Kashmir Problem From Ambedkarite Perspective

Dr. K. Jamanadas,

Region and the People

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist population, mostly concentrated in valley, Jammu and Laddhak respectively. It is strategically situated with Tibet to east, China in northeast, Afghanistan to north-west, and Gilgit had become part of the State. Most of the traffic was by land roads to the state and all the supplies were coming to state through the areas now gone to Pakistan, and the travel to state from Indian side was nonexistent. There was no communication by road from India to J & K till the declaration of Radcliff Award.

Maharaja Hari Singh was the ruler and Ramchandra Kak was the Prime Minister. Maj Gen Janak Singh replaced him before 15th August 1947. Later Mr. Justice Meher Chand Mahajan replaced him. Hari Singh was considered to be a castiest ruler. He was not only against the Muslims but also against the Pundits. The Rajputs enjoyed 60 % seats in services, Muslims had no equal opportunity in trade and industry, outsider Hindus were welcome and out of 25 'jagirs' only 2 were of Muslims. [EPW 21.12.1991 q/b Dahat]

There was one political party under popular leader Sheikh Abdullah, the "National Conference", which was agitating for freedom and was more or less a counterpart of Indian National Congress. Maharaja thought majority Muslims will ruin his kingdom and Dogra Army could save that. Maharaja and Jinnah tried to curb the party.

After plan of leaving India was announced on June 3rd, 1947, Lord Mountbatten visited Kashmir and told Maharaja that British Government will not recognize J & K as a dominion state and he should better join any dominion - India or Pakistan - before 15th August 1947. But J & K Government announced its decision to enter "Stand Still" Agreement with both India and Pakistan. Even after signing the agreement, Pakistan cut of supplies of food, petrol and other essentials to J & K, and put pressure on J & K to accede to Pakistan.

Pak Aggression

The new Prime Minister, on 15th October 47, complained to the British Prime Minister that Pakistan broke Stand Still Agreement and stopped supplies and stopped Railway service from Sialkot to Jammu, and requested him to advise Pakistan to deal fairly with J & K and stop raids on the border. There was also protest to Governor General Jinnah.

On 22nd October, all out invasion of J & K started, along Jehlam Valley road through N. W. Frontier province, the raiders being tribesmen led by regular Pak officers. All Muslim forces in Muzafarabad deserted and joined the aggressors as advanced guard. Brig. Rajender Singh could gather about 150 soldiers to fight against the raiders but he and all soldiers were killed. On 24th Oct. The raiders captured the Mahura powerhouse, supplying electricity to Shrinagar. Shrinagar was immersed in darkness. Raiders declared they would capture Shrinagar by 26th October 47. How Kashmir was accessed

Government of J&K approached Government of India for military help on 24th October. New Prime Minister Mahajan reached Delhi on 25th October. GOI did nothing except sending V.P.Menon to Shrinagar. Both Mahajan and Menon went to Shrinagar. Maharaja was sent to Jammu for safety, and both came to aerodrome and in the morning reached Delhi.

Nehru was requested to send troops. Mahajan said, "Give army, take accession and give whatever powers you want to the popular party, but the army must fly to Shrinagar this evening, otherwise I will go and negotiate terms with Mr. Jinnah, as the city must be saved". On this Nehru flew into rage and asked Mahajan to go away. Sheikh Abdullah, who was over hearing the conversation, sent a slip of paper to Nehru, which completely changed Nehru's attitude. Sheikh Abdullah wanted power in his hands and Maharaja to be only a constitutional head.

Accession agreed to

Indian Cabinet agreed to the accession and to send army. V.P.Menon and Mahajan again went to Jammu. Menon flew back with Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharaja. After a long discussion in Defence Committee, it was decided to accept the Accession subject to proviso that "a plebiscite will be held in the State when the law and order situation allowed."

Dr. Ambedkar advised to send Mahar battalion, and also explained that guerrilla tactics to be applied.

In early hours of 27th October, more than one hundred planes - civilian as well as RIAF - carried the soldiers with requirements. Jinnah got furious and ordered General Gracy, the acting C in C of Pak Army to send Pak troops. But the General refused saying he required orders from Field Marshal Auchinleck, who flew next day to Lahore and explained to Jinnah that in the event of war breaking out, the British Officers in Pak Army would be withdrawn.

On 1st November 1947, Governor General Lord Mountbatten flew to Lahore, and suggested to Jinnah that the plebiscite should be under UN, but Jinnah pressed for it to be under joint control of Governor-Generals of both India and Pak. On 4th November, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liyakat Ali Khan announced the accession to India to be a Fraud.

Military Operations

Military operations were under Major General Kalwant Singh. The Mahar Battalions were employed as advised by Dr. Ambedkar. Their stay was for 18 months. Their work was highly appreciated. They stopped the aggression and repealed the enemy with great valor. It was exclaimed that if they were allowed to fight fully, there would have been no POK.

