Sunday, October 11, 2009


In pre-independence India, Kashmir was ruled by a Dogra Hindu Maharaja called Hari Singh. He was known for his atrocities on the Muslims as well as the Kashmiri Pandits. In his rule, 6000 gazetted positions were reserved for the Dogras (especially the Rajputs) despite their inferior educational qualifications. Even the judicial system was such - the punishment of murder for everyone was capital punishment but it was not applicable only for the Dogra Rajput.
At the time of independence and partition, the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference (AJKMC) existed. In 1933, it was split and Sheikh Abdullah formed the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (AJKNC). They both protested against the atrocities done by Hari Singh.
The AJKMC wanted to establish a state on grounds of religion similarity i.e. a theocratic state. The AJKNC fought anti-feudalism. This is the reason why AJKNC withdrew itself from the All India Muslim League.
During partition, Hari Singh had signed a stand-still agreement with Pakistan and and India. However, Pakistan violated this agreement and started invading Kashmir. In anger, Hari Singh joined India. This decision was not taken by a plebiscite and therefore it was not accepted favourably by the people.
The first general elections took place in Kashmir in 1962. Though the AJKNC was more popular than the AJKMC, the latter won 16 out of the 21 seats as only 8% of the population was eligible to vote. The AJKNC unequivocally boycotted the elections.
The 1967 elections were believed to be the first fair elections with the AJKNC winning all the seats.
However, there were many problems that had been going on. In 1953, Sheikh Abdullah had been arrested as the Congress thought that his ideas were anti-India. This was a serious blow to the AJKNC.
In the elections during the 1970s, the AJKNC again won the majority seats while the Congress(I) won only 13.
The Congress wanted to desperately win in the upcoming elections.
There was a defection of 14 members from the AJKNC and the governor Jagmohan immediately dissolved the government without passing the Vote of No-Confidence or without calling the party on the floor to prove its majority. This was considered to be very undemocratic.
Sheikh Abdullah had transferred his power to son Farooq Abdullah rather than his nephew Ghulam Mohammad Shah who was considered to be more competent. In anger, Ghulam Mohammad Shah left the AJKNC and joined the Congress(I). In 1983, the latter won the elections.
However, rifts started appearing between Ghulam Mohammad Shah and the Congress, and even this faction broke.

All these incidents disillusioned the people of Kashmir regarding democracy and led them to believe that human development is possible only if they asserted their Right to Self-Determinism and separated from India.
In addition, the Armed Forces (Protection) Act, 1958 further angered the people of Kashmir. This act was put to effect in Kashmir in 1999. Since then, militant nationalism has been on the rise and in 1989, Kashmir was declared a sensitive zone.
This Right to Self-Determinism existed in the minds of the people of Kashmir even during the reign of Hari Singh because even in those times, there was no human development taking place. However, that time, the struggle was just for the freedom from the autocratic rule of Hari Singh and for democratic rights.
With the incidents that took place in post-Independent India, the people realized that they needed to separate from the Indian nation-state. As long as they remained a part of India, political parties would only want to exercise power and do nothing for human development. Only by breaking away from India could they get rid of the multi-party system and comprise of parties that actually did something to improve human development rather than simply enjoying its position of power.
Today, Kashmir is not fighting to separate from India and to join Pakistan. Kashmir is fighting to be an autonomous state - neither a part of India nor Pakistan.


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