Guest post by T.R. Ramaswami
India became independent on 15th. August 1947 and the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession till October 1947. What was Kashmir’s for those two months? Independent country? Part of British Empire? When the accession took place, Kashmir could only accede to India what it had and not what Pakistan had already occupied.
This brings me to the second point. Let us hold a referendum of all Indian Kashmiris all over the world – the choice being between abolishing Article 370 or complete independence for Kashmir. If 370 goes, let us acknowledge the LoC as the international border and resolve the situation once and for all. If 370 does not go, then let us give full independence to Kashmir. This should be done by not repeating the mistake Nehru (a Kashmiri) made in 1947 during partition, ie allowing Muslims to stay back in India, when their leaders wanted a separate country for Muslims. We should ask all Kashmiris, Hindus or Muslims or of any religion, to go back. And Kashmir DOES NOT include Jammu and Ladakh.
Those who stay back in India are welcome to do so but they will have no property rights or voting power in India. Let them know what a 370 is. In fact this is what we should have done with Muslims after partition – go to Pakistan or convert back to Hinduism or have no voting and property rights. After Kashmir gets independence let whoever is their leader, and his people fight with Pakistan on PoK and let them also defend themselves against the Chinese in the north. We always seem to be getting into a fix over 370. Let us reciprocate 370 – no Kashmiri can own property anywhere else in India.
Alternatively, make Kashmir un-special by recasting the Lists in the Constitution, removing all overlaps and formalizing the federal nature of the country. The Centre should keep only a few subjects with itself – like defence, foreign affairs, atomic energy, railways, ports and airports, oil, currency, professional and post-graduate education. Is Kashmir asking for any of these? The centre should transfer all other subjects not only to Kashmir, but to all other states, thereby ensuring that Kashmir is nothing special. Kashmir cannot dictate about what the Centre gives to other states, as long it also gets the same powers. 370 will become a dead duck.
Today an Indians can own property in the USA, UK etc. but unless he is a Kashmiri he cannot buy property in Kashmir. It is more a foreign country than the US, UK etc. and we should let it go. Kashmir is being subsidised by not only hard-earned money from the rest of India – all of which is swindled by politicians in Srinagar and Delhi – but also by the blood of soldiers whose dependents cannot even buy a square inch of the land that their fathers/husbands/brothers etc. unnecessarily fought and died for. This is hypocrisy.
The Kashmir problem arose because Nehru did not know whether he was a Kashmiri first or an Indian. We should have handed over Kashmir along with all the 50 million Muslims to Pakistan and accomplished a true partition. But Nehru was worried that with so many more Muslims Jinnah could have rightly asked for more land and Kashmir would have been the choice. He did not want his Kashmiri Pandits to become refugees and wanted a Pak-contiguous Muslim majority state to stay in India against all logic.
Instead we have a eunuch like situation. That these Pandits are now refugees need not be cried over. They are paying for the blunders of their own leader. The Kashmir problem will always defy solution as long as the Nehru family is in politics as they will not want the ineptitude of Nehru and his chauvinistic personal intentions to be revealed.