Op-ed: How India distorted the truth to control occupied Kashmir


In his memoirs, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, former chief of India’s premier intelligence agencies, Research and Analysis Wing (and Intelligence Bureau) makes no bones in confessing, “The Kashmiri rarely speaks the truth to you because he feels you are lying to him. Brijesh Mishra was right when he bluntly said the only thing straight in Kashmir was the poplar tree. But, it is we who have made them that way. The problem with Delhi has been that it sees everything in black and white whereas Kashmir’s favourite colour is grey.”

India’s broken promises
India’s broken promises to hold a plebiscite in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir bear out that it was perfidious from day one. It did not declare Pakistan an aggressor, as it had no international support then. It avoided approaching the International Court of Justice, as it feared losing there. It never registered the mythical instrument of accession with the United Nations, as it knew that it was fake.

How India gradually wriggled out of plebiscite commitment:
Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru made a fool of naïve Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. He was insincere not only with him but also with the United Nations, and even the so-called constituent assembly of the occupied Kashmir. Let’s have a look at Nehru’s shifting stands on Kashmir.

Kashmir assembly’s ‘accession’ disowned, Security Council owned
Nehru banked on so-called Instrument of Accession and its authentication by ‘Constituent Assembly’. Nehru unmasked his brazen volte-face in a letter dated October 31, 1947, addressed to the disputed state’s prime minister, on the fourth day of ‘signing’ of the mythical accession instrument by maharajah on October 26, 1947. It was ‘counter-signed’ by Lord Mountbatten on October 27, 1947. The letter says ‘after consideration of the problem, we are inclined to think that it [plebiscite] should be held under United Nations’ auspices (p. 28 ibid.).

Read more: Demographic change: The constant Kashmiri fear

He reiterated in New Delhi on November 3, 1951 that ‘we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar] as we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council, or the United Nations’ (SWJ: Volume 4).

Again, at a press conference on June 11, 1951, he was asked ‘if the proposed constituent assembly of Kashmir “decides in favor of acceding to Pakistan, what will be the position?”’ he reiterated, “We have made it perfectly clear that the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir was not meant to decide finally any such question, and it is not in the way of any decision which may ultimate flow from the Security Council proceedings’ (SWJ: Volume 15).

He re-emphasized his view once again at a press conference in New Delhi on November 3, 1951. He said ‘we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar as] we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council or the United Nations’.

Pakistan not labeled ‘aggressor’ and then so labeled:
He never labeled Pakistan an aggressor. But he told parliament on March 1, 1954 “that ‘aggression’ took place in Kashmir six and a half years ago with dire consequences. Nevertheless the United States have thus far not condemned it and we are asked not to press this point in the interest of peace.”

Security Council disowned as just a non-binding mediator: It is flabbergasting that during the period 1947 to 1952; Nehru kept harping commitment to plebiscite. Then there was a sudden metamorphosis in his compliant attitude.

Bhasin points out that ‘there was a perceptible shift in his [Nehru’s] stand on July 24 1952‘ about the future of the State _ ‘if the decision of the Security Council was at variance with that of the Constituent Assembly’. Nehru said, ‘unless the Security Council functioned under some other Sections of the Charter, it cannot take a decision which is binding upon us unless we agree to it. They are functioning as mediators and a mediator means getting people to agree.

Bhasin points out ‘At the same press conference on 24 July, 1952 when asked what the necessity of plebiscite was now that he had got the Constituent Assembly, he replied “Maybe theoretically you may be right. But we have given them an assurance and we stand by it.”

Nehru himself invokes UN’s intervention:
Bhasin points out Nehru made ‘tactical error’. One ‘of committing himself to the UN’. But the real question to consider is how far the settlement in Kashmir would affect the rest of India.’ Nehru spelled out Indian policy towards Kashmir. Extract: ‘In Kashmir, we or many of the Muslims there’.

For about 70 years, India continues to abide by UN resolutions describing Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed state. Simultaneously, it continued to harp that Kashmir was her integral part. At the same time India tells the world that Kashmir is a bilateral dispute extraneous to UN. With communication links cut off, food supplies blocked, even on eid, occupied Kashmir remained a prison.

The year long (2019-2020) lockdown has made people’s lives miserable. Winter would exacerbate their misery. Suspension of 4G Internet made E commerce and online education a farce. Apple orchards stand destroyed as also wood carving tradesman. A December report of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, reported successive losses of Rs. 14,296.10 crore and Rs 17,800 crore, besides loss of 4.9 lakh jobs between August and December. In July 2020, it reported revenue loss of Rs 40,000 crore.

Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru made a fool of naïve Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. He was insincere not only with him but also with the United Nations, and even the so-called constituent assembly of the occupied Kashmir.

New domiciliary policy would change Kashmir’s demography. Currently, at least 17 lakh migrants have applied for a domicile certificate.

Also, with a nudge from the Centre, the underprivileged from other states like Bihar could rush to the Valley a better life. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir is currently 17.9 per cent, far higher than the national average of eight per cent. The domicile law has come at a time when, according to the Union home ministry, there are 84,000 government vacancies to be filled. That would reduce job chance of real Kashmiris.

The myth of secret clauses in Simla Accord:
Pakistan has approached the United Nations’ Security Council to consider the situation in Kashmir prison. India gives the impression that there are secret clauses that bar Pakistan from raising the issue at international forums. It is not true. Pakistan, as supported by China, twice tried to open a debate on Kashmir prison at the United Nations’ Security Council. But, India, with support of countries it buys arms from, got the effort blocked. P.N. Dhar, former secretary to late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, created the false impression of UN being debarred on Kashmir dispute.

