Breaking News
Loading...

Latest News

Photos

Press Releases

Recent Post

Wednesday, 23 March 2022
An open letter by the JKLF to the Foreign Ministers of OIC States, meeting in Islamabad on 22 March 2022.

An open letter by the JKLF to the Foreign Ministers of OIC States, meeting in Islamabad on 22 March 2022.

 

An open letter by the JKLF to the Foreign Ministers of OIC States, meeting in Islamabad on 22 March 2022.

Excellencies

RE: Indian Gov’t’s nefarious and pernicious Jammu & Kashmir -J&K- Policy: decimation and re-writing of history.


At the OIC conference on 22-23 March 2022 in Islamabad your Excellencies will be seized with numerous issues of serious concern within the worldwide Muslim ummah. We take the opportunity however, to remind the OIC that in their long history, the people of Jammu & Kashmir, (generically known as Kashmir) face existential threat.  Furthermore, to impress upon the OIC that it, unequivocally affirms the centrality of the Kashmiris, and the territorial integrity of their homeland, for an equitable resolution of the 74 year old Kashmir issue.

Excellencies, India’s right wing Hindu ultra-nationalist BJP/RSS Government’s decision to abrogate articles 370, and 35A on 5 August 2019 to annex, and bifurcate Kashmir, is illegal, her decision to do so however, is designed to obliterate Kashmir’s heritage, destroy its religious and cultural identity, turn the majority Muslim population into an inconsequential minority, and to communalise the centuries’ old harmony and tolerance in Indian occupied Kashmir to further its nefariously pernicious objective, of the  BJP/RSS Government’s flagship Hindutva project. Primarily, India’s policy is designed to bring about demographic change. This is intended to be achieved with new domicile rules which replaced article 35A. Through these illegal rules, Indian occupied Kashmir has literally been opened up to 1.3 billion people of India. It is pertinent to remind your Excellencies that by revoking article 370 on 5 August 2019 India no longer has a conditional arrangement to be in J&K, and therefore, India’s   presence in Kashmir is that of an occupier.

Excellencies, Political dissent, systematic human rights violations and detentions of civilians, including political leaders are perpetrated under repressive Public Safety Act PSA, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act UAPA, and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act AFSPA. Mr Yasin Malik, the Chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), is held under such punitive laws which are colonial in nature and designed to force him into submission.  Having been arrested on 22 February in 2019 and detained at a local police station in Srinagar, Mr Malik was slapped with the inhuman PSA on 7 March and removed to Kot Balwal jail in Jammu, while on 9 May 2019 he was taken to the Indian capital Delhi where he was subjected to physical and psychological torture by India’s National Investigation Authority (NIA). The NIA is tasked with fabricating evidence against Mr Malik as part of Modi Government’s malicious campaign to malign, stifle and discredit Mr Yasin Malik’s peaceful struggle to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Excellencies, the arrest of Mr Malik and the subsequent banning of his party, the JKLF on 22 March 2019, was in fact, to pave the way for India’s military build-up, and subsequent illegal actions against Kashmir and its people. As the most prominent and internationally acknowledged pro-independent pacifist leader of Kashmir, Mr Malik actively seeks a political resolution of the conflict which remains a constant threat to peace and a danger of nuclear confrontation in the region.

Mr Malik stood up to defy Prime Minister Modi’s ideologically driven policy of Hindutva; the manifest objective of which is to obliterate Kashmir’s history, geography, socio- cultural, and religious harmony and identity, through demographic change. Mr Malik has opposed the Indian Government’s policy to deprive the people of Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh of their fundamental citizenship rights, which had been secured with enormous sacrifices by them during their heroic struggles throughout the twentieth century.

Excellencies, prior to Mr Malik’s arrest, he stood firmly opposed to the anticipated abrogation of articles 370 and 35A.  He led peaceful political dissent. Under Mr Modi’s rule however, right of Mr Yasin Malik, and role of his party the JKLF, to organise peaceful democratic dissent, is called anti-national, even when the dissent is in Kashmir, which since 1947 is under de- facto rather than de jure Indian control. Therefore, India’s, and that of Pakistan’s presence in Kashmir, has always been contingent upon a final settlement of Kashmir’s status.  Mr Malik has engaged with previous leaders of both India and Pakistan including the current Prime Minister Mr Imran Khan when he was an opposition leader. And in the past 28 years Mr Malik has assiduously sought support, both in the sub-continent and across the world, for a peaceful and equitable resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Excellencies, within the first two years of Kashmir’s annexation, around 4 million domicile certificates under the new illegal rules have been issued to non-Kashmiris. At this rate, when Prime Minister Modi’s ultra- Hindu-nationalist BJP goes to the polls in the 2024 general election, a declaration of complete victory over Kashmir, will be proclaimed by the ideological progeny of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh- RSS- to heighten majoritarian extremism in India, at his bid to be re-elected for the third time. Success of the RSS supported BJP and Mr Modi in the 2024 Indian general elections appears assured, not only due to the socio-cultural, religious and political obliteration of the 70% Muslim population of J&K, but also at the expense of more than 225 million Muslims of India itself! Today’s India therefore, is poised to take the next step against its religious minorities, and the brunt of the highly polarised, and politicised extremist Hindutva frenzy, will inevitably be borne by the Indian Muslims.

Excellencies, since coming to power in 2014, the Modi led BJP/RSS India, has used its Kashmir policy to weaponise the majoritarian political fervour in India, to support its Hindu supremacist Hindutva ideology against religious minorities, especially the Indian Muslims. Lynching of Muslims on suspicion of eating beef is a common occurrence, and convicted murderers are garlanded by union ministers in the India of BJP/RSS era. Drastic policies by many State governments, like Karnataka, are introduced against Islamic attire including hijab and meekly upheld by the courts, since the Indian judiciary has simply become a compliant instrument of the BJP/RSS at the centre and the state level. Today’s India is a dark place for the Muslim minority. Influential OIC countries have huge economic leverage in India which does not appear to have helped the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination or eased the impact of hugely discriminatory policies of the BJP/RSS’s political chauvinism against the Indian Muslims.

Excellencies, India’s illegal action on 5 August 2019 not only betrayed people of Kashmir, but defied the UN by showing utter contempt for more than 20 UN-SC and UN-CIP resolutions, and the UN Charter, on the status of J&K and Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. With annexation, and disintegration of the 176 year old State, the BJP/RSS nexus has embarked upon its nefarious and malicious policy to decimate, and obliterate centuries’ old heritage, and identity of the interconnected heterogeneous State J&K by fomenting divisions on religious, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural grounds across the diverse people. India defied UN resolutions 91 of 1951, 123 and 126 of 1957, which clearly stipulated that unilateral action to change territorial and political disposition of Kashmir was prohibited for India and Pakistan.  

Excellencies, Kashmiris on both sides of the ceasefire line CfL expect that Pakistan, a prominent OIC member country which is hosting the current OIC Foreign Ministers’ conference in Islamabad, will refrain from emulating India by changing political and territorial disposition of Azad Jammu Kashmir-AJK, and Gilgit Baltistan AJK&GB. Developments around Gilgit Baltistan in Islamabad however, signify that through back channel facilitation of friendly countries, Pakistan and India may be persuaded to formalise the CfL so as to effect permanent division of Kashmir. We hope that no OIC country will either condone, or facilitate such an abominable solution, as it would amount to the annihilation of Kashmiris’ heritage, identity, and the territorial integrity of their beloved homeland- Kashmir.

Excellencies, quite poignantly therefore, India’s aggression against Kashmir on 5 August 2019 will remain etched in the collective psyche of the Kashmiris as their nakba- the great catastrophe- which the people of Palestine also suffered having been ‘ethnically cleansed’ from most of their homeland in 1948; and seven decades on Palestinians are disenfranchised and seen as strangers in their own land as a direct consequence of the settler policy of the Israeli government. Unfortunately similar fate not only awaits but has descended on the defenceless Muslim majority and their leadership in Indian occupied Kashmir with India’s Hindutva project to settle non Kashmiris.

Excellencies, India follows a similar pattern of repressive policies and laws to delegitimize Kashmiris’ internationally recognised right to self-determination. The BJP/RSS Modi government projects the legitimate freedom struggle as a struggle for Muslim religious rights. In a calculated policy to vilify and denigrate the freedom struggle, India has weaponised the Pandit minority of the greater valley of Kashmir to project the struggle as ‘Islamic terrorism’. Ironically projecting the Kashmiris, as the problem, in their own homeland, just as Israel projects the people of Palestine a problem in their homeland.

