Kashmir is a burning issue today as it was 70 years ago. Only a handful of people have studied the Kashmir Problem in depth. Professor Bal Raj Madhok, a respected and valued authority on the Kashmir issue, not only studied it but also gave a solution to this protracted problem. His first book on Kashmir entitled ‘Hindusthan on the Cross Roads’ was published in Lahore in 1946 and his last article was published on 10th January 2016 in The Sunday Guardian a few months before his demise on 2nd May, 2016.
Born in Askardu town of Baltistan which used to be a part of Ladakh province of Maharaja’s kindgdom on 25the February 1920 where his father, a state service employee, was stationed, Prof. Madhok spent his childhood in all the three regions of the state. He knew Kashmir like the palm of his hand. As per his wishes, his ashes were also immersed in the Sindhu on 18th September 2016 at Leh besides Jammu Tawi and the Chenab. He joined the DAV College, Srinagar, as the Professor of History in 1944 and was responsible for the defence of Srinagar at the time of Pak invasion before the arrival of Indian army on the morning of October 27.
Maharaja Hari Singh called Prof. Madhok, who was then the chief of RSS in Srinagar, to his Gupkar Palace in the dead of nigh of Oct 23, 1947. His Prime Minister Mehar Chand Mahajan was by his side. Mahajan briefed Madhok about the situation and sought his cooperation for defending Srinagar, in which over one lakh Hindus lived, till the Indian Army could reach there. “After mobilizing my workers and students throughout the night, I took them to the Badami Bagh Cantonment in the early morning of October 24. They were given elementary training in the handling of fire arms and I deployed them at the key positions in Srinagar the same day where they remained till the arrival of Indian troops on the scene”, Prof. Madhok wrote in his book “Jeet Ya Haar” which is an in-depth account of Pak invasion of Kashmir in October 1947.
Once the Indian army reached Srinagar in the early hours of October 27, 1947, it could clear Srinagar city and its outskirts of the Pak invaders by the evening at a heavy cost. Sheikh Abdullah, who returned to Srinagar in the late evening on the bandwagon of the Indian army. Prof. Madhok himself heard his first speech on the fateful night at the Pratap Chowk now called Lal Chowk at Srinagar where instead of thanking India army for safeguarding Jammu and Kashmir, he said: “We have picked up the crown of Kashmir from dust. The decision about our joining India or Pakistan can wait. We have to complete our independence first”. This betryed his mindset and exposed his real agenda for Kashmir which Pt. Nehru never understood and compelled the Maharaja to transfer the power to Sheikh Abdullah of the entire Jammu and Kashmir state.
In the meantime, the Ladakh Buddisht Association had submitted a memorandum to Maharaja Hari Singh in 1947 in which they had pleaded that once he had acceded to India, they would like to be linked with the Hindu majority Jammu region and would not like to be associated with the Kashmir valley.
To highlight the concerns of Ladakhis and safeguard the interests of Jammu, Prof. Madhok along with Pt. Prem Nath Dogra, founded the Jammu Kashmir Praja Parishad in November 1947. He represented the case of Kashmiri Hindus before Sardar Patel and Pt. Nehru. His meeting with Sardar Patel on March 8, 1948, was most significant. When told about the problem in Kashmir, Patel said: “Bal Raj, you are trying to convince a convinced man. If only Nehru let me handle the Kashmir issue, I shall settle it in one month’s time”. After meeting Sardar Patel, Prof. Madhok met Pt. Nehru who gave very evasive replies to his queries on Jammu and Kashmir. When news of Prof. Madhok’s political activities reached Sheikh Abdullah, he externed Prof. Madhok along with his family from the state.
In part one of his autobiography entitled ‘Zindagi ka Safar-1: Ladakh se Dilli’, Prof. Madhok recounts how as an 11-year-old child he witnessed the communal riot at Srinagar in July 1931 in which many Kashmiri Hindus were killed, women dishonoured, their property looted and burnt. Heat of this communal frenzy reached Baramullah and a bloody carnage followed in which innumerable Hindu men and women including children were mercilessly killed and army personnel deployed to maintain peace were also targeted. These riots, in which some activists of Muslim Conference were also killed in the police firing, proved to be a turning point in the politics of Kashmir.
