Why India should reclaim POJK now!

Geography of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is comprised of different regions, namely Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit & Baltistan. This includes the areas occupied by China (COJK) and Pakistan (POJK) illegally. Ladakh is the largest region covering 1,64,748 Sq.Kms, while occupied areas of the state is around 1,20,747 Sq. Kms. While Jammu is ~36,315 Sq. Kms, the smallest region is Kashmir which is 22,000 Sq. Kms. This shows how the smallest region of the state has been accorded disproportionate importance, while large regions of Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan and issues they are facing have been neglected over the years.
Status of J&K prior partition
Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions were parts of the Indian princely state of Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir. Gilgit agency (a part of Ladakh region) that was leased to the British by the Maharaja of J&K in 1935 was taken back by the Maharaja in 1947. There was NO separatist movement (worth significance) nor demand from people of J&K to remain independent or to go to Pakistan. It is to be noted that National Conference's Sheik Mohd. Abdullah had pledged unconditional loyalty to the Maharaja in a letter dated 26th Sept. 1947.
Draft of the Instrument of accession that was to be signed by the princely states acceding to India Dominion was same for all such ( nearly 550) states, including J&K.
Status of J&K after partition
Months after independence in 1947, tribesmen from NWFP (North West Frontier Province) aided and abetted by Pak infiltrated into J&K in October. The ‘Kabailis'/Tribesmen raided western J&K and Ransacked, looted and marauded men and women in their path. Maharaja pleaded for materials as well as help from India as British troops and Pakistan had blocked all supply lines.
India did not agree for any direct help till Maharaja acceded J&K to India formally. Consequently, Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India 'unconditionally' on 26th Oct 1947. Lord Mountbatten signed his acceptance on the Instrument of Accession on 27th Oct 1947. However, in a covering letter accompanying Maharaja’s letter (received with Instrument of accession), Mountbatten made a mention of “some dispute” that (otherwise) technically existed no where in terms of Indian Independence Act 1947. This formed the basis for the Abdullahs and other separatists to demand special treatment of Kashmir which was nowhere mentioned in the instrument of accession.
After accession, the Indian Army was sent to J&K immediately on 27th Oct 1947. The infiltrators were checked and some areas were freed.
Accession and thereafter
After Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India, an emergency administration with Sheikh Abdullah as its head was put in place in Oct, 1947. On 1st January 1948 Nehru’s government went with a complaint to UN that Pakistan had engineered an attack on Indian territories in J&K. This move resulted in internationalizing the Kashmir issue, the effects of which we are suffering even today.
India declared ceasefire on 1st Jan 1949 and some areas transgressed by Pakistan are still not recovered.In view of the local administrative uncertainties prevailing in J&K, Article 370 was incorporated in Constitution of India (1950) as a temporary measure for finalizing centre–state operations/relations beyond the subjects that were listed in the Instrument of accession as Dominion subjects (Foreign Affairs, Defence, Communications and Allied Matters).
Two years later, without any provocation, the Delhi Agreement of 1952 between Nehru and Abdullah was made to draw some guidelines for centre–state operations/relations beyond the subjects (Foreign Affairs, Defence, Communications and Allied Matters) that were listed in the Instrument of accession as Dominion subjects. Some of the guidelines were:
- Sadar-i-Riyasat will be elected by the State legislature;
- J&K state may keep some special rights of Indian citizens who were Subjects of Maharaja’s J&K (Holding State Subject Certificate);
- Supreme Court will have only appellate jurisdiction;
- Modification in scope of Article 352 (Emergency Powers);
- It was also agreed that the application of Article 356 (suspension of State Constitution) and 360 (financial emergency) was not necessary;
- The State of J&K will have its own flag;
This agreement further complicated the issue with many stalwarts like Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee vehemently had opposed any such unconstitutional agreements as J&K was as much a part of the Indian union as any other state after accession.
