Whenever Government of India has to take an official stand on Jammu and Kashmir, it simply stops at saying “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India”.  If pushed, they will say only thing pending is for Pakistan to return occupied areas.  This is despite India having a strong case on Jammu and Kashmir. Because India does not vigorously defend itself, a distorted narrative about Jammu and Kashmir keeps getting circulated. While western analysts broadly support India for its patience and maturity, they allude to Kashmir as an issue. In many cases, scholars like Christine Fair and journalists like Maroof Raza have put up a better defence of Indian position than Government of India itself. The Government of India has also been diffident about talking about ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits.  Many cases the Government is not pitted against outside voices but also voices within Jammu and Kashmir as well as sympathizers from sections of civil society. Here is an attempt to counter certain public positions as well as implicit beliefs. We also need to judge what is right using principles of symmetry and reciprocity.

  1. Jammu and Kashmir did not accede in the same manner as other kingdoms

This statement is done by even political leaders in J&K. In reality all accession agreements had the same wordings, where to start-with defence, law and order and communication (basically 3 important items) were part of the scope. This in other cases was followed by a merger agreement. In case of Jammu and Kashmir, it was not. However the merger agreements were more relevant in case of small kingdoms which got subsumed in bigger provinces. In all cases over the years the Kings and Princes as well as Kingdoms steadily ceded authority to Government of India. All this was done to grant fundamental rights to people that accrued from a liberal democratic constitution of India. So it indeed was in public interest. The Government of India stopped annuities paid to all Princes in 1975. The situation in J&K in no way is unique compared to other Kingdoms.  All Kingdoms followed a logical path to come under oversight of Indian constitution in a steady manner.

On the contrary, it is Pakistan which has illegally taken over parts of Jammu and Kashmir. There is no accession treaty, but only a forcible take over. India has a right to take it back as the whole state was acceded to Jammu and Kashmir.  Rather Pakistan Government has divided the territories into 3, PoK, Northern Areas (Gilgit –Baltistan) and portion of Northern areas it has ceded to China, while it legally belonged to India.

  1. Without Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir’s linkage to India will be lost

Jammu and Kashmir became part of India on 26th October 1947 when the King signed the accession treaty.  It is the accession treaty that made Jammu and Kashmir part of India. The article 370 is part of Indian constitution, an internal, interim arrangement, which was specifically agreed to as a transitory arrangement.  The article 370 was passed in 26 January 1950 and further modied in 1954. Irrespective of whether article 370 exists or not, Jammu and Kashmir will continue to be part of India.

  1. Ordinary Indians should not object to article 370

Article 370 denies supremacy of Indian Parliament over Jammu and Kashmir.  It is very important that such supremacy should be restored.

  1. The special status for Jammu and Kashmir was the just step by Government of India.

Another aspect of special status is that it denies rights to Indians outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy property and settle there. This is done using residency laws (article 35A). All of India should belong to all Indians. Any exceptions should be such as to protect environment and tribal culture. In this case this has only helped to perpetuate Muslim majority, as well as nurse a sense of alienation, which is hardly in the interest of anybody. Also this fails the reciprocity test as residents of Jammu and Kashmir have no such restrictions in rest of India. Several border areas which were disputed have become quiet with passage of time whereas here time is frozen for decades.

  1. It is the right of Jammu and Kashmir people to have a plebiscite as rest of the people of undivided India

In reality referendum was taken only for citizens directly ruled by British. For princely states it was up-to the King to accede to India, Pakistan or stay independent. The people had no say as in any monarchy. This was true with all 565 kingdoms.   Again choice of accession was restricted based on contiguity.  Even though Hyderabad was forcibly taken over by India, it was contiguous only with India. So if you go by partition act and precedents the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir had no right to plebiscite as other 565 princely states.

  1. Kashmris get Azadi if plebiscite is held

The terms of plebiscite give only two choices – to join India or Pakistan and there is no provision for Azadi.

