Kashmir- An Unsolved Issue

Letters to Editor

By Chetanya Jindal, Class 9, D.P.S, Dhuri

If we talk about having human rights and fundamental rights in India, there is merely a place where people can’t exercise their rights freely in India i.e. is Kashmir. The issue of the Kashmir has been a major issue right from independence. The partition made by British of the Indian sub-continent along religious lines led to the formation of India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the two nation theory proposed by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. However there remained the problem of over 500+ states, run by princes to integrate. These were given options to join either in Pakistan or India or remain independent.

One such was Kashmir. Kashmir was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu, although the state had a Muslim majority. Hari Singh was adamant that Kashmir would remain independent. Kashmir’s supplies and transport links were barred by Pakistan and India and it was left with only aerial link. The outbreak of civil unrest and raids by Pathan tribesmen made the Maharaja sign the Instrument of accession against the help rendered by India. An interim govt. under Raja Hari Singh and executively headed by Sheikh Abdullah was formed in 1948 following the Government of India Act, 1935 and the Indian Independence Act, 1947. India claims the entire princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, and, as of 2010, administers approximately 43% of the region.

It controls Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, and the Siachen Glacier. India's claims are contested by Pakistan, which administers approximately 37% of the region, namely Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. China currently administers the remaining 20% mostly uninhabited areas, the Shaksgam Valley, and the Aksai Chin region. India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, including the Indo-Pak wars of 1947 and 1965, as well as the Kargil War of 1999. The two countries have also been involved in several skirmishes over control of the Siachen Glacier. Also there had been a Sino-Indian war in 1962. These wars not only had brought a great chaos but also made the pity situation of Kashmiris.

Wars had been in the following manner in Jammu and Kashmir taking it:- Just after Kashmir acceded to India, rebel forces from the western districts of the state and the Pakistani Pakhtoon tribesmen made rapid advances into the Baramulla sector. In the Kashmir valley, National Conference volunteers worked with the Indian Army to drive out the 'raiders' and incursions of Pakistan took place leading to a war in 1947. The resulting First Kashmir War lasted until the end of 1948 with the state of Jammu and Kashmir remaining divided between India and Pakistan. In 1962,troops from the People's Republic of China and India clashed in territory claimed by both when China built a road crossing the border of Ladakh and violating the Mc Mohan Line and also the refuge of Dalai Lama in Dharamshala and the dispute of Tibetan border.

After Pakistan failed to seize Kashmir in 1947, Pakistan with the help of US military, intensively studied guerrilla warfare. Code named 'Operation Gibraltar' companies were dispatched into Indian-administered Kashmir that were supported by officers and men from the paramilitary Northern Light Infantry and Azad Kashmir Rifles as well as commandos from the Special Services Group. The plan of this operation was for the infiltrators to mingle with the local populace and incite them to rebellion against govt. Meanwhile guerilla warfare would commence, destroying bridges and highways, as well as Indian Army installations and airfields, creating conditions for an 'armed insurrection' in Kashmir. Using the newly acquired sophisticated weapons through the American arms aid, Pakistan believed that it could achieve tactical victories in a quick limited war.

However, the Operation Gibraltar failed as the Kashmiris didn’t revolt. When Pakistan launched an attack across the Cease Fire Line or Line of Control, targeting Akhnoor, at that time India launched the war attacking Pakistani Punjab. The war lasted until 23 September, ending in a stalemate. Following the Tashkent Agreement, both the sides withdrew to their pre-conflict positions, and agreed not to interfere in each other's internal affairs. After this, brutal suppression led to a civil war between Eastern Pakistan and Western Pakistan in 1971. The conflict enlarged when India invaded East Pakistan to support in its liberation which led to a war between India and Pakistan.

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 led to a loss for Pakistan and a new country, Bangladesh was formed. A bilateral summit was held at Shimla as a follow-up to the war, where India pushed for peace in South Asia. At stake were 5,139 square miles of Pakistan's territory captured by India during the conflict, and over 90,000 prisoners of war held in Bangladesh. India was ready to return them in exchange for a "durable solution" to the Kashmir issue. Also in July 1988, a series of demonstrations, strikes and attacks on the Indian Govt. began the Kashmir Insurgency. Although thousands of people have died as a result of the turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir.

Protest movements created to voice Kashmir's disputes and grievances with the Indian government, specifically the Indian Military, have been active in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989. In mid-1999, alleged insurgents and Pakistani soldiers from Pakistani Kashmir infiltrated Jammu and Kashmir. During the winter season, Indian and Pakistani forces regularly move down to lower altitudes, as severe climatic conditions make it almost impossible for them to guard the high peaks near the Line of Control. The terrain makes it difficult for both sides to maintain a strict border control over Line of Control. The insurgents took advantage of this and occupied vacant mountain peaks in the Kargil range overlooking the highway in Indian Kashmir that connects Srinagar and Leh. By blocking the highway, they could cut off the only link between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh.

This resulted in a large-scale conflict between the Indian and Pakistani armies. The final stage involved major battles by Indian and Pakistani forces resulting in India recapturing most of the territories held by Pakistani forces. Fears of the Kargil War turning into a nuclear war provoked the then-United States President Bill Clinton to pressure Pakistan to retreat. The Pakistan Army withdrew their remaining troops from the area, ending the conflict. Elections held in 2008 had a high voter turnout in spite of calls by separatist militants for a boycott. The election resulted in the creation of the pro-India Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, which then formed a government in the state. In 2010 unrest erupted after an alleged fake encounter between local youth and security forces.

Thousands of youths pelted security forces with rocks, burned government offices and attacked railway stations and official vehicles in steadily intensifying violence. The Indian government blamed separatists and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group led by Hafiz Saeed for stoking the 2010 protests. I believe that the stone pelters are given wage for doing this on daily basis as during demonetization the protests were gone or rested because the vested interests had no cash to distribute. For months it was quiet but as soon as new currency came in, so as the stone-pelters. The border and the Line of Control separating Indian and Pakistani Kashmir passes through some exceptionally difficult terrain. The world's highest battleground, the Siachen Glacier, is a part of this difficult-to-man boundary. Pakistan has indirectly acquiesced its role in failing to prevent "cross-border terrorism" when it agreed to curb such activities. Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is a Pakistani based Deobandi jihadist terrorist group active in Kashmir. Its main motive is to separate Kashmir from India and merge it in Pakistan.

After liberating Kashmir, its aim is to carry its ‘jihad’ to other parts of India, whose Muslims are also seemed to be in need of liberation. It also maintained close relations with Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Scholars stated that JeM was created with support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI), which uses it to fight in Kashmir and other places and continues to provide backing. On 20 April 2000, JeM carried out the 1st suicide bombing in an Indian army barracks. In 2001, it carried out a bombing neat the J&K Legislative Assembly killing 38 people.

In 1994 Masood Azhar, founder of JeM, was arrested in J&K. Reportedly, Osama bin Laden wanted Azhar freed and ordered Al-Qaeda to hijack a plane which led to his release. An attack by four militants on an Indian Army base on 18 September 2016, also known as the 2016 Uri attack, resulted in the death of 19 soldiers as well as the militants themselves. Although no-one claimed responsibility for the attack, the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed was suspected of involvement by the Indian authorities. The National Investigation Agency filed a first information report regarding the attack and took over the investigation from Jammu and Kashmir Police on 20 September.

On 29 September, the Indian Army conducted retaliatory ‘surgical strikes’ killing dozens of militants. Recent, Pulwama attack fueled the tensions. In the deadliest incident since 2016, Kashmir separatist terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) carried and claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a military convoy that killed over 40 CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) Indian soldiers on 14 February 2019. In retaliation on 26 February 2019, 12 Indian Mirage 2000 fighter jets dropped bombs on a "terrorist camp” in Pakistan-controlled territory at of Kashmir, allegedly killing around 350 members of the JEM.

As India trespassed Pakistan's air space, the incidents escalated the tension between India and Pakistan starting the 2019 India–Pakistan standoff. With this incident it is widely accepted among security analysts that Jaish-e-Mohammed is the creation of ISI. The custom duty on all Pakistani goods was raised to 200%. Protests bandhs and candle light marches were held across India. On the whole, Jammu and Kashmir had a stunning surroundings but a troubled past. 

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Chetanya Jindal D.P.S