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Of Myths and War

Updated: Jan 6

More than seventy years ago, in August 1947, the British left the subcontinent divided into India and Pakistan. The fate of Jammu and Kashmir, a princely state under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh, however, remained uncertain until October. Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Kashmir, initially believed that by delaying his decision he could maintain the independence of Kashmir, but, caught up in a train of events that included a revolution among his Muslim subjects along the western borders of the state and the intervention of Pashtun tribesmen, he signed an Instrument of Accession to the Indian union in October 1947 (https://www.britannica.com/place/Kashmir-region-Indian-subcontinent/The-Kashmir-problem). This was the signal for intervention both by Pakistan, which considered the state to be a natural extension of Pakistan, and by India, which intended to confirm the act of accession. To force the Nawab of Junagadh to change his decision, India thrust a blockade upon the state. The blockade compelled the state's ruler to leave for Pakistan. Localized warfare continued during 1948 and ended, through the intercession of the United Nations in January 1949. In July of that year, India and Pakistan defined a cease-fire line—the line of control—that divided the administration of the territory. Regarded at the time as a temporary expedient, the partition along that line still exists.




At Partition, the famously indecisive prince dithered between India and Pakistan, and seems to have dreamt of an independent state with himself as sovereign. When he finally acceded to India, part of his kingdom had already passed out of his control, with the advance of the tribal forces( ‘They sprang from the earth’, scroll.in) . According to some accounts, the raiders stormed into the Valley on October 22, and Baramulla was the first major city they encountered. The Indian Army landed in Srinagar to drive the invaders out on October 27. The army pushed them back till Uri in Baramulla district, and a ceasefire line was eventually drawn. Seventy years later, the makeshift boundary remains the site of a long and bitter conflict. Over the decades, the raid of Baramulla has been cast as the pivotal moment of the conflict, the subject of histories and novels, the breeding ground of myths. (https://scroll.in/article/854235/they-sprang-from-the-earth-its-been-70-years-since-tribal-forces-poured-into-kashmir)


After 70 years of myth and war, these questions may never be answered. The few residents who are old enough to remember the raids have fraying memories. Partition meant the old road links were cut off, the Valley of Kashmir folded into itself. Baramulla gradually lost its significance in the trade route while Srinagar became the undisputed urban centre of Kashmir. Events in Kashmir provided a defining moment both in Indo-Pakistan relations and for Pakistan’s domestic priorities. Pakistan embarked on the establishment of a ‘political economy.’ Seven-tenths of the national budgets were allocated to defense in the opening three years of Pakistan’s existence.


The Kisan Conference was based on Marxian philosophy and the changing world events. Impressed by the tune of Marxist thought, the leader of Kisan Conference did not only explain the clear character of the Kashmiri society but at the same time wished to make the masses understand the real nature of revolutionary movements. The movements were being launched by working-class humanity at the international level, especially in western countries. (POPULAR UNREST AND STATE RESPONSE IN KASHMIR {1846-1947}, Tariq Ahmad Sheikh)


Unfortunately, no matter how many people or governments have played with authority till today, the sufferings of the mass and innocent souls haven’t been erased. In 1989, minority religious groups from Kashmir, including thousands of women and children, were forced to vacate their homes. Later, in 1991, the Kunan Poshspora (February 23, 1991), mass rapes occurred when the unit(s) of the security forces launched a search operation in the villages of Kunan and Poshpora, in Kupwara District. However, the voices of these communities have not been represented yet. The Other Side of Silence has to emerge, informed by a desire not only to democratize the history of partition but also to give a voice to those most often consigned to silence, the women of the sub-continent. Thus, till today, a fellow man may have to pick out bullets from his two-story home; a little boy may lose one of his eyes to the bullet, and women’s modesty may be ravaged by the peacekeepers themselves. The memories of 1947 still travel along the lanes and alleys of the Valley.


SOURCES:

1. https://www.britannica.com/place/Kashmir-region-Indian-subcontinent/The-Kashmir-problem

2. https://scroll.in/article/854235/they-sprang-from-the-earth-its-been-70-years-since-tribal-forces-poured-into-kashmir

3. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-16069078

4. LEGACIES OF THE PARTITION FOR INDIA AND PAKISTAN, Ian TALBOT: Politeja , No. 59, INDIA AND PAKISTAN: REFLECTIONS ON POLITICS AND CULTURE 70 YEARS AFTER INDEPENDENCE (2019), pp. 7-25 URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/26916350

5. POPULAR UNREST AND STATE RESPONSE IN KASHMIR (1846-1947) , Tariq Ahmad Sheikh Source: Proceedings of the Indian History Congress , 2013, Vol. 74 (2013), pp. 522-531 , Indian History Congress URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44158853



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