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Understanding the Kashmir Dispute: Historical Outline (1752-2020)

A detailed historical account of the entire history of Kashmir conflict. In 1947, the British rule in India ended with the creation of two new nations, India and Pakistan. Each of the 565 Indian states had to decide which of the two nations they would prefer to join.

By the collapse of Mughal rule in 1752, Kashmir came under the administration of the Afghans. Nevertheless, the Sikhs, under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, wrestled for Kashmir from the Afghans in 1819. In 1820, Maharaja Ranjit Singh appointed the Dogra king Gulab Singh to rule the state. In 1846, the British defeated Sikhs, and Gulab Singh, the Dogra ruler of Jammu, purchased the valley from the British in lieu of political and military favours on the battlefield. The present state was created on 16 March 1846, by a treaty between the British East India Company, acting on behalf of the British government, and Maharaja Gulab Singh in Amritsar.

Portrait of Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1847.

In 1947, the British rule in India ended with the creation of two new nations, India and Pakistan. Each of the 565 Indian states had to decide which of the two nations they would prefer to join. During that time, Maharaja Hari Singh was ruling the state of Jammu and Kashmir. He preferred to remain independent and decided not to join any of the two nations. Nevertheless, fearing the attack by Kabalis from the North Waziristan, and to protect the geographical boundaries of the state, the Maharaja called the Indian government for help, which the government of India agreed “with the instrument of accession” with India, which was accepted by Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor-General of India, on 27 October 1947, without the information and the consent of the Kashmiri leadership and the people. It was the first occasion when the Indian troops marched into Kashmir and the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was in exchange for the receiving of the ‘Military Aid.’ Being a disputed state, the offer of a plebiscite was made by the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the United Nations Security Council, on December 1947, and a council was made under the banner of the United Nations’ Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). After Nehru’s offer of a plebiscite on 5th January 1949, the UNCIP passed a resolution which states: “The question of accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic methods of free and impartial plebiscite” (UN Resolution: Document No. S/1196, Dated 10 January 1949). In the same year (1949), the Government of India promulgated the Article 370, which gave a special status to the state, and Karan Singh, the son of Hari Singh, became the ruler of Kashmir. In November 1951, Karan Singh was designated as Sader-i-Riysat, “the Governor,” instead of the President. Sheikh Abdullah, the founding leader of the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference, was made the Prime Minister of Kashmir (the only state with a separate Prime Minister). He agitated against the rule of the Maharaja Hari Singh and urged self-rule for Kashmir.

Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah (right), chosen to head the interim government in Kashmir, confers with Sardar Patel, deputy premier of India

One of the major tragedies that took place in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 was the brutal massacre of Muslims in Jammu. The lid on these massacres was lifted by Ved Bhasin and a few journalists of that time. But like the collective silence over the pogrom in Hyderabad, the holocaust in Jammu has been a story hidden from public view by the machinations of the very people who covertly allowed the massacres to take place. On 14 October 1947, the RSS activists and the Akalis attacked various villages of Jammu district—Amrey, Cheak, Atmapur and Kochpura—and after killing some Muslims, looted their possessions and set their houses on fire. The state troops led the attacks. The state officials provided arms and ammunition to the rioters. The administration had demobilised many Muslim soldiers in the state army and had discharged Muslim police officers. Most of the Muslims outside the Muslim dominated areas were killed by the communal rioters who moved in vehicles with arms and ammunition, though the city was officially put under curfew. It is said that the Ramnagar reserve in Jammu was littered with the dead bodies of Gujjar men, women and children. In the Muslim localities of Jammu city, Talab Khatikan and Mohalla Ustad, Muslims were surrounded and were denied water supply and food. Muslims in thousands were loaded in numerous trucks and were escorted by the troops in the first week of November. When they reached the outskirts of the city, they were pulled out and killed by armed men, while abducting the women. There were also reports of large-scale massacres of Muslims in Udhampur district, particularly in proper Udhampur, Chenani, Ramnagar, Bhaderwah and Reasi areas. The killing of numerous Muslims was reported from Chhamb, Deva Batala, Manawsar and other parts of Akhnoor with many people fleeing to Pakistan or moving to Jammu. In Kathua district and Billawar area, there was extensive killing of Muslims with women being raped and abducted. Late Ved Bhasin, (the founder editor of the daily English newspaper Kashmir Times) who witnessed the Jammu violence in 1947, mentions that Mahatma Gandhi commented on the situation in Jammu on 25 December 1947 in his speech at a prayer meeting in New Delhi: “The Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu and those who had gone there from outside killed Muslims. The Maharaja of Kashmir is responsible for what is happening there…A large number of Muslims have been killed there and Muslim women have been dishonoured.” According to Ved Bhasin and scholar Ilyas Chattha, the Jammu riots were executed by members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who were joined by the refugees from West Pakistan and were supported strongly by Hari Singh and his administration with the main aim to change the demographic composition of Jammu region and ensure a non-Muslim majority. Bhasin states that the riots were “clearly” planned by the activists of RSS. Observers have noted that the Akali Sikhs and some former members of the Indian National Army (INA) also participated in this violence along with the RSS and state forces. Bhasin argues that the massacres took place in the presence of the then Jammu and Kashmir’s Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan and the governor of Jammu, Lala Chet Ram Chopra and that some of those who led these riots in Udhampur and Bhaderwah later joined the National Conference with some of them also serving as ministers.