Refugees from West Pakistan
After the partition which led to much bloodshed, about 5,764 families, mostly Hindus & Sikhs, entered Jammu from West Pakistan (West Punjab) during and after partition in 1947; They were allowed to stay and were given 'refugee' status.
Most of these refugees belong to the Scheduled Castes. They do have the benefits of SC/ST as per Indian constitution. Their present population is about 2,50,000; and are settled in the areas adjoining India and Pakistan Border right from Jorian to Kathua in Jammu.They live mostly in rural areas and under poor sanitary / health conditions and in economic deprivation.
Since 1947 these refugees have not been granted State Subject Certificate / Permanent Resident of J&K Status. Hence they cannot get jobs under J&K Government, they can not buy property in J&K and cannot vote for J&K Assembly. They cannot even take admissions in J&K State owned professional colleges. Since they cannot get admissions in J&K professional colleges, they cannot get J&K Government Jobs. Consequently, their children do not take education seriously. No doubt they are citizens of India and have rights like other citizens of India other than Permanent resident of J&K. However they can vote in Parliament Elections.
Displaced people from POJK
Those who migrated from POJK after tribal incursions (mainly from Muzafarabad , Mirpur, Kotli, Bhimbar , Deva Balala and also from Gilgit / Baltistan)were not given REFUGEE STATUS. They have been named by J&K Government as Displaced Persons.Neither GOI nor J&K Government has done any formal registration of the POJK DPs. Some people place the number of DPs around 1,200,000. No claims for their Properties have been given. Even meagre Ex-Gratia that was given, was not given to all POJK DPs. No educational or employment or commercial support has been provided to POJK DPs by GOI or State Government.
Despite their pathetic state, neither the UN nor any international Human Rights organizations have cared for their cause for over 72Yrs. The least the government of India can do to mitigate their problems is that their properties needs to be registered and they should be compensated for delayed payments and neglect they suffered over 6 decades. Many of them could not get PRC due to violent circumstances of displacement in 1947 and cannot even construct their own house in this part of J&K. International human rights law is unambiguous about the prohibition of citizenship based on “jus sanguine” i.e. based on the nationality of their parents instead of where they are born.
Terrorism & exodus from Kashmir Valley
During 1989-1991 time period, lakhs of Kashmiri families (98% of them were Kashmiri Pandits) were expelled from their native Kashmir valley after a combination of violence and explicit threats by Islamic terrorists aided and inspired by Pakistan.Even after 22 years in exile more than 50,000 refugees, most of them Kashmiri Pandits, mislabeled as "migrants" live in squalid camps with spiralling health and economic problems.
Some of the Kashmir valley migrants who were non State Subjects (those living and working in valley even since 1960 but belonged to Punjab / UP / etc) have been given no assistance by the Government, not even the monthly relief.Kashmiri pandits leaders suggest that return is possible only after a consensual rehabilitation scheme that guaranteed security to their life and property. But, whenever any attempt to facilitate their return to the Valley has been initiated, a major incident of terrorist violence has occurred. We can recall some of them:
- Jan 26, 1998 Gandherbal massacre,
- Killings of Sangrampora in Budgam district on March 22, 1997,
- Massacre of 26 Hindus at Prankote on April 21, 1998;
- Killing of 24 Kashmir Pandits (who stayed back) at Nadimarg Villag on March 2003;
Separatists – who are they?
Al Fatah, a militant organization organized and funded by Pakistan started a armed separatist activities in J&K in 1966. In the 1970s, Pakistan's ISI started to train Sikhs and other anti-India elements as part of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's strategy. In 1980's Jamait-e-Islami another terrorist organization incited Kashmir youths to take up arms and be part of anti-India operations. Terrorist organizations that operated or are operating in J&K like JKLF, Harkat-ul-Mujahiddeen, Lashkar-e-toiba, Hizbul Mujahiddeen are funded and maintained by Pakistan's ISI.
Separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Farooq and Yasin Malik, advocate separatism based on religious grounds in the Valley.There are some so called mainstream “political” parties also who suggest something like dilution of 1947 Accession of J&K with India. Self Rule proposals of J&K PDP suggesting JOINT Control of Pakistan and India over some affairs of J&K too promotes the separatist ideologies.