It was his considered view that the subsequent ethnic cleansing of the Kashmir valley of all Kashmiri Hindus and the growing militancy among Kashmiri Muslims was the direct outcome of a lack of clear and firm policy in regard to Kashmir on the part of government of India. “This dilly dallying has had an adverse effect on the mind and conduct of a large section of Kashmiri Muslims. They became more amenable to Pak propaganda and began to adopt an openly hostile attitude towards India and its security forces in Kashmir”, he said.
As Vice-Chairman of the Defence Study Team appointed by the Administrative Reforms Commission of the Government of India, his visit to forward areas in Kashmir in 1969 was most revealing. “As our caravan of jeeps was moving, we heard the slogans ‘Indian dogs go back’ being hurled on Indian soldiers by a Kashmiri mob. Not only that, I also learnt from some sector commanders stationed there that they could take on Pakistan any time, but what really worried them was the growing hostility of Kashmiri Muslims and the danger of sabotage from them who might stab India in the back in the event of another Pak aggression. Their hostility from within is posing a greater threat to the Indian defence forces in Kashmir. Kashmiri Muslims now have money and arms as well as international backing by Jihadi elements”, he wrote. Thus, General Bipin Rawat’s warning to anti-India pro-Pak Kashmiri stone pelters who frequently attack Indian army and disrupt its anti-terror operations can well be understood in the light of Prof. Madhok’s experience way back in late 1960s. Little has changed since then.
Prof. Madhok was of the view that Kashmir problem has always been a part of Pakistan problem. In his book ‘Pakistan ka Aadi Aur Ant” (The Beginning and End of Pakistan), published in 1972, he wrote that formation of Pakistan was unnatural and a state like Pakistan can not exist on the map of the world for all times. “So far as the argument about Muslim majority character of the valley is concerned”, he said, “it should be remembered that partition agreement on the basis of Hindu and Muslim majority areas applied to British India alone. It was not applicable to princely states. But if Pakistan persists in claiming Kashmir valley because of its Muslim majority then it should be prepared to part with Lahore and Thar Parkar, which were predominantly Hindu at the time of partition. Lahore was contiguous to Hindu majority part of Punjab and lies to the East of the Ravi which could form a natural boundary between East Punjab and West Punjab. Majority of its inhabitants were Hindus and they owned over 80 per cent of its movable and immovable property. Therefore, according to the criteria laid down by the Radcliffe Commission, Lahore should have been awarded to India. Thus, the ‘principled stand’ of Pakistan can be countered by taking a similar ‘principled stand’ in regard to Lahore and Thar Parkar. They were wrongly given to Pakistan which has squeezed out Hindus from there. Only such a reciprocal approach can put Pakistan in its place.
“At the same time, effective action should be taken against the bases in Pakistan where Kashmiri militants are being trained. India can learn much from Israel and USA in the matter”, he wrote way back in 1992. Prime Minister Modi’s surgical strike in 2016 was a welcome step in this direction.
Madhok Doctrine on Kashmir also took note of the problem of Kashmiri Pandits living in exile. It strongly advocated their resettlement and rehabilitation in the valley with honour and without fear. To this end, he suggested earmarking a chunk of territory in South Kashmir including the area from Banihal tunnel to Shri Amarnath cave. It will include Verinag, Acchabal, Martand, Mattan and Pehlgam. Incidently, all the holiest shrines and places of pilgrimate of Hindus in Kashmir fall in this stretch of territory. Some seats must be reserved for Kashmiri Pandits in the assembly of Kashmir after reorganization of the state. “To this end”, Prof. Madhok further wrote, “a Kashmiri Hindu Resettlement Fund should be created and a Kashmiri Hindu Resettlement Board be set up”.