India’s Kashmir propaganda: A leaf out of Israel’s book

Posted originally to Express Tribune Blogs (Part 1 and Part 2).

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leading India is clearly fond of Israel, but India regardless of its ruling party has been close to Israel in strategic terms for a long time. From Israeli support to India in wars against Pakistan to India’s status as Israel’s largest weapons market, Indo-Israeli ties are very intimate. The military-intelligence aspect of them even predates the official opening of diplomatic ties between the two in 1992, with Israeli military-intel support to India during its wars with China and Pakistan in the 60s and 70s.

Israel hosts Indian commandos for joint exercises in the Negev desert and values India as its largest weapons export market. Leftist journalist and filmmaker Andre Vltchek, describing India’s inhumane occupation of Kashmir in a 2015 CounterPunch article, speaks of Israel’s role in training Indian police and army officers posted to Kashmir and Indo-Israeli as well as Indo-US joint exercises near the ceasefire line with Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

The similarities with Israel’s policies toward Palestinians have been pointed out many a time, but the true extent of the similarities of the origins of India and Israel’s brutal occupations is not often dwelled upon.

Nor are dwelled upon the similar styles of propaganda used in the concealing or even promoting of the criminal state agendas and long-term policies of the two countries vis a vis Kashmir and Palestine. The similarities between Indian and Israeli discourse and propaganda on them make comparisons between the two going further back than just Modi’s bromance with Netanyahu worth hearing.

Starting the story when they like it and obfuscating historical timelines

Zionists oft pretend that Israel achieved the additional territory it did in 1948 because it was ‘attacked’ by surrounding Arab states and forced to respond. The propaganda is surprisingly weak, considering that even in the mid twentieth century many could simply consult the relevant primary source literature and read about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist paramilitaries, the logistics and methods of which were planned since as early as the late 1930s.

Terrorism upon Arabs by Zionist paramilitaries was a feature of the 1940s and rose exponentially in the year 1947, marked with bombings and gruesome murders.

It may well be disproportionate Zionist influence over Western print and electronic media which has led to smugness on behalf of Hasbarists, who have added little to their brittle, false account of history. Regardless, Israel repeats the myth of self defense against the Arab boogeyman even today, expecting many naïve folk to believe it always existed in Palestine and was attacked by ‘savage’ and ‘anti-Semitic’ Arabs.

Similarly, India seeks to shove beneath the carpet the events in the early days of its Kashmir dispute with Pakistan to make its conduct seem defensive and justified. Indian propaganda states often that its 27 October 1947 military intervention in the Kashmir – one of numerous independent princely states which following the creation in August 1947 of Pakistan and India were mandated to make a choice of which country to accede to – was a response to a Pakistani ‘invasion’ and done at the invitation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir’s then Maharaja, Hari Singh of the Dogra clan.

However, preceding the 22 October attack by Pakistani Pashtun tribesmen from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan was communal massacre being enacted jointly by Hari and the Indians. The Times in London on 10 August 1948 reported that the genocide of 237 000 of Kashmir’s 70% Muslim majority, five days prior to the tribesmen’s attack, in Jammu district turned them from majority there (61%) to minority.

Writes Kashmiri historian Abdul Majid Zargar, Hari in September 1947 requested military supplies from India to quell dissent among Kashmiri Muslims and that 8000 Indian troops from the state Patiala reached on 8 October.

Others such as Sardar Ibrahim Khan (1915-2003), founding president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK, administered by Pakistan today), narrated anti-Muslim violence and Muslim resistance against Hari and his Indian backers as early as February emanating from Poonch, Jammu. Sardar Ibrahim, a politician of the Muslim Conference party of J&K which had passed its famous ‘Accession to Pakistan’ resolution a month before the creations of India and Pakistan, stated that Hari’s forces killed 500 Muslims in August 1947.

According to Zahir ud Din, founding member of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), Hari’s Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan responded to Pakistan’s expression of concern on 12 October 1947 about violence against Muslims in J&K with accusations that Pakistan was infiltrating fighters into Kashmir. Using this as a pretext, the Hari regime threatened to seek ‘assistance’ from India, despite that armed assistance for its criminal anti-Muslim activities already being present in the form of the RSS and Patiala troops.