Also Read: Resilience -Thy Name is Kashmir

The number of Muslims killed in Jammu massacre mentioned by different scholars varies.  There are no official figures, so one has to go by reports of authentic newspapers and reporters.  In this context, the scholar Ian Copland estimated total deaths to be around 80,000, while Ved Bhasin estimated them to be around 100,000. Author and historian Christopher Snedden say, the number of Muslims killed were between 20,000 and 100,000. Justice Yusuf Saraf estimates them to be between 20,000 and 30,000. Much higher figures were reported by newspapers at that time. A report by a special correspondent of The Times, published on 10 August 1948, stated that a total of 237,000 Muslims were either killed or migrated to Pakistan. The editor of The Statesman Ian Stephens claimed that 500,000 Muslims, “the entire Muslim element of the population”, was eliminated and 200,000 “just disappeared”. Nevertheless, the scholar Ian Copland finds these figures dubious. Similarly, Horace Alexander’s article on 16 January 1948 in The Spectator puts the number killed at 200,000. One more report published on 10 August 1948 by The Times, London reports: “2,37,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated – unless they escaped to Pakistan along the border – by the forces of the Dogra State headed by the Maharaja in person and aided by Hindus and Sikhs. This happened in October 1947, five days before the Pathan invasion and nine days before the Maharaja’s accession to India.” Reportedly, as a result of the massacre/migration, Muslims who were a majority (61 per cent) in the Jammu region became a minority. Mountbatten was in control in Delhi and had news of the genocide of Muslims in Jammu filtered out of the media. Sadly, there has been precious little discussion in India about this horrible phase of history. Maharaja Hari Singh’s involvement, with the support of the RSS, is evident from a letter Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to Vallabhbhai Patel on 17 April 1949 (quoted in The Frontline):

“In this (intelligence) report, among other things, a reference was made to a growing Hindu agitation in Jammu province for what is called a zonal plebiscite. This idea is based on the belief that a plebiscite for the whole of Kashmir is bound to be lost and, therefore, let us save Jammu at least. You will perhaps remember that some proposal of this kind was put forward by the Maharaja some months back. It seems to me that this kind of propaganda is very harmful, indeed, for us. Whatever may happen in the future, I do not think Jammu province is running away from us. If we want Jammu province by itself and are prepared to make a present of the rest of the State to Pakistan, I have no doubt we could clinch the issue in a few days.”

