Kashmir Black Day- A Historical Background


27 Oct, Black Day, History, India, Kashmir, Million March, Pakistan

On 27th of October 1947, India landed its army in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, violating the “Partition Plan of the Indian Subcontinent”. Every year this day is marked as Kashmir Black Day in the Indian occupied Kashmir, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan and around the world. Protests, demonstrations and anti-India rallies are organized on this day.

In August 1947, when the Indian subcontinent gained independence, it was divided into two parts (India & Pakistan) according to the Indian Independence Act 1947, on the basis of Hindu and Muslim population.

1. For the areas under the British rule, India was formed out of the majority of Hindu regions of British India and likewise, Pakistan from the majority of Muslim populated areas.

2. Other than the areas directly under the British rule there were around 565 Princely States, whose lands comprised of two-fifths of the total area of India and a population of 99 million. These princely states were given the authority to decide which of the two newly formed States viz. India or Pakistan to join, taking into account factors such as geographical proximity and the wishes of their people.

3. In the case of a dispute or when a particular state was unable to decide, the question of accession was to be determined by a plebiscite.

The ruler of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh, whose state was situated between the two new countries, could not decide which country to join as he himself was Hindu but 77% of the population of Kashmir consisted of Muslims. Hari Singh became controversial when a movement against his cruelty was launched by the Muslims in 1931. As a Hindu king, Hari Singh was ruling over a Muslim majority state. He purposely kept the Muslim population poor and illiterate and the Muslims were not represented in the State’s services. This movement was brutally suppressed by the state forces of Kashmir.

The Glancy Commission, appointed by the Mahraja himself, not only confirmed that Mislims of Kashmir were being discriminated by the Mahraja but also confirmed the existence of serious grievances on part of the Muslims. This commission recommended proper representation of Muslims in the State’s services. Hari Singh accepted the recommendations but never implemented them, which led to Quit Kashmir Movement against the Maharajah in 1946 and eventually to the Azad Kashmir movement.

The actual revolt started in Poonch region against the oppressive taxation under the direct rule of the Maharaja, in the Spring of 1947, well before the partition. Richard Symonds, a Quaker who was carrying out relief work in the Punjab was one of the very few outsiders who had first-hand knowledge of what was going on in Poonch. He wrote in the Calcutta Statesman (4 February 1948), that the ex-servicemen returning to their homes found “there was a tax on every hearth and every window. Every cow, buffalo and sheep was taxed and even every wife”. Finally the Zaildari tax was introduced to pay for the cost of taxation, and Dogra (Hindu & Sikh) troops were billeted on the poor Muslims of Poonch to enforce collection. Poonch was a predominantly Muslim area having more than 600,000 ex-servicemen who served in the Second World War and it was these ex-servicemen that led the movement against the Maharaja.

In August 1947, the Maharaja’s forces opened fire on the demonstrators in favor of Kashmir joining Pakistan, burnt whole villages and massacred innocent people. Several thousand Muslims were ruthlessly butchered. Hundreds of women abducted. All moveable property looted and hundreds of Muslim villages burnt to ashes.

The Maharaja did nothing after being given the right by the British Empire to join either India or Pakistan but signed a “standstill” agreement with Pakistan in order that services such as trade, travel and communication would remain uninterrupted. This agitated the 77% of Muslims of Kashmir who were willing to Join Pakistan to get rid of the Hindu Maharaja. Around 60,000-100,000 Muslims from Poonch migrated to Pakistan for the safety of their families and returned back with weapons. In the last week of August, a condition of unrest and spasmodic violence turned into an organised rebellion that also resulted in a number of killings of Hindus and Sikhs.

In September 1947 the revolts spread to adjacent Mirpur and Muzaffarabad. On October 12, 1947, Pakistan sent a telegram to Kashmir to complain about the killings of Muslims and demanded an impartial inquiry. The then ruler of Kashmir did not deny the charges and promised an inquiry which was never carried out. On 22nd October 1947, Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province recruited by the Poonch rebels, invaded Kashmir to help their Muslims brothers in Kashmir. The Poonch rebels declared an independent government of “Azad” Kashmir on 24th October 1947.