Heroism in Kashmir

The Times of India 26.10.52 praised the valor of Mahar battalion in the following terms:

"In Kashmir War in December, 1947, a battalion of the Mahar Regiment earned undying fame by its bravery and devotion to duty. The part, which this battalion played in the battle of Jhangar, will be written in the golden letters in the history of Indian Army.

"On December 24th, 1947, enemy numbering between four to six thousand attacked our position near Jhangar, the attack being premeded by heavy mortar and small arms fire. It looked as if nothing could stop the onslaught of the tribesmen but the Mahars held their posts which matchless courage. In the hundreds of tribesmen were moved own by the devastating fire of the Mahar Machine gunners who when their ammunition was exhausted, fought the enemy in a hand to hand battle.The bravery of this battalion was recognized by the award of one Mahaveer Chakra and five Veer-Chakras to its men. Their matchless courage and devotion to duty played a most important part in turning the tide of the battle at a critical moment." On the departure of these brave soldiers - without any break for 18 months, -- General Thimmaya, in his address to them, praised their work in high esteem saying, they "on all occasions behaved with highest sense of gallantry courage and endurance." And observed, "the name of your battalion will resound through the hills and the valleys for a long time to come"

United Nations

The case was taken to United Nations on the persuasion of Lord Mountbatten, on 25th January 1948. This was against the advice given by Dr. Ambedkar to Nehru. Ambedkar desired that the aggressors must be evicted by force, but Nehru did not agree. Pakistan denied any hand in the aggression. India maintained her position that legally Kashmir is part of India. Dr. Ambedkar had warned that this problem will not be solved by the United Nations, but it will become more complicated. Ultimately a Cease-Fire was ordered from 1st of January 1949.

Ambedkar's solution to Kashmir Problem

Ambedkar talked on Kashmir problem on many occasions. On 10th October 1951, Ambedkar in a statement of Resignation from the Cabinet, showed his not merely dissatisfaction "but actual anxiety and even worry" about the foreign policy of India. He said that, every country in the world was our friend in 1947 and today, after four years, all our friends have deserted us, and there is no one even to second our resolutions in the U.N.O.

Reminding words of Bismark that, 'Politics is the game of the possible', and of Bernard Shaw that, 'good ideals are good but one must not forget that it is often dangerous to be too good', he criticized that India's foreign policy is in complete opposition to these words of wisdom uttered by two of the world's greatest men.

He termed it "dangerous" and explained, the great drain on our resources made by our military expenditure, as out of Rs. 350 crores of revenue we raise annually, we spend about Rs. 180 crores on the Army. It is a colossal expenditure that has hardly any parallel. This colossal expenditure is the direct result of our foreign policy.

He said that our quarrel with Pakistan is on two grounds, one is Kashmir and the other is the condition of our people in East Bengal. We should be more deeply concerned with East Bengal.

Even about Kashmir, the issue on which we are fighting, who is in the right and who is in the wrong. The real issue to my mind, he said, is not who is in the right but what is right and he observed: "... my view has always been that the right solution is to partition Kashmir. Give the Hindu and Buddhist part to India and the Muslim part to Pakistan as we did in the case of India. We are really not concerned with the Muslim part of Kashmir. It is a matter between the Muslims of Kashmir and Pakistan. They may decide the issue, as they like. Or if you like, divide it into three parts; the Cease-fire zone, the Valley and the Jammu-Laddhak Region and have a plebiscite only in the Valley. What I am afraid of is that in the proposed plebiscite, which is to be an overall plebiscite, the Hindus and Buddhists of Kashmir are likely to be dragged into Pakistan against their wishes and we may have to face the same problems as we are facing today in East Bengal." Ambedkar's views were praised by most of the national as well as international newspapers including the Manchester Guardian.

Tunnel to Kashmir

When the "Nehru Tunnel" was being contemplated, Ambedkar had opposed the very idea. He said:

"... I find that Prime Minister had launched upon a project of digging a tunnel connecting Kashmir to India, Sir, I think it is one of the most dangerous thing that Prime Minister could do. That might happen that the Prime Minister, in digging the tunnel, thinks that he alone would be able to use it. He does not realize that a conqueror who comes to the other side and captures Kashmir, can come away straight to Pathankot and probably come into the Prime Minister's House. I do not know". He reminded that England was reluctant for Anglo-French Tunnel for fear of European Aggression in the event of occupation of France by enemy forces. He observed that someday, if China, Pakistan or Russia could occupy Kashmir and then this tunnel will bring the enemy in our courtyard. [Khaimode, vol.11, p.100]

In this respect, we should give a thought to present day declaration by Atal Bihari Bajpayi of providing a Railway Link from Jammu to Kashmir.

