'Restore the August 14, 1947 position'
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'Restore the August 14, 1947 position'

The state must remain one. No one must divide it. Even the Kashmiri militants stand for a united J&K, says Panthers' party chief Bhim Singh.

india Updated: Sep 10, 2002 21:34 IST

Bhim Singh
President (J&K Panthers’ Party), lawyer and former legislator

Q:Can you explain the intransigence that one notices among the Kashmiris vis-à-vis India?

BS: It is true that Kashmiris have become intolerant to idea and image of India. That is mainly due to the mistakes Indians have made. Of course, for those mistakes and follies, I cannot condemn Pakistan.

Let me exemplify I was imprisoned 54 times, not for raising Pakistani flag, but for hoisting the Indian flag. How can I hold Pakistan responsible for this?

In 1966, 24 of my students were killed in Jammu and Kashmir though a very liberal government under Sadiq Saheb was in place then. Six students were killed right inside the Jammu University, though nobody had hoisted Pakistan flag and asked for separation.

Frankly, India has taken Jammu for granted, treated Kashmiris as slaves and Laddakh as a colony.

Q:How would you define the problem of migration from the Valley?

BS: It is indeed a great tragedy that Kashmiri Pandits are out of Kashmir. But then, there are also 2 1/2 lakh Muslims who too have been forced to migrate from Kashmir. The worst part is that people and political parties have communalized this human tragedy.

Q:Do you support the initiation of dialogue as a way forward?

BS: The question is not whether or not to start a dialogue. The question is dialogue with whom?

I asked the Prime Minister, "You want to have a dialogue with the militants. I am also among those with whom you have to talk. Why don't you have a dialogue with me first?I am also a symbol of oppression and repression let loose on my people and my students. Probably, the Government does not want to talk to people like me because I am also one of the militants.I militate for justice and rule of law.I feel proud to be a militant.

Q:What about our neighbours?

BS: We are passing through a period of great crisis.International equations have changed and we are repeatedly telling that Kashmir is our domestic matter. We do not think and take due note of the new power equations which have emerged among the central Asian states, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.This nexus is a potential danger for us.

Q:Do you favour the abrogation of Article 370?

BS: To those who debate on the relevance of Article 370, I want to ask them a question:Was Jammu and Kashmir at par with the British India in 1947?You have never thought of it.

Jammu and Kashmir was always a sovereign state.It was not like Uttar Pradesh. We were not part of British India.Therefore, the Act of British Parliament to divide India on communal lines did not apply and does not apply to Jammu and Kashmir.

Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India under compulsion.Nehru and Hari Singh had strong differences. And even when the Maharaja acceded on subjects such as currency, defence, foreign affairs and communications, he continued to be the head of the state. He did not cease to be a ruler like in other states. The constituent assembly was constituted in Jammu and Kashmir under the seal and signature of Dr Karan Singh as a representative of Maharaja Hari Singh.In 1952, the same constituent assembly passed a resolution abolishing the Jagirdari system.Maharaja ceased to be the head of the state in 1952.

I am amused why are people are confused over Article 370? It is not a part of Jammu and Kashmir constitution. It is the part of the constitution of India. And it is through this article that the Government of India started interfering.

Look at the havoc that was wrecked as a result of that interference. The Centre brought Bakshi in and called him Himalayan Lion. After 10 years it put him in jail and called him traitor. It then brought Shamsuddin for 90 days and removed him like a puppet. It brought Sadiq Saheb and he too was subject to lot of pressures and non-cooperation. His poor health came to his rescue and he died without facing a removal. It brought Qasim Saheb and removed him too. It challenged the integrity of the voters by bringing a person as the chief minister of the state who was not even the member of the assembly. It withdrew support even to Shiekh Saheb. After the death of Shiekh Saheb it brought Farooq Abdullah. In 1984, it dismissed a duly elected government and installed yet another puppet as the Chief minister.

I remember All India Radio describing me as the traitor because I was supporting Farooq Abdullah.In fact, I was not supporting Farooq. I was defending the constitution of India.For this I was jailed and not even allowed to vote.In short you have been continually humiliating the Kashmiri leaders and hurting the feelings and sentiments of the people for the past 40 years.

Q:What is it that you would want for the state?

BS: I want the reunification of the state as it existed immediately after the accession because a sovereign ruler who was recongnised by the UN under the international law and legitimacy signed it. Pakistan did try to go to the international court of justice. In fact, it was Sir Zafarullah Khan who had said in a two-page note that Pakistan had no case in Jammu and Kashmir as it was not part and parcel of the British India.

Therefore, India have a strong case. I am ready to give all the relevant documents. Let normalcy be restored. Let Dr. Karan Singh go there. Once the reunification is achieved, we will face plebiscite.

I am sure, if the people of Jammu and Kashmir, from both sides, are allowed to discuss the problem we can save Kashmir from bloodshed. I am sure 90% of the people on either side will stand by this formula. However, nobody is prepared to bell the cat. I am ready to bell the cat but let the government respond first.

Q:Do you have a specific proposal for the government?

BS: I propose three municipal or legislative councils, each for Kashmir, Jammu and Laddakh, with equal powers.But the state must remain one.No one must divide it.Even the Kashmiri militants stand for a united Jammu and Kashmir.

First Published: Sep 08, 2002 22:01 IST