  1. The decision by UNSC to have plebiscite was the right decision

The plebiscite was actually proposed by Jawahar Lal Nehru and accepted by UNSC. This was not the right decision as the original prayer of India was to ask Pakistan to vacate the territory that was forcibly taken by them, territory that had legally acceded to India. In fact UNSC did a over-reach if you consider that other 565 princely states did not have a plebiscite.

  1. The plebiscite is blocked by India

As clearly stated in UNSC resolution, the first action was for Pakistan to vacate PoK and hand it over to India.  Only consequent to that India was to conduct a fair plebiscite with minimal forces to ensure law and order. It was Pakistan that never followed up on its obligation for decades. Yet it is Pakistan continues to cry hoarse in UNGA meetings year after year about plebiscite. On top of that Pakistan has  over the years moved outside populace. They have also separated Northen areas as well as ceded parts of areas to China from the original occupied areas. In reality it is only the Pakistan Occupied Area  is illegally occupied and what is with India is legally acceded. Any offer of plebiscite was done by India on its own and can no longer be done due to passage of events and later bilateral agreements such as Simla Accord.

  1. Jammu and Kashmir is basically Kashmir

In reality, Kashmir valley is just one of the areas but they being most vocal and most violent crowd out others. Jammu has nearly 45% of population in areas that are currently part of India. The people of Jammu are  not Kashmiris, they speak a language called Dogri,  Other major area is Ladakh, here people are Buddhist and they are not Kashmiris.  Among areas occupied Pakistan, Gilgit and Baltistan have their own language and culture, which has nothing to do with Kashmir. On top of that even in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the Kashmiri language shares space with other languages such as Pasto and Punjabi from the beginning. Even after all this hue and cry,  the Jammu and Kashmir has not even promoted Kashmiri as a language, they have adopted Urdu as the official language.

  1. Kashmir issue is yet another Muslim problem a case of Muslim suffering

Kashmir was a Hindu Kingdom till 1339 when it was taken over by a Muslim Prince (Shah Mir) from Swat Valley who in fact was given shelter by the Hindu King of Kashmir. Waves of invasion and forced conversions followed making a highly cultured and spiritual center of Hindus an Islamic region.  Many Hindus over the years were forced to leave Kashmir. The Sikh Guru Tej Bahadur gave up his life to stop conversion of Kashmiri Pandits by Mughals. He challenged the Mughal King to convert him first. The Hindus have continued to suffer even after independence of India  with ethnic cleansing of Pandits which reduced their population to miniscule numbers in  Kashmir valley.  While some Kashmiris have projected their identity as regional, they have failed to protect their own brothers, rather have actively participated in their killing. At the same time Kashmir cannot be a Muslim issue as India has accommodated more Muslims than whole of Pakistan with respect and honour. The suffering of Kashmiri Muslims is primarily due to taking up violence to force the secession, supporting terrorists and progressively taking up radical Islam as against relatively softer Kashmiri ethos  If Kashmiri Muslims accept India as their country like all other Muslims in India, none of the issues will remain.

  1. In fact Kashmiris are from Central Asia.

This has absolutely no basis. Kashmir as a region is part of India for 5,000 years. It is referred to in Indian epics as well. In historical period, Kashmir has been ruled by a succession of Hindu kings. Kashmir has been core to Indian identity from Vedic period.  Any recorded intrusions have happened only after 13th century that too in small numbers. Kashmiri Pandits are a sub-group of Sarasvat Brahmins spread all the way to Goa and Kerala. Other Kashmiris belong to other caste groups with commonality across India. There is absolutely no evidence to show that Kashmiris in particular have external origins. Rather India to Iran share common civilization with close links with other European civilizations before advent of Christianty. But by the time of historical period beginning with Ashoka, all these linkages belonged to the past.

  1. Kashmiri Muslims are not like Muslims from Jammu and Punjab

A degree of diversity exists in all regions of India. In fact Muslims from every state or sub-region differ from other regions in terms of culture and tradition.

  1. Jammu and Kashmir was never part of British India

While Jammu and Kashmir was not directly ruled by India so were so many other princely states all over the India. There is nothing unique about this. It is Balochistan which was never part of British India in the sense that Baloch prince was not part of the group of princes which accepted British over-lordship. Even though kings were autonomous they were pretty much under the thumb of British rule.

