Kashmiris, forced to be living around the world, because their homeland is under illegal occupation, observe October 27 as “Black Day” because on this iniquitous day in 1947, India had forcibly occupied Kashmir instead of granting them their right to self determination as inscribed in the Indian Independence Act of 1947.
Kashmir has an ancient history, but closer to contemporary times; the Pashtun Durrani Empire ruled it in the 18th century. Ranjit Singh conquered Kashmir in 1819; following the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1845—1846, Kashmir was ceded to the East India Company, which later sold it to Gulab Singh, the Dogra Raja of Jammu in accordance to the Treaty of Amritsar. Under the tyrannical Dogra rule, Muslims—the majority population of the princely state—suffered immensely. Kashmiri Muslims struggled for salvation but their efforts were crushed with brute force.
India’s Partition in 1947, held promise for the Kashmiris because following the end of British suzerainty over the 562 Indian princely states, in accordance to the Indian Independence Act 1947, each state could opt to join either Pakistan or India except for those princely states in which the ruler professed a different religion to that of its subjects; there the citizens of the state were to exercise their option of accession. Kashmir—the largest princely state, had a Hindu ruler with its citizens’ majority being Muslims—aspired to opt for joining Pakistan. Their hopes however, were dashed when India invaded Kashmir forcing the Maharaja to accede to India.
A fresh wave of oppression commenced and a number of resisting Muslims were slain. Some Pathan tribesmen took up arms to avenge the slaughter of their Kashmiri kinsmen. The first Kashmir War between India and Pakistan erupted; Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir was on the verge of being liberated, when a panicked Indian Prime Minister, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru requested the United Nations Security Council to intercede, which halted the hostilities and adopted Resolution 47 on April 21, 1948. The essence of the Resolution was to conduct a plebiscite under the aegis of the UN to decide the fate of Kashmir for acceding to either Pakistan or India. Both Pakistani and Indian leadership welcomed the UN Resolutions. Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, not only accepted the UN verdict wholeheartedly, but in his statement in the Indian Parliament on Aug 7, 1952, Nehru categorically avowed: “Let me say clearly that we accept the basic proposition that the future of Kashmir is going to be decided finally by the goodwill and pleasure of her people.” Unfortunately, India reneged on its promise. Pakistan and India went to war in 1965 and 1971 but the situation of the Kashmiris did not change. Out of sheer desperation, having lost hope of Indian leaders paying heed to the UN Resolutions, in 1989 Muslims of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) took up arms to seek freedom but Indian armed forces cracked down on them brutally and thousands of Kashmiris lost their lives and suppressed their justified quest for liberty.
To add insult to injury, the Indian parliament in 1994 passed a bizarre resolution claiming that the entire Jammu and Kashmir state, including the area “occupied” by Pakistan, was an integral part of India. Thus with one stroke of the pen India forsook the pledge made to the Kashmiris by India’s founding father Nehru.
The entire Kashmiri Diaspora observes October 27 as “Black Day” to protest against Indian occupation. To express solidarity with the Kashmiris, this year a major event has been organized by the OIC Secretariat Jeddah on the same day, where the Muslim Ummah is expected to pressurize India to abide by humanitarian principles.
Internationally, the Kashmir issue is recognized as a flashpoint between two nuclear arms equipped states: Pakistan and India but little is done to resolve the dispute and the Kashmiris continue to suffer. Surprisingly, a neutral country like the Federal Republic of Germany, which suffered occupation of half its state in the aftermath of the Second World War, on September 7th, 2013, organized renowned musician Zubin Mehta’s concert at the Shalimar Garden in Srinagar. Kashmiri leadership and Pakistani Foreign Office expressed concern at the event since it strengthened the Indian government’s endeavour to present Kashmir as its integral part and depict IOK to be calm and peaceful. Protest demonstrations in IOK on the eve of the concert resulted in some casualties. It is recommended that the international community respects the plight of the Kashmiris and supports their just struggle in light of the UN Resolutions, rather than please India.
The writer is a former group captain of PAF, who also served as air and naval attaché at Riyadh. Currently, he is a columnist, analyst and host of programme Defence and Diplomacy on PTV.