While the Government of India repealed the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, through ‘Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019’; the legacy of ‘black necked crane’, the ‘State Bird’ of Jammu and Kashmir, is hanging fire. Is it likely that the bird jumps its position from being the ‘State Bird’ of Jammu and Kashmir to the ‘UT’s National Bird’ of its native Ladakh?
In India, Eastern Ladakh is the only known breeding ground of the ‘black-necked crane’ outside of China. Amongst the tallest of the flying birds, It is the last of the world’s cranes to be discovered by the scientific community. WWF-India in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Protection, Government of Jammu and Kashmir has been working actively for conservation of the species at various wetlands in Ladakh. It is revered in Buddhist traditions and culturally protected across much of its range. They return south again in late October and are able to fly over the Himalaya at incredibly high altitudes. Adult ‘black-necked cranes’ typically stand about 1.3 m tall and weigh 5-5.5 kg.
- Jammu and Kashmir, consisting of three divisions: the Jammu Division, the Kashmir Division and Ladakh, is a region administered by India as a state since 1954, which has been the subject of a dispute between India, Pakistan and China since the mid-20th century.
- After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947–1948, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was divided between India (who controlled the regions of Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh) and Pakistan (who controlled Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir POK). The Indian-administered territories became the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1954, with the presidential order of 1954. The Aksai Chin region in the east, bordering Tibet, has been under Chinese control since 1962.
- In October 1947, the then Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, signed an Instrument of Accession that specified three subjects on which Jammu & Kashmir would transfer its power to the government of India:1. Foreign affairs 2. Defence 3. Communications.
- In March 1948, the Maharaja appointed an interim government in the state, with Sheikh Abdullah as prime minister. In July 1949, Sheikh Abdullah and three other colleagues joined the Indian Constituent Assembly and negotiated the special status of J&K, leading to the adoption of Article 370.
- Jammu and Kashmir was the only state in India which had special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. The state was able to define the permanent residents of the state who alone had the privilege to vote in state elections, the right to seek government jobs and the ability to own land or property in the state. Jammu and Kashmir was the only Indian state to have its own official state flag, along with India’s national flag, in addition to a separate constitution.
- Jammu which besides being the winter capital of the state, located in Jammu District, is known as the city of temples.
- Srinagar: The capital city of Kashmir has long been considered the ultimate summer destination from the time of the Mughals. . Located in the Kashmir Valley, Srinagar is famous for its natural environments, waterfronts, houseboats and gardens.
- Ladakh Scant precipitation makes Ladakh a high-altitude desert. It is picturesque. There has been a long pending demand from a section of people of Ladakh to turn it into a union territory. China is, however, objecting to the formation of Ladakh as Union Territory by India.
- Tensions over Kashmir, split between India and Pakistan since 1947, have sparked two major wars and countless clashes between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals. Following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, India and Pakistan signed the Simla (now Shimla) Agreement, recognizing a Line of Control in Kashmir, and committing to a peaceful resolution of the dispute through bilateral negotiations.
- Whereas Pakistan has now warned that the situation in Indian Kashmir risked sparking an “accidental war”; scars of Mirpur Massacre have not yet healed among the survivors of the holocaust.
- Kulvir Gupta, of Jammu expresses in his book ‘EMBERS THE BIGINNING AND EMBERS THE END’ OF MIRPUR’. “The dream-like childhood was snatched away with a rude jolt. The inhabitants of the town had to flee under uninterrupted showers of bullets, leaving behind the dear ones struck with the deadly fireballs or captured and slaughtered by the invaders.”
- Avinash Gupta of America sheds tears “My home town Mirpur in Pakistan now, annihilation .. just sharing the scars of partition ,these memories of childhood started to haunt now at my present age and stage.. In my terminal life cycle, thinking and crying for all those who are gone.. This has started to an indication that I may not be alive too long .. I dig all those in the Internet.” His friend Johns Thampan consoles:-“The vivid memories as a 6 year old…You have known the evil and corrupt heart of men through your own experience .. We can’t erase history but you have known Christ who won the victory over every evil of the world.”
- Bal K Gupta in his book ‘Forgotten Atrocities’: memoirs of a survivor of the1947 Partition of India’ remembers: – “On November25, Mirpur city caught fire due to nonstop Pakistani artillery and torching of houses by Pathans..Many of the elderly and children did not get a chance to leave and were burned alive inside their homes.”
- Ram Chander Sharma writes: “After the Timur massacre of Delhi in 1358, the massacre of Mirpur a bustling trade centre and historic walled city of Jammu and Kashmir now in ‘Pak Occupied Kashmir’ on 25th of Nov. 1947 was the worst massacre of Indian history…The decision of accession of J&K with India and its complete merger with India as its integral part was celebrated like “Diwali” in Mirpur with lighting of candles and bursting of crackers.. Soon after the independence, Pakistan conceived a military plan to attack Jammu and Kashmir.. Code named “Gulmarg” it was placed under the close guidance of British military officers.. But, the recently declassified British Government documents reveal that ..The creation of Pakistan was itself for the strategic reasons to counter the growing military influence of Soviet Union after World War II. Due to its proximity with China and Russia, presence of warm water sea port of Karachi and the interests of western oil companies in central Asia made Pakistan important the PoK Refugees still are labelled as DPs of J&K and are not given the benefits of UN Refugee Status of 1951 or other benefits extended to Tibetan Refugees or migrants form Kashmir valley after 1989. …”
The date of 25 November is remembered as the Mirpur Day in the Indian-administered Kashmir.
“POK mein jald lehrai ga Tringa” says Jatinder Singh, Union Minister; Amar Ujala 25 October,2019
‘Praja Parishad zindabad’
‘Dafa 370 tod do’
‘Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukerjee zindabad’
Are the slogans still echoing in my mind that I often heard in my early childhood in the beginning of the Fiftees of the last century; at times I also witnessed piling up of brickbats by the agitators on our roof top.
- The Jammu ‘Praja Parishad’ was a political party active in the Jammu Division of the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. Dr.Shyama Parsad Mukherjee, founder of Bhartiya Jan Sangh was strongly opposed to Article 370 seeing it as a threat to the unity of the country and fought against it inside and outside the parliament. His dream to repeal Article 370 saw the light of day on 5 August 2019 with the bill being tabled in Rajya Sabha. Just before declaring Jammu and Kashmir a U T, The longest ‘Chunani-Nashri’ tunnel is now named after Mukerjee.
- What are the provisions of Article 370? ‘Parliament needs the Jammu & Kashmir government’s approval for applying laws in the state — except in cases of defence, foreign affairs, finance, and communications.’
- The ‘reorganization act’ which seeks to dissolve the state and reorganize it into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir in the west and Ladakh in the east, will come into effect on 31 October 2019. Jammu and Kashmir will be the largest union territory (UT) in the country in terms of area once it is carved out and Ladakh the second large. Prior to these measures, the union government locked down the Kashmir Valley, increased security forces; Internet and phone services were also blocked. A spokesman asserted that the curbs were necessary to prevent “externally-aided terrorists” from disturbing peace in Jammu & Kashmir.
- “This issue is a legacy of history between India and Pakistan, which is also the consensus of the international community. The parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution…”said a Chinese spokes person.
- New Delhi, meanwhile, has insisted that the situation in Kashmir is an internal Indian affair, rejecting all international interference in the region.
Let us see which way the crane flies!
Prof. (Er.) Chander P Mahajan is an art critic & a free lance journalist. The Environmentalist stays in Shimla and Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India.