On 8 August 1953, the then Sadr-i-Riyasat (Constitutional Head of State) Dr Karan Singh, son of the erstwhile Maharaja Hari Singh, dismissed Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minister. He was denied the opportunity to prove his majority on the floor of the house and his dissident cabinet minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed was appointed as Prime Minister. Sheikh Abdullah was immediately arrested and later jailed for eleven years, accused of conspiracy against the State in the infamous “Kashmir Conspiracy Case” [Kashmir Conspiracy Case was the legal case filed by the Investigations Department of the Government of India, by which Sheikh Abdullah and others were arrested and jailed. Abdullah along with Mirza Afzal Beg and 22 others, who were accused of conspiracy against the state for allegedly espousing the cause of an independent Kashmir. The case was framed in 1958, for which trial began in 1959 was withdrawn in 1964 as a diplomatic decision.]

According to Sheikh Abdullah, the central government headed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru engineered his dismissal and arrest. On 8 April 1964, the State Government dropped all charges in the so-called “Kashmir Conspiracy Case”. Sheikh Abdullah was released and returned to Srinagar where the people of the valley accorded him an unprecedented welcome.

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After his release, he was reconciled with Nehru. Nehru requested Sheikh Abdullah to act as a bridge between India and Pakistan and make President Ayub agree to come to New Delhi for talks for a final solution of the Kashmir problem. President Ayub Khan also sent telegrams to Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah with the message that as Pakistan too was a party to the Kashmir dispute any resolution of the conflict without its participation would not be acceptable to Pakistan. This paved the way for Sheikh Abdullah’s visit to Pakistan to help broker a solution to the Kashmir problem.

Sheikh Abdullah went to Pakistan in the spring of 1964. President Ayub Khan of Pakistan held extensive talks with him. On 27 May 1964, while he was en route to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan, the news came of the sudden death of Nehru and the Sheikh after addressing a public rally at Muzaffarabad returned to Delhi. On his suggestion, President Ayub Khan sent a high-level Pakistani delegation led by his Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto along with him to take part in the last rites of Jawaharlal Nehru. After Nehru’s death in 1964, he was interned from 1965 to 1968 and exiled from Kashmir in 1971 for 18 months. The Plebiscite Front was also banned. This was allegedly done to prevent him and the Plebiscite Front, which was supported by him from taking part in elections in Kashmir. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad became the Prime Minister of the state in 1954. On March 30, 1965, Article 249 was formulated, which states that chief minister and governor respectively replace the designations like the prime minister and president of the state. Sheikh Abdullah again became the Chief Minister of the state following the 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord and remained in the top slot until his death on 8 September 1982.

Since the Kashmir conflict during the Partition of India in August 1947, which resulted in the creation of India and Pakistan, there have been four wars (1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999) over the disputed issue of Kashmir. Kashmiris continued their freedom struggle since 1947. People like Maqbool Bhat (18 February 1938–11 February 1984), [the co-founder of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front], who openly challenged the status quo of Indian rule in Kashmir were killed or arrested. Maqbool Bhat was hanged on 11 February 1984 (much before the armed militancy in Kashmir) in Tihar Jail in New Delhi. Kashmiris have been asking for the mortal remains of Bhat, buried inside the Tihar Jail.

Even after Bhat’s hanging, the Kashmiri leadership still agreed and decided to continue the fight for the Kashmir cause politically. In 1986, G.M. Shah’s government was dismissed after communal riots in South Kashmir, and a new National Conference–Congress government was sworn in with Farooq Abdullah [son of the NC founder Shiekh Abdullah] as the chief minister, after the Rajiv-Farooq accord.

Photo Courtesy: Kashmir Life Qazi Nisar addressing a mammoth MUF rally in Iqbal Park ahead of March 23 elections in 1987. Photo in Special Arrangement with : Merajuddin

Four months after the assumption of power by Dr Farooq Abdullah, fresh elections were held for the State Assembly on 23 March 1987, which were contested by the Congress-I and the NC, in the coalition. Before the elections, Jamaat-e-Islami joined hands to form a Muslim United Front (MUF) mainly pointing out that the NC had capitulated before the Centre for the sake of power and bartered away the special status of the State. MUF’s election manifesto stressed the need for a solution to all outstanding issues of Kashmir according to the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The election was held on 23 March 1987. Nearly 75% of the voters participated, highest recorded participation in the state. Almost 95% of the people in the Valley voted for MUF. However, the elections were completely rigged.