  1. India was never one country till British united it

Even as early as Mauryan rule, Indian Kings had larger area than the British Empire. As far as our tradition goes the region below Himalayas and surrounded by three seas is one country from scriptural times. The number of kingdoms did not come in the way of single unified civilization nor unity of nation. Whether it is Arabs, Greeks, Iranians or Europeans, all looked at India as one country for ages.  The regional identity took shape much later as people moved from place to place. No part of India is such that they don’t have people who have migrated from other regions of the country. The logic of leftists supporting breaking up of India into many pieces simply does not make sense. Even when India had many kingdoms they were all under the influence of Dharmic traditions which respected plurality and protected those who sought asylum. The people could move from place to place as if the whole country was seamless.

  1. Unfinished agenda of partition needs to be finished

More people died during partition than 182 years of British rule. The partition agenda should not have started at all.  Even after partition there are more Muslims in India than in Bangladesh or Pakistan. The scars of partition have left such impression that it was with great effort harmony is achieved in India. In Pakistan 24% Hindu population was reduced to 2%. Unfortunately even in Kashmir valley most brutal ethnic cleansing of Hindus took place. We have ended up in an asymmetric situation where India has pursued secularism which accommodates minorities lot more, Pakistan and Bangladesh have chosen to be Islamic by putting life and liberty of Hindus and Sikhs in danger. Even though India also had issues, broadly legal system has been more responsive and forced accountability.  By pursuing such a bloody agenda we will hardly do humanity any favour. Pakistan did not feel one nation as other ethnic groups felt dominated by Punjabi elite. International community under no circumstances should buy into this.

  1. All people should have right to self-determination

The self-determination as a concept came into being in the back-drop of colonial rule. In case of Kashmir as well as Pakistan or Bangladesh they were very much part of Hindu India. What has happened is there has been Islamic occupation and forcible partition of the country. Britsh Government colluded to create Pakistan by choosing to do referendum with granularity of provinces instead of taking vote for the whole nation. Much before that they had separate electorate based on religion. All this was part of divide and conquer strategy. The motivation of British to facilitate Pakistan was to have a Military outpost in the region to counter USSR. They knew Pakistan under Jinna would do it and not India under Nehru. Coming to the present Self-determination has moral legitimacy only if it is not held on religious lines. On top of it if self-determination like partition results in ethnic cleansing and forced migration of one community how can any human rights organization support that? Such an organization should be ashamed of itself. in case of Kashmiri separatists they have front-loaded ethnic cleansing.  Should such an act be rewarded?  If Kashmir cannot stay secular and give rights to Hindus, why should India at large stay secular? If OIC countries support Kashmir issue then let them be ready to take over the whole of Muslim populace.

  1. Kashmir is under “Occupation”

This is a strange claim. Kashmir has been part of India for 5,000 years. Even the name is attributed to Vedic Rishi called Kashyap.  Kashmir is core of Indian Civilization. All along all regions of India were considered parts of India and closely interacted all the way to Southern parts of india.  How can India occupy any part of its own country?  We are not British or Portuguese; rather we are native to whole of India including Pakistan and Bangladesh. The occupation that has happened is Islamic occupation of Kashmir starting with 13th Century where people were converted by royal diktat, force or other means. Even though conversions continued to maintain a mix of population with bonds, increasing Islamization has meant brothers killing brothers over religion. Sadly Palastine is used as a model, which again tries to question Jewish claim over their land that long preceded advent of Islam. This has resulted in nothing but blood-shed.

  1. Kashmiris are innocent victims

In reality the people there have made a choice to pursue violence and play victimhood at the same time. They rose up using the pretext of death of terrorist and sustained an orchestrated protest for months.  They put up innocent children by indoctrinating them over Azadi as of the Government under a Kashmiri CM who oversees even Jammu and Ladakh is not theirs. Rather people of Jammu and Ladakh should be asking the question, why the Government is not theirs. There is a vicious cycle. Because they provide local support to terrorists from across the border greater number of soldiers are needed at border and then as and when things get more violent soldiers are once again needed. If Kashmiris stop supporting violence most of the issues will go away.