Collaborating with India to crack down upon J&K’s Muslims and change the demographics of the region violated Hari’s 15 August 1947 Standstill Agreement with Pakistan. Josef Korbel, Chair of the 1948 UN Commission for India and Pakistan, wrote in his 1954 book Danger in Kashmir that the Standstill Agreement had been drawn up by Hari as a means of deceiving Pakistan into believing he was neutral and trying to settle the accession issue in a balanced manner.

Sidelining the populations and going straight for the coveted land

The Balfour Declaration surely did not take the Palestinians on board when it decided a Jewish homeland had to be erected in Palestine. The active ethnic cleansing of Palestine turned to its armed, violent dimension mostly after the end of the Arab Revolt against the British (1936-39), but the Kashmiris were both having their right to self determination denied and being massacred while the Hindu Maharaja’s intrigues with the Hindu elite of Delhi progressed before they launched an effective fightback.

Correspondence between India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his deputy, Vallabhai Patel, revealed the Indian state’s cognizance of the fact that Hari’s Muslim majority would vote to join Pakistan as per the terms for plebiscite.

The 17 April letter from Nehru to Patel also showed his knowledge of Hari personally stoking communal agitation in Kashmir for a ‘zonal plebiscite’ in Jammu in the months leading up to the October massacre.

The aim of the massacre in Jammu in October 1947 was apparent; India and the Hindu Maharaja plotted to change Kashmir’s demographics in favour of Hindus and only then hold a plebiscite.

Nehru had even promised, on 31 October 1947, to Pakistan of India’s commitment to holding a plebiscite in Kashmir. The promise, made as fighting in Kashmir was going on with Pakistani irregulars, tribesmen and Kashmiris from the even earlier Muslim-led Poonch rebellion, was never fulfilled.

Put in context with Nehru’s inner circles’ intrigues in J&K and involvement in communal violence there, Nehru’s conniving ways and lies become apparent.

Lord Mountbatten, last Viceroy of British India and first Governor General of the new Indian state, stated in a letter to Hari on the day of Indian troops’ 27 October 1947 landing in Srinagar, J&K:

‘… in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.’ (pp. 137, Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy by British historian on the Kashmir conflict Alistair Lamb)

Mountbatten was far from sincere, however, in granting self-determination to the Muslims of Kashmir; he had overseen censorship of reports on the Jammu massacres of October 1947 coming to Delhi.

Attempts to hide occupation, annexation and war crimes behind a shroud of ‘legality’

‘The British gave us Palestine’ is a common Zionist refrain, citing the Balfour Declaration. Yet another example of brittle Hasbara backed only by powerful Zionist media influence, the 1917 Balfour Declaration held no legal validity since Palestine at the time Lord Balfour made his ‘promise’ to Lord Walter Rothschild to set up a Jewish state there belonged to the Ottomans.

Zionists also attempt to claim the UN General Assembly (UNGA) ‘legalized’ the creation of Israel. As the now widely-cited 2010 article by independent journalist Jeremy R Hammond titled ‘The Myth of the UN Creation of Israel’ elaborates, UNGA Resolution 181 was a mere non-binding recommendation for partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state and request for the Security Council (UNSC) to find a way to implement that recommendation. It also requested the inhabitants of Palestine to accept it and cited no action if they did not.

As it were, even the highly unfair recommendations of 181, that Arabs despite owning 85% of Palestine’s land and being 65% of its population should receive 45.5% of the land and the Jewish state 55.5%, were not implemented. American Zionists with documented sway over US policymakers such as Wallstreet financier Bernard Baruch even communicated to various UN member states threats to use their influence to roll back US aid to them and financing for vital development projects if they opposed 181.