When the counting started, NEW DELHI declared NC-NCI winner and installed Farooq Abdullah as CM, which was the murder of the people’s mandate. For instance, in the Amira Kadal constituency of Srinagar, MUF’s Syed Mohammed Yusuf Shah was a candidate. As the vote-counting began, it was becoming clear that Yusuf Shah was winning by a landslide. His opponent, Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah, went home dejected. However, he was summoned back by the electoral officials on the orders from New Delhi and declared the winner. When the people protested, the police arrived and arrested Yusuf Shah and his supporters. They were held in custody until the end of 1987. Yousuf Shah (now Syed Sallahauddin) left Kashmir, joined Hizbul Mujahidin in the Pakistan part of Kashmir (also called Azad Kashmir), and subsequently became the supreme commander of the UJI (United Jihad Counsel ) – an umbrella organization of 33 militant groups. All the major leadership, who later formed Hurriyet, were declared unelected. BBC reported that Khem Lata Wukhloo, who was a leader of the Congress party at the time, admitted the widespread rigging in Kashmir. He stated: “I remember that there was massive rigging in the 1987 elections. The losing candidates were declared winners. It shook the ordinary people’s faith in the elections and the democratic process.”

People protested, but the state arrested many Kashmiris. This was the first time, Kashmiris lost the remaining faith in Indian Democracy and its practices. Kashmiri leadership and Kashmiri people reached to the conclusion that fighting for the right to self-determination is politically and democratically impossible as Indian will never let it happen.

Subsequently, Farooq Abdullah resigned in protest after the GAWKADAL MASSACRE—on 21 January 1990, thousands of Kashmiris took to the streets in protest, demanding independence. The Indian paramilitary troops of the Central Reserve Police Force opened fire indiscriminately killing around 100 people—The massacre happened just a day after the Government of India appointed Jagmohan as the Governor for the second time in a bid to control the mass protests by Kashmiris. The state was brought under Governor’s Rule.

At the same time, most of the Kashmiri Pandits living in the Kashmir Valley left in 1990 as the conflict started in the state. Some 95% of the 160,000-170,000 community left the Kashmir valley. Only a few stayed back. The question of why did they leave Kashmir has conflicting answers. Many accuse the then governor Jagmohan of conspiring the migration/exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. However, many believe that gunmen threatened them to leave the valley. However, many Kashmiri pandits are upset with the fellow Kashmiri Muslims,  accusing them of not helping/protecting them during their migration/exodus. However, the Kashmiri Muslims express the helplessness  and maintain that they themselves were vulnerable and held in the crossfire of the conflict, so they were unable to do anything for their pandit brethren. Nevertheless, both the Kashmiri communities blame each other for not standing with each other during the times of crisis and sufferings.  Around 219 Kashmiri Pundit were killed in Kashmir in the 1990s, however, during the same time 8731 Kashmiri Muslims were also killed. However, they still visit each other and share the warmth, leaving apart the conflict-induced grudges. They share many common food, dress, language and jokes.

Photo Courtesy: Hindustantimes – A Kashmiri Pandit Women in Camp

There are many such massacres in which thousands of unarmed Kashmiri civilians were murdered and injured by the Indian security agencies. For instance, the ZUKOORA AND TENGPORA MASSACRE, in which 33 people were killed and 47 injured by the Indian Army soldiers on 1 March 1990. Around 1500 people were protesting seeking for the implementation of a United Nations resolution regarding a plebiscite in Kashmir. These protesters headed towards the Srinagar office of the United Nations to submit a memorandum seeking freedom from India. It led Amnesty International to issue an appeal for urgent action on Kashmir. The other massacres carried out by the Indian security forces include the BIJBEHARA MASSACRE, which happened on 22 October 1993 when the 74th Battalion Border Security Force (BSF) troops arbitrarily fired on unarmed protesters (over the siege of the mosque in Hazratbal, Srinagar) killed 51 civilians and injured 200.