  1. Separatists should be recognized as stakeholders

As long as Kashmiri politicians are beholden to separatists they lose their right to represent the people.  They are in the same situation as civilian government of Pakistan which plays second –fiddle to Army. Any situation where there is dual control, nothing useful will come out of it. The politicians of Jammu and Kashmir should have the conviction that Jammu and Kashmir is better together as part of India.  If they do not have such conviction and continue to harbour dreams of independent Kashmir, they should quit politics. Alternatively separatists if they indeed believe people are with them they should demonstrate their legitimacy by fighting elections. Net-net we need one set of people who represent people. Only then anybody will seriously talk to them.

  1. Kashmiri Fighters are not terrorists

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter is no longer accepted.  People who start by killing “other people”, in no time start killing one’s own people. This has happened with LTTE, Palastinian organizations and Kashmiri terrorists are no different. In fact  so many separatists who support terrorists themselves have lost their fathers.  How can anybody call these people nothing but terrorists?

  1. Separation from India will be good for Kashmir

First of all when Pakistan talks about Azadi, they expect integration with Pakistan. What they call Azad Kashmir they rule it with lesser rights then a half-state in India. So Azadi taken with help of Pakistan will mean domination by Punjabi  elite, which Sheikh Abdulla did not want to start with. Things have only got worse. Even in the event that there is an independent rump of  Kashmir, it will  be land-locked and beholden to one of its neighbours. Unlike Balochistan, Kashmir is not even resource rich. It is very, very unlikely that Jammu and Kashmir as single entity will be one unit, as other regions will resent Kashmiri dominance. The employment avenues in India will be closed to Kashmiris. With backlash against Islamic states, it will be harder to pursue opportunities in the west without an Indian passport. Only difference is that we will have a PM of a small region instead of a CM of a large state.  If Kashmir becomes part of Pakistan they will join people who are already unhappy being part of Pakistan. In India at least no region dominates the country. Even though PoK is called Azad Kashmir they hardly have any powers not even as half-state of India.

  1. Pursuing Kashmir is in the interest of Pakistan

Pakistan already has restive provinces and adding one more hardly helps. Instead if Pakistan gives up this dream and works for regional harmony its people will benefit lot more. As of now only thing that awaits Pakistan is title of terrorist state.

  1. Solution to Kashmir issue is autonomy and self-rule

PoK Is more peaceful even when they hardly have any powers. The special status has not solved any issue. It has remained half-baked solution. Rather, Jammu and Kashmir should be treated as yet another state. Unprincipled compromise has only complicated the matters.

  1. India should de-Militarize Jammu and Kashmir

No Military would like to get involved in civilian matters except as a last resort. The Jammu and Kashmir has three unique situations compared to other states that need Army’s presence. Being a border state it needs to have Army in the state. The line of control which is more of a cease-fire line has been repeatedly violated by Pakistan, so greater presence of security forces is necessary. On top of this terrorists who cross over find local support in  Muslim majority areas in Kashmir and blend into the population. There have been repeated attempts to hand–over law and order completely to the police, but that has not succeeded. This is due to presence of separatists who keep the pot boiling by orchestrating violence. The politicians play second fiddle to separatists and further complicate matters.  A section of people have supported terror repeatedly whether it is Afzal Guru or Burhan Wani. Unless,  Jammu and Kashmir gets leaders like  Beant Singh and KPS Gill, situation will remain bad. At the end of the day people themselves are responsible for their fate through their action and inaction.

  1. AFSPA should be removed

Kashmiri separatists have managed to ethnically cleanse valley and have imposed Sharia already. As some Kashmiri author wrote, Kashmir is independent for some time now (through such killings). They have made sure that violent dominates the silent who want to be part of India and go on with life. In such a scenario, Army is the last line of defence. It is for the politicians to have a committed  leadership that will strengthen the police. To have genuine peace all those leaders, organizations, people and families who support terror may have to be exiled. The residential laws should be modified to keep out terror supporters and sympathizers. Finally it is upto the society at large, as long as they endorse violence situation will not improve. Large sections of society and people are with India, but such voices are suppressed. We just need to count so many Kashmiri Muslim leaders who get routinely killed by separatists.