Excellencies, since the annexation on 5 August 2019 the economy and livelihood of the relatively prosperous Indian occupied part of Kashmir has nose-dived drastically. The economy of Indian occupied J&K has lost around 7 billion US dollars with more than half a million unemployed, while the economic slide continues to move downward. It is quite clear therefore that at best it is indifference and neglect, and at worst a calculated policy of the Hindu- nationalist BJP/RSS Modi Government of India to pauperise the masses in Indian occupied Kashmir. We are dismayed and disappointed that despite India’s heinous conduct in Kashmir of brutalising and inhuman treatment of the population which includes extra judicial killings, collective punishment, depriving the families of appropriate religious burial rites for their loved ones killed in all too frequent fake encounters, goes un-noticed, with very few exceptions, by the OIC countries.of the issue based on the international legality with UN resolutions, and Kashmiris’ right to self-determination Excellencies, we anticipate that the OIC will take an extended view to seek an equitable resolution. We expect the leaders of the OIC countries to support people of GB in their legitimate need for Self-Government, structured on the AJK model, and will encourage Pakistan to facilitate the needs of Gbians rather than to annex the region as a province of Pakistan. As people of the divided State including the Gbians, we fully support China-Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC. It is appropriate to expect, however, that GB’s Government must be represented as a full-fledged partner on the all-important CPEC project.

Excellencies, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the governments and peoples of nations that support the rights and aspirations of our people’s valiant struggle for freedom. In particular our heartfelt gratitude to the people of OIC countries whose leaders during their address at the UN General assembly in September 2019, 2020 and 2021 extended their support to the people of Kashmir despite considerable opposition, and threats of trade boycott by the Hindu-nationalist majoritarian BJP/RSS Modi Government of India. Kashmiris wish to see their State become a cross road, and a bridge of peace in South Asia to unlock prosperity, and create amity in the region.

All that is required is to take the first step based on the inherent and inalienable sovereign right of more than twenty two million Kashmiris in accordance with the UN mandate. Many of the OIC countries including Pakistan, have close ties with Britain, the US and the PRC. All these powers have a direct diplomatic and economic stake in peace and prosperity of the South Asian sub-continent. A just and equitable resolution of the Kashmir issue will ensure peace and prosperity in the region to the advantage of all concerned.

Excellencies, otherwise the path that Modi Government of India has decided to follow in its Kashmir policy, will lead to disintegration of the State and  its civilisation, that has been nurtured for centuries, in the laps of the Pamirs, the Karakorums and the Himalayas. This will truly be a calamitous alternative, and rewriting of the region's history, which all concerned must do their utmost to avoid.


Zafar Khan
Chairman of the Diplomatic Bureau.

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, JKLF.

Thursday, 9 December 2021
A poignant reminder about Kashmir on the World Human Rights Day:

A poignant reminder about Kashmir on the World Human Rights Day:

A poignant reminder about Kashmir on the World Human Rights Day:

While oppression, incarcerations, fake encounters, custodial killings & siege in Kashmir by India continues!

 

Respected UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Excellency tenth of December every year as Human Rights Day has not been a day of rejoicing for the people of the internationally disputed Jammu and Kashmir (commonly referred to as Kashmir) which comprises of the greater valley of Kashmir, Jammu, Ladakh, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir.

The first three regions of the divided State are under Indian occupation, while the latter two are in Pakistan’s direct and indirect control. The theme of the Human Rights Day for 2021 is ‘equality’ in accordance with Article 1 of the1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights- UDHR- which states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

For the people of Kashmir the text of the UDHR’s article1 and indeed that of article 1 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights- ICCPR- are clearly empty and hollow. For the record article 1 of the ICCPR enunciates more specifically the spirit of the UDHR’s article1 by stating that “all peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

Lamentably however, despite numerous UNSC and UNCIP resolutions since 1948 on the issue of Kashmir’s political status through a UN supervised Plebiscite, Kashmiris are still deprived of exercising their inherent, inalienable, and unfeterred sovereign right to be the sole arbiters of their political destiny. For more than seven decades now 22 million Kashmiris, forcibly divided between India and Pakistan, across the 1949 ceasefire line-CfL- have  experienced none of the spirit of brotherhood or equality in dignity in their occupied homeland.

Excellency it is pertinent to remind you that people are not only divided by the CfL between the hostile nuclear neighbours, those in Indian occupied Kashmir, are under a siege especially since India illegally annexed Ladakh, the greater valley of Kashmir, and Jammu on 5 August 2019  in blatant defiance of the UNSC and UNCIP  resolutions mentioned above. These three regions, with the illegal revocation of articles 370 and 35A, coupled with the illegal dissolution of Kashmir’s legislative assembly in 2018, are now bifurcated, and  ruled by the Indian Government, as two union territories of Jammu Kashmir, and Ladakh, taking away peoples’ long standing pre 1947 fundamental  legal rights.

BJP/RSS Government of India as part of its nefarious Hindutva project, has connived to settle non Kashmiris in the State. Since August 2019 up to 4 million domicile certificates under the new illegal rules, have been issued to non-Kashmiri settlers with tenuous links and pretext of service and study with Kashmir as the basis of settlement. At the heart of the Kashmir issue therefore, lies the fundamental principle and the inalienable sovereign human right of Kashmiris to self-determination.

Excellency under the pretext of anti-terrorism operations India’s occupation forces terrorise the civilian population with violent and repressive actions that include Cordon and Search Operations (CASO), arrests, fake encounters, orchestrated destruction and death. India’s huge number of military and paramilitary ‘security’ forces operate in Kashmir with impunity of action and immunity from prosecution.

A most repressive structure and regime of laws provides these forces with the impunity to oppress a population under siege since 5 August 2019.  Hence India’s ‘all out’ policy of militarised and political oppression to completely suppress the voice of Kashmiri people with use of unprecedented naked force, and repressive laws such as the AFSPA- the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, UAPA the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and the PSA, the Public Safety Act.

Excellency killing of civilians in fake encounters, arrests and incarceration of pro freedom political leaders including Mr Muhammad Yasin Malik, Mr Shabir Ahmed Shah, Ms Aasiya Andrabi and hundreds of political activists, defenders of human rights and civil liberties, and journalists, takes place  with alarming frequency especially since 2018.

Latest examples of such outrages perpetrated by India’s security forces include the killings in Haiderpura on 15 November 2021, and in Rambagh on 24 November 2021, as well as the arrest of internationally acknowledged Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez on 22 November 2021.

The three civilians killed at the Haiderpura fake encounter had no connections with either the militancy or with any political organisation. The much talked about fourth person seems to have vanished into the  thin air, which appears to be nothing but an imaginary story concocted by the security forces to provide them with the cover, for their ghastly and heinous act of killing the three men, in cold blood.

According to eye witness accounts, the owner of the building Altaf Ahmed Bhatt was taken into the building twice by the security forces.  When Altaf Bhat was taken into the building on the third occasion he was shot by them. Amar Magray who served tea in the building, was allowed to go and bring his cell phone from his home, which he did. Would Magray have returned with his cell phone had he been a militant?  The security forces however claim that Magray was killed in the encounter.

Dr Mudassar Gul, the third person killed at the Haiderpura fake encounter had an office in the building. The building is said to be equipped with CCTV cameras that would undoubtedly throw light on the pack of outright grisly lies advanced by the security forces to cover up the planed and wanton killings in the fake encounter: an encounter in which Dr Mudassar Gul, Altaf Ahmed Bhatt and Amar Magray became an addition to the tally of thousands of  Kashmiris who have become victims of India’s security apparatus which the Indian military incentivises for such tallies with promotions and other rewards.

As for the Rambagh fake encounter three young men were pulled out of a vehicle and shot dead, while one of them with injuries tried to save himself by running away, was caught and shot by the security personnel. All three young men were unarmed. Thus like the three victims of the Haiderpura fake encounter, the three young men  killed at  Rambagh in cold blood, also became an addition to the tally of  Kashmiris who have fallen victim to India’s security apparatus that shows no compunctions in killing of civilians by such staged encounters.

Excellency, the Haiderpura and Rambagh killings are a pattern that can be nothing other than a deliberate and wanton policy of the incumbent Government in Delhi, to instil fear and awe of India’s absolute power over life and death in Kashmir. Even if apprehended individuals were militants, which they were not in this case, there is no justification for the Indian security forces to execute individuals on the spot in their custody- clearly a method of custodial killing perfected by India’s occupation forces in Kashmir.

Dr Nazir Gilani an expert on rights and President of the UN affiliated Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights-JKCHR, points out that the “Government of India has accepted a regime of Human Rights under the UN Charter and under Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The ceiling of responsibilities is raised in accepting the terms and conditions for the temporary admission of its army into Kashmir.”

 

Excellency the responsibility must be established in the conduct of the Indian state and its armed forces in Kashmir. We demand that the OHCHR orders an independent inquiry headed by UN experts to ascertain the full facts concerning the deaths at Haiderpura and Rambagh as well as killings by India’s security forces in similar fake encounters over the recent years, and in particular since the 2016 sinister ‘all out’ Kashmir policy of the BJP/RSS Government of India.

Since August 2019 in particular, India has created a climate of total repression and political suffocation in Indian occupied Kashmir State. There is absolutely no space for legitimate free and democratic public discourse and dissent. Kashmir’s all manner of media including social media is muzzled to the extent that journalists who dare to write on India’s policy of impunity are sent to prison under a plethora of security laws. International media is not allowed to report from any part of the annexed region, and rely on Kashmiri journalists who are heavily constrained with threats of arrests and prosecution.

Offices of leading newspapers based both in Srinagar and Jammu are sealed by Indian Government. Kashmir Times, one of the oldest and respected English daily in Kashmir, and the Greater Kashmir one of the largest circulated English dailies have had their Srinagar offices at the  Press Colony shut in 2020 and 2021 respectively. In its 6 December online edition, the ‘Quint’ reported with the headline, “Evictions, Notices: How Kashmir Press Colony is Slowly Crumbling”   that the Greater Kashmir’s Editor-in chief was served with an eviction order “only a day after the  families of two persons killed in [Hyderpora encounter] staged a sit-in protest in the Press Enclave.”

Defenders of human rights like Khurram Parvez of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society-JKCCS- are also constrained in exposing the oppressive and anti-people policies of the Indian Government. Khurram Parvez according to the online Wire, “was arrested on November 22 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPL) and the above mentioned UAPA.

In other words Khurram Parvez, a respected human rights defender, whose organisation has consistently and objectively exposed India’s appallingly grotesque human rights record in Kashmir, is being silenced by the BJP/RSS led Government of India with the inhuman UAPA as a ‘legal’ weapon!

Excellency, India’s entire ‘legal’ edifice of oppressive laws is anti-people and inconsistent with international law. These laws are colonial with the manifest intent to force Kashmiris into complete submission. The incumbent Indian Government applies this panoply of extremely harsh and inhuman laws like UAPA, PSA and the AFSPA with a ferocious criminal haste and enormous political vindictiveness against dissenting voices in Indian occupied Kashmir.

The two reports on human rights situation in Kashmir by the OHCHR published in June 2018 and July 2019, clearly highlight the excessively repressive nature of these laws, and how India’s laws in Kashmir according to these reports “obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardise the right to remedy for the victims of human rights violations.” 

However it is an absolute tragic failure on the part of the OHCHR and UNHRC, and indeed the UN SC, that India has not been forced to repeal parts of these harsh and inhuman laws as recommended in the OHCHR reports. India on the other hand made her colonial laws even harsher after the reports were published.

Excellency, in July 2018 a month after the first OHCHR report was published, India amended section 10 of the PSA removing the prohibition to shift detained Kashmiris from the internationally disputed territory to Indian prisons.

Since Kashmir’s illegal annexation on 5 August 2019, amended section 10 of the PSA fits conveniently well with India’s colonial Kashmir policy. Consequently hundreds of Kashmiri prisoners now languish in India’s squalid prisons hundreds of miles from their homes. The prevailing situation makes it impossible for families of prisoners to visit their loved ones due to enormous financial costs, let alone the ability of the families to mount a legal defence for their loved ones’ release.

In any case, the harsh security laws make it impossible even to imagine that bail or fair trial of Kashmiri prisoners could take place in the Indian judicial system, which has become heavily cowed by the philosophical and ideological policies of the incumbent political order led by the BJP/RSS nexus in India since 2014.

Kashmiri prisoners are kept in harsh and squalid conditions, deprived of many basic amenities and facilities. Many of the prisoners are in jails, not for months but for years either due to mistrials or waiting for trial. We urge the OHCHR to make representations on prisoners’ behalf to the ICRC and ask the humanitarian organisation to meet with the hapless Kashmiri prisoners incarcerated in jails across India.

Excellency among many Kashmiri prisoners incarcerated in Indian jails are political leaders MrYasin Malik, Mr Shabir Shah. Ms Aasiya Andrabi and others. All are held under tramped up and politically motivated charges. These leaders are part of the solution and the BJP/RSS Government is intent upon maligning their legitimate peaceful political struggle. Mr Yasin Malik and other leaders are committed to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, but the Indian government has thrown them into jails with charges of ‘sedition’ which is not consistent with the historic context of the Kashmir issue.

Kashmiris are ruled without their consent and deprived of their democratic right to dissent.  Kashmir is neither part of India nor of Pakistan. The naked aggression, suppression and militarised violence in Kashmir by India is unprecedented, and a clear negation of India’s obligations and commitments made at the UN and to the people of Kashmir. The oppression by Indian state must stop and Kashmiri leadership must be released from prisons.  We are hopeful and indeed believe that poignancy of the our words will not be lost on your Excellency on this UN Human Rights Day when we have no reason to rejoice, and celebrate in Kashmir as a subjugated, oppressed and forcibly divided people.

Sincerely,

 

Zafar Khan

Chairman- Diplomatic Bureau of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
International Secretariat
119-123 Cannon Street Road North Basement London E1 2 LX
Email: zafargk@aol.com
Central Information Office-CIO: 
B-144 Satellite Town Murree Road Rawalpindi Pakistan.
Email: jklf1977@gmail.com

 

Copied to: 

Ms Michelle Bachelete UNCHR, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, The UN SG HE: A Guterres.  Rt Hon’able Ms Liz Truss MP UK Foreign Secretary. Hon’able Sec. Antony Blinken. Hon’able Joep Borrell EU’s Foreign Affairs. Rt Hon’able Debbie Abrahams MP Chairperson appg on Kashmir.  OIC. ICRC .Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch




Tuesday, 16 November 2021
Zafar Khan warns of disastrous consequences of Modi’s Kashmir policy

Zafar Khan warns of disastrous consequences of Modi’s Kashmir policy


LUTON: Modi government’s Kashmir policy would lead to the disintegration of the State and its civilisation that had been nurtured in the laps of Pamirs, the Karakorum and the Himalayas, said Zafar Khan, the Chairman of Diplomatic Bureau of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). He said the BJP government’s decision to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A on August 5, 2019 to annex and bifurcate Kashmir was illegal. It was designed to disintegrate Kashmir’s heritage, destroy its religious and cultural identity, and communalise centuries’ old harmony and tolerance in the State to further the objectives of BJP government’s Hindutva project, he added.

Zafar Khan, who is also an academic and has produced vast academic work on Kashmir and ethnicity, said India’s policy was designed to bring about demographic change.

He said since the illegal annexation of Kashmir, almost four million domicile certificates had been issued to non-Kashmiris, adding it would be used by the Modi’s ultra-nationalist BJP for the 2024 general election to “heighten majoritarian extremism”.

Zafar Khan pointed out India’s illegal actions not only betrayed the people of Kashmir but also defied the UN by showing utter contempt for its numerous resolutions regarding Kashmir’s political status.

He hoped that Pakistan would not follow in India’s foot steps to make similar changes in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.He said to de-legitimise Kashmiris’ internationally-recognised right to self-determination, India had projected their freedom struggle as a struggle for Muslim religious rights.

Zafar Khan expressed disappointment towards world powers over Kashmir. “Despite an unabated militarised violence, and the ongoing siege, Britain and other major powers like the USA, and France, the three countries, that are in the vanguard of the worldwide human rights advocacy, have shown no interest in the effect of the siege in Kashmir.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of Kashmiris are under double lockdown since March 2020, which is enforced by 900,000 Indian troops. Human rights violations including the right to life itself, are all too frequently disregarded by Indian forces, which operate with total impunity under Armed Forces Special Powers Act AFSPA.”

He also highlighted the plight of Kashmiri political prisoners and suffering of their families: “Pro-freedom politicians, dissenters and activists, languish in prisons across India on charges, which are concocted, vindictive and politically motivated.” He added: “Since the illegal annexation on 5 August 2019, the economy and livelihood of the relatively well of State has nose-dived drastically.”

He said Kashmiris wish to see their State become a crossroad of peace to unlock prosperity, and amity in the region. All that is required is to take the first step based on the inherent and inalienable sovereign right of more than twenty two million Kashmiris in accordance with the UN Charter and relevant resolutions of the UNSC, he added.

He said Britain, with its historic links in the region, was well placed to take that step. The PRC as the region’s major power, along with P5 nations, must encourage India and Pakistan towards a people-centric solution to the issue, he added.


Source:  https://e.thenews.com.pk/detail?id=24931

Friday, 8 October 2021
no image

Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) unresolved, and under siege: UNSC urged to appoint Plebiscite Administrator for the resolution the Kashmir conflict.

In order to resolve the 74 year old Kashmir conflict, JKLF diplomatic Bureau  urges UN to appoint  an administrator to work towards a plebiscite in Jammu Kashmir state. 

His Excellency Mr Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary General
UN HQ 1st Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017 USA.

Date: 8 October 2021

 

Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) unresolved, and under siege: UNSC urged to appoint Plebiscite Administrator for the resolution the Kashmir conflict.

 

Excellency just over twenty six months ago on 5 August 2019, the BJP/RSS led India committed naked aggression against the internationally disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir- generally referred to as Kashmir. It is sadly ironic that for the month of August in 2021 India presided over the UNSC while exactly two years earlier she annexed and bifurcated the State into two so called union territories to be are ruled directly from New Delhi. With this illegal act of annexation the Indian Government displayed an utter contempt, and arrogance with blatant defiance of the UN and its resolutions which called for a plebiscite to determine the status of the disputed State.

Excellency two years on, the suffering inflicted on the defenceless people continues with greater intensity, especially in the valley of Kashmir, the Chenab valley, and the region of Pir Panjal. For the past two years India has turned the illegally re-occupied Kashmir into a gigantic open prison with millions of people under siege by 900,000 Indian soldiers.

Freedom of movement within and out of the occupied territory is curtailed for Kashmiris. In order to obtain Indian passport, a Kashmiri is expected to have lived a secluded and monastic existence. And throughout his/her life is expected, not have uttered a word or participated in an activity such as a protest meeting about any issue of social, political, and economic aspects of Kashmir; it is only then that he/she would be considered a model citizen to qualify for the ‘privilege’ to obtain an Indian passport for travel.

This then is India of 2021 in Kashmir, the so called largest democracy in the world, which is being allowed by the UNSC to get away with terrorising an entire nation, and depriving it of its internationally recognised right to self-determination along and all other human rights. And yet Prime Minister Modi of India in his address to the 76 UN General Assembly session last month, eulogised his country as the “mother of democracy.”

In reality however, the RSS supported BJP Prime Minister of India has no respect for democracy in Kashmir and democratic rights of the people of Kashmir. His rise to political power during the past two decades, first as the Chief Minister of Gujrat and since 2014 as Prime Minister of India, can only be attributed to extremist majoritarian politics, underpinned by the supremacist religious Hindutva ideology. Kashmir is being used by the BJP/RSS Modi Government as a laboratory to infuse and galvanise its extremist majoritarian political base in India for electoral advantage.

Excellency the UNSC is the Apex law making body in the world which has the power to enforce the UN Charter and its resolutions. It is a grievous injustice inflicted on the people of Kashmir that the UN SC has utterly failed to enforce the UN Charter and its resolutions to assert, and defend the inherent, inalienable unfettered sovereign right of 22 million Kashmiris. As the collective conscience of the world, UN has the obligations and authority, which your Excellency has a duty to exercise, to protect and assert the rights of Kashmiris, whose consent has been thwarted from being exercised on the status of their homeland for more than seven decades. We demand that the UNSC appoints a Plebiscite Administrator for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. We urge your Excellency to engage with India and Pakistan to ensure that both countries facilitate the UN Plebiscite administrator.

Kashmiri leadership committed to a peaceful political resolution of the dispute is thrown into jails, with charges of ‘sedition’ that are nothing other than the actions of a colonial power. Kashmiris are ruled today on both sides of the 1949 CfL without consent and their democratic right to dissent has been taken away. The naked aggression, suppression and militarised violence in Kashmir by India is unprecedented, and a clear negation of India’s obligations and commitments made to the international community and the people of Kashmir. The oppression by Indian state must stop and Kashmiri leadership must be released from prisons as well as from under house arrest.

Excellency the Modi Government has banned political parties like the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF- and the Jamat-e-Islami. Political leaders committed to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue are illegally incarcerated with trumped up charges. The Chairman of the JKLF Mr Yasin Malik for example is accused of supporting militancy, which he and his party gave up more than twenty five years ago to embark upon a political, and peaceful revolutionary struggle for self-determination. Mr Yasin Malik seeks active and constructive participation of India and Pakistan along with Kashmiris under auspices of the UN for an equitable resolution of the issue and the conflict.

The history of Kashmir issue is full of betrayals, and broken pledges by India in particular, and indifference to, and abandonment of Kashmiris’ basic rights by the big powers. One such solemn Indian pledge was made by Gopalswami Ayyangar at the 227th meeting of the UNSC on 15 January 1948 when he stated the following:  “whether she should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent with a right to claim admission as a member of the United Nations- all this we have recognised to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir after normal life is restored to them.”  

On 2 January 1952 Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime minister of independent India, reiterated India’s policy on Kashmir in a statement in the Amrita Bazar Patrika of Calcutta by stating that: “Kashmir is not the property of India or Pakistan. It belongs to the Kashmiri people. When Kashmir acceded to India, we made it clear to the leaders of the Kashmiri people that we would ultimately abide by the verdict of their plebiscite. If they tell us to walk out, I would have no hesitation in quitting Kashmir.”  He continued by affirming that: “We have taken the issue to the United Nations and given our word of honour for a peaceful solution. As a great nation, we cannot go back on it. We have left the final solution to the people of Kashmir and we are determined to abide by their decision.”

Excellency it appears that Gopalswami Ayyangar’s words at the 15 January 1948 UNSC meeting, and those of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s above, were words of a great deception by a UN member state described as a great nation’s “word of honour” by Pandit Nehru.  For its credibility the UNSC must call out India’s deception and betrayal over Kashmir.  As a non-permanent member of the UNSC, India’s presiding over the UNSC for the month of August 2021 reflected the real meaning of the phrase ‘poacher turned game keeper!’ The recommendations made in the two UNHCHR reports of June 2018 and July 2019 on the human rights situation in Kashmir still await appropriate action by the UN as it has not been allowed a visit by either India or Pakistan in the divided State. Clearly the UN once again has failed to protect the basic rights and interests of the people of Kashmir as the reports address human rights issues and violations on both sides of the CfL. The only ray of comfort in the past two years, is the cessation of hostilities on 25 February 2021 between armies of India and Pakistan deployed eye-ball to eye-ball across the five hundred miles long  CfL since 1947. Both countries have strictly controlled movement across the de facto border for hundreds of thousands of separated families, and Kashmiris in general to move across the CfL freely which Kashmiris consider as their fundamental right.  

Based on policies of India and Pakistan it is widely suspected by Kashmiris that the cessation of hostilities across the CfL could well be a prelude to disregard the plebiscite, and turn the CfL into a formal border over the heads of 22 million citizens of the forcibly divided State. If that were the intentions of India and Pakistan to settle the issue with permanent division of Kashmir, such an outcome without a doubt will not be welcomed by the Kashmiris.

Instead of resolving the long standing issue with a free, fair, transparent and democratic plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations, formalising division and annexation of Kashmir by either one or both of the countries, will not constitute a democratic solution as such an enforced solution would be against the inherent and inalienable unfeterred right of the  Kashmiris to self-determination; and would also contravene the UN’s mandate entrusted to India and Pakistan under UNSC resolutions.

Excellency, India has blatantly reneged on her solemn pledges and commitments made with Kashmiris, and the United Nations, and yet she demands a permanent seat on the UNSC to become a custodian of the organisation’s values despite defying the UN over Kashmir. We very much hope however, that Pakistan will not move away from its UN mandated role on the Kashmir issue, and will not follow India by integrating territories of the state into Pakistan, which it controls directly as in the Gilgit Baltistan-GB and indirectly in Azad Jammu and Kashmir-AJK.

Resolution of the Kashmir issue and the conflict, without a doubt, is central to unlocking the full human potential of 1.5 billion inhabitants of South Asia. Kashmiris desire peace, in fact Kashmiris demand peace with justice and dignity, so that as a free people Kashmiris can also prosper and contribute by unleashing the boundless energy coupled with the spirit to climb new heights, which is embedded in the culture of enterprise among the diverse people of Kashmir. Being sandwiched between two nuclear powers who have not overcome hostility against each other since their independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, has inevitably inhibited our progress, prosperity and spirit of innovation and achievement.

Excellency the policies of successive Indian governments have always been hostile to Kashmir’s identity, history and the desire to be free. In the BJP/RSS led government however, the level of political, ideological and authoritarian venom and vindictiveness towards Kashmir, and its free spirit, and the struggle for self-determination, has been unprecedented. Since coming to power in 2014 the Modi led BJP/RSS Government has taken away everything which defines the historic, social and cultural identity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It continues to dismantle the institutions and laws of the State that have defined its collective and individual character and made the diverse State as a beacon of communal harmony and affirmation and respect across faiths and diverse communities of the State within South Asia.

Modi Government’s policy of “all out” submission of Kashmiris’ legitimate resistance has left no political space in Kashmir. Prime Minister Modi is more interested in colonial settler project in Kashmir to reduce the Muslim majority into an inconsequential minority by the time his party goes into the 2024 Indian General Election. He does not appear to worry about the economic woes of the Kashmiris, whose economic situation has not improved at all since 2014. He is also not interested in the communal cleavage his policies are creating in Kashmir as this suits his political and ideological majoritarian Hindutva agenda for India even though it is having a grave impact on the diverse socio- cultural and political fabric of Kashmir.

Excellency we strongly urge you to defend and assert the rights and aspirations of the people of Kashmir, and urge you to call upon the leaders of India and Pakistan for their co-operation with your Excellency and the Plebiscite Administrator, for a just, equitable and lasting peaceful resolution of the more than seven decades old Kashmir conflict which is, and has been, a threat to peace, and prosperity of the South Asian region, and the world. We urge your Excellency to call upon the Indian government to immediately release all political prisoners including Mr Yasin Malik, Mr Shabir Shah, Ms Aasiya Andrabi and many others from detention. These Kashmiri leaders are part of the solution, and must be engaged with for a peaceful and lasting resolution of the conflict, which will unleash a new era of peace, and prosperity for the entire South Asian region and beyond.

Sincerely,


Zafar Khan

Chairman- Diplomatic Bureau of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
International Secretariat 119-123 Cannon Street Road North Basement London E1 2 LX
Email: zafargk@aol.com
Central Information Office-CIO:
B-144 Satellite Town Murree Road Rawalpindi Pakistan.
Email: jklf1977@gmail.com

 

Copied to: Her Excellency Ms Michelle Bachelete UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021
no image

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front: An Insider Account

Download a copy here 

 CHAPTER 7

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front: An Insider Account

Zafar Khan

Introduction

In March 2019, India and Pakistan engaged in a military standoff over an alleged terror attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir. During the same period, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was declared a terrorist organisation by India and subsequently banned from operating within Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir. Outlawing an organisation as prominent as the JKLF and incarcerating its chairman, Yasin Malik, sent a clear message regarding India’s ability to quash resistance movements and flex control over the region. The government’s hard stance toward both Pakistan and Kashmiri resistance was viewed by many to be part of a well-timed strategy to gain wins in the upcoming election (The Kashmir Walla 2019).

The JKLF was founded on May 29, 19771, in the British city of Birmingham. It was established to revive the resistance movement across the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) generally referred to as Kashmir, in the fight for self-determination (Schofield 2003).

Z. Khan (B)

London Metropolitan University, London, UK

© The Author(s) 2021

S. Hussain (ed.), Society and Politics of Jammu and Kashmir, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-56481-0_7

1 The published volume lists incorrect year of JKLF’s founding, which is corrected with the actual year of May 29th 1977.

141

142 Z. KHAN

Throughout its existence, the JKLF has been linked with several high- profile controversies, including hijacking and kidnapping. The JKLF has had a tumultuous relationship with Pakistan and an explicitly hostile one with India, which currently criminalises the organisation. The JKLF’s founders and subsequent leaders have been periodically imprisoned by both countries, with one of its leaders, Maqbool Bhat discussed below, becoming a symbol of Kashmiri resistance after his execution by India in 1984. This chapter describes the development of the insurgency in Kashmir. It does so from a very clear and deliberate position, as the author, although an academic scholar, is also a senior member of the JKLF. It draws upon autobiographies and personal accounts of key members of the front in order to share the perspectives of the very individuals who founded the movement. More notably, it incorporates the experience of the author himself, thus providing an “insider narrative” in order to convey to the reader the rationale behind the ideology and methods of activism employed by the JKLF. In doing so, the chapter offers a rare insight into the inner motivations of an organisation whose members view themselves as freedom fighters branded as terrorists and militants by the governments from which they seek their autonomy.

The chapter commences with a historical overview of how the people of J&K became marginalised within their own state, its subsequent fracture, and human rights violations at the hands of the nation-states entrusted to administer the disputed territory (OHCHR 2018). It goes on to describe how the establishment of the JKLF reflects this sense of historic loss, exploitation, and oppression experienced by Kashmiris at the behest of their rulers. The chapter, therefore, describes how the JKLF has become one of the few movements to succeed in establishing an inclusive organisation for freedom across the divided state. Furthermore, the fact that its birth occurred in Britain, among the diaspora, also marks an important historical point, noting a change within Kashmiri activism from a regional focus to one of international reach. During a seminar organised by the front in London in October 2017,

Muhammad Yasin Malik, the current chairman of the JKLF, drew on the teachings of Nelson Mandela stating: “It is the oppressors who determine the mode of resistance not the oppressed, and our mode of resistance against the tyranny of Indian oppression in Kashmir may vary from time to time.” The message here is one of adaptation and shifting strategies, which this chapter concludes has been key to the longevity of the organisation and JKLF’s strength in remaining the most active resistance movement in J&K.

7 THE JAMMU KASHMIR LIBERATION FRONT … 143

Kashmir and the Bilateral “Tug of War”

This section briefly identifies events—both internal and external to Kashmir—that have been central to the development of the “Kashmir question,” and that have resulted in the marginalisation of the people of the state. As we will see, unfolding events across the Indian subcontinent have had a lasting and detrimental impact on the sovereign will of Kashmiris, which relates directly to the struggle for independence, and the emergence of the JKLF.

In August 1947, British India was partitioned into India and Pakistan. At the time, there were 562 semi-autonomous princely states with direct treaty arrangements with the British Crown. Kashmir was one of the largest states to regain its sovereignty as Britain’s paramountcy over the princely states lapsed. The rulers under the partition plan were allowed the option to accede to a successor state of their choice. However, as Lamb (1994, p. 53) argues, after the transfer of power and the decision by Kashmir’s ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, not to accede to either India or Pakistan, he essentially “entered the new post-British era in the subcontinent as, to all intents and purposes, the ruler of a sovereign and independent country with all the challenges and responsibilities which such a status implies.”

It is therefore quite reasonable to argue that Hari Singh offered a Standstill Agreement to India and Pakistan on the premise that he contemplated an autonomous future for his country. However, his dithering on the final disposition of his kingdom’s fate exacerbated a fraught situation among his subjects, who rose up in rebellion, especially in the Poonch and Mirpur Districts (Lamb 1991, pp. 154–55). On October 4, 1947, the rebels set up a revolutionary government in areas they had liberated and declared the state a free republic, known as Azad (or free) Kashmir.

Within weeks, however, Pashtun tribesmen from the North-West Frontier region of Pakistan entered Kashmir from Muzaffarabad, ostensibly to support its Muslim inhabitants—around 75% of the population at the time. However, the invaders failed to distinguish between Muslims and non-Muslims, resulting in mass rape, abduction, and murder of Kashmiris. They killed Christian nuns in Baramulla and were motivated by a desire for booty and pillage rather than to support their co-religionists against the

144 Z. KHAN

Maharaja’s troops (Wirsing 1994).

This account of events suggests that once these few thousand ill- equipped and undisciplined tribesmen had attacked Kashmir, Pakistani involvement in what was unfolding became inevitable. Schofield (2003) also refers to the tribal intervention by drawing on Indian and Pakistani accounts, which inevitably offer contradictory versions of events. Schofield appears to believe that although some members of the Pakistani government were aware of the attack, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was not involved in any way. Whatever the intention behind the invasion, during those crucial weeks between August and October 1947, the intervention of the tribesmen did not further the cause of the internal struggle raging inside Kashmir. After all, the rag-tag collection of tribal attackers could have been far more helpful to the Muslim population of the Jammu province who were massacred in their hundreds of thousands by invading Sikhs from the then state of Patiala (Punjab) and the Maharaja’s army (Lamb 1994). Lamb uses the term “ethnic cleansing” in his description of the events, which reduced what was a large, Muslim majority in Jammu province into a minority, within the space of weeks.

In an article on the 70th anniversary of the massacre of the Jammu Muslims, Geelani (2017) pieces together a series of events by drawing on credible sources. This account demonstrates how Hari Singh had a very deliberate policy to reduce the Muslim population in the province. As the accounts describe, it is clear that at the very beginning of the Kashmiri people’s movement for a free republic, outside invaders from both India and Pakistan not only disempowered the resistance but murdered, raped, and pillaged in the region within weeks of Kashmiris making gains.

India claimed that Maharaja Hari Singh had acceded Kashmir to her on October 26, 1947, a day before Indian troops landed in Srinagar, the capital of J&K. However, by this time, the Maharaja had already lost control of his country and fled to Jammu, some 200 miles to the south. It is more credible to argue that a contingency plan might already have existed for an Indian intervention under the pretext of an accession and that India was eager to enter Kashmir in order to throttle any nascent freedom movement.

Kashmiris view this event as an invasion of their country, which was an independent and sovereign nation at the time, a conclusion which Lamb (1994) also arrives at as a historical fact. He argues that neither India nor

7 THE JAMMU KASHMIR LIBERATION FRONT … 145

Pakistan can be absolved of interference in Kashmir before they emerged as successor states in British India, and that “both India and Pakistan were involved at various levels in clandestine policy concerning the State of Jammu & Kashmir long before the key dates of 22 and 27 October” (Lamb 1994, p. 104).

Rethinking the Resistance

India’s intervention in Kashmir changed the power equation as well as the nature of struggle from a people’s movement for socioeconomic emancipation and democratic representation against autocratic rule, to a struggle for national liberation and independence. The invasion also posed a threat to Pakistan of Indian encroachment. Inevitably, the Pakistani military entered liberated areas to stop the Indian advance, which might have posed a direct threat to Pakistan’s sovereign territory.

The nascent political and military resistance and the popular alignment against the Maharaja’s ascendancy thus lost their momentum. Consequently, although it had mobilised in Poonch and Mirpur, the people’s movement failed to gain the necessary support in the Kashmir Valley. The ultimate result was the state being split into two, with Mirpur, Western Poonch, and Muzaffarabad under Pakistani administration and the rest of J&K—including the valley—under Indian control. This marked the official start of the first Kashmir war between India and Pakistan, tossing Kashmiris from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. The war between the two nation-states over Kashmir halted in January 1949, and under the United Nations auspices, a Ceasefire Line (CfL) came into existence, solidifying into the de facto border partitioning Kashmir. The CfL was converted into the Line of Control (LoC) under the Shimla Accord of 1972 between India and Pakistan.

Many Kashmiris do not recognise the Shimla Accord as they consider it inimical to their national interests. It is for this reason that Kashmiris often refuse to use the term “Line of Control” to describe the de facto border since doing so would imply accepting it as a formal division— the decision over which they had no say and the consequences of which have devastated the state. Amanullah Khan, the founder of the JKLF, points out in his 1992 autobiography that by 1957 India had completely reneged on commitments regarding the Kashmir issue. India had previously committed to the self-determination of Kashmir, as evidenced by

146 Z. KHAN

their statement at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting in 1948. Ayyangar, the official Indian representative, stated:

Whether she [Kashmir] should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent with a right to claim admission as a member of the United Nations—all this we have recognised to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir after normal life is restored to them. (cited in Abdullah 1965, p. 530)

However, when opportunities were presented for conciliation between India and Pakistan, such as U.S. President Kennedy’s offer of mediation, India hesitated. In this instance, India was forced to reconsider due to a short border war with China in 1962. India engaged in talks with Pakistan at the behest of the U.S. and the UK, fearing that Pakistan might join China in the war and attack across the CfL in Kashmir. Six rounds of negotiations ensued between the foreign ministers of both India and Pakistan. However, the mediation ended in failure, which Khan (1992) argues served India well since it bought New Delhi time and dissuaded Pakistan from taking advantage of the Sino–Indian confrontation. This view is also supported by Maxwell (1970), who suggests that Nehru’s government was only interested in engaging in talks to cement its current position rather than for meaningful negotiations with Pakistan over Kashmir.

These developments sent a clear message to Kashmiris, who watched

and waited as each round of negotiations ended in disappointment. Grass- roots activists and Kashmiri leaders alike feared the permanent division of their country as proposed, in their absence, during Indo-Pakistani talks. Consequently, on May 12, 1963, Kashmiri leaders convened a meeting in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to formulate a strategy for resistance. This meeting resulted in the formation of the Kashmir Independence Committee (KIC). The KIC included several key figures involved in the liberation struggle. Among them were Amanullah Khan, who some 14 years later would become the founder of JKLF, and Maqbool Bhat, who would come to symbolise and epitomise the very spirit of the liberation struggle as a result of his execution by the Indian authorities in 1984. Also in attendance were Abdul Khaliq Ansari, who two years later would become the first president of the Plebiscite Front (PF), and Abdul Majeed Malick, who became chief justice of Azad Kashmir during the 1980s.

According to Khan (1992), the KIC quickly faded into inactivity and

by 1965, its leaders had already formed the PF. By this point, the situation

7 THE JAMMU KASHMIR LIBERATION FRONT … 147

in Indian-held Kashmir had become desperate, with an utter disregard for constitutional delineations on the part of the Indian authorities. By August 1953, less than five years after Kashmir’s conditional accession, the prime minister of Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah, was thrown out of office due to his criticism of the Indian government’s policies in the region. Abdullah remained estranged with India for more than two decades and was imprisoned and banished from his native land.

Despite his absence, Abdullah and his supporters continued to press for the promised plebiscite. In 1955, with this goal in mind, the PF was formed in Indian-held Kashmir by his trusted lieutenant, Afzal Beg. However, in a U-turn on February 23, 1975, Abdullah signed the Delhi Accord, and his “reinstatement and agreeing to drop his demand for a plebiscite greatly strengthened India’s hold on the disputed territory” (Lockwood 1975, p. 249). Thus, the “Lion of Kashmir” lost his roar, along with the unquestioned affection and respect of his compatriots.

A combination of the inconclusive Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, the breakup up of Pakistan in 1971 and the subsequent emergence of Bangladesh, the Shimla Accord of 1972, and above all, Abdullah’s change of position regarding the plebiscite, firmly pushed the Kashmir question to the margins. Khan, Bhat, and their colleagues continued to call upon Kashmiris on both sides of the CfL to voice their condemnation of the Shimla and Delhi Accords.

In Azad Kashmir, leading pro-independent figures within the Azad Kashmir PF became increasingly disillusioned in light of the events above and embarked on what they considered practical action, involving armed resistance backed by a popular uprising in Indian-held Kashmir. Thus, Bhat and Khan—who both favoured an armed approach to the resistance and wanted the PF to support their stance—took the momentous decision to back this strategy. At the inaugural meeting of its working committee in Mirpur on July 12, 1965, the majority of PF members, including its then president Ansari, rejected the proposition. Deeply disappointed, on August 13, 1965, Khan and Bhat set up the National Liberation Front (NLF), a clandestine organisation to support an armed insurgency in the state. The NLF was established just four months after the PF was founded and became the precursor organisation of the JKLF. By June 10, 1966, Bhat was able to cross the CfL into Indian-held Kashmir and began to organise the resistance in earnest. However, upon his return journey to Azad Kashmir, he and his colleagues were captured.

148 Z. KHAN

Between 1965 and 1968, the leadership of the PF distanced them- selves from the NLF’s position of armed insurgency against India, arguing that the armed struggle was unconstitutional. The JKLF was, therefore, a response to a cleavage between the two positions, as well as an attempt to unite Pakistani-administered Kashmir with Indian-controlled J&K. For Kashmiris, the JKLF asserted their inherent right to sovereignty over the entire state—the fundamental principle at the heart of the conflict—as it existed before the partition of British India on August 14/15, 1947. The incorporation of all the “state subjects” of J&K across the CfL, regardless of their current governance situation is therefore the cornerstone of the inclusive national ideology underpinning JKLF’s struggle.

Khan provides a concise and succinct account of these events in his

memoirs (Khan 1992, 2005). He describes how up until that point, the PF had no idea of the NLF’s activities in Indian-occupied Kashmir and that relations had become tumultuous at the news of the organisation’s (NLF’s) existence, ideology, and armed approach—and of course, Bhat’s arrest. The PF was split into two clear groups—those who supported the NLF’s approach and those who were against it. However, as Khan explains, after intense lobbying, the adoption of armed resistance was finally accepted by the PF at an organisational level. Nevertheless, internal opposition remained with many considering the actions of the NLF to be unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Bhat was tried in Indian held Kashmir, and in 1968 was given, along with his colleague, Mir Ahmed, the death sentence. Both, however, escaped from Srinagar jail, and after an arduous 16-day trek over snow-capped mountains, reached Azad Kashmir, only to be arrested by the Pakistani army. They were imprisoned but eventually released after several months of interrogation. In November 1969, Bhat was elected president of the PF and officially declared NLF its armed wing. Khan describes how he was uneasy with this decision, believing that opponents of the NLF lurked below the surface—for this reason, the NLF would be better off remaining independent (Khan 1992).