Article 370 in the Indian Constitution

It seems Ambedkar was against Article 370 in the Constitution, which gives a special Status to the State of J&K, and it was put against his wishes. Balraj Madhok reportedly said, Dr. Ambedkar had clearly told Sk. Abdullah: "You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India. But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir. To give consent to this proposal, would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do it." Then Sk. Abdullah went to Nehru, who directed him to Gopal Swami Ayyangar, who approached Sardar Patel asking him to do some thing as it was a matter of prestige of Nehru, who has promised Sk. Abdullah accordingly. Patel got it passed when Nehru was on foreign tour. On the day this article came up for discussion, Dr. Ambedkar did not reply to questions on it though he did participate on other articles. All arguments were done by Krishna Swami Ayyangar. [Dahat:1997: 82]

Recent Discussion

During recent times, it was Ms, Tavleen Singh who in an article in Sunday Express of 20 April 2003, made a daring suggestion of third party international intervention by America in Kashmir dispute. She was correct in saying that India has already asked American help to tame down Pakistan and that we must realize to start with, that the problem can not be solved domestically.

Now supposing with some good fortune, wisdom prevails on all sides and such talks do take place, what the Indian side hopes best to bargain for? What is not only just and reasonable but also possible under the circumstances for the Indian side?

The answer to this has been given long time back by Dr. Ambedkar, who had said, as mentioned previously, that, the Hindu area of Jammu and Buddhist area of Laddhak be separated from the Muslim area of the Valley. These non-Muslim area should be the part of India and the valley be given independent status with every right to them to do what they want.

RSS realizes bifurcation is good

It is now after so many years that RSS has come to realize the sagacity of this formula and asked for bifurcation of J & K on such lines within Indian frame work, but the pride and prejudice will not allow them to implement even that.

Rule by force, how long?

From Pakistan point of view, no matter which group of people rule over Kashmir, it is going to be a Muslim rule. What more does Pak want? Unlike Hindus with thousands of castes and groups, Muslim society is comparatively more monolithic. If the individuals do not matter, how does it matter to Pak, whether Kashmiri people feel more comfortable in India or not?

From Indian point of view, Indian spending in Kashmir directly and indirectly has been so great that lot of developmental works could have been possible in rest of India with that money. Now, further, it is contemplated to spend on Railways in Kashmir from the resources from rest of India, as if it is going to be with you till the sun and moon last. The British could not rule India by the force of sword for long, will India or for that matter Pakistan rule Kashmir for long against their wishes? If the answer is negative, then why is the conflict?

Resources in Kashmir

After all, what are the resources available in Kashmir? Are they worth fighting for-for both India and Pakistan? It is not oil rich Iraq. Let us forget about border security, a point well discussed by Ambedkar in "Thoughts on Pakistan". Security of a country does not depend upon physical boundaries, these days. Otherwise, America would not have been able to attack Afghanistan or Iraq.

If the resources of Kashmir would have been plentiful, would the British have sold it to Gulabsingh Dogra, who not only surrendered himself but made Deelipsingh, the last heir of Ranjitsingh to surrender on 29th March 1849. As a reward of this, the British sold him the province of Jammu and Kashmir for 250,000 pounds sterling, and returned the treasury of Suchetsingh. Thus the Punjab got slavery and the Dogras got the province of Jammu and Kashmir.

A lost case for India

The Hindus, as a matter of fact, lost Kashmir forever in thirteenth century, when a boy of tender age, Ratanju, of no fixed religion or nationality was refused entry to Hinduism, and was converted by a Muslim fakir Bulbulshah to Islam. His son Shahamir usurped the throne. Kashmir, a Buddhist and Hindu country till then, became Muslim very soon. It is said, those pundits, who refused to become Muslims, were put in gunny bags and drowned in river Jehlam by Ratanju and Shahamir. The place in Shrinagar where they were drowned, is famous even now by the name of 'watta mazaar'. [Santram, Sarita Mukta vol. 8, p.162.]

Chenab formula

Muzamil Jaleel in Indian Express of 28 June 2003, wrote of Chenab Compromise. Though the official stance of both India and Pakistan says they want full control of Kashmir, they both are - may be under pressure from America - likely to come to accept the idea of compromise. India would be happy if LOC becomes International boundary, which has been strongly refuted by Pak. Now and again India talks of POK, knowing well that there are no takers.

What does Pak want to settle for - apart from full control of J & K - nobody knows. But Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan Prime Minister of POK, last month, had called upon both Delhi and Islamabad to consider River Chenab as the Border - ostensibly a Pak motivation. Australian Diplomat Sir Owen Dixon had expressed similar idea in 1950.Even in mid sixties, the Britain and US were urging both India and Pakistan for partition. In Pakistan media there seems to be support to Hayat proposal. Also the Kashmiri separatist leadership seems to favour the idea.

Will the caste ridden India accept it? Those who were talking of "Akhand Bharat", had to accept the Partition of India, as predicted by Ambedkar. But India and Pakistan both had to suffer a lot during the process with loss of life, property and human suffering, as the safeguards as advocated by Ambedkar were not followed.

Now the talks are likely to start on the problem. Partition along the river Chenab, which runs north of Jammu is one of the proposals for long time. But the partition involves human angle and all those precautions advocated by Ambedkar during partition of India and Pakistan will have to be taken, if the human tragedy has to be averted.

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Published on: July 1, 2003
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