In any case, Zionists annexed 77.4% of Palestine by May 1948 through the aforementioned ethnic cleansing campaign. 181, non-binding or not, was never implemented. The rest of historical Palestine was annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six Day

On a similar note, India’s ‘Instrument of Accession’ excuse for its occupation and brutalities in Kashmir has been a mainstay of its propaganda on the matter. India claims it procured the document from Maharaja Hari on 26 October 1947 and airlifted its troops to Kashmir thusly as a just defense against Pakistani ‘aggression’.

With Indian forces and other actors involved in massacres in J&K much prior to the 22 October Pakistani ‘invasion’ of tribesmen established earlier in this article, it is evident India was not merely ‘defending’ what was ‘its’ territory. But did India receive the Instrument as it says it did, and it did show it to Pakistan or for that matter the UNSC when the latter was invited by India to mediate the end of the Kashmir War and the territorial dispute with Pakistan in January 1948?

Not only had India participated in the anti-Muslim violence in J&K, intended to bring demographic change in favour of Hindus and thus rendered the environment for a fair accession impossible, but it did not prove its procurement of the Instrument prior to 27 October either.

In an essay titled ‘The Indian Claim to Jammu and Kashmir:  A Reappraisal’, Lamb investigates India’s claim that India procured and formally accepted (via Mountbatten) the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947.

Unfortunately accepted by the Pakistanis at the time, Lamb, with access to the relevant historical documents, archives and works by Indian and Dogra officials involved in the Kashmir conflict, demonstrates the claimed date of the ‘accession’ to India to be false. Lamb explains that Hari’s top officials who had been in New Delhi whilst he was still travelling to India on 26 October met with him personally in Jammu on 27 October’s afternoon to appraise him of the negotiations with India.

Considering the Indian army undisputedly landed in Srinagar on 27 October’s morning at 9 am, this puts the military intervention earlier than Hari even reaching India, let alone signing the alleged Instrument. The thus falsely-dated alleged accession- which India provided no proof of to the UN when it itself brought it into the fray months later for mediation – was thus made under circumstances of duress and a ruler with negligible authority left.

Lamb points out that the Hari’s 26 October letter to Mountbatten requesting military assistance in exchange for accession and Mountbatten’s acceptance of it in the 27 October letter mentioned earlier were published by India on 28 October. However:

‘It was not communicated to Pakistan at the outset of the overt Indian intervention in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, nor was it presented in facsimile to the United Nations in early 1948 as part of the initial Indian reference to the Security Council.’ (pp. 4)

India keeping such a vital document from an international mediator it brought to Kashmir itself was more than just a red flag. Lamb adds:

‘The 1948 White Paper in which the Government of India set out its formal case in respect to the State of Jammu & Kashmir, does not contain the Instrument of Accession as claimed to have been signed by the Maharajah: instead, it reproduces an unsigned form of Accession such as, it is implied, the Maharajah might have signed. To date no satisfactory original of this Instrument as signed by the Maharajah has been produced: though a highly suspect version, complete with the false date 26 October 1947, has been circulated by the Indian side since the 1960s. On the present evidence it is by no means clear that the Maharaja ever did sign an Instrument of Accession’ (pp. 4-5)

India had helped Hari worsen an already bad internal situation in J&K in attempting to change its demographics and exacerbated the Muslim revolt against him which led to his writ as ruler becoming almost negligible by the time India intervened. It itself contributed to rendering the environment impossible for fair accession.

India’s actions were driven by an urge to damage the Pakistani state and dominate Kashmir, not an urge to settle the turmoil in J&K amicably. Even factors of geography made Pakistan’s claim to J&K fairer and more practical:

‘First: the State of Jammu and Kashmir was a region with an overwhelming Muslim majority contiguous to the Muslim majority region of the Punjab which became part of Pakistan. Second: the economy of the State Jammu and Kashmir was bound up with what was to become Pakistan. Its best communication with the outside world lay through Pakistan, and this was the route taken by the bulk of its exports. Third: the waters of the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, all of which flowed through Jammu and Kashmir territory, were essential for the prosperity of the agricultural life of Pakistan.’ (pp. 12, Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy)

But both impracticality and immorality underpin India’s occupation of Kashmir, just as they do the existence and expansionist endeavours of Israel.


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