During his recent visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement regarding Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (PoJK) being an integral part of the Republic of India. This statement bears a lot of significance as PoJK remains engulfed in civil unrest.
Hundreds of political workers and their leaders have been arrested and put behind bars. Protests in PoJK against taxes levied on fuel, increase in load shedding and the suggested 15th constitutional amendment that will give sweeping powers to Pakistan and reduce PoJK to a provincial administrative territory are not going to go away any time sooner.
Rajnath Singh’s statement should be seen in the light of two issues. Firstly, that the people of PoJK are closely observing development projects that have been launched in the Union Territory which includes a Rs 1.4 lakh crore annual budget and secondly, that the Minister’s statement includes the occupied territory of Gilgit-Baltistan (PoGB).
It is PoGB that I want to talk about in this article. As we all know that Pakistan attacked the state of Jammu and Kashmir on October 22, 1947 that led to the first India-Pakistan War but fewer people understand that PoGB was handed over to Pakistan by instigating a coup guided and manipulated directly by the British.
As Indian troops landed at Srinagar airport on October 27 and began to push the invading armies of Pakistan and the tribal back, it soon became evident that Pakistani army was no match to the Indian liberators.
Let me remind our reader that in 1935 the administrative and defence responsibilities of Gilgit Agency had been transferred to the British Government by the Maharaja of Jammu Kashmir Shri Hari Singh. It was a lease for 60 years and was signed during a period when civil war in China was threatening an invasion of Xin Jiang by the Soviet troops. The arrangement between the Maharaja and the British was meant to secure the northern border of the British Empire.
However, on August 1, 1947 the Gilgit lease was annulled by Delhi and the territory was handed back to the Maharaja.
Subsequently Lieutenant Colonel Roger Bacon the political agent of Gilgit Agency handed over the Agency to Brigadier Ghansara Singh who was appointed as the new governor of the Gilgit-Agency.
As war broke out on October 22, 1947 and by October 31 it became more than evident that Pakistan was losing, a statement issued by the secretary of state for common wealth relations and sent as a top secret directive to British High Commission in Delhi and Karachi are very significant. It read: It would be natural for Kashmir to eventually accede to Pakistan.
After the Gilgit Agency was handed back to the Maharaja, the British officers of the Gilgit Scots Major William Alexander Brown and Captain Mathieson were requested to continue as Maharaja’s contract officers. Little did the Maharaja know that meanwhile Major Brown, in consultation with now political agent of North Western Frontier Province stationed in Peshawar, Lt. Colonel Bacon, was planning a military coup since June 1947!
According to the bulletin of Military Historical Society of Great Britain vol. 46 No. 182 (1995), available at the British Library in London, ‘the broad post-partition plan had been discussed by Maj Brown and Colonel Bacon in June 1947,’ (and after captain Mathieson arrived in Gilgit as second in command), ‘the two British officers refined the contingency measures, should the Maharaja take his state to India’.
No sooner did the Maharaja accede to India on October 26 than the plan to surround the Gilgit Residency and was put into action. On October 31 after a short gun battle between the Gilgit Scots led by British Officers and Governor Ghansara Singh bodyguards, Ghansara was arrested and put in prison. And on November 1, 1947 the British officers replaced the state flag from the Residency and raised the flag of Pakistan.
At this point the new governor of North Western Frontier Province Sir George Cunningham instructed Major Brown to ‘restore law and order’. But it was Major Brown and his co-conspirators that had created a law and order situation in the first place.
While all this was happening in Gilgit Agency the government of Pakistan in Karachi was unaware and was informed though a telegram that Gilgit had acceded to Pakistan.
This is how the British cut the State of Jammu and Kashmir to pieces with the help of the mercenary army of Pakistan and the tribal.
Rajnath Singh’s recent statement regarding PoJK should and can only be viewed and understood in the light of the conspiracy that has kept legally acceded parts of the state of Jammu Kashmir under the illegal occupation of Pakistan.
Now the tasks that lie ahead are those of winning over the wider public opinion in both parts of PoJK and PoGB as well as that of international community. This can only be achieved by demonstrating the true facts about the history of the occupation of both PoJK and PoGB by Pakistan.
(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK.)