A number of books on the above subject have flooded the market since the onset of insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir, the Kashyap'sland. The book under review is written by a Kashmiri who was born and brought up in Kashmir and has been witness to years of turmoil and political strife since December 1989, when insurgency gained momentum catching unaware and unprepared the powers that be in Kashmir and Delhi. The author, executive director of The Kashmir Gazette, has closely studied the socio-political situation, which ultimately snowballed into a revolt by a particular community backed by India'shostile neighbour, Pakistan.
The fate of Kashmiri Pandits is an extraordinary occurrence and perhaps a unique example in the annals of history where a group of people was subjected to ethnic cleansing in their own land by their own fellow-citizens.
In 1947, when Pakistan was carved for the Muslims and Hindustan was left for the Hindus, M.A. Jinnah of the Muslim League demanded exchange of population?that all Muslims should emigrate to Pakistan while non-Muslims should cross over to Hindustan. The Pakistanis chased out most of the Hindus from the western wing of Pakistan while the Muslims, under the garb of secularism, were allowed to remain in Hindustan.
Varied may be our perceptions of the Kashmir problem but all of us would agree that the issue was handled (better still, bungled) since its very inception. The ?Kashmir issue? has become a major international and national question, which most of us tend to treat as a Pakistani and Indian problem. The author quotes from Prof. Sisir Gupta'sbook Kashmir: A Study in India-Pakistan Relations, wherein he had said that while charges and counter charges were being made in Pakistan and Kashmir, ?tribesmen from the north-west of Pakistan and other Pakistani nationals entered into Kashmir?Rape and murder, arson and loot of unprecedented magnitude overtook Kashmir, making the living worse than dead. In the name of Islam?which had come to India as a religion of peace?was now operating a primitive sect, guided primarily by their thirst for satisfying the basest of animal instincts.?
On December 8, 1947, the then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and Liyaqat Ali Khan of Pakistan met for the first time. Lord Mountbatten proposed that the two governments should jointly request the UNO to mediate and thus referring of the Kashmir issue to the UNO proved a Himalayan blunder, which was to have wider ramifications over the course of future events in the state. The author says that by February 1948, Nehru realised his ?grave mistake to pin any faith in the United Nations?, and that he even told Lord Mountbatten that the ?UNO had been a great disillusionment for him for it was clearly an American racket?.
Whatever be the facts, the author makes some very pertinent comments which need to be read between the lines.
The author cites two important factors that govern the Pakistani stance on Kashmir: ?First, the Kashmir issue is a religious issue in the eyes of Pakistani establishment. To settle the issue is to wage a jihad. It is no longer a political issue. Secondly, internal political compulsions and sociological urges in Pakistan are responsible for keeping the issue alive.? Though not so sure about the first one but the second one holds water because immediately after the division of India, movements for Azad Baluchistan and Azad Pathanistan had gathered momentum and to divert the attention of its people, aggressive tribesmen were encouraged to enter India.
As the book proceeds further, the author unfolds how by accepting the cease-fire in January 1949, ?a) India acted in haste, without taking cognizance of the repercussions of the cease-fire move. b) Western countries led by the USA directly interfered in India'sinternal matter. c) India'soriginal complaint to the UNO was relegated to the background. d) The issue was thrust into backwaters of cold-war diplomacy.?
The author believes that the ongoing terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir is a jihad unleashed by the enemies of India ?who are interested in dismantling the country'ssecular super structure and harming communal harmony, which has been the basis of India'shoary culture.?
This is a book to be read to find out what the displaced Kashmiris feel about the Kashmir issue.
(Vakil Publications, Samachar Post Bhavan, C-50, Preet Vihar, New Delhi-110092.)