1994 Parliament resolution
In view of the increased terrorist violence and Pakistan’s attempts to highlight the Kashmir dispute, both houses of the Indian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on February 22, 1994, emphasizing that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, and that Pakistan must vacate parts of the State under its occupation. The highlights of the resolution follows:
“ The State of J&K has been, is and shall be an integral part of India and any attempts to separate it from the rest of the country will be resisted by all necessary means;
- India has the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity; and demands that:
-Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression; and resolves that
-All attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely.”
Status of J&K under illegal occupation of Pakistan& China
POJK govt works like a war council under ‘Rules of Business (ROB) with almost no say in its own affairs. People of POJK have no say in any administrative or legislative changes. POJK council has nominal powers and functions under direct control of Pak govt.
Mirpuris were forced to flee their homeland when hundreds of villages were inundated following the construction of the Mangla Dam.POJK DPs will not be able to locate their properties left back home and there is no record even with GOI as no registration of POJK DPs has been done so far.
Gilgit-Baltistan, came under direct rule of Pakistan after Karachi Agreement and was termed 'Northern Areas'.Northern Areas were ruled by Pak directly till 1993 with a joint secretary level officer as in-charge. Pakistan’s SC in 1994 upheld the Muzaffarabad High Court decision that Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) are NOT a part of Pakistan, but a part of State of J&K. It can be recalled that Gilgit-Baltistan got its first CM after 6 decades after much protests and demands by the people of the occupied region.
Importance of river Indus for Pakistan
There is no other river flowing through whole of Pakistan other than those from India. Though India has a Indud water treaty with Pakistan, it can control the quantity and as a extreme step can resort to stop the flow of water. Pakistan understands this and wants to hold on to the occupied areas for its source of water too.
However, the PakistanArmy has never let any civilian government build a proper dam in Pakistan that can store water. If a dam is constructed, it doesn’t require to fight with India. This would leave its military jobless. This is because the Pakistan Army is a billion dollar industry which has investments from making bread to selling packed meat. In literal terms, Pakistan Army owns the country.
Increase in population has resulted in tremendous pressure on water bodies in Pakistan. With its population touching almost 200 million now from 60 million in the 1960s. If India regulates the water that flows into Pakistan, experts opine that it could result in civil strife in several regions, especially Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab as the Army would further regulate water to these provinces in order to control and harass them.
Rights Violations and Neglect in POJK, Gilgit & Baltistan
Statistics available suggest that there are only 12 high schools and 2 regional colleges for a population of 8,70,347 in Gilgit-Baltistan. There are no professional colleges in Gilgit-Baltistan. Locals get 25% less than non-native workers in the government sector. There are no local dailies or radio or television stations; There is just 1 doctor for 6000 people. Almost all of 15000 mega watts generated in Gilgit is used by other areas of Pak and even China leaving Gilgit in the dark.
The of Gilgit & Baltistan have no freedom of expression, no press freedom either; Arbitrary arrests and detentions are common. The 2005 earthquake left thousands dead and lakhs homeless in the region. Pakistan government provided no respite to those afflicted by the earthquake.
Militant groups threaten locals who do not co-operate or support their terror activities. Along with increasing terror activities in J&K, Zia-ul_haq started his pet project to change demographics of the region. Since then, Pakistan is bent upon changing the Demographics of Gilgit Baltistan by “flooding”in people from other areas of Pakistan.
Aspirations of people of POJK, Ladakh and Gilgit
Local Gilgit people are agitating to undo the designs of Pakistan to overshadow the local Shia majority with Sunni/Pathan through unfair demographic flooding. The ‘Gilgit-Baltistan united action forum’ for self-frule has been demanding right to self-rule as well as some status atleast comparable to that of Mirpur/Muzaffarbad. They have demanded to remove the Chinese troops on their soil, which is estimated anywhere inbetween 7000-11000. Many are calling on UN and International Court of Justice(ICJ) to book Musharraf and other Pak generals for genocide carried out by them in Northern Areas.Common people are agitating to move out all the Pakistani troops from civilian areas of Gilgit-Baltistan.They have also demanded adequate share of power and economy generated from hydro-electric projects inside Gilgit for local population.
