October 27 is observed as Black Day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. To join their voices with the people of Kashmir, Canadians of Kashmiri and Pakistani origins also observed this day on October 31 in Toronto.
A number of speakers shed light on various dimensions of the origins of the Kashmir dispute. Messages of support from Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan were presented by Dr Najm us Sahar, First Secretary at the Consulate of Pakistan in Toronto.
Zafar Bangash, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) and member Friends of Kashmir Canada, highlighted the background to the October 27, 1947 episode when Indian army occupied the state.
It was an illegal act, based on a lie that maharaja Hari Singh had signed an instrument of accession.
In the 74-year period, India has not been able to produce the instrument of accession raising serious doubts about its existence.
A number of speakers of Kashmiri origin also spoke at the seminar sharing first-hand experiences of the suffering of the Kashmiris.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir have a simple demand: the right to self-determination as enshrined in at least 12 UN Security Council resolutions.
Pakistani Consul General in Toronto, Abdul Hameed also spoke and presented grim statistics about the number of people killed, women raped and the Kashmiris incarcerated in horrible conditions.
He said that Pakistan government would continue to offer political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir.
India’s illegal occupation has continued since 1947.
How did Indian troops land in Srinagar when the state was not part of India?
When Britain was preparing to leave India to end colonial rule, left exhausted by the Second World War, it presented a partition formula that was accepted by the leaders of both the Hindu and Muslim communities.
Since co-existence was impossible because Hindu chauvinists were not prepared to guarantee the fundamental rights of the 30% Muslim minority, leaders of the two communities agreed upon a partition formula that was presented by the departing British colonialists.
Muslim majority areas would constitute Pakistan while Hindu majority areas would become part of India.
There were also some 500 princely states that enjoyed relative autonomy under British colonial rule.
The princely states were asked to join either Pakistan or India based on their demographic composition and geographic contiguity.
The situation of most states was straight forward.
There were three states where this was a little problematic.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir was one of them.
The maharaja happened to be Hindu while the state population was overwhelmingly Muslim.
The state was geographically, culturally and linguistically much closer to and contiguous to the new state of Pakistan than India.
The Kashmiris naturally assumed their state would become part of Pakistan.
When the maharaja prevaricated, the people rose up in revolt.
The ruler fled the capital, Srinagar.
When Indian troops landed in Srinagar, India’s rulers including governor general, Lord Mountbatten, and Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, announced that once law and order were restored, a referendum would be held to determine the wishes of the people.
The people had already spoken through their uprising that had resulted in the ruler fleeing the state.
Indian occupation troops carried out a massacre of Muslims in Jammu where between 200,000 (Horace Alexander’s account in the British magazine, The Spectator, January 16, 1948) to 500,000 Muslims (as reported by the British author Ian Stephen) were killed.
More than 350,000 other Kashmiris were forced to flee Jammu in panic, arriving in Pakistan.
This was the first ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Muslims.
From a 62% majority in Jammu, Muslims were reduced to a minority of 31%.
Indian army genocide, aided and abetted by the Hindu terrorist outfit and the RSS led to war between India and Pakistan.
As Pakistani forces backed by the people of Kashmir and tribesmen from Pakistan, made progress in pushing the Indian occupation forces out, India took the matter to the UN Security Council.
Both India and Pakistan agreed that a referendum should be held in Kashmir.
While it was India that took the matter to the Security Council, it was clear that its intentions were not sincere.
India merely wanted to buy time.
This is what India has done since 1948.
Instead of honoring its pledges to the people of Kashmir and the world, today it says Kashmir is an “integral” part of India.
The overwhelming majority of Kashmiri people reject this ludicrous claim.
The Kashmiris have been protesting against India’s illegal occupation ever since.
October 27 marks another grim anniversary in their long, painful struggle for the fundamental right to determine their own future.
A resolution of support for the Kashmiri people was presented by Ahmed Khawaja, the program moderator, that was unanimously approved by the seminar participants.
We must not fail the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We must do whatever we can to highlight their plight and become their voice to the outside world.