Mainstream, VOL LIII , No 38, New Delhi, September 12, 2015
Triumph of Secularism
Sunday 20 September 2015, by
(Mainstream, Annual Number 1965)
As the nation observes the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 India-Pakistan war, we reproduce here two pieces that appeared in the Annual Number of Mainstream (which came out in September 1965).
Twice during the last eighteen years, Kashmir has had to go through an ordeal of fire, an ordeal which no other part of our great country has had the misfortune to face. Pakistani rulers have not yet been able to get over their covetous greed and so the people of Kashmir have to face the brunt of their aggression. In their hurry to grab Kashmir, they forget that they would have to reckon with the patriotism of our people and the valour of our jawans.
What has happened in Kashmir in these two invasions, eighteen years apart, has not come to me as a surprise. Even before independence, the Muslim League leaders had to smart under the frustration that their communal demagogy could not overpower the firm secularism of Kashmiri patriotism. It was this secular trait in Kashmir nationalism which gave a rebuff to Jinnah more than twenty years ago when he came to the Valley hoping to establish a political foothold. The people and the national leadership of Kashmir in those days made it quite clear that they would be no party to any communal politics.
Beacon of Secularism
At the time of independence Kashmir stood as the beacon of secularism, proudly defying the communalism that got enthroned in Pakistan. And in their rage and frustration Pakistani leaders sent hordes of invaders whose barbarities only helped to steel further the strong secularism of the Kashmiri people. The inspiring saga of resistance to invaders in 1947 in which Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs fought shoulder to shoulder shall always remain a proud chapter in the annals of free India.
Secular ideals had inspired the entire freedom movement of the people of the State. Even in the beginning of our freedom struggle, which was started in the name of the Muslim Conference, our minds were moving towards the ideal of socialism. The people’s organisation in the State was given the name of Muslim Conference but in essence our struggle was not confined to Muslims alone. Our political objectives were identical with those of the national movement in the country. The issue before us was not that of religion but one of banishing poverty and eliminating exploitation. That is why we broadened our organisation and in 1938 the National Conference came into being.
All this is the proof, if any proof is needed today, that the people of the Jammu and Kashmir State had emotionally integrated with the rest of secular India long ago. The accession of the State in 1947 only gave a practical shape to the long-cherished desire of its people to be part and parcel of a free, democratic and socialist India.
The argument that Kashmir should form part of Pakistan because the population of the State is predominantly Muslim is devoid of any sense and substance. But blinded by their bigotry, the rulers of Pakistan fail to see what is clear like a bright summer day. What Mr Jinnah failed to achieve politically he tried to grab by force. But he got it back in the neck. People of Kashmir—Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs—rose like one man and with the help of the Indian Army threw the raiders out.
With the help of the Army it could have been possible in those days to drive away the last invader from every inch of territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. However, imperialist machinations came to the help of Pakistan, and the Cease-Fire Line was drawn with a definite bias in favour of the Pakistani invaders, put on the run by the victorious people of the Valley and the armed forces of India. The Cease-Fire was accepted at the time not because our side was in a tight jam either militarily or politically. It was rather an expression of the desire of the people and the government of this country to end bloodshed and settle any dispute, however unreasonably fostered, through peaceful means.
But the sabre-rattling rulers of Pakistan could learn nothing from experience. What they lacked in democratic consciousness or secular virtues, they thought they would be able to make up by reliance on arms. Hence came their politics of military alliance and persistently intransigent approach towards their great and peaceful neighbour, India. They mistook the patience of our people, our nation and our government for weakness. In 1962-63, in the height of the crisis created by the Chinese aggression, India did not hesitate to come to the conference table to settle all outstanding disputes with Pakistan. Again, the short-sighted rulers of Pakistan and their patrons from abroad thought that that was the moment to claim other people’s territories. They put forward absurd demands which no self-respecting nation could ever concede.
This year, after their misadventure in Kutch, the rulers of Pakistan in desperation turned again to Kashmir. It was obvious that they were deluded by their own propaganda into believing that India had become a weak power and it would be easy to grab Kashmir. Presumably drawing inspiration from their new-found patrons in Peking, along with their supporters in the West, Pakistani rulers sent armed bands across the Cease-Fire Line hoping to cause large-scale subversion through banditry. They hoped also to perhaps get support from local population in the name of religion.
For a second time the people of Kashmir gave them a rebuff. In 1947 when Pakistan attacked us, our slogan was : “Aggressor Beware: We, the people of Kashmir, are ready to fight you out.” This time it was different. We were in a position to say: “Aggressor Beware! We, the people of India, are ready to fight you out.”
The time has come for all-out chastisement of the Pak marauders. From the very beginning I have made it quite clear that by sending armed invaders into the Valley of Kashmir, it is the Government of Pakistan which has wiped off the Cease-Fire Line and we woiuld reserve our right to advance and liberate that part of the territory under the heel of Pakistani occupation for eighteen years. The magnificent courage and determination of the jawans fighting battles at staggering heights have provided new inspiration to our people and a sense of security prevails in the Valley among the patriotic Kashmiris. As we proceed to advance to liberate more territory from the occupation of Pakistan, our loyalty to secularism will get new strength.
What we, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, are doing today is our humble contribution towards the defence of our great country and in furtherance of the democractic and secular ideals that are enshrined in our freedom struggle and that are shaped by Gandhiji and Nehru. We pledge that with the last drop of our blood we shall fight and strive not to let any invader cross the sacred threshold of our beloved motherland.
The author, a distinguished political personality of Kashmir, was the J&K Chief Minister for several years.