The unscathed legitimacy of the Kashmiri freedom struggle against India

The deterioration of the situation in the Indian-occupied part of Kashmir after the selection by the Indian nation of a Hindu extremist party[1] to govern the country in 2014 has arguably provided some semblance of an increase in attention to the woes of the Kashmiris residing on that side of the de facto ‘border’ line between India and Pakistan. It may, however, regrettably encourage the assumption that it is the current Indian government that has provided some manner of fresh political and ideological impetus for the human rights abuses committed by the Indian occupation forces against the Kashmiri people. The Indian occupation of Kashmir – not even recognized as an occupation despite Kashmir being one of the most militarized regions on the planet – has remained brutal throughout its history regardless of the government in charge.

It is not uncommon for states guilty of oppression to attempt to hide their crimes behind a shroud of legality or to seek to define where history begins and thus what to bring to the discussion table. The myth of the ‘UN creation of Israel’ pushed around by proponents of Zionism rings a bell.[2] Indian propaganda on Kashmir attempts to portray the beginning of India’s militarism in the region as technically having been a response to Pakistani armed incursions seeking to annex the prized land. It also regurgitates common lies regarding the legality of India’s claim to Kashmir in order to provide an apparently legal cover to its military presence in Kashmir whenever criticism of its brutality against the people is raked up.

Kashmir was one of the many princely states that was free to join either India or Pakistan after the creation of the two newly independent countries out of British India in early August of 1947. Its ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, had strong pro India leanings. His violent crackdown against his Muslim subjects in his state had been facilitated by India before Pashtun tribesmen from the Pakistani province of NWFP had entered Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October 1947 to put an end to the tyranny when contacted for help by contacts in Kashmir. The Indian version of history seeks to portray its own ‘official’ armed entry into Kashmir on the 27 October of the year as having been a ‘response’ to the Pakistani ‘violation’. True to the tradition of oppressors when it comes to starting the story wherever it suits them, Indians ignore the contribution of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist party in India) workers, Indian armed forces and also Sikh and Hindu refugees from Pakistan in helping the Maharaja’s state forces massacre Kashmiri Muslims.

As reported in The Times newspaper in London on 10 August 1948, 2,37,000 Muslims were slaughtered in a violent genocide by the forces of the Dogra State headed by the Maharaja and aided by RSS members, Hindu and Sikh refugees from various parts of territory now owned by the newly created Pakistan.[3] The famous RSS ideologue, Guruji Golwalker, had been present in Kashmir since the 17 or 18 October 1947, motivating the Maharaja’s violent repression of his Muslim population.[4]The invasion by the Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan had indeed been triggered by news of the massacres of Muslims in Kashmir. Poonch, one of the sites of state violence against Muslims by the Maharaja with support from India (in the form of both RSS and regular armed force members[5] from the Maharaja of Patiala in India whose deployment in Kashmir was completed by 18 October), was not a communal uprising by Muslims against Hindus as Hindu nationalists such as Golwalker had claimed but as a reaction to draconian governance on the part of the Maharaja regime:

‘Despite the reforms imposed upon the State of Jammu and Kashmir by the British during those years after 1889 when they were in effective control of its affairs, Maharaja Hari Singh in 1925 inherited a regime in which the Muslim majority of the population endured considerable hardships in their daily lives. The system begar for example, the conscription of the local people for various public works including service as porters, was deemed particularly objectionable by the Government of India even though many a British traveller, unofficial and official, had found it extremely convenient and had not hesitated to exploit it to the full.’ – From ‘Kashmir, a disputed legacy’ written in 1997 by Alastair Lamb, renowned British historian and professor.[6]

Complete with agitation, stoking of communal tensions and exploiting present systematic biases against Muslims, India clearly acted as an aggressor in Kashmir since the very beginning. The important factor of Indian armed presence in Kashmir prior to their ‘official’ date of entry on 27 October 1947 and certainly prior to the attack by Pakistani tribesmen (the Pakistani military itself would join much later in 1948) on 22 October is crucial to understanding that Indian propaganda myths about ‘defending against Pakistani aggression’ are, well, propaganda myths.

Regarding the issue of the mystical Instrument of Accession the Indians claimed they had procured from the Maharaja before militarily intervening in Kashmir on 27 October 1947, Alastair Lamb writes in ‘The Myth of Indian Claim to Jammu and Kashmir – A Reappraisal’:

‘It is now absolutely clear that the two documents (a) the Instrument of Accession, and (c) the letter to Lord Mountbatten, could not possibly have been signed by the Maharajah of Jammu & Kashmir on 26 October 1947. The earliest possible time and date for their signature would have to be the afternoon of 27 October 1947. During 26 October 1947 the Maharajah of Jammu & Kashmir was travelling by road from Srinagar to Jammu. His Prime Minister, M.C. Mahajan, who was negotiating with the Government of India, and the senior Indian official concerned in State matters, V.P. Menon, were still in New Delhi where they remained overnight, and where their presence was noted by many observers. There was no communication of any sort between New Delhi and the travelling Maharajah. Menon and Mahajan set out by air from New Delhi to Jammu at about 10.00 a.m. on 27 October; and the Maharajah learned from them for the first time the result of his Prime Minister’s negotiations in New Delhi in the early afternoon of that day.’[7]

There are no doubt many audiences in the world community today sane enough to recognize that the cover of legality does not ultimately make state oppression lasting decades understandable or justifiable. For those, however, who are citizens or supporters of states guilty of such barbaric oppression, denial via scrutiny of their right to seek to justify the injustice based on the alleged possession of important legal documents from history is important for the advocates of justice for the oppressed.

Not much needs to be said regarding the conduct of India in Kashmir. The usage of gangraping as a means of subduing the population has been an oft used tactic by the Indian military in Kashmir; the rape of around 40 Kashmiri women in the 1991 Kunan Poshpora incident provides perhaps the most horrendous example of Indian state brutality against Kashmiris.[8] The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or AFSPA, applied to Kashmir since the early 1990s, provides Indian military forces the constitutional blessing to raid homes, declare people ‘separatists’ at will and shoot to kill, to delay without arrest and to destroy any property used by ‘insurgents’, ‘terrorists’ or ‘separatists’.[9]

The current Indian army chief Bipin Rawat is on record having praised the usage of human shields (a war crime by international law)[10] by an Indian officer in Kashmir. As would be expected, the move generated considerable popularity among the Indian public with a local businessman working for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party printing T shirts exalting the Indian armed forces for the act.[11] Perhaps the most telling statement, however, to come from the Indian elite regarding Kashmir, is Bipin Rawat’s January 18 statement stating that the ‘Kashmiris cannot get what they want’.[12]

It seems rather bizarre to call a region held on to by force an ‘integral part’ of your country and yet to acknowledge that its people despise the tyranny keeping them tied to India.


[1]; Narendra Modi’s complicity in large scale communal violence against Indian Muslims

[2]; remembering the lies regarding Israel’s birth

[3]; the complicity of the Indian RSS in slaughtering Muslims in Kashmir prior to the invasion by tribesmen from Pakistan

[4]; page 263

[5]; citing page 129-132 of Alastair Lamb’s ‘Incomplete Partition’ written in 1997

[6]; page 96

[7]; The Myth of Indian Claim to Jammu and Kashmir (1994) by Alastair Lamb

[8]; Kunan Poshpora mass rape in 1991

[9]; AFSPA

[10]; Indian army chief praises officer who used human shield in Kashmir

[11]; human shields and T shirts

[12]; Bipin Rawat statement on Kashmiris

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