Article, The Political Express

Who Should Decide for a Nation?

Guardians decide for their wards, they’re trusted. For a nation, we choose a representative; one who we believe will make the right decision. If there exists none, we have a poll. But what if we aren’t given either of the two options? How will we know that the decision was made in our interests and not for personal conquest(s)?

Hitler once said, “Jews are not people, they are animals.” Viewing humans with a pejorative sense of animals with no rights to justify their killing; the creator of holocaust. In his mind he was killing ‘animals’, we kill animals all the time, not detouring to the morality about the matter of killing animals, but the blind eye that is set upon another “killing of animals.” After all he did, we would never allow him to choose for the Jews, or in fact any nation.

We all know that the partition of 1947 was a brutal encounter with human evil and how the realization of absolute non-existence of accountability soaked the brown with red. There exist plenty a books on it, some criticizing the politicians, some the religious ideologies that were in the silhouette, some Lord Mountbatten and some close the book with the good-old phrase, “spontaneity and chaos”, all of which can be debated very well to close-in on one or the other, but we all know that Hitler was clearly responsible for the Holocaust. How did we distinguish the two near equal loss of lives? How is the responsibility divided? Information. We don’t know, we assume, we move on. Reason behind reading history is to realize patterns and not repeat them. We at least don’t know about two, in India itself.

The “cancer in India’s belly” was annexed into the Indian Union through “police action.” The terminology used by Patel and the one used by the government describing the route taken to ‘battle’ the “cancer” shows the demeaning nature that could exist in a government to take control. The tens and thousands of lives are washed over by the satisfaction of a new territory. The report that wasn’t made public then, which contains the number of deaths, rape, arson and looting is now available at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. A sense of righteousness flowed in people that their leaders “successfully” integrated a state simply because they didn’t know the entire story.

A newsbill that reads about the state of Kashmir
Image Credits: kashmirwatch.com

The Jammu massacre differs from the Hyderabad one as the Indian government didn’t directly play a role in it. The communal wave was spreading in J&K after the news of partition. The suspicions of Maharaja towards his Muslim people led him to have the arms of Muslims in his army surrendered. The mass migration of Hindus and Sikhs from Punjab and NWFP to the State was taking place. The imposing of heavy taxes on the people of Poonch led to protests. The pressure of choosing between two newly formed Nations had the Maharaja in panic and the order of Dogra army being sent to subdue the protests resulted in massive atrocities. People were forced to move to Pakistan, they returned with arms and killed over sixty thousand Hindus and Sikhs. This Poonch rebellion led to the “Azad Kashmir” we know now. The mishandling of the situation by the ruler led to the transformation of a non-communal struggle to a communal strife. The Dogra ruler knew that a state plebiscite would probably lead to the annexation into a Muslim nation and the termination of his position. The other side of the coin is documented in a letter sent by Nehru to Patel regarding the Hindu protests that were ongoing; “the whole of Kashmir is bound to be lost and, therefore, let us save Jammu at least.” What’s really striking in his report is that he makes it clear that Jammu is in their favour and if they “present” the Kashmir valley to Pakistan, the situation will be solved in a few days, but what they want is the Kashmir valley. This crux for the desire of the land of Kashmir encapsulates the dispute that has caused an unimaginable bloodbath over the years.

As the Maharaja laid his foot on Bhimber what followed was extermination. The Pak-Kashmir border erupted with the depopulation of two Muslim villages, six miles deep into the border. The Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu outnumbered the Muslim population there and there started the extermination amounting to five lakh people and around two lakh just vanished, remaining untraceable. The violence was also added to when the non-Muslims of Pakistan migrated into the State, carrying with them the stories of violence from the Muslims. Media reported this issue and insane levels of communalism was broadcasted by a Jammu based Hindu paper boasting that ‘a Dogra can kill 200 Muslims.’ The annihilation of trust took place at Talib Khatikan were Muslims were asked to surrender and shifted to the police lines. They were then loader into trucks ostensibly to be migrated to Pakistan. On their way armed-men of RSS and Sikhs pulled the passengers out and started their savage killings. Talib Khatikan’s Muslims saw the betrayal by surrendering and while ostensibly being migrated to Pakistan were subjected to savage killings by RSS and Sikh armed men.

Sheikh Abdullah
Image Credits: Quora.com

In The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (vol 90, page 115 and 298) he reflects on the situation, “The Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu and those who had gone there from outside killed Muslims there. Their women have been dishonoured. This has not been fully reported in the newspapers. The Maharaja of Kashmir is responsible for what has happened there.” These are the words of the Father of the Nation of India, respected all around the world for his notion of reciprocity and means of achieving the ever-desired goal of freedom. Now, Sheikh Abdullah said the following on the matter, “Jammu Muslims are to a large extent themselves responsible for what has happened to them, because though in a minority, they had, by their words and deeds, let their tongues in favour of Pakistan.” So much for the ‘Sher-e-Kashmir’; a person demeaning the carnage and so much for the freedom of speech and the right of self-determination.

With the sense of urgency hoarding in because of the Pathan invasion who were allegedly incensed by the savagery of the valley. The panicked ruler signs the instrument of accession, thus starting the first Indo-Pak war.

Maharaja Hari Singh
Image Credits: LIFE Magazine

After the reading down of Article 370, the celebrations were ‘sold’ to the common man of India and had the Kashmiri Pandit exodus a major part of it. Politicians used the Hindu exodus to its last drop for its political gain whilst turned a blind eye towards the Muslim one. We read number of deaths as if we’re reading ingredients, we seldom realize that each one of them was ‘us’, a child, an old couple, a newly wed. The flow of Modia towards just one side of the spectrum of the loss of lives, is, if not for the exploitation of the dead and religion-based politics, then what else. The right to self-determination has long been a cry of the supposed “crown” of India; a ruler was incompetent when it counted, got his own people killed, cared for his own life more than justice was given the “right” to determine the choice of the same people he so selfishly dehumanised. After all Hitler did, we would never allow him to choose for the Jews, or in fact any nation.
One might say that the Nawab was to be dethroned to save the people he killed, but was it right to take the choice of the oppressor over the oppressed for their own “good” or “safety”? In any case we would be having a discussion on the favouritism of land over its people; here clearly, people were not chosen.

Raafat Gilani B.A.(Hons.) English, Jamia Millia Islamia

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