Indian government barred independent local and international media from entering the town. On 23 October 1993, when a large number of local and foreign media people converged in the town, the army used violence and fired into the air to stop them from visiting the old site of the town, reported Kashmir Affairs. The others include SOPORE MASSACRE (6 January 1993, 55 killed, 400 shops and 57 houses burnt down by the BSF Troops), KUPWARA MASSACRE (27 January 1994, 27 civilians, mostly traders of Kupwara town, fell to bullets of Army men). The government of India rejected all the reports and requests of international media and human rights organizations and other inquiry reports. People are still waiting for justice! One more brutal massacre (WANDHAMA  MASSACRE) was executed on 25 January 1998, in which 23 Kashmiri Pandits living in the village of Wandhama were killed by unidentified gunmen. According to the testimony of one of the survivors of the incident, Vinod Kuman Dhar, the gunmen came to their house dressed like Indian Army soldiers, had tea with them, waiting for a radio message indicating that all Pandit families in the village had been covered. After a brief conversation, they rounded up all the members of the Hindu households and then summarily gunned them down with assault rifles. NADIMARG MASSACRE took place on 23 March 2003 in which  24 Kashmiri Pandits in the village of Nadimarg in Pulwama were killed by the unknown gunmen.

During the mass uprisings in 2008, 2010 and 2016 hundreds of Kashmiri civilians were killed and thousands injured by the Indian security forces. The most prominent was the 2016 unrest in Kashmir. It started with the killing of Burhan Wani, by the Indian security forces on 8 July 2016. Burhan Wani (son of a school principal) like much Kashmiri youth picked up arms only after he and his brother were beaten and humiliated by Indian troops while they were returning on their motorcycle from a cricket ground after playing cricket.  After his killing, anti-Indian protests started in all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley. Curfew was imposed in all 10 districts of the valley on 15 July and mobile services were suspended by the government. Kashmir valley remained under 53 days of consecutive curfew which was lifted from all areas on 31 August, however, was re-imposed in some areas the next day. Jammu and Kashmir Police and Indian paramilitary forces used pellet guns, tear gas shells, rubber bullets, as well as assault rifles, resulting in the deaths of more than 120 civilians, with over 15,000 civilians injured and as the result of pellet guns, many people also were blinded.

Interestingly, according to the local reports even after the restrictions and curfew, around 500000 Kashmiris participated in the funeral of Burhan Wani. On the contrary, when the ex-chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir died only 1500 people (including his relatives, policeman and people from the state administration) attended his funeral.

Since the mass movement started in the disputed Kashmir, demanding for the plebiscite promised by Nehru according to the United Nations’ resolutions, more than 95000 people have been killed. India installed 700000 troops in Kashmir, with Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), where they can kill, murder, rape anyone with impunity facing no legal sanctions. The Armed forces killed thousands in fake encounters, sometimes for promotions, sometimes for other rewards (as the CBI found in Pathribal fake encounter case, Machil fake encounter case). Although, many such fake encounters were investigated by prominent agencies, as CBI and many people were held guilty. But the controversial ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act’ (AFSPA) saved them.

For instance, On March 25, 2000, at Pathribal, in Anantnag district, five men were picked up by the officers of the Indian Army’s Rashtriya Rifles in a conspiracy to display a quick breakthrough in the Chittisingh Pora massacre of March 20, in which 36 Sikhs were gunned down by ‘unidentified’ gunmen (Chattisinghpora massacre). The massacre took place at the time of US President Bill Clinton’s India visit. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and DNA analyses, suggest the five men – two farmers, two goatherds and a cloth merchant – were innocent and were executed by the Army, their bodies mauled and in one case decapitated, and then burned to eliminate all vestiges of their identity. However, the Army held eight of its men responsible for the 2010 Machil fake encounter. The Times of India on 14th November 2014 reported, “the Army has held accountable two officers and three soldiers for gunning down three unemployed Kashmiri youths and then trying to pass them off as “Pakistani militants” in a stage-managed encounter in Machil sector along the Line of Control in April 2010.”

There are many such incidents, some consolidated by the mass graves found in many places of Kashmir. Such incidents have played a crucial role in widening the gap between the Kashmir and New Delhi and have changed Kashmiris’ perception of the ‘Indian democracy’. People waited for justice; the guilty were saved; the wave of injustice has been treated as a routine affair by the Centre.