Instead of heeding to their demands, Pak troops and militants have only increased their atrocitie on them. More than 900 have been killed, 1000s disabled and more than 40 are allegedly missing as a result of recent uprising in the region.
In view of such a scenario, students from Gilgit-Baltistan have demanded reservation for seats in premier institutions like IITs and IIMs so that they can continue their studies in India.
Strategic importance of POJK for India
PoJK has a lot of strategic significance for India. It is the gateway to Central Asia through the Wakhan Corridor and at the same time it has rich water resources. Thus, there is greater need for India to take a more proactive approach on PoJK, not only because it is a part of its territory but because of the high strategic stakes.
Indian strategic analysts should build future scenarios on PoJK through more conferences and publication of factual reports on PoJK to revisit the entire issue. Gilgit is a thoroughfare to Afghanistan, Central Asia and countries of erstwhile USSR.
China is today connected to Pakistan by the Karakoram Highway which runs through the illegally occupied areas. Karakoram Highway has been used for illegal transfer of nuclear material from China to Pakistan. Several Hydel projects and infrastructure projects are being planned by China in Gilgit and Baltistan. Gilgit is rich in several minerals like uranium, rich copper and gems like topaz, quartz, albite, etc which is why China is keen to hold on to the region.
J&K – The Way forward
As the accession of J&K is both legal and ethical. Hence abrogation of Article 370 is a must as it was meant to be a temporary measure.
In accordance with the 1994 Parliamentary Resolution on J&K, India should openly claim its rightful position on PoJK in international fora and denounce Pakistan's illegal occupation of the territory by aggression in 1947. Few things the GOI can do to mitigate the situation are as follows:
- The government should annul the 1952 Delhi Agreement and 1974 Kashmir accords.
- The discourse on autonomy in J&K needs to be analyzed in thecontext of what is taking place across the LoC in PoJK.
- The government should grant Permanent Resident of J&K status to all West-Pak refugees.
- Properly and adequately settle / resettleallPOJK DPs , West Pak refugees as well the displaced persons / refuges of 1965 / 1971 wars.
- Government of India needs to create more opportunities for investment and employment in J&K
Tourism outside Kashmir valley like Jammu (Poonch, Rajouri, Bhaderwa, Kishtwar, Udhampur , Kathua, Doda etc) and Ladakh regions needs to be given more impetus so that the economy of these regions grows and the neglect of 60 yrs is undone.
- Take measures to conserve and improve the local cultures, languages, customs and traditions in Jammu and Ladakh regions
- GOIshould come out of the culture of working with a Kashmir valley-centric approach.It must engage leaders and people from Jammu and Ladakh in decisions related to J&K
Role of India in POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan
India should also bring to the notice of the world the gross human rights violations in PoJK and expose the policies of the Pakistan government towards so-called “AJK” and Gilgit-Baltistan. The Indian government should come out with a 'White Paper' on PoJK to convey a clear and explicit message to Pakistan that it is in illegal occupation of the region. A similar message needs to be conveyed to China that its role in PoJK is totally unjustified and against the process of normalization of Indo-China relations.
Indian government should provide scholarships to students from Gilgit-Baltistan and engage the people in Gilgit-Baltistan in meaningful dialogues. J&K government may consider proportionately allocating some of the 24 seats in Assembly that are reserved for POJK and allow the DP's from POJK to vote for those seats.
People of POJK are citizens of India. They may be allowed to visit India after proper check of their antecedents.Demand for reservations of people of Gilgit-Baltistan in premier institutions in India like IIT and IIMs should be considered provided they declare themselves are citizens of India.
What is our role?

