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Kashmir’s tug of war: Leaves of Chinar

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1947- Kashmir’s tug of war

The valley in the north is scenic and poetic and our illusion of Kashmir is sometimes a culmination of televised fiction and reality, but what Kashmir is today is a series of reflections of its historical affiliations, aspirations and allied decisions. The contemporary scenario conjures a need to trace this distressing journey of the favoured daughter caught in the centre of the ugliest divorce in history.

This trajectory begins as 1947 set a liberating and ominous undertone in the air, inviting a tumble of astounding events to Maharaja Hari Singh’s doorsteps. The Maharaja was one of the three rulers that still had a claw over their thrones-the other two being the Nawab of Junagadh and the Nizam of Hyderabad. The sullen king had his days cut out for him as the Indian Army, breathing that same air, would come marching into the Maharaja’s durbar giving him just enough time to make a quiet exit to Pakistan.

Just like many of us who crave the fresh breeze of the Valley, Mohammed Ali Jinnah planned a holiday to Kashmir. As for him, a state with over three quarters of the population being Muslim was destined to come and fall right into his lap. However, the Maharaja’s vision of Kashmir did not involve sitting on a tight rope while India and Pakistan tugged from both sides. He envisioned a Kashmir that thrived on its beauty, free from diplomatic headaches, giving Kashmiris their full right to bask in the abyssal depths of their velvet clad serenity surrounded by pride in their bounties.

The Maharaja’s rejection of Pakistan brought the craze of forbidden fruit in Jinnah’s eyes and hence awoke the volatile Pathan Tribesmen of the north-west frontier with the objective to tip the Maharaja over into annexation. Kashmiri intentions were never to be their own but instead to be engulfed in revisions and manipulations like over protective parents making your decisions for you.

The destructive tribesmen took eager revenge for the blind eye that the Maharaja had turned to the dilemma of accession which led to the Maharaja’s beseech to India as he saw himself being pushed into a circle of manipulations where neither side would let Kashmir retain its integrity.

Nehru’s role is one solely driven by emotions, some over simplifications and some bewilderment. In retrospect, his is a role that must be looked at more deeply on a separate page. On the 24th of October, Nehru attached special accession terms for Kashmir, an extension symbolising destiny’s turn in the Valley for many years to come.

As the leaves of Chinar brought contrast to despair turning from summer lime to spots of mauve, amber, yellow and blood red, a jubilant Menon poured himself a stiff drink on the evening of 26th October. “We have Kashmir. The bastard signed the act of accession. And now that we’ve got it, we’ll never let it go,” he proudly stated.

“A quarter of a century later, Kashmir’s disputed possession would remain the principal subject of discord between India and Pakistan, the one seemingly insurmountable barrier to their reconciliation,” a prediction by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre in 1976.

1947-Kashmir’s tug of war is the first part in a series of articles titled ‘Leaves of Chinar.’

Image credits:

Baani Kashyap

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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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