Mr. Dhar’s assertions in 1995 are untenable, as both leaders had since passed away. However, Indira Gandhi had personally refuted Mr. Vajpayee’s claim in 1978 of the existence of a ‘secret understanding’ between herself and Bhutto at Simla.

Bhasin clarifies (page 256), ‘It may also be added in parentheses that soon after PN Dhar’s article was published in the Times of India, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesman rejected any suggestion that there was any secret understanding at Simla.

Since Benazir Bhutto, now herself the prime minister, was present at Simla with her father, and was in the loop on the daily proceedings. PN Dhar specifically in his article said that there was no written understanding; the Simla Agreement was written in a manner that this understanding would be seen between the lines’. Dhar, of course, did not own up to his lapse for not recording what Mrs. Gandhi had told him after the one-to-one meeting. Whatever the understanding, it remained conjectural’ (Bhasin pages 256-257).

India conceals Pakistan, the loser in East Pakistan, wins at Simla:
Bhasin says (p. 256), “at the end, Bhutto the ‘dramatist’ carried the day at Simla. The Agreement signed in Simla did no more than call for ‘respecting the Line of Control emerging from the ceasefire of 17 December 1971”. As the Foreign Secretary TN Kaul [of India] said at briefing of the heads of foreign mission in New Delhi on 4 July 1972, the recognition of the new ceasefire line ended the UNMOGIPs role in Kashmir, created specifically for the supervision of the UN sponsored ceasefire line of 1949, since that line existed no more. Having said that India once again faltered for not asking UN to withdraw its team from Kashmir, or withdrawing its own recognition to it and its privileges. Bhasin says (p.257-259), “The Pakistan Radio broadcasts and…commentators however took special pains to highlight …the fact: (i) That India has accepted Kashmir to be a disputed territory and Pakistan a party to the dispute. (ii) That the UNSC resolutions had not been nullified and countries (iii) Kashmir remained the core issue between the two countries and that there could not be permanent peace without a just solution based on the principle of self-determination for the people of Kashmir. And Pakistan was right in its assessment. It lost the war won the peace. At the end India was left askance at its own wisdom.”

More attempts to unshackle plebiscite commitments:
During a virtual informal meeting of the plenary on the annual report of the Security Council, the Indian representative stunned the world community by its remarks. It ‘called for permanently removing the issue of Jammu and Kashmir under the outdated agenda item of the India-Pakistan question’ from the Security Council’s agenda. He added ‘such “irrational exuberance” has no takers in a dignified world’. In a veiled attack on Pakistan, he accused it to be ‘ globally known for being the fountainhead of international terror and the hub for terror syndicates’.(India for permanently removing J-K issue under ‘outdated agenda item’ from UNSC, The Week September 1, 2020). UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti pointed out that even UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his statement last August, clearly referred to the 1972 bilateral Simla Agreement.

Till 1953, India was, at least verbally, committed to the plebiscite. But, in subsequent period, it had been making frantic efforts to warp the United Nation Organization and woo the United States of America in her favour. For instance, during temporary absence of Pakistan’s representative India tried to get the ‘India-Pakistan Question’ deleted from the UN agenda.

India based her plea on Security Council’s informal decision, dated July 30, 1996, about deleting dormant questions. The Question was deleted during the Pak rep’s absence, but was restored to agenda upon his arrival.

India’s broken promises to hold plebiscite in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir bear out that it was perfidious from the day one.

A rogue state:
No UN resolution incorporates India’s view that maharajah had acceded to India. The main resolutions on Kashmir are: (a) United Nations’ Commission for India Pakistan (UNCIP) Resolution dated August 13, 1948. Para 75 (Serial110) in Part III of this resolution states ‘ The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, upon acceptance of the truce agreement, both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured. (b) The UNCIP Resolution dated January 5, 1949 Para 51 (Serial 1196) states ‘The question of 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’.

On November 2, 1947, Nehru declared in a radio broadcast that the government of India was “prepared, when peace and order have been established in Kashmir, to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations.” I am quoting from Chaudhri Mohammad Ali’s The Emergence of Pakistan.

By disowning the UN resolutions on disputed status of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir State, India qualified as a rogue state. A jus cogen of the International Law is pacta sunt servanda, treaties are to be observed and are binding on parties. Till about 1953, Indian leaders reiterated their commitment to hold a plebiscite to determine future status of the disputed state. Even India’s view is that it is a dispute though a bilateral one. But, the Simla Accord also refers to the UN charter. India is not willing to talk to Pakistan eyeball-to-eyeball in the dispute. So bilateral negotiations become meaningless. The way out is to refer to the UN.

By renouncing the UN resolutions, India has thrown in the gauntlet. ‘Take Kashmir by force if you can’.

Read more: Resolve Kashmir dispute under UNSC resolutions: China

Kashmiri leadership is fragmented
The RAW chief’s sole job was to sow seeds of discord among Kashmiri leaders. Despite its best efforts Pakistan could not unify the warring Hurriyat factions. Even today, Kashmiri leadership is fragmented. The RAW chief brazenly calls them ‘liars’.

It is eerie that the disputed state’s assembly, and secret clauses about ‘bilateralism’ in Simla Accord erect the whole architecture of India’s stand on Kashmir on the mythical ‘instrument of accession’ and its endorsement. Accession documents are un-registered with the UN. Simla Accord text makes crystal clear reference to UN charter.


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