On August 15, 1947, when India became Independent, the Maharajah of Kashmir had signed a standstill agreement with the government of Pakistan, which is a precursor to accession. The Pakistanis also took over charge of Jammu and Kashmir’s post and telegraph system, food supplies and essential commodities. In September armed groups from Pakistan came from west Punjab and started looting and raping the the Muslims in Kashmir valley, the same people whom they had come to liberate. It was the Indian army which came in and chased these people back into Pakistan.
One of the major grievances against the Hindu Maharajah was that he did not care much about his Muslim subjects. Reports from the early 1900s talk about Muslims living in medieval conditions of poverty and oppression. Muslims were forced to work for the Pandit elites who were also the landlords and also they were not permitted to become officers in the state’s military. On 13 July, 1950, Sheikh Abdullah, the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir introduced sweeping land reforms 700,000 landless peasants, mostly Muslims became landowners in a sweeping land reform act. (Many Malayalis incorrectly claim that it was the communists in Kerala who did land reforms first in India).
After Independence all Governments have pampered the state with special powers and lavish financial assistance.
Habibullah’s report laments that Kashmir’s ‘economy is growing more and more slowly’ and that ‘the state’s infrastructure is crumbling.’ Since he is, as always, referring here only to the J&K state of India, the reality must be pointed out that, in 2003, the reputed India Today magazine gave J&K the ninth overall rank among the then 17 big states of India, the classification being based on eight factors of macro-economic performance. Another reality is that, according to a report by G Venkatramani in The Hindu of October 8, 2004, India’s J&K has only 3.48 percent of its population falling below the poverty line and its consumption of foodgrains is higher than the norm of 420 g per capita per day set by the Indian Council of Medical Research. What’s more, the research foundation of the internationally renowned economist, M S Swaminathan, has drawn up a 15-point action plan that will achieve a poverty-free J&K by 2007. Clearly, the government of India’s massive financial assistance for over a decade and the presence of a large number of security forces with families have helped create a large market and a generally benign economic ambience in the state — without any foreign aid of significance. [Why should US have a role in J&K?]
If all these do not keep the people in the valley happy, then why are we putting so much effort ?
[References: Kashmir : Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, Pakistan: Eye of the Storm]
4 thoughts on “Will they ever be happy ?”
The Indian policy on Kashmir has always been blow hot-blow cold. The governments stance on issues change with every passing day. India does not even allow citizens of other Indian state to buy property in J&K.
The government merely rushes to pacify whichever group that makes the loudest noise. Therefore everybody is trying to outdo each other instead of being satisfied.
India has consistently indulged ‘special’ states like J&K and Manipur; these states have consistently received dollops of central funds. In spite of this, these states have extremely irresponsible balance sheets.
My back of the envelope calculation.
I think it is poor Central leadership that is primarily responsible for mismanaging the situation when local disatisfaction peaks. Combined with venal local politicans this is an explosive combination. VP Singh’s government screwed up in Kashmir in 1989/90, Manmohan Singh’s government risks doing the same in Manipur.
This of course ignores the part played by opportunist actors like Pakistan both lighting and stoking the fires.
Here’s the link to the back of the envelope calculation:
Nitin, I have been reading Sumantra Bose’s book Kashmir which is primarily blaming India for screwing up the Kashmir issue. Yes, Pakistan took advantage of the issue. During the 1948 and 1965 war, the local population did not favor the Pakistanis. But after the rigging of elections in 1990s, the Kashmiris took to arms and turned to Pakistan for help.
(1) There has to sufficient pressure on Pakistan to stop their moral and diplomatic support
(2) There has to be development of grassroot level democracy in J&K.
(3) Instead of pumping money at regular intervals, the state should be asked to generate its own revenue.
(4) Encourage Indian companies to generate employment in J&K.