(Editor’s note: As we did two weeks ago with our brother Mohammad Umms Rafiq’s piece about Yemen through the eyes of a Kashmiri, we once again are sharing a piece from our fam in occupied Kashmir–an insightful look into a history rarely discussed but one that is as important as ANYTHING you will read on a matter that should be near and dear to all in the Ummah… As Kashmir is as precious to us any other oppressed land and then some. Almost a decade ago, Mouqawamah Music’s sister site Mask of Zion published an essay dealing with the Rothschild-financed British regime’s sale of Kashmir to the Dogra oppressors in 1846 (among other issues, including the Indian-‘Israeli’ relationship). Akhi Saif Ali Budgami goes even further and delves even deeper into this dark, UK-instigated oppression. We’re delighted and honored that he shared this with us and even more delighted and honored to publish it. Minor edits were made for accuracy. Death to the colonialist British regime. Death to Hindutvadi Indian terrorism. Long live the steadfast Kashmiri people. ~ Jonathan “Madd Cold” Azaziah)
by Saif Ali Budgami
How Did Kashmir Become Jammu & Kashmir?
How should I start? How can I say? Whom should I say? Is anybody listening? Yes! You need to listen at least once in a lifetime. People call it by many names. Tourists call it “Paradise On Earth”; environmentalists call it “The Switzerland of India”; historians named it “Peer Vaer (The Valley of Saints)”; and many more. Though all these names suit and depict the Valley structurally and intellectually, most of its residents love to call it and depict it practically. Yes! We call it “Mazloom Kashmir (Oppressed Kashmir)”!
From 1846 to 1947, the Dogra dynasty ruled Kashmir. During this period, two main treaties took place (Treaty of Lahore and Treaty of Amritsar). These are really necessary to understand the background of the Kashmiri cause. It was 16th, March 1846, a day of complete relaxation for the British and a luxurious day for the Dogra rulers. But it is still among the darkest days and an ugly scar on the face of human race. When the British defeated Sikhs and annexed Punjab, the British sold the whole of Kashmir to Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu for only 75 lakhs ‘NanakShahi’ under a treaty called “The Treaty of Amritsar”. Through the Treaty of Amritsar, between the British Empire, which had stolen the Kashmiri Valley, Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan from the earlier Sikh rule, and Gulab Singh, a Dogra from Jammu who subsequently initiated the Dogra dynasty which ruled Jammu and Kashmir as a princely state of British India for the next century until 1947.
The treaty included 84,471 square miles of land with a population of 600,000 people. It means every Kashmiri head was sold at the cost 12 Rs and the land was essentially taken as a welcome gift. This is what we as a people were to the colonialists. Therefore many international and local analysts hold it among the root causes for present scenarios in Kashmir. The inhuman treaty inflicted such terrible psychological wounds that they are still unrubbed and untreatable.
The defenders of the treaty proclaim reasons such as, “the British East India Company was not in a position to conquer Kashmir”. The so-called evidence for such claims is in the threats from the English that compelled the people of the valley to surrender to Gulab Singh. There was high uproar in England and others parts of the world against the sale. But alas! Nothing worked in favor of Kashmir. From this treaty alone, we should know how the people of Kashmir were treated from the first step of the occupation, as this treaty was made without people’s consideration and not even a single leader was consulted from Kashmir. We, the people, were sold like cattle and sheep and the whole transaction was made behind our backs. The Treaty of Amritsar consisting of ten articles made no mention of the rights, interests or the future of the people of Kashmir and gifted unlimited powers and authority to Gulab Singh.
It is completely inhumane how the people of one religion were gifted to a person belonging to another religion, a person who had the maximum of his desires at his fingertips and a set of wishes that were cruel, tyrannical and wild. And our name was added to the list of “world’s worst sufferers” because of this deal. The deal itself is an evidence of the ill-treatment to the people of the Paradise. Simultaneously many people were heard of quoting Gulab Singh as “I value the soil, not the servant”. The people of Kashmir were so cheap that the buyer (Gulab Singh) paid the amount in 42 installments. The last installment was paid on 29th, March 1850. It took him four years to purchase Kashmir for just 75 lakhs.
It was 9th, Nov 1846 at 8:00 am that he entered into this agreement and Kashmir was conquered. The Raja of Jammu became the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. It was nothing different for us, but another tragic experience in the millennium of tragedies.
How The Treaty of Amritsar Is Overlooked
Though this whole anti-humanity treaty cannot be discussed and understood in a little over a thousand words fully, I tried to give my best. As aforementioned, this treaty consisting of 10 Articles has really some interesting points that all should know in terms of how British colonialism/imperialism works.
In Article 1, the British regime made Kashmir the independent possession of Gulab Singh’s FOREVER. It was like the British had sold us like cattle which wouldn’t offer opposition or react.
In Article 9, the British regime pledged to provide aid to Gulab Singh at any time in the name of “protecting the state from external enemies”. Have you always been watching the regime and the people of the UK demanding justice for the Kashmiri people? Surely, yes! But this is hypocrisy, as you know it is the UK which actually invited and facilitated the occupation in Kashmir and is now fooling the world community by beating empty drums.
The most surprising and peculiar thing is in Article 10. This may look funny to you, but it must be acknowledged that this only happens with the people of Kashmir. In Article 10 of the Treaty of Amritsar, Gulab Singh acknowledges the supremacy of the British regime and in turn will have to present annually to British regime one horse, twelve shawl goats of approved breed (six male and six female) and three pairs of Kashmiri Shawls. Perpetual fealty to colonialism.
A Political Uprising In A Princely State (Kashmir)
From the beginning of the Dogras’ rule, people would hold anti-Dogra rule activities, but were forced to stop due to continuous threats. But the time came when many educated people started opposing the Dogras’ rule by sharing small pamphlets with anti-Dogra speeches and slogans. The educated activists were lead by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Choudry Ghulam Abbas. And in 1932, both of these leaders shaped their ideas and activities to a public conference and named it the “All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference”. In the next few years, the leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah realized that the name of the party looked somewhat communal and finally, in 1939, he changed the name of the party simply to the “National Conference” to represent all the people of the Valley. It supported the accession of the princely state to India in 1947. Prior to that, in 1941, a group led by Ghulam Abbas broke off from the National Conference and revived the old Muslim Conference. The revived Muslim Conference supported the accession of the princely state to Pakistan and led the movement for Azad Kashmir.
The first public meeting took place in Maisuma Bazaar, Tangas Stand, a central part of today’s Srinagar, and started to protest against this treaty with voices echoing, “Kashmir Humara Chod Do, Bainama Amritsar Toad Do (Quit Kashmir and Abrogate the Amritsar Treaty)”. The treaty practically did not end but was transferred and acceded from Dogra rule to Indian rule; from a princely Kashmir to Jammu and Kashmir; from the Dogras’ occupation to the Hindutvadi Indians’ occupation. And for the same cause, the Indian Constitution, after Indian’s independence from British Rule in 1947, gave it a special status in which it finds itself even today. Our struggle continues in earnest.
Saif Ali Budgami writes from Indian-occupied Kashmir and can be reached at Saifaly100@gmail.com