By Fahad Shah
On October 13, this week, eminent Supreme Court lawyer and activist, Prashant Bhushan was attacked by three Hindu-right wing workers when they barged into chamber 301 of Supreme Court premises. Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga who claims to be the President of an unknown party called Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena was one of them. He was accompanied by Inder Verma and Vishnu Gupta. Inder Verma is one of the men who assaulted Bhushan and he claims to be the president of Sri Ram Sena, Delhi unit. The reason behind the attack was that Bhushan advocated holding plebiscite in internationally recognized dispute, Jammu and Kashmir.
This happened after 64 years when India became Independent from British rule. The then British India was divided in two parts, India and Pakistan. British India’s partition and formation of Pakistan led to the occupation of a princely state, Jammu and Kashmir, by India, Pakistan and China. This state was independent till 1947, though, ruled by Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs and then Dogras. That period also brought sufferings for the people of Kashmir, mostly, for being Muslim Majority. During Sikh rule, call for prayers in Mosques was banned, in Dogra rule there were laws like high taxes, and Muslims were forced to labour. They used to take people for Beggair to Gilgit which was to do labour without being paid anything. Most of them would never return they would die of hunger. That was an era of repression and forced poverty for common Kashmiris.
On October 22, 1947, tribal invaders from Pakistan infiltrated into this Princely state (independent country) which created fear of losing the power in the Dogra ruler, Hari Singh. The Indian army landed on Kashmir (officially) on October 27, 1947. To an alleged request of Maharaja Hari Singh for accession to India in October 1947, the then Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten replies, “In consistence with their policy that in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader, the question of State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people”.
Now after decades, Bhushan was beaten up for repeating something which even former Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru had repeated again and again at every political platform but never brought that in action. On November 2, 1947, the then Prime Minister of India, Nehru said in a radio broadcast to India from All India Radio. “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given (and the Maharajah has supported it) not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have referendum held under international auspices like the UN We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and juster offer”.
On November 25, 1947, in the Indian Constituent Assembly, Nehru said again, “In order to establish our bonafide, we have suggested that when the people are given the chance to decide their future, this should be done under the supervision of an impartial tribunal such as the United Nations Organisation. The issue in Kashmir is whether violence and naked force should decide the future or the will of the people”.
It was not only here that Nehru announced that India can’t hold Kashmir by force; the solution has to come by the aspirations of its people. Though, even Nehru never worked for any such kind of Plebiscite. The referendum was never held on Kashmir dispute and the UN resolutions were violated. India has always been pressurizing that this dispute is an internal problem of India. Despite that India’s own Prime Minister accepts the decision of being with India or not should be taken by the people of Jammu and Kashmir only.
What we saw on October 13 in Supreme Court and what we have been seeing again and again hints that if Nehru would have been alive today he would have faced same as Bhushan did.
So doesn’t Nehru deserve same from Hindu-right wing men who claim Kashmir is an integral part of India? If Nehru would have been alive then they could have beaten him up? Or the state would have filed a case against him for being “anti-national”?