The design to forcibly wrest Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the announcement of the Radcliffe Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur District—a majority Muslim area to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. There was a rebellion in the state forces, which revolted against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. Lord Mountbatten ordered armed forces to land in Srinagar.
However, Indian forces invaded Srinagar on 27 October 1947 and forcibly occupied Jammu and Kashmir in utter violation of the partition plan and against the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
It is mentionable that the Security Council adopted resolution 47 (1948) of 21 April 1948 which promised a plebiscite under UN auspices to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wish to join Pakistan or India. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India-an integral part of the Indian union.
The very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination. They organised themselves against the injustices of India and launched a war of liberation which New Delhi tried to suppress through various forms of state terrorism.
Passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an interaction between the Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation by the freedom fighters keeps on going unabated.
It is notable that since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its repressive regime in the Occupied Kashmir through various machinations. In this regard, as already mentioned that India forcibly occupied Kashmir in gross violation of the “Partition Plan of the Indian Subcontinent, but, through the so-called-Instrument of Accession of October 27, 1947 which is illegal, and remains controversial, New Delhi justifies its hold on the Kashmir.
Nevertheless, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has been manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.
According to a report on human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, since 1989, there have been deaths of 1,00000 innocent Kashmiris, 7,023 custodial killings, 1,22,771 arrests, 1,05,996 destruction of houses or buildings, 22,776 women widowed, 1,07,466 children orphaned and 10,086 women gang-raped/molested. Indian brutal securities forces have continue these atrocities.
In fact, Indian forces have employed various draconian laws like the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act in killing the Kashmiri people, and for the arbitrarily arrest of any individual for an indefinite period.
Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces.
In its report on July 2, 2015, the Amnesty International has highlighted extrajudicial killings of the innocent persons at the hands of Indian security forces in the Indian Held Kashmir. The report points out, “Tens of thousands of security forces are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir…the Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows troops to shoot to kill suspected militants or arrest them without a warrant…not a single member of the armed forces has been tried in a civilian court for violating human rights in Kashmir…this lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious abuses…India has martyred one 100,000 people. More than 8,000 disappeared (while) in the custody of army and state police.”
In this respect, European Union has passed a resolution about human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir.
It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of the Indian-held Kashmir. Then researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of mass graves without markers. In this respect, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves.
Notably, foreign sources and human rights organisations have revealed that unnamed graves include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters including those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW.
Nonetheless, there must be no controversy over the question of plebiscite in Kashmir. It is again crucified that in response to India’s case, the UN Security Council had adopted a resolution on January 20, 1948, setting up the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to investigate and mediate the dispute. A resolution adopted by the UNCIP on January 5, 1949 is described by some jurists as a supplementary to the UN resolution passed on August 13, 1948, which approved a ceasefire by ascertaining the future status of the territory in accordance with the will of the people. It clearly stated that the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite—the Secretary General of the United Nations will, in agreement with the Commission, nominate a Plebiscite Administrator. And the Plebiscite Administrator shall derive from the State of Jammu and Kashmir the powers he considers necessary for organizing the plebiscite.
Regrettably, sixty-seven years have passed. Now, it is an open secret that unabated Indian state terrorism was directed to subdue the freedom sentiment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2008 and 2010, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Srinagar and other towns of Jammu and Kashmir with the demand of their right to self-determination. This protests continue unabated. Recently, instead of respecting the sentiments of these people, Indian troops and police personnel responded with bullets, teargas shells and batons.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s recent serious and sincere effort at the annual session of the United Nations—the speech of Pakistan’s prime minister and his meeting with the American president, highlighting the Kashmir dispute and demanding its solution has infused a new spirit among the Kashmiri people.
We can conclude that every year, the Kashmiris and their brethren in Pakistan, and those living all over the world observe January 5 as the day of remembrance of the pledges of the UNO which had guaranteed the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people through plebiscite.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations