PART – 1
By SHABNUM SHAH : Grief and grievance is the root cause of any conflict and Kashmir is no different. Complexity grows when the conflict zone carries a background of history, geography and interplay of interests and becomes all the more difficult to resolve when ideas and prejudices an nurtured over decades and centuries. Amid such a backdrop of conflict, violence came in and industrialised the conflict. Almost all the stake holders, less the commoners, stood to gain from the industry and over two and a half decades, almost got so used to it that no one wants to get out of it. Under such a situation, narratives and alternative narrative flourished in support of causing frictions to the resolution of the conflict. Now, it is only the common people or ‘’Aam Admi’’ who should be and who will ultimately discover the solution.
As Ali Noorani “writes in his articles, complied in the book ‘’The Kashmir Disputes’’, Neither Nehuru nor Sheikh Abdullah or Jinnah cared about the permanent solution. Each side simply tried to distort the facts and created stories so that the collective conscience and mood remains divided and stays far from the individual goodness that majority of Kashmiris possess. While I embark upon the effort to analyse and present the realities against the host of myths, the effort is purely to set the tone for a realistic and achievable milestone of peaceful co-existence that every Kashmiri yearns for.
Britishers had their own designs for perpetuating their rule over the subcontinent and creation of Jammu and Kashmir as a state was part of this design. Seeing the topographical centrality and demography, Britishers adopted the approach of integrating two treacheries, that is the Sikh Darbar of Lahore and Dogra rule of Kashmir. Even after decades of subservience to Lahore, Gulab Singh chose to go the British way to acquire Kashmir from Sikhs. Taking advantage of the weakening Sikh empire after death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Gulab Singh started engaging with British and finally on 13 December 1845, when Britishers declared war against Sikhs, Gulab Singh was found supporting Britishers. The reward of this loyalty was Jammu and Kashmir ceding Sutlej, Beas- Sutlej Doab and provinces of Hazara and Kashmir to the Britishers. In the series of dis-integrations of the states, the one initiated through the Treaty of Lahore on 9 Mar 1946. This was followed by the Treaty of Amristar, signed on 16 Mar 1946 through which the hilly regions of the Jammu and Kashmir were sold out by Britishers to Maharaja Gulab Singh for rupees seventy five lakhs. In a way, the larger Jammu and Kashmir was breaking itself and buying its smaller portion from Britishers. This was the price that Jammu and Kashmir was paying for its game. Had Gulab Singh continued to support the Sikhs, Jammu and Kashmir, as also the Sikh empire would have never fallen into the hands of Britishers and the seeds of conflict would have never got sown.