The concept of human-trade is as old as the practice of human slavery itself. From the time unknown, the weaker souls used to be subjected to physical and mental subjugation by those whose decisions – even illegitimate ones – had become decrees and declarations owing to their absolute sway over others at one particular point oftime. History stands witness to the fact that the powerful entities, both individual as well as states, continued to enslave and barter the feeble lot as a dispensable commodity, merely for their own personal gains, vested interests and self-aggrandizement. Despite the fact that human society gradually started to evolve into an equitably livable place in general, the people who did not have resources and strength to resist exploitation were continued to be bought and sold till very late.
Today’s world boasts of having had eradicated the erstwhile evil practice of human slavery long time ago, yet the on-ground facts prove the international community wrong, as the modern-day ‘slave house’ is still being run by India in occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Following the stone-age slavery patterns, a worst kind of human transaction was finalized in Amritsar on 16th of March, 1846 through which the entire province of Kashmir along with millions of Kashmiris was sold out by the British East India Company to one of its local buddies Raja Gulab Singh Dogra of Jammu for paltry 75 lakh rupees and few petty gifts.
History of northern India transpires that after defeating the forces of Lahore (Sikh) Durbar in 1846, the Britishforces threatened to take over all the areas of the vanquished adversary unless they pay indemnification for the expenses of the war to the tune of one-and-a-half crore rupees. The then Lahore Darbar, under seven-year old Maharaja Duleep Singh, did not have the financial capacity to pay the sum in full. Hence, the British Government decided to vend out one of the captured provinces i.e. Kashmir to earn the desired amount. Acknowledging the collaborator’s services rendered by Raja Gulab Singh Dogra of Jammu during the said war against Lahore Durbar, the British agreed to sell all the public and territorial rights of Kashmir to him. The deal finalized for seventy-five lakh (Nanakshahi) rupees to be paid by Raja Gulab Singh, thereby recognizing his independent sovereignty in both Jammu & Kashmir. The most deplorable feature of the British sale-deed pertained to Kashmiri people as their rate was fixed at “2 rupees per head” besides binding Gulab Singh to annuallypresent British Government with one horse, twelve goats of approved breed (six male and six female) and three pairs of Cashmere shawls. This auction of Kashmir in Amritsar shall stay as a scar on the face of Great Britain which today takes the credit for having furnished the world with the sense of democracy and public freedom.
Amritsar Treaty preserved British supremacy over Maharaja Gulab Singh, besides demanding unconditional allegiance of the buyer to the Empire in return for this cheep dole-out. Since 1846 till date, Kashmir and its people continued to bear the brunt of a shameful transaction that bartered them against goats, horses and shawls. Pitifully enough, Kashmiri people have been sold twice; first by the British to Raja Gulab Singh in March 1846 and then October 1947 when Raja Harri Singh treacherously handed over the valley to India contrary to the wishes of the Kashmiris – again right under the nose of the British empire. Since 1947, three successive generations of Kashmiris have struggled for their right to self-determination despite harshest Indian measures. After the martyrdom of young Burhan Wani in 2016, the uprising has scaled new heights, etching out to the world seeking their long over-due attention and moral support for the cause. During the last two years of the ‘Intifada’, thousands of Kashmiri freedom seekers have been killed and brutally injured by Indian security forces. The count also goes beyond thousands in case of young boys and girls who have been blinded with pellet guns and the Kashmiri woman raped and molested by the Indian military personnel. To add insult to injury, the incumbent BJP government through RSS has continued to work on the shameless strategy to change the demography of occupied Kashmir by harassing Muslims to leave the area while settling non-locals at the same time.
On this 16th March again, the Muslims of Kashmir would remind themselves how cheaply they were sold out in 1846 under ‘Amritsar Treaty’ and how their freedom wasagain deceitfully snatched by Indian occupation forces in 1947. Kashmiris have all the right to question the world at large and the United Kingdom in particular being the ‘superior trading-party’ for both the transactions, as to why their slavery, and above all, the atrocities they underwent for over 170 long years have failed to meet any logical end? Like always the response would come from nowhere, eventually leaving the Kashmiris to decide by themselves. Indeed, their prolonged despair has now transformed into a strong and unflinching resolve for freedom from Indian subjugation, and the same will increase with every passing day and each new act of Indian cruelty in the valley.
Remembering the Treaty of Amritsar in March every year is like earnestly and repeatedly knocking at the conscience of the world human rights bodies to make them realize that practice of human slavery still persists in this so-called civilized world and can be witnessed in its worst form in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. Verily, it is time for the UN and particularly the Britains to come forward and compensate for what they have so far criminally neglected, that is, relieving Kashmiris from the Indian slavery and giving them their right of self-determination, without further delay.
Written by: Jamil Chughtai