Though the government has to initiate several steps to fully integrate occupied areas, there is much we the common citizens can do. We can:
- Read more about J&K and Gilgit-Baltistan; Lots of book, periodicals and articles are available
- Talk to people about Jammu and Kashmir; Interact with people from J&K more often
- Write in papers, magazines, blogs and on social networking sites; Translate articles on J&K from English to local language and distribute
- Visit J&K and border areas and learn more about the people who live there
- Encourage PHd students to research on J&K
- Those who are interested in law, should write on legal status of J&K more often
- Plan a tour of places in J&K, especially in Jammu and Ladakh regions, write travelogues, spread the word. Guide people who travel there.
Opportunities in J&K
Religious Tourism - Famous archaeological and historical sites. Ladakh has Buddhist sites. Jammu has tremendous scope for summer / winter Commercial Tourism as well as pilgrim Tourism
Adventure Tourism – Ladakh offer several routes for trekking and mountaineering.
Wildlife Tourism – National parks & Sanctuaries, Dachigam and Chitral National park
Textiles – People of J&K possess inherent skills of weaving and designing of textile . Handicraft and handloom sector act as the source of foreign exchange earnings for the economy
Minerals - J&K possess large mineral deposits of uranium, copper, etc. Gilgit-Baltistan is rich in deposits of uranium and quality gemstones
Industrial policy - Attractive incentives, single-window clearance, land at concession rates for 90 years lease. The cost of setting up operations is, comparatively, lower. Horticulture, Floriculture, Sericulture and Handicrafts
- Horticulture is the bulwark of rural economy in the state. State is a leading producer of apples, walnuts, pears, almonds and apricots. Has huge potential for manufacture & exports of processed food and allied services.
- The floriculture industry supplies flowers to, both, domestic and international markets with over $2million turnover.
- Silk carpets & shawls are famous the world over. Can earn a substantial foreign exchange.
Agriculture - Exports from Jammu and Kashmir include apples,cherries, corn, millet, rice, peaches, pears, saffron, sorghum and vegetables.
- Lot of scope for promotion of new projects for super quality saffron cultivation in Jammu Region ( Kishtwar ), rare quality spices like black Jeera in Kishtwar / Ladakh areas , world famous pulses like Rajmash , Wild honey , Guchi ( wild black mushroom ) in Jammu region.
Further Reading
 Pakistan Occupied Kashmir: The Untold Story : Virendra Gupta and Alok Bansal
 Jammu and Kashmir Affairs- Mishandled :: Misquoted :: Miscarried : Daya Sagar
 Jammu and Kashmir 1947 Accession and events thereafter : Daya Sagar
 (HINDI) Jammu-Kashmir – Varthman paridryushya aur bhavi disha : Dr.Mohanrao Bhagwat
 (HINDI) Jammu Kashmir : Tatya, Samasyayein aur samadhan : Ashutosh
 Article 370 – Law and Politics : Daya Sagar
 The Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990 – A Perspective : Jaibans Singh
 A look Through the Mist : Peoples Democratic Party Self Rule Document Oct 2008 : Daya Sagar
 Balochistan in Turmoil: Pakistan at Crossroads : Alok Bansal
 Websites : http://jammukashmirtoday.blogspot.in/ and http://www.gilgitbaltistan.us/
 Jammu Kashmir Study Centre – Kargil Bhavan, Jammu; An initiative to focus on the study of issues and solutions related to the state of Jammu and Kashmir
 Arun Kumar – Director, Jammu-Kashmir Study Centre
 Daya Sagar – Author, Social activist and freelance scribe, specialist on J&K affairs
 Ashutosh – Author, Social activist and heads J&K study centre at New Delhi
 IDSA - The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) is autonomous body dedicated to studies on all aspects of defence and security.
 Centre for Security and Strategy(CSS) – An initiative of the Indian Foundation to study and strategize various aspects of the security challenges faced by India
 Websites : http://www.jammukashmirtoday.com/ and http://www.gilgitbaltistan.us/