Army involved in the enforced disappearances killed thousands, buried them in mass graves, after killing them in fake encounters or in interrogation centres. The Army raped hundreds of women (e.g., Kunan Poshpora mass Rape). The Kunan Poshspora incident occurred on February 23, 1991, when unit(s) of the Indian army launched a search and interrogation operation in the twin villages of Kunan and Poshpora, located in Kashmir’s remote Kupwara District. The separate teams of army men had entered several houses in the villages, removed men of all ages into makeshift interrogation centres and tortured them and almost 100 women (aged 8-70) were gang-raped by soldiers that night.

There are thousands of half-widows (whose husbands were taken by the Army but never returned). India orphaned and physically disabled thousands of people in Kashmir. Thousands of Kashmiri young boys and girls were blinded by the troops by firing pellets. Many human rights organizations argue that India is forcefully and against the will of people, occupying Kashmiris with the might of 70000-armed troops (the world’s most militarized zone). India and its media still call it ‘terrorism’ blaming Pakistan for even a protest in Kashmir so that the international community would not raise their voice in favour of Kashmiris. Most of the Indian people are unaware about the Kashmir issue; they only know what the hyper-jingoistic Indian media feeds them, which most of the time, is full of lies, and fake propaganda against Kashmiris.

Just another day in Kashmir

Recently, on August 2nd 2019, an additional fifty thousand troops were called and stationed in the valley. The annual Amarnath Yatra was suspended 12 days before the scheduled date. The government order said that all non-Kashmiris and foreigners should immediately leave Kashmir. Suddenly, on the midnight of August 4th curfew was imposed across the valley and all roads were blocked. There was a huge presence of Forces on every nook and corner of the Kashmir valley. All channels of communication including landlines, mobile phones, Internet services and cable TV network were suspended in the midnight. On 5th August 2019, the government of India announced the scrapping/abrogating of the Article 370 and 35-A, that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, which was key to its accession to India in 1947. The Home Minister of India also introduced a separate bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir with an assembly – like Delhi — and Ladakh without an assembly. With this announcement, thousands of Kashmiris including the pro-India politicians, their party workers, children, elderly, were arrested and many shifted to the jails outside Jammu and Kashmir. In Srinagar on 16th September 2019, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and a sitting Lok Sabha member (MP)  Farooq Abdullah was detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA). The PSA allows detention of any individual for up to two years without a trial. Ironically, the law was first promulgated during Sheikh Abdullah’s tenure, father of Farooq Abdullah. Although, Amnesty International has called the PSA a “lawless law,” and rights groups say India has used the law to stifle dissent and circumvent the criminal justice system, undermining accountability, transparency, and respect for human rights.

Also Read: Kashmir: An Integral Part Lost to Step Motherly Treatment

The latest controversy emerged in June 2020, when the Jammu and Kashmir administration notified the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (procedure) rules, 2020. In this context, Mirza Saaib Bég, a Kashmiri lawyer, presently associated with the University of Oxford as a Weidenfeld-Hoffman scholar,  notes:

