On 15 August PM Modi spoke of Balauchistan, POK and Gilgit Baltistan – majority of Indians had heard the word Gilgit Baltistan for the first time – off late Gilgit has been in news because of Pak declaring it as 5th province, UK assembly saying Pak had no right to declare it as such, CPEC passing through it and China announcing plans to Build Two large dams on Indus. In this article I will give a brief history of Gilgit and endeavor to bring the beautiful Indian territory into public eye.
Gilgit -Baltistan is a part of Kashmir – the largest area covering an Area of 72,971 km. Gilgit was at the center of ancient silk route. It has borders with Pakistan, Tajikstan(25km), China (Xinjiang), Tibet ( china).
The Britishers found the Agency of Gilgit very important as it gave them control and access to erstwhile soviet union and Afghanistan. In my previous article I have explained how Britishers Forced Maharaja Hari Singh to give them the agency of Gilgit to them under a 60 yrs lease on 26 March 1935. The britishers governed it under Major Brown. It reverted back to Maharaja on 1 Aug 1947 but from Oct 15 1947 pak army under guise of Kabilis attacked JK, rumors started of Srinagar falling into pak hands and on 1 Nov 1947 the governor surrendered to Pak troops and on 4th Nov
, Pakistan Flag was hoisted on Gilgit Scouts lines and major brown declared a coup-D’état and Pakistan occupied Gilgit -Baltistan.
Ancient History – Lalitaditya the Kashmiri king in 8 century had annexed the area of Gilgit also called Darad and Balti under his control, this gave the control of the ancient silk route to Kashmiri kingdom and secured its borders from Islamic invasions. Interestingly Mahabharata too describes a tribe and area called Darad and a tribe called Darda.
Importance of Gilgit -Baltistan – Gilgit was the center of ancient trade route and a big reason for economic prosperity of India .presently it’s importance can be gauged from the road distance of Gilgit to various capitals
Gilgit to Delhi-1000 km
Gilgit to Iran -1000 km
Gilgit to Moscow-3500 km
Gilgit to Chennai-3200 km
Thus Gilgit was/is a land route to east, west, central Asia and from there to Europe and Africa. Gilgit Baltistan areas control vast supply of fresh water -after Tibet has been occupied by china, these are of vital importance to India. Three of the largest glaciers outside polar regions are here . Out of the 10 highest peaks in India 8 lie in this region
The largest deposits of Gold are found in this area.
Mischief of Pak, complicity of British and foolish decisions of Nehru.
We have seen how such a large area with strategic importance and rich resources and fresh water reservoirs was allowed by Nehru to be taken by Britishers and annexed by Pak. There has been a constant attempt to keep this area out of national discourse.
The following event is an example to prove how Gilgit Baltistan was willingly blacked out from national consciousness. There is a beautiful valley called Shaksgam valley, adjacent to Siachen and K2 peak and contiguous to Xinjiang province –in 1963 Pakistan gifted away this area to China under an illegal treaty . India under Nehru voiced a feeble protest and never created any pressure.
Pakistan has given mining rights of Gold to China and India has never voiced strong protests.
Way forward – Gilgit-Baltistan is very important for India to secure Siachen, lay it’s claim on the ancient silk route and the vast natural resources to our own territories. An awareness has to be built up. School Children should be taught about Gilgit Baltistan as they are about other parts of India .