Following the revolution in Pooch and Mirpur area and declaration of Azad Kashmir by the rebels Maharaja asked for Indian military assistance. India set a condition that Kashmir must accede to India for it to receive assistance. The Maharaja of the State of Jammu and Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession (IOA) on 26th October 1947 to the Indian Union, against the wishes of the 77% majority Muslim region. The then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten accepted the accession with a condition that the will of the people will be ascertained by a plebiscite.

According to Indian Official accounts, in the early hours of the morning of 26th October 1947, Hari Singh fled from Srinagar, arriving in Jammu later in the day, where he was met by V P Menon, representative of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and signed the Instrument of Accession. After which Indian forces were airlifted to Srinagar on the morning of 27th October. A recent research from British sources has indicated that Hari Singh did not reach Jammu until the evening of 26th October and that due to poor flying conditions, V P Menon was unable to get to Jammu until the morning of 27th October, 1947, by which time Indian troops were already arriving in Srinagar.

Pakistan immediately challenged the accession, by saying that it was fraudulent, that the Maharaja acted under duress and that he had no right to sign an agreement with India when the standstill agreement with Pakistan was still in force and the first war over Kashmir between the armies of India and Pakistan broke out. On 1st January 1948, India took the Kashmir problem to the United Nations (UN) Security Council . After a cease fire between India and Pakistan, India got control of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, on the other hand Pakistan got control of Muzafarabad, Mirpur and Gilgit Baltistan.

On 21st April 1948, the UN Security Council passed a resolution (Resolution 47) on the issue of Kashmir which stated that, “The final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. For this purpose India and Pakistan will remove its troops from Kashmir”.

This resolution was followed by other resolutions which insisted on plebiscite and peaceful resolution of this issue. After 65 years of the invasion of Indian forces, the people of Kashmir are still waiting for that plebiscite and right of self determination. Recently, the former Deputy Chief of the Indian Army Staff, Lt. Gen. NS Malik wrote in his article, “Solution to J & K Problem Lies in New Delhi”, that the UN resolution of 1948, which is cited by most adversaries of India, deals only with the aggression by Pakistan and not its accession to India. Accession is legal in every way and cannot be disputed. Similarly the so called “Two Nation Theory”, under whose umbrella Pakistan was formed, applied only to British ruled India and not the Princely states, and hence a state being Muslim majority did not disqualify it from joining Indian Union. In the same context, referendum in J&K is illegal as it was not agreed by Muslim League to hold referendum in the Princely states but left to their rulers to accede to India or Pakistan, contiguity being a criteria for the same. Thus the only dispute that remains is the vacation of the aggression by Pakistan and the areas illegally ceded to China by Pakistan. Government of India has to thus base its relations with Pakistan and China on that theme.

As far as the title of the write-up is concerned, it is agreed by Pakistan that the Solution to Kashmir Problem lies in New Delhi because it is the responsibility of New Delhi to carry out an impartial plebiscite in Kashmir, so that the people of Kashmir could decide which country they would like to join, but for the writers’ opinion on “Two Nation Theory” and “Princely States”, he will have to revisit history and study the case of the Princely state of Junagarh, which had a Hindu majority ruled by a Muslim Ruler who acceded to Pakistan. There, India imposed and won a plebiscite in the case, on the basis of which Junagarh was acceded to India. However, in the case of Kashmir, the mirror image of Junagarh, India did not hold a plebiscite. So if in one case the referendum is illegal then how it was legal in the other case?

The accession of Kashmir to India was illegal in every way, either if judged by the “Two Nation Theory” or the Princely State argument. Kashmir is a disputed area that is why the UN security council insisted on impartial plebiscite. By Two Nation Theory, 77% Muslim population clearly means accession of Kashmir with Pakistan and in case of a Princely state, the factors such as geographical contiguity and the wishes of their people clearly indicates that accession of Kashmir with Pakistan was inevitable.

Kashmir day is the day when the people of Kashmir reminds the Indian government that there is no solution to the Jammu and Kashmir problem other than impartial plebiscite, which will give the right to the people of Kashmir to decide whether they want to live with India, Pakistan or want to remain Independent.

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Atiq is an IT professional, his area of interest are Socio-Politico issues of subcontinent and regional security issues with a special focus on Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Can be reached at atiq@pkkh.tv and tweets at @atiqpkkh.

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