“Despite the Indian state being overwhelmed with the economic collapse, migrant labour crisis and  COVID-19 pandemic, the desire to subdue the Kashmiris has been funnelled with astringent and virulent zeal. It drives home the message to the people of Kashmir that nothing, not even a medical emergency, can prevent the Indian state from doing what it wants to do in J&K. These domicile rules provide a fast-track procedure for issuance of Kashmiri domicile certificates, within 15 days, to people from any part of India. 25000 non-Kashmiris have applied for it and many have got the certificate. The domicile certificate has been made mandatory for employment in Kashmir following amendments to the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services rules. Eligible individuals from any part of India will also be granted the right to purchase immovable property in J&K, something that has not been possible till now in J&K and is still not possible in those parts of India governed by special laws and provisions. The new ‘domicile’ rules are a major departure from an established body of historical precedent, law and jurisprudence. This position was guaranteed to Kashmiris under the Delhi Agreement of 1952, the Presidential Order of 1954, Article 35A of the constitution of India and Part III Section 6 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. These instruments and articles recognised the right of Jammu and Kashmir to define its citizens, known as “permanent residents” or popularly called “state-subjects” based on a 1927 notification by the erstwhile king of Jammu and Kashmir. Through the new rules, with retrospective effect, a “permanent resident” has now been replaced with “domicile” even though no instrument has ever granted such power to the Indian government. The rules grant eligibility of domicile to new classes of people, including migrants, Central government employees, Indian armed forces personnel and their children who meet the eligibility criteria. The certificate of permanent residence was a constitutionally valid document and has been held by numerous judgments to be “conclusive proof of residence”. Under the new rules, it merely carries evidentiary value for a residence. Therefore, if a Kashmiri fails to meet the new criteria, whether by malice, manipulation or by the design of the new rules, the revocation of residency rights will inevitably lead to their involuntary transfer from Kashmir in search of shelter and employment. All these initiatives have sparked fears of demographic change, militarised settlements, dispossession and alienation of land in Kashmir. It is relevant to mention that since 1995, Israel has been escalating the use of residency revocation as a punitive measure when the Israeli interior ministry started reinterpreting the 1952 Law of Entry. In 1952 Israel enacted its own Nationality law and repealed the Palestine Citizenship Order of 1925. Kashmiris were once state-subjects of a princely state. They were then made permanent residents of an autonomous state within the Indian Union. Today they are being made ‘domiciles’ of a Union territory, that too, without our consent. Extrapolating from the developments taking place, it is not hard to imagine the Kashmiri landscape seeded with predatory militarised settlements similar to Palestine. The implications can only be calamitous. The threat of demographic change, loss of livelihood and increased competition for scarce resources is bound to electrify an already incensed population.

Based on the propaganda feed by the local TV channels, and below standard newspapers (specifically Hindi media), substandard, propaganda media channels and their jingoistic sycophant hyper-patriotic fedayeen anchors and many ill-informed (about the ground realities of Kashmir) Indian panellists, while debating the crisis in KASHMIR can’t even pronounce the word KASHMIR properly. These thuggish channels and their Nano-chip journalists (who at the time of demonetization claimed and befooled 125 crore Indians that the new currency notes issued by the government post-demonetization have GPS nano-chips installed in them). It was propaganda, none of those Nano-chip journalists has apologized to Indians nor have people challenged them and send them behind the bars for spreading propaganda. Because of this constant and regular embedded media propaganda, some Indians not only justify the atrocities, murders, killings and raping of Kashmiri women but also advocate for the mass killings of Kashmiris and consider it part of being loyal to mother India and treat themselves as true nationalists. Many Indians do not advocate verbally for carpet bombings of Kashmiris and raping Kashmiri women, but by their ‘silence’ they give consent to the state and are equally complicit in all atrocities done to Kashmiris. However, there are many more Indians who know either by visiting Kashmiri or by reading about the first-hand narratives from Kashmir do protest against the atrocities on common Kashmiris and they do not support the state when it indulges in human rights violations, civilian killings and rapes. Most of the people who have never visited Kashmir even once, know absolutely nothing about the geography and historical narratives of Kashmir, haven’t read a single book about Kashmir, unfortunately, act and pretend to be the ‘extra-wise’ Kashmir experts’. Many such keyboard warriors, ignorant anchors while sitting in air-conditioned office rooms and coffee shops, not only indulge in silly commentary but also shoot uninvited suggestions, pass immature judgments and imaginary solutions from their comfort zones.

However, the people of Kashmir are unable to forget the atrocities done to them by the Indian state and are firm to fight until they get their right to self-determination.

P.S. The 4G Internet is still banned in Kashmir since 5th August 2019, which is now the World’s Longest Internet Shutdown.’ According to an estimate by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Valley’s economy suffered a loss of more than Rs. 18000 crores around 144500 people working in the private sector have lost their jobs in Kashmir since August 5, post Article 370 lockdown.

Also Read: One too many lockdowns for Jammu & Kashmir

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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