TODAY -

A Soldier speaks over the Timeline of Kashmir

Kamal Baruah *



The silent valley is unpredictable and catastrophically unsafe. You never know when a bullet from AK-47 or a rocket launcher could come down travelling at double the speed of sound. And there is mortal shelling on forward posts along the Uri sector. Lives are never easy as uniform personnel have been targeted.

The contingent seemed to be filled with joie de vivre after celebrating the best marching contingent trophy at Rajpath. They packed their kits in trunks that life of a soldier moves on. But the order shocked them as horrid nightmare. The transit camp at Race Course was spooked that night as never before. All posting had been cancelled by Vayu Bhawan.

We had no idea about what was happening and finally moved with convoys at Jammu-Srinagar highway. On the morning of 25th January 1990, motorcycle-borne terrorists fired at unarmed IAF personnel waiting for bus in Srinagar.

Soon the military strategy of Air Force towards the valley had been reviewed. Men in blue personnel became no longer friendly with the valley. Pak sponsored terrorism started misguiding Kashmiri youth on the name of religion.

The timeline of Kashmir had unfolded how Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam have contributed to the cultural heritage of Kashmir. Emperor Ashoka (268-232) founded the capital of Kashmir at Shrinagari that helped to flourish Buddhism. The Martard Sun Temple during Karkota Dynasty (625-885CE) lost in the sands of time. Shah Mir (Mir Dynasty 1339) was the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir.

The Mughal came after Akbar conquered in 1585. Shah Jahan made Dal Lake and Nishat Bagh a pleasure ground. That followed by Afghan Durrani Dynasty (Ahmad Shah Durrani, 1751) and Sikh rule under Ranjit Singh (1819). The Sikh conquered Rajouri, Kishtwar, Suru valley, Kargil, Ladakh, Baltistan into one Kashmir valley.

Following partition, Hari Singh, the King of the princely state of Kashmir wanted to be Independent but Pakistan invaded Kashmir. India helped Maharaja (1948) to drive Pakistani back from all but one part remains. India raises Kashmir in the UN Security Council for which the Resolution 47 calls for a referendum.

Pakistan asked to withdraw its Army and India to cut its military presence to a minimum but Pakistan refuses to evacuate its troops. India gave autonomy (Article 370) to Kashmir to formulate laws for its residents and empowered state’s legislature to provide special rights and privileges (Article 35A). Partition had resulted division of the region and the people of Jhelum valley.

China gradually occupies eastern Kashmir and built road through Aksai Chin to connect Tibet. That belated discovery caused India to go border clashes in 1962. Pakistan cedes the Trans-Karakoram Tract 1963 of Kashmir to China.

UN negotiated ceasefire of Indo-Pak war 1965 over the rough boundaries but the border dispute remains. Another war 1971 ends in defeat for Pakistan for the Simla Agreement calls to settle through negotiations. India seizes control of un-demarcated LOC of Siachen Glacier in 1984.

Pre independence insurgency by JKLF escalated after the state election in 1987 fell disputed that pressurised Hindus / Kashmiri pundit to live the valley. India imposes AFSPA after insurgency shoot up. India sent massive military deployment accusing Pakistan of fomenting the insurgency. India recaptured Kargil in 1999 from the misadventure of Gen Musharraf.

Successive state govt failed to bring a solution to Kashmir but with hatred towards Army. It even gave amnesty to thousand stone pelters who threw stones at army in 2011. Over the years Pak sponsored terrorism like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen attacked Hindu pilgrimage and instigated the valley to a conflict zone.

The valley got neglected by virtue of high end corruption. The troop’s lay barbed wire at the most wonderful mountain Valley Road at Uri-Muzaffrbad but we saw the river flows abundantly across the enemy. Our energy and enthusiasm for life was very high.

Nevertheless Kashmiris struggle for basic needs of life. Life often comes to a grinding halt amid terrorism by separatists. Hustle bustle of shikaras, houseboats and grace of the paradise suffered a major jolt. The only industry of travel & tourism failed to get a boost for ongoing unrest and uncertainty.

Armed force personnel faced threat from militant for being combatant uniform. Facing QRT was beyond the dreadful wild-weather of winds, rains and cold bite. The nights were compulsory black out. We lost our way in dark when our base covered by sudden snowfall. The morning sun rays reflected back from the thin blanket of snow trapped over the surface that blurred our eyes.

The silent valley is unpredictable and catastrophically unsafe. You never know when a bullet from AK-47 or a rocket launcher could come down travelling at double the speed of sound. And there is mortal shelling on forward posts along the Uri sector. Lives are never easy as defence personnel have been targeted.

Life goes on amid fears but the most unforgettable memory of Kashmir is the colours of the mountain ranges that are changing at different hours of the day. We saw stunning snowfall hit the blue mountain all of a sudden. Soldiers move along the barbed wired on the LOC. There are lines of mountains stand amidst the breeze, dotted with olive green military posts.

Those picturesque panoramas are not just beautiful but covered by tall grass where cannabis grows abundantly. Army intensifies search for infiltrators along the three tier border. Should there be any misadventure by the Pakistan armed forces, the Indian armed forces have the capability to fight back with deterrence.

I had been passing through a rough patch over 20 years with IAF but the problem of Kashmir remains unresolved. India forced to go surgical strike at Uri (2016) and Balakot this year. Now the history of Kashmir has retold after 72 years of independence by bifurcating and scrapping of special status.

The question remained unanswered today. Will it usher in development and strengthen border security after the state has been integrated? And I wish to prefer moving over vales and hills. Hope there won’t be any unprovoked shelling over Jammu, Rajouri-Poonch.

I would go besides the Jhelum and Indus, beneath the Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Ladakh. And soldiers won’t retaliate missiles befittingly at the cross borders of Leh and Kargil as we feel alive amidst the beauty of the valley.


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a former Air Warrior and currently working for SBI Dispur. He can be reached at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on August 18, 2019.



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