Book Review: Reading Kashmir Saga
Author: Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain
Publisher: Kashmir Institute
Pages: 144 Pages
Price: 120 INR
Genre: Non-Fiction | History
Reviewer: Waseem Raja
The book is a comprehensive overview of Kashmir dispute, and its legality. Because, many a times, common Kashmiri thinks that Kashmir dispute has no validity in contemporary times. But the monograph, to a larger extent clears common man’s understanding that Kashmir issue is an internationally recognized dispute, which needs to be settled as per the aspiration of its people.
The author tries to explain on the legal arguments that Kashmir dispute cannot be wiped out easily from the list of internationally recognized disputes in the world. As per the book, J&K is a disputed territory within the meaning of international law
In the onset, the book gives a brief historical background of Kashmir, with author trying to clarify that J&K was never a part of India. “Indian forces landed in the territory on 27th October, 1947 and obtained temporary accession of the state from its autocratic ruler, while at the same time promising the people of Kashmir as well as the United Nations (UN) that the future status of the territory would be determined by its population”. So, clearly, the above mentioned lines of the book reject the authenticity of the argument that Kashmir is an integral part of Indian union.
As per the book, initially, India cooperated with UN. Later on, however it staged the drama of elections for the constituent assembly with the intention to portray these elections as a substitute to the exercise of right to self-determination. However, UN, through several resolutions rejected this contention, and made it clear that the creation of constituent assembly in Indian administered Kashmir, or conduct of elections will not be deemed to be an exercise of right to self-determination in accordance with the UN resolutions.
The author being a professor of law, made it clear that right to self-determination is a human right, which is inalienable, justifies the statement with strong arguments and references from the international law.
An important topic discussed by the author within the book is about minorities. As per the book, J&K constitutes 22% of total population as minorities, which India is making an indirect reason for not holding plebiscite within the state, but whatever be the number of minorities; they have not been allowed to become an impediment to exercise of right to self-determination anywhere in the world. The author has taken some examples in this regard, like in Montenegro the decision was taken in favour of succession, with 55% of votes in favour and 47% of votes against. In case of Quebec, 49% votes favoured succession, whereas 51% supported the status quo.
The author has tried to highlight the various steps taken by the government of India, at several occasions, to make the article 370 a hallow shell. Exclusion of local history and geography, banishing the study classical languages from 5th-8th standard was a step towards cultural alienation.
The book is divided into 4 parts, its first two parts spread at the most on 60 pages, and rest two parts are about UN resolutions and chronological events of Kashmir history. These last two pages, in my opinion, do not add to the weight of the book.
All in all, the book is a concise overview of Kashmir issue in the context of UN resolutions and its validity at UN. The book is interesting, particularly for those who are interested in understanding the legal dimension of Kashmir issue.
Reviewer is the member of Kashmir Book Club, an innititive to revive reading culture in Kashmir