J&K’s Accession: An insider’s account – Punarvasu Parekh

Pandit Ram Chandra Kak & Maharaja Hari Singh
JournalistThe failure of the Indian state to find a solution to the J&K dispute is rooted in its refusal to face the facts. – Punarvasu Parekh

“What Sheikh Abdullah was really gambling for … was an independent principality whose continued existence would be guaranteed by the Indian armed forces and whose solvency was secured by the Indian treasury. There was, however, no idea of a quid pro quo from his side. He did not expect to be called to account either in respect of the internal administration of the state or the utilization of funds supplied to him by the government of India.”

How prophetic these words penned way back in 1955 have been! As Indian soldiers shed their blood to protect J&K from troublemakers of all sorts and as the Indian treasury bleeds to keep it solvent, only to be greeted by chants of “Azadi” from stone-pelting mobs and demand for “greater autonomy” from local sundries, we realize how farsighted the author was in warning us that “Sheikh Abdullah stood only for his own aggrandizement and had no affection for India and no use for her except to the extent she sub-served his ends.” The Abdullah tribe has multiplied several times since then, but its genes and DNAs remain unchanged.

The author Pandit Ram Chandra Kak was the prime minister of princely state of Jammu & Kashmir during the period leading up to the state’s accession to India in October 1947. He left behind a document that records the devious political games played to transfer authority over this Hindu-Buddhist kingdom to Muslims, specifically to Sheikh Abdullah.

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlineUnsurprisingly, the document is barely known in “secular” India; its only known public copy is in UK. In a monumental piece of investigative journalism, Radha Rajan presents this document in full, along with her analysis of the communal political game played by Congress leadership in general and Nehru and Gandhi in particular, which has converted Kashmir into a festering sore in Indian polity.

Pandit Kak’s document traverses familiar ground, though it does highlight some less known facts. Its chief merit consists in providing a clear and consistent exposition of the dilemma faced by the State of J&K over accession to India on the eve of independence, by a perceptive patriotic powerful insider who was privy to overt happenings as well as covert machinations in the state, who was in the centre of the storm facing winds blowing from all directions. It tells us why things went the way they did and how India could have averted the current impasse. From the document, Pandit Kak emerges as a man of learning and character, a sterling patriot who had the courage to suffer for his convictions.

In her comments on the selected passages from the document, Radha Rajan shows that what happened in J&K was not accidental, but a logical culmination of the attitudes and policies consciously adopted by Gandhi, Nehru and Congress towards princely states, especially those with Hindu rulers.

The question of accession to India came up before J&K twice in less than a year, though in very different circumstances. Its decision on both the occasions was the same, but for different reasons. Then again, Prime Minister Kak and Maharaja Hari Singh concurred in their conclusion, but not for identical reasons.

Late in 1946, the state was sounded out by the Government of India on the accession to India after the Cabinet Mission had completed its consultations with Government of India and Indian leaders in Delhi. At that time, partition was not on the horizon except as a remote contingency and the accession was envisaged only to the newly-to-be-created Dominion of India.

Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru

Pandit Kak tells us that as regards welding India into a single unit, he was not opposed to accession pure and simple. But there was a problem: Sheikh Abdullah, Congress leaders’ (especially Nehru’s) complete identification with him and their refusal to see any other point of view than his.

Sheikh Abdullah started his political career in 1931 as one of the two protagonists of Muslim Conference, an unabashed self-professed communal body. Later he fell out with the other protagonist Ch. Ghulam Abbas and set up his own outfit National Conference. As Ghulam Abbas managed to get close to Jinnah and Muslim League, Sheikh Abdullah approached Pundit Nehru for support. This he received in ample measure and soon he found himself a leading luminary in Congress firmament and President of All India States’ Peoples Conference.

While paying lip service to Congress ideals, Abdullah never forgot his original aim and ambition: absolute control over the state. With the power and prestige of Congress behind him, he started resorting to coercion and bullying against those who disagreed with him, including dissident Muslim groups. Some residents of Srinagar were for years unable to visit other parts of the town for fear of harassment. A maulavi who favoured Muslim Conference was prevented from preaching at the mosque where he and his forefathers had preached for generations before. Hindus began to live in perpetual fear. During the so-called Quit Kashmir agitation in 1946, thousands-strong mobs would surround houses of respectable persons for hours together, terrorise inmates and hurl stones and filthy abuses not sparing women folk of the house. For this reason, he was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment by the state administration.