  1. India should just give up Kashmir

The partition itself was wrong. India does not need yet another partition nor world yet another Islamic state.  This is not just about people or territory but about an idea of pluralism that has defined India. The Jammu and Kashmir being as diverse fits much better in India than in Pakistan. Strategically India has lost direct border with Afghanistan which would have been  the case through Gilgit-Baltistan. India should take back all of territories lost to Pakistan and China.   Rather India should firmly state its position that it needs to get back lost territories.  India should rather support freedom for Baluchistan, Tibet and provinces within Pakistan which are being dominated by Punjabi elite.  Common Hindus ask why India should be secular if Kashmir has to be Islamic.  Why should Hindus accept asymmetry and lack of reciprocity?

  1. Elections in Jammu and Kashmir are only for Bijali-Sadak-Pani

If that were the case why not have Municipalities or manage through Union territories. In Kashmir democracy has been counter-productive, as politicians have ceded space to separatists. They themselves have remained ambivalent. If Kashmir valley is divided into two Union Territories Indian Government can provide seamless administration.  Why are young children throwing stones at their own Government? Indian Government gets arm-twisted through co-ordinated action by Pakistani establishment and polity in Kashmir who play good-cop, bad-cop alternatively.

  1. The protests in Kashmir valley are spontaneous and innocent are killed

The protests are anything but spontaneous. Burhan Wani was yet another terrorist who got killed. It is the separatists and their supporters who were waiting for an opportunity to put the region on boil. They purposely make use of young children the way LTTE and Palastinians did to gain coverage. These children and women are used as shield by terrorists.  The children from poor families are paid and/or indoctrinated to come on the streets.  The children have no idea what Azadi means. Only thing they relate to is the presence of security forces as they grow up. Why are security forces on streets only in Kashmir valley? It is because the separatists have supported violence and society at large endorsed it even when their own near and dear got killed by terrorists themselves. Any society can play victims, but at the end of the day one is responsible for one’s own destiny through action and inaction. The Kashmiri Muslims are anything but innocent. They ethnically cleansed Pandits in the most brutal manner. They have denied rights to Hindu refugees, against the broader Indian tradition. They attack in hundreds security forces and then claim innocence.

  1. All that they want is Azadi

People are not clear what does Azadi mean. Is it setting up an Islamic state? More democracy? Union with Pakistan? Will Pakistan also give up Kashmir? What about Azadi for smaller provinces? How many pieces? What about land-locked? What do people gain which they can’t otherwise? What do they lose?

Kashmir valley  is not an economically viable state. Other than tourism, there is no other industry. Being part of India, it has the best chance for prosperity.

  1. Pakistan’s involvement has helped Kashmiris in PoK

PoK called Azad Kashmir by Pakistan is neither Azad nor Kashmir.

Sahil Mushtaq in his article http://www.theanalystworld.com/neither-azad-nor-kashmir/  concludes as follows..

Theoretically, Azad Jammu & Kashmir is a self governing state under Pakistan’s control however according to the general public opinion and sentiment in POK reflects that “although ‘azad’ means ‘free’, the residents of Azad Kashmir are anything but free.  The Pakistan authorities govern Azad Kashmir with strict control on basic freedom and liberties”. It has been acknowledged by the global community as well Supreme Court of Pakistan has admonished Islamabad’s oppressive, undemocratic and colonial subjugation.  To cut the long story short, “Azad Kashmir” is neither peopled by Kashmiris nor is it Azad.  Anjum Nisar Mir, the leader of Awami National Party recently stated in a public rally that “people in Azad Kashmir are not free but slaves who live in appalling conditions in refugee camps without any constitutional or even fundamental human rights”.

  1. What is it really about?

At times Kashmiris say they did not like Dogra rule, at other times they say it is about their unique identity and not religion. On the ground however Mosques are used as vehicles of terror.