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Nehru’s blunder of promoting Sheikh Abdullah resulted in messy situation in Kashmir

Nehru’s blunder of promoting Sheikh Abdullah resulted in messy situation in Kashmir
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(Kanchan Basu)

Pakistan invaded Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947. The invasion continued till December 31, 1948. That day, the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru dumbfounded the Nation by enforcing a unilateral ëCeasefireí. He took this mind-boggling step to please his friend and a separatist leader Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir, so that he could become Sultan of Kashmir and rule the State unhindered and with utmost case.

Sheikh Abdullah had hatred for non-Kashmiris, including non-Kashmiri Muslims living in Jammu province and Gilgit-Baltistan, part of Ladakh, the Stateís largest region. The non-Kasmiris, including the people of Jammu province, had no love lost for Sheikh Abdullah, as he was essentially Kashmir-Centric. Sheikh Abdullah never ever trusted any non-Kashmiri be he a Muslim or a Sikh or a Hindu or a Buddhist. Besides, the non-Kashmiris constituted an overwhelming population of Jammu and Kashmir State.

Even today, the Kashmiri sunnis constitute not more 22% of the Stateís total population. Sheikh Abdullah belonged to the Sunni sect, which has been at the helm of affairs ever since 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh acceded Jammu and Kashmir to India. This is also the sect that controls almost all the separatist outfits and the so-called mainstream political parties in Kashmir, including the National Conference, the Peopleís Democratic Party, the Congress, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)]

It is a different story that the sunni leaders in Kashmir sing the monotonous and irritating alienation song 24×7 to mislead the Indian Nation and international community and that no one talks about the miserable plight of the people of Jammu province and Ladakh region, who have been suffering huge socio-economic and political losses at the hands of Kashmiri leaders backed to the hilt by New Delhi.

People of Jammu and Ladakh are groaning under the yoke of Kashmiri sunni rule since October 1947. Their life has never been one of political and economic aspirations ever since then. They only get crumbs. Jammu and Ladakh contribute more than 75% revenue to the State exchequer every year.

Jawaharlal Nehru enforced ëCeasefireí at a time when the Indian Army had the Pakistani invaders, regular and irregular, on the run and it was about to get the aggression vacated. The ëCeasefireí helped Pakistan to establish its control over the whole of Shia-majority ëGilgit-Baltistaní region and Jammu provinceís Mirpur, Bhimber,

Kotli, Parts of Poonch, including Tehsil Bagh and Muzaffarabad. The total J&K area that Pakistan occupied through rape, murder, loot and plunder with the help of Jawaharlal Nehru and his Congress Government was 78,114 sq. k.m.

Jawaharlal Nehruís love for Sheikh Abdullah not only helped Pakistan annex one-third of Jammu & Kashmirís territories, but also helped the invaders convert whole of these areas through conversion, murder and expulsion of several thousands of Hindus and Sikhs. Not just this, the invaders kidnapped 1,000s of Hindu-Sikh women between October 1947 and 1948 and auctioned them in Pakistani markets, including in towns like ëLahoreí. The fact of the matter is that Jawaharlal Nehru allowed Pakistanis to do in these areas what the Mughals and Pathans couldnít do between 1526 and 1819.

It may appear unbelievable or ridiculous, but it is a fact that the whole of this area is non-Kashmiri-speaking. Gilgit-Baltistan is not a home to even one ethnic Kashmiri. The main ethnic groups in the Gilgit-Baltistan region include Shins, Yashkuns, Kashgaris, Pamiris, Pathans and Kohistanis. And the main languages spoken in this strategic region are Shina, Balti, Burushashki, Khowar, Wakhi and Domaki.

Shina is the main language in Gilgit. It is spoken in Diamer, Ghizer and Astore, part of Gilgit. Shina is also spoken by some in the Ishkoman Valley, Hunza, Nagar and Baltistan. Some people in Ishkoman Valley and in upper Hunza Valley also speak Wakhi.

ëBurushashkií is the main language spoken in the Hunza Valley. It is also spoken in Nagar and Yasin. ëKhowarí is the main language of Chitral. As for Balti, it is spoken by the bulk of the population in Baltistan Division. Balti-speaking people are also found in Skardu, Shigar, Rondu, Khapolu, Kharmang, Gultari and Ganche. The language of Domas of Berichos is Domaaki. Domas are also found in Gilgit and in some Shina-speaking areas of the lower Hunza Valley. Domas are mainly Musicians and Smiths.

Similarly, Jammuís Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli, Parts of Poonch, including Bagh and Muzaffarabad are all non-Kashmiri-speaking areas. These are Sunni-dominated and they all are Panjabi or Pathowari-speaking people. They inhabit a total land area of 13,297 square kilometers. Muzaffarabad is part of this area. Administratively it was part of Kashmir Province, but in terms of Ethnicity, Language and Culture, it was totally different. It would be wrong to say that the ëPeople of Muzaffarabadí speak the Kashmiri language. The truth is the Muzaffarabad is Ethnically, Culturally and Linguistically 100% non-Kashmiri.

It needs to be underlined that as per the Government of Indiaís records, the total area of the State of Jammu &Kashmir is about 2,22,236 Sq. k.m. is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and 37,555 Sq. k.m. under China. Not just this, 5,180 Sq. k.m. of Jammu &Kashmir State was also illegally ceded to China by Pakistan under the March 1963, ëSino-Pak Boundaryí agreement.

This is the factual position. These occupied areas should have been named by the Government of India as ìPakistan Occupied Jammu and Ladakhî (POJ&L), but it committed a blunder by terming these areas as ìPakistan Occupied Kashmirî (POK).

Itís time for the Government of India to rectify the mistake and tell the ëInternational Communityí that Pakistan couldnít occupy even an inch of Kashmir speaking area of the State and that the ëNehru Governmentí allowed Pakistan to occupy the non-Kashmiri-Speaking areas so that Sheikh Abdullah could establish his and Kashmirís hegemony over Jammu and Ladakh.

(The writer is based in Kolkata. The views expressed are his own)

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