This was the man backed to the hilt by Congress and its leaders right from the beginning. Nehru, Maulana Azad, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and others visited Kashmir and participated in deliberations and demonstrations of National Conference, which often culminated in violence. After Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest Pundit Nehru insisted on visiting Srinagar despite being told that his visit would be most undesirable in the prevailing circumstances. Nehru was detained in the Dak Bangalow at Muzaffarabad, provided all the facilities possible and the state arranged for his return to Delhi when he so decided. Indeed, after a meeting with Sardar Patel in Mumbai where Gandhi also was present, Pandit Kak facilitated Nehru’s visit to Srinagar in July 1946. Yet, it seems, Nehru never forgave Maharaja and Pandit Kak for his detention.

Against this background, it is not surprising that the decisive factor which influenced Pandit Kak in rejecting accession was the attitude of the Indian National Congress as regards the affairs of the state.

Radha Rajan points out that in the attitude of the Indian National Congress towards princely states, there was nothing peculiar to J&K. It is strange but true that Congress under Gandhi who reached out to the likes of Ali brothers, Muslim League, Jinnah and even Britishers nurtured undisguised hostility towards princely states and sought to undermine them on every conceivable occasion. J&K is the best example to show that this hostility has cost the country dearly.

The issue of accession came up again on the eve of independence when partition had been agreed upon and princely states, which were to regain sovereignty after the lapse of the British paramountcy, were advised to join either India or Pakistan.

J&K again found itself on the horns of a dilemma. It was Jinnah or Nehru-backed Abdullah. Lord Mountbatten told Pandit Kak “you must consider your geographical position, your political situation and composition of your population and then decide.” Pandit Kak rejoined “that means you advise us to accede to Pakistan. It is not possible for us to do that. And since that is so, we cannot accede to India.”

India was divided on communal lines and the only rational course of action for any state before deciding on accession was to ascertain whether its people would support the accession. And with 76 per cent Muslim population, J&K could not be sure of the support of its people if it acceded to India. Accession to India was also hobbled by Congress’s infatuation with Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah was in prison at the time of independence. Top Congress leaders were insisting not merely that he be released forthwith, but also that a new constitution be drafted for the state with their advice and power transferred to Sheikh Abdullah. Accession to Pakistan was ruled out because Pandit Kak had no illusions about the nature of Islamic state that was coming up. In other words, Kashmir would not accede to Pakistan and could not accede to India.

Pandit Kak met Jinnah who advised him to join Pakistan and offered favourable terms. However, when Jinnah was told that J&K’s decision not to accede was final, he said so long as the state did not accede to India he would not mind if it did not accede to Pakistan. Of course, he had no intention of honouring this assurance. Less than ten weeks after its formation, Pakistan invaded J&K.

From Government of India side, V. P. Menon, secretary, Ministry of States, had a lengthy discussion with Pandit Kak in Delhi and it was decided that Menon would pay a visit to Srinagar after 15 August 1947 to discuss the future course of action. Pandit Kak, therefore, resolved that under the given circumstances, it would be ideal for all stakeholders if J&K became an independent state, maintaining good relations with India and Pakistan.

Maharaja Hari Singh came to the same conclusion, though for more grandiose, if irrational, reasons. He was dreaming not just of remaining independent, but also of ruling over a larger territory. Fuelling his ambitions was Swami Sant Dev, part of the assortment of swamis, gurus, astrologers and others claiming direct communion with the supernatural collected by Maharaja Hari Singh’s uncle and predecessor Maharaja Pratap Singh. Such was the influence acquired by the Swami on Maharaja that even Pundit Nehru paid him a visit when he came to Kashmir in 1946.

For all his supposed spirituality, the Swami did not neglect the mundane. He was keen to earn jobs, contracts and other favours for his large but non-descript followers and constantly made suggestions to the administration on behalf of his cronies. On most of the occasions, Pandit Kak found it hard to oblige him. The enraged Swami started looking for an opportunity to get rid of the “obstinate” prime minister.

The opportunity came when accession became a live issue. The Maharaja was convinced that after the departure of the British, with the potency of Swami’s supernatural powers, he would be able to extend his rule to new areas. In June 1947, he met with rulers of some adjoining princely states and planned a federation of J&K and some areas now in Himachal Pradesh. When Maharaja Hari Singh sought Pandit Kak’s opinion about his plan, the latter explained to him that it was a futile and impracticable idea; it was utterly unrealistic to imagine that forces which had compelled the British to leave India would allow the creation of a new empire in their midst.

