The opening scene of “The Kashmir Files,” inspired by ghastly true events that unfolded in Kashmir in the early 1990s, shows how a young boy is beaten up for cheering for India’s cricket team. This is not fiction, it is a horrifying true account of the atrocities committed on Hindus in the Kashmir valley post-independence.
The Kashmiri Pandits were asked to vacate the Kashmir valley overnight and were given three options by Pakistan supported radical Islamic groups - run, convert to Islam or die. Many chose to vacate the valley in order to preserve their honor, announcements were made on loudspeakers mounted on top of mosques asking the vacating Hindus to leave their women and children behind.
I had an idea of these stories growing up, however, for a long time until 2014, the Indian government did not want the truth of the Kashmiri Pandits to be amplified in the way that the movie “Kashmir Files” is doing. Subverting the voice of the Kashmiri Pandits worked in the political interests of the Indian National Congress party.
For those interested in watching “The Kashmir Files,” it is now playing at the Regal Downtown West Cinema. This is an account of how Hindus were driven out from Kashmir, on similar lines to Adolf Hitler’s annihilation of Jews in Nazi Germany.
Let’s dive into some details of why Kashmir has been an issue. The British loved partitions like India, Pakistan, Ireland and the British mandate for Palestine. Hence, before leaving India in the summer of 1947, the British created Muslim Pakistan and secular India. Soon after Independence, Pakistan attacked India in 1947-48 upon orders given by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the first governor-general of Pakistan. Pakistan’s attack was without any provocation by the latter to seize Kashmir under the pretext of Jinnah’s two-nation theory, which partitioned the Indian subcontinent along religious lines. The Pakistani tactic was to infiltrate tribal militants from its Northwestern frontier province to Kashmir and seize control of the state by force.
Upon the UN’s intervention, both India and Pakistan agreed to a cease-fire along what is known as the Line of Control (LOC). However, in the process, Pakistan ended up illegally occupying legitimate Indian Territory.
The Instrument of Accession, which enabled the princely states, including Kashmir, to accede to the Union of India was final, binding and non-negotiable. Once the ruler of a princely state signed the Instrument of Accession, his kingdom became a part of the new dominion of India. The same instrument of accession was used when other princely states acceded to Pakistan, and in both cases, the accessions of the princely states to either dominion via the Instrument of Accession fell under the ambit of the Indian Independence Act, 1947.
Maharaja Hari Singh, the last ruler of Kashmir, signed the Instrument to accede to India in the event of the Pakistani attack in 1947. Therefore, Pakistan’s false claims on Kashmir as its own and its attempt to wrest control of the province by violence calls the entire legal framework of the Indian Independence Act into question, which also gave birth to Pakistan itself.
After hearing both the Indian and Pakistani sides on April 21, 1948, the UN Security Council resolution 47 came to a conclusion that a plebiscite must be undertaken after Pakistan withdraws its troops from the region and “pulls out Pakistani nationals from Kashmir who are not normally resident therein and entered only for the purpose of fighting.”
Pakistan completely ignored the UN’s orders and did not withdraw its troops from the region, therefore holding on to the territory they claim as Azad Kashmir. The very first precondition to have a plebiscite of any kind in Kashmir is that Pakistan must first withdraw its troops.
In India, Article 370 was inserted into the constitution to ensure that the demographic profile of Kashmir remained intact. However, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism drove away 500,000 Kashmiri Pandits from the valley in the 1990s, thereby severely altering the demographic profile of the Indian side of Kashmir. On the Pakistani side, settlers from all across Pakistan- Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, KPK arrived in Kashmir and changed a lot of the region’s demographics. Therefore, with such a skewed demographic profile as compared to what is necessary for an unbiased plebiscite, the very idea of a plebiscite seems criminal.
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, over 43,000 people have been killed due to Pakistan-backed terrorism in the region since 1988. After such horrendous acts, Pakistan has lost all moral claims that it could lay on Kashmir. All four Indo-Pak wars were initiated by Pakistan and ended by India. India’s overwhelmingly superior military prowess forced Pakistan to change its tactics by resorting to terrorism and nuclear brinkmanship. Today, Pakistan’s continued support to terrorist organizations while sheltering them under its nuclear umbrella proves the fact that its regular military can never take on the might of the Indian Armed Forces.
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