The Ganga Hijacking

Despite NLF’s reach across the CfL, its activities were unknown on both sides of the divide in Kashmir. It was important for Bhat and Khan to demonstrate to followers that the NLF could mount a serious challenge against Indian occupation, and so a plan was hatched to carry

7 THE JAMMU KASHMIR LIBERATION FRONT … 149

out a spectacular activity that would catapult their cause into the public consciousness. In January 1971, to attract international attention, an Indian Airlines aircraft named Ganga was hijacked en route from Srinagar to Delhi. The plane was diverted to Lahore in Pakistan.

Although it achieved its aims at drawing the world’s attention to Kashmir, any sense of success was short-lived, as the Pakistan government rounded up hundreds of activists, as well as NLF and PF leaders. They were charged with sedition, conspiracy and being agents of India (Swami 2007). The case lasted over a year and a half, and by May 1973, the court had exonerated all, except Hashim Qureshi, who was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment. However, his appeal before the Pakistan Supreme Court in 1980 resulted in his release.

Although they had been acquitted, the Ganga episode vindicated the NLF leadership in the eyes of the public and their position as patriotic Kashmiris. As a result, the activities of the PF and NLF were closely monitored by both India and Pakistan. Naseer Wani, a member of the defence committee for those arrested and an important eyewitness to the momentous developments from the formation of the KIC up to the Ganga episode, aptly sums up the atmosphere at the time in a note to the author1:

I met Amanullah Khan and told him in no ambiguous terms that my stand on independent Kashmir will remain unchanged and advised him to continue the movement. He felt strange but encouraged by my steadfast adherence. It was clear that he wanted to hear that. After my appearance, Mr. Bhat asked me to stay with him and the other two in the rented house. He said that I would be “LOB” (“left out of the battle”) in the event [that they] were all arrested. Subsequently, all ended up in the Lahore Fort. The most atrocious treatment and physical torture were perpetrated on all.

As the quote illustrates, it became extremely challenging for the NLF and PF to continue their activities. Yet, for Khan and Bhat in particular, resistance to the overall hostile political and diplomatic environment in Pakistan and in Azad Kashmir had become ever more urgent.

This acute situation meant the two most prominent ideologues of the struggle were compelled to take alternative steps and embark upon another phase for the independence of their country. Khan left for Britain to propagate the issue at the international level and Bhat crossed the CfL into Indian-held Kashmir to mobilise resistance. Soon after reaching his

150 Z. KHAN

destination, in June 1976, Bhat and his two colleagues, Hameed Butt and Riaz Dar, were arrested. He never returned to either part of his divided beloved homeland, as he was transferred to Tihar Jail in India where on February 11, 1984, he was executed, and remains buried. Hameed Butt and Riaz Dar were released after serving their 14-year imprisonment.2

The Front and the Journey Home

The historical developments described above set the backdrop against which the JKLF was established. When Khan came to Britain in 1976, he felt the vision of the existing PF was lacking, primarily because it was only active within Azad Kashmir, and the NLF had by now found it increasingly difficult to operate both in Azad Kashmir and in Indian- held Kashmir. He persuaded Ansari, the president of the PF, to convert the British branch of the PF to a new organisation that would span across the entire state of J&K. This suggestion was supported by several others, as Ansari states in his autobiography: “We consulted with friends and accepted their decision to convert branches of PF in Britain to become branches of the [Jammu Kashmir Liberation] Front” (Ansari 2014, p. 565).

The JKLF’s emergence needs to be viewed in terms of its ideological

role in the Kashmir issue and the overall political and historical context after 1947, as outlined above. Its journey in the struggle to assert Kashmir’s sovereign right, as a basis for a solution of the dispute, has been seen by its leaders from a broad, national (state-wide) perspective. They have done so in order that the Kashmir question would shift from one concerning a historical–ideological cleavage between India and Pakistan into self-determination for a socially, ethnically and religiously diverse nation—one that has been striving for centuries to assert its right for freedom, long before India and Pakistan even existed (Ansari 2014). The JKLF aimed to challenge the notion that India and Pakistan alone can achieve a lasting settlement on the status of Kashmir. Its formation was a conscious step toward an ideological direction relevant to and consistent with a predominately Muslim—but equally plural and diverse—nation struggling against foreign subjugation (Lamb 1994).

The JKLF established itself among its diaspora overseas in Britain, from

where it developed a clear strategy of inclusion and self-determination. It set up branches across Europe, the Middle East and the United States. In 1982, it finally established itself in Azad Kashmir and by 1988 had

7 THE JAMMU KASHMIR LIBERATION FRONT … 151

launched across the CfL into Indian held Kashmir (Cheema 2015). By the time JKLF had come home to Kashmir, both India and Pakistan had their respective constituencies firmly in place, reinforced with their military, political, civil, economic, and cultural dimensions. As such, the JKLF’s homecoming was not problem-free, not least because in Azad Kashmir it was met with opposition by the established PF. Although JKLF members supported fraternal relations with the PF, they considered it as having outlived its relevance in the struggle.

The front’s homecoming coincided with an important event. A new wave of political resistance had developed in Indian-held Kashmir after electoral fraud resulted in the defeat of the Muslim United Front (MUF) in the 1987 elections, which left many among the youth in particular feeling betrayed and leaderless. The MUF had threatened India’s hold on the state’ politics and the party’s supporters blamed rigged elections at the hands of the Indian authorities for the defeat. The JKLF soon became a symbol of defiance against India for disillusioned and disempowered youth. The young men of the “HAJY” group—comprised of Ashfaq Majid Wani, Yasin Malik, Hameed Sheikh and Javid Mir—became the leaders of the JKLF in Indian-held Kashmir and embodied a new spirit of the struggle for independence. A new generation in Kashmir was ready to fight, something Bhat and Khan had been attempting to mobilise since August 1965. Hundreds of young men led by the HAJY group poured across the treacherous snow-capped mountains into Azad Kashmir for training. Schofield observes how “the armed insurgency which gathered momentum after the 1987 election caught the rest of the world unawares” (2003, p. 138).

During the same period, Khan was deported from Britain under an administrative order on allegations concerning the abduction and killing of India’s Deputy High Commissioner in Birmingham. After a trial, Khan was acquitted of all the charges against him by the British government. It was no secret that he was implacably opposed to India’s occupation and Khan’s activism irked New Delhi, where he was regarded as an enemy of the state. The diplomat’s killing allowed India to have Khan removed from Britain, where he had been fervently lobbying politicians, organizing demonstrations, and mobilizing expatriates in support of the Kashmir cause. Khan travelled to the Middle East, throughout Europe and to the United States to keep the issue alive at international platforms. As Schofield describes, Khan’s deportation from Britain gave “an impetus” to the activities of the “Kashmiri nationalists” and from Pakistan,

152 Z. KHAN

“he began to direct operations across the line of control.” She further points out that “he had realised, that in order for his movement to gain momentum, he had to attract support from the valley” (Schofield 2003, pp. 138–39). This meant that working across the CfL became a priority for the resistance.

A Gentleman’s Agreement with Pakistan

As large numbers of men began to cross the CfL for training in Azad Kashmir, offers of support came from the Pakistani authorities. The JKLF’s deputy chairman, Dr. Farooq Haider, together with colleagues Sardar Rashid Hasrat and Raja Muzaffar, was approached to broker a deal. An unconditional verbal agreement was made with Pakistan through its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency on the direction and approval of Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq. However, in his memoirs, Khan insists that political and diplomatic departments of the JKLF would not take financial support from Pakistan, despite the prevailing view that the organisation was indeed funded by Islamabad for at least a period of time (Swami 2007).

The uprising against India was now in full swing. However, the

“gentleman’s agreement” with Pakistan, as Khan called it, did not last long. In August 1988, Zia-ul-Haq died in a plane crash, and the incoming Benazir Bhutto government did not honour the existing agreement with the JKLF. Khan describes how, after a sharp exchange of words with Bhutto in Muzaffarabad, she “allegedly instructed the ISI to clip our wings” (Khan 2005, p. 152). Wirsing (1994, p. 122) also observed that movement for independence had become so widespread that “Bhutto was advised in a meeting, which included the Chief of the Army, Gen. Beg, with the Azad Kashmir president and prime minister in attendance, to assert more Pakistani control on the uprising.” Khan discusses how Pakistan employed a strategy to do just that and Pakistani-sponsored groups began to sprout up in Kashmir. This was a setback for the JKLF, which had established itself as by far the most effective and largest organisation on the ground. Now it had to contend with a plethora of groups, including the Hizbul-Mujahedeen, believed to have been created to squeeze the JKLF’s position in the uprising. An unfortunate result of the internecine violence that came with increased militancy, was that it inevitably stymied momentum for those involved in the organisation.