Neither Maharaja nor Swami forgave Pandit Kak for this candid advice, the cold douche he administered to their towering aspirations. Machinations started to remove him from the office. Matters reached Sardar Patel who asked Pandit Kak to convey to the Maharaja that in those crucial days it was essential that the Maharaja and his Prime Minister pulled together, and if that was not possible the situation must be brought to an end immediately. In other words, Maharaja Hari Singh had to choose between swami and Kak. Inevitably, he chose the Swami.

From that point, it was a downhill journey. On 11 August 1947, Maharaja gave Pandit Kak “permission to retire.” It was followed by decapitation of the entire administration. Top officers including Chief Secretary, Chief of the Army Staff, the IGP, Governor of Kashmir, Director of Civil Supplies, the Chief Engineer and several other important officers were removed and replaced by people of little or no experience. Sheikh Abdullah was released in September and lost no time in spreading his tentacles. These developments disheartened and alarmed the citizenry. The result was that when Pakistan attacked the state around 22nd October, it was in no position to counter it. Its helplessness was aggravated by perfidy of the British officers and treachery of the Muslim soldiery.

Pandit Kak had to pay a heavy personal price for his love of truth and candour. Charges of trumpery were forged against him and he was denied permission to leave the state even though he feared for his safety. This enabled Sheikh Abdullah to have his revenge when he paraded Kak and his elder brother through the streets of Srinagar with their hands tied and residents asked to shower shit and filth on them. Kak was pressured to give statement against Maharaja Hari Singh rule. But he did not utter a single word against the Maharaja. Kak later migrated to Kasauli.

The Hindustan Times

With the benefit of hindsight, we can say that Pandit Kak’s idea of an independent state of J&K was not viable. Pakistan would not let it remain in peace. Given its location, onset of the Cold War and China’s ambitions, it would have been a hotbed of international intrigues and a constant source of anxiety to India.

Ideally, J&K should have been fully integrated into India, just like hundreds of other states, small and big. What we now have is a halfway house, an arrangement in which India has the worst of both the worlds. For all nationalist objectives, J&K is an alien state—the steadfast refusal of Sunni Kashmiri politicians to the return of Kashmiri Pundits, establishment of sainik colonies or even temporary facilities for Amarnath pilgrims should clinch the issue. However, India has all the obligations regarding its security and solvency.

Pandit Kak’s document tells us how we could have avoided landing in this position of no rights and all responsibilities. India could and should have insisted that accession of J&K to India would be on the same terms as that of any other state. There was no insurmountable reason why it should be on a different basis. There was no need for India either to accept Mountbatten’s suggestion to make accession conditional upon a plebiscite or transfer power to Sheikh Abdullah or agree to a separate constituent assembly for the state. The Indian army was fighting the state’s battle and the simplest thing was to set up a military administration as was done subsequently in Hyderabad. By the time the military operations ended, a lot of things would have become clear. Then again, there was no need to allow Sheikh Abdullah to oust Maharaja Hari Singh and elect a new Head of State when the issue was being debated in the UN Security Council.

The failure of the Indian state to find a solution to the J&K dispute is rooted in its refusal to face the facts. The two-nation theory was false and pernicious, but after conceding Pakistan Congress lost moral right to oppose it. The country was divided on communal lines and the logic of partition has to be accepted. The existence of a large Muslim population in India does not alter the reality that after the secession of the Muslim component, what remained was and is Hindu Rashtra.

How could India expect to retain the valley of Kashmir with a 95 per cent Muslim population contiguous to the entirely Muslim province of NWFP? Replying to this poser in 1950 by Gordon Walker, then secretary of state for commonwealth relations, Pandit Kak pointed out that it was wrong to assume that the status of the valley affects only its residents and therefore they alone could decide its future. From time immemorial, Kashmir has been cradle to a vital corpus of Hindu thought and rituals. For that reason all the Hindus in India and beyond have a stake in the fate of Kashmir. Kashmir has always been a part of the Hindu Holy Land (punyabhoomi) and the question of handing it over to those who are hell-bent on destroying its Hindu ethos does not arise.

To sum up, reading this book would be a sobering, painful experience for any patriotic Indian. It narrates a sordid tale of historical vicissitudes and human weaknesses from which no player emerges unscathed. But truth, however unpalatable, must be faced. For truth alone liberates from bondage of fear, from folly and its consequences. That is the significance of Radha Rajan’s book.

»  Punarvasu Parekh is an independent journalist in Mumbai.
» Radha Rajan is a political commentator and animal rights activist in Chennai. Pandit Kak’s original document (PDF) is available on Radha Rajan’s website Vigil Online.