7 THE JAMMU KASHMIR LIBERATION FRONT … 153

The Front’s Response

Despite attempts to side-line the JKLF and its leadership, the front continued to gain support from the masses. In 1990, for example, at a time when the direction of the movement was being subverted by the creation of a dozen or more new groups in competition with the JKLF, around half a million Kashmiris came out onto the streets of Srinagar following the organisation’s call for mass demonstrations in support of freedom. A four-day curfew was observed in the city as a result, yet it did not deter tens of thousands from participating in the funeral procession of the JKLF’s first commander-in-chief, Ashfaq Majeed Wani, in March the same year (Khan 2005, p. 151). Two years later, in February 1992, thou- sands of Azad Kashmiris responded to the JKLF’s call to storm the CfL in solidarity with those in Indian-held Kashmir, despite Pakistani troops killing twelve demonstrators (Wirsing 1994).

By 1992, many of the JKLF’s members had been imprisoned or killed.

In order to maintain a way of operating in the state under duress, in 1994, the current chairman Yasin Malik, while incarcerated in Tihar Jail, declared that the JKLF would end its armed resistance and instead mobilise as a political party. Khan, however, disagreed with the move, and the organisation split in two until 2010 when the factions reunified under a single agenda once more. The move toward non-violent political struggle resulted in several new campaigns. From 2003 to 2005, a petition demanding Kashmiri participation in a negotiated settlement of the conflict saw two million signatures collected from over 6000 villages and towns by the JKLF in Indian-held Kashmir.

In 1997, the JKLF launched its “Road Map for Peace and Prosperity in South Asia” before the diplomatic fraternity and media outlets in Islamabad. In 2004, Malik called upon Hindu Kashmiri Pandits—who had fled the Valley of Kashmir on mass in the 1990s—to return to the state. Many scoffed at his attempts to reach out to the group as a way of promoting Kashmiri unity. In 2006, the JKLF mobilised to highlight human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir, resulting in 500 arrests and in the following year, embarked on a 116-day safar-e-azadi (journey of freedom) to engage with people along the length and breadth of Indian-held Kashmir. These and many more activities sought to demonstrate the resolve of the organisation when put under pressure by both India and Pakistan.

154 Z. KHAN

Conclusion

Over the years, the JKLF has sustained its central role in the struggle for independence despite attempts to marginalise it. The organisation’s iconic presence in the resistance movement has galvanised support for Kashmir’s sovereign status irrespective of political, ideological, ethnic or religious background. By its very existence, the JKLF asserts that people from across all parts of the geographically fractured country, are the only real stakeholders with the right to decide on its sovereignty. Since the 1950s, India has demonstrated an unrelenting reluctance to engage on the status of Kashmir, either with Kashmiris, Pakistan, or the international community. There is an unashamedly contemptuous imperviousness in the psyche of the Indian leadership and the intelligentsia, as witnessed by its vetoes in the UNSC on Kashmir (Simha 2016).

The JKLF continues to believe that an independent Kashmir will

provide India and Pakistan with an honourable way out of the ongoing dispute. Exiting Kashmir as the result of self-determination can satiate their national egos as well as allow Kashmir to become a bridge of peace, friendship and prosperity in the region, rather than a source of enmity between them. It has been the JKLF’s considered policy to engage with and influence Pakistan to recognise sovereign status of 20 million Kashmiris across the CfL as the only viable solution to the conflict. Unlike the late Zia-ul-Haq, however, those with the power to steer Pakistan’s Kashmir policy in Islamabad, have failed to appreciate this sound principle as the only logical option. As the far-right, nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government settles in for another term in India, the only way out of the conflict in South Asia is to resolve the Kashmir question. In March 2019, Pakistan and India found themselves on the brink of another war. This is a situation that cannot be taken lightly, given the potential for cross-border shelling to escalate into the nuclear annihilation of the region.

The organisation has continued to work within the constraints

imposed upon it to maintain its campaign for self-determination. As illustrated by Yasin Malik’s (2017) London speech quoted in the introduction of the chapter, the means have changed, even as the goal remains the same. The JKLF has caught the imagination of the masses like no other party in Kashmir since the 1940s. For four decades, the organisation has staunchly committed to a democratic, inclusive, free, and reunified sovereign status for the country as it existed before August 14, 1947.

7 THE JAMMU KASHMIR LIBERATION FRONT … 155

Nonetheless, a committed leadership has inspired the party faithful and grassroots Kashmiris alike, as demonstrated by slogans that continue to be used during popular protests, such as azadi (freedom) and khud-mukhtari (self-determination) (Ahmad 2018). Such slogans encapsulate the organisation’s ideology and enable the resistance to stand up to the occupation, even if faced by bullets fired by the Indian army.

Notes

Naseer. Wani shared his reflections on Amanullah Khan and Maqbool Butt with the author through a note in November 2018.

Hameed Butt is currently the senior deputy chairman of the JKLF based in Azad Kashmir, while Riaz Dar died in Muzaffarabad in 2018.

References

Abdullah, M. 1965. “Kashmir, India and Pakistan.” Foreign Affairs 43, no. 3 (April): 528–35.

Ahmad, W. 2018. “‘Our Way of Liberation Cannot Be Fought By Beggars or By Those Who seek Aid From Others’: Maqbool Bhatt.” Kashmir Ink, February 11. Accessed May 11, 2020, http://kashmirink.in/news/covers tory/-our-war-of-liberation-cannot-be-fought-by-beggars-or-by-those-who-

seek-aid-from-others-maqbool-bhat/558.html.

Ansari, A. K. 2014. Ma’ta-e-Gharoor (Wealth of Pride). Mirpur: The Institute of Kashmir Studies.

Cheema, A. 2015. “The Crimson Chinar: The Kashmir Conflict: A Politico- Military Perspective.” Unpublished Conference Paper. https://www.researchg ate.net/publication/283445965_The_Crimson_Chinar_cover.

Geelani, G. 2017. “How the 1947 Jammu Genocide Unfolded.” The Kashmir News Line, November 13. Accessed May 11, 2020, https://thekashmirnewsl ine.com/1947-jammu-genocide-unfolded/.

Khan, A. 1992. Jahd-i musalsal (Continuous Struggle), vol. 1, “My Autobiog- raphy.” Rawalpindi, Pakistan: SSS Printers.

Khan, A. 2005. Jahd-i musalsal (Continuous Struggle), vol. 2. Rawalpindi, Pakistan: T.S Printers.

Lamb, A. 1991. Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy, 1846–1990. Hertingfordbury: Roxford Books.

Lamb, A. 1994. Birth of a Tragedy: Kashmir 1947 . Hertingfordbury: Roxford Books.

Lockwood, D. 1975. Kashmir: Sheikh Abdullah’s Reinstatement. The World Today 31 (6): 249–56.

156 Z. KHAN

Malik, Y. 2017. “In Search of a Peaceful and Just Solution of the Long-Standing Kashmir Issue.” Speech Given at the JKLF Seminar on October 24 at the Central Hall, Westminster, London.

Maxwell, N. 1970. India’s China War. London: Penguin Books.

OHCHR. 2018. Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Devel- opments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Geneva: Office of the United Nations High Commis- sioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ Countries/IN/DevelopmentsInKashmirJune2016ToApril2018.pdf.

Schofield, V. 2003. Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War.

London: I.B. Tauris.

Simha, R. K. 2016. “Veto No. 100: How Russia Blocked the West on Kashmir. Russia Beyond,” November 1. Accessed May 13, 2020, https://www.rbth. com/blogs/stranger_than_fiction/2016/11/01/veto-no100-how-russia-blo cked-the-west-on-kashmir_644137.

Swami, P. 2007. India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad: The Covert War in Kashmir, 1947–2004. London: Routledge.

The Kashmir Walla. 2019. “India Ready for Another Strike Against Pakistan: Report,” April 3. Accessed May 11, 2020, https://thekashmirwalla.com/ 2019/04/india-ready-for-another-strike-against-pakistan-report/.

Wirsing, R. G. 1994. India, Pakistan and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and Its Resolution. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Main Post

Quick Message
Press Esc to close
Copyright © 2013 Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front | JKLF All Right Reserved