Jammu and Kashmir: Dilemma of accession: A historical analysis and lesson by Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak

       Published by Voice of India, New Delhi.  Pages 140, Maps 2, Price Rs 300 

Order from Voice of India or Amazon

Hey Omar! Article 370 can be repealed! – K.N. Bhat

Hindustan Times, New Delhi, Oct. 28, 1947

K. N. Bhat“The assertion by any citizen that J&K or any other state is not governed by the Indian Constitution may amount to an act of sedition. The seemingly unending Kashmir problem was born out of a single folly of a single man — Nehru stopping Sardar Patel from dealing with Kashmir. Through a series of more such follies, a Frankenstein of a state has been created that dares the nation even to discuss an issue relating to it.” – K.N. Bhat

J&K CM Omar AbdullaMark my words and save this tweet — long after Modi government is a distant memory either J&K won’t be part of India or Article 370 will still exist,” Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of India’s 15th state, tweeted in his response to a minister’s statement on the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.

Audacity unlimited! And ignorance unbounded! The Chief Minister appears to be under the wrong impression that he can give talaaq and separate Jammu and Kashmir from India at will.

According to the Omar school of thought, Article 370 of the Constitution of India cannot be touched except with the consent of the J&K Assembly. And if that Article is abrogated, the status of J&K before accession would automatically stand restored. Should that mean that Dr Karan Singh, son of the last ruler of Kashmir, will be recognised as the ruler of J&K, and everything that happened after the accession would be void? No, that may not be acceptable.

On the eve of India and Pakistan becoming separate dominions, Indian Independence Act 1947, read with the Government of India Act 1935, gave the rajas and maharajas of British India three options: become part of India, become a part of Pakistan or remain independent states. Within the specified period — between August 15 and October 6, 1947 — 560-plus erstwhile rulers signed documents with the title “Instrument of Accession”, and thereby agreed to become part of the dominion of India. This was to be followed by instruments of merger, thereby becoming part of India and ending the original identity of the princely state — many princes executed both the documents one after the other, while some had hesitation to sign the merger treaty.

The process of merger in respect of all except J&K was completed in October 1949. At the insistence of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the agreement to pay compensation to the princes for merging with India — the privy purse — was given a constitutional status through the introduction of Article 291. The ruler of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to remain independent, but when the Pakistanis were about to capture his kingdom, the raja in distress executed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947 — the offer was accepted by Governor- General Lord Mountbatten the very next day with a gratuitous condition that after peace returned to the state, the people’s wish would be ascertained on the issue of accession. This was just a wish in view of the belated accession, not a precondition for accession authorised by law.

Hari Singh The Instruments of Accession were cyclostyled documents — the one signed by Raja Hari Singh was no different from the one signed by, say, Maharaja of Mysore. So much so the Kashmir king’s impressive string of titles — Shriman Inder Mahender Rajrajeswar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singhji, Jammu and Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbetadi Deshadhipathi, Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir — had to be squeezed into the long enough blanks allotted in the specified form. So the document executed by Raja Hari Singh was just another Instrument of Accession with no special concessions or reservations.

In normal circumstances, merger of J&K with India  should have taken place before October end, but a brilliant self-goal scored by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in the form of a complaint to the UNO and the consequent UN intervention, prevented it. The merger had to be postponed until the dispute was settled — and that dispute is still pending.

Again, at the insistence of Nehru, Article 370, according special status to J&K, was added at the fag end of the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly. B.R. Ambedkar openly opposed the idea and refused to take part in drafting Article 370, while other members of the Constituent Assembly, according to Gopalasway, a member of the Constituent Assembly, condescended to this “gift from Nehru to his friend Sheikh Abdullah” in the firm belief that this was a temporary measure.

Recall the privy purse case. Indira Gandhi, following the split in the Congress, resorted to measures intended to project her as the only champion of the poor. One such gimmick was abolition of privy purse in 1970 — at that time the total burden on the exchequer on this account was about Rs 4 crore per year. A blatant breach of a constitutional obligation and of a solemn promise was sought to be committed by deleting Article 291.

But the move was defeated by one vote in the Rajya Sabha. Bitterly bitten by this humiliation, the Indira government got a presidential notification issued, derecognising the princes. That notification was struck down by the Supreme Court (1971). Soon thereafter, equipped with the needed numerical strength in Parliament, the 21st Amendment Act was passed. It was the shortest amendment reading, “Article 291 be deleted”. The Amendment Act was also challenged. However, the Supreme Court upheld the abolition of privy purse by deleting Article 291 after observing that Article 368 permits such an amendment. “We are concerned only with the legality not morality,” said the court (1983).

Arguments on the scope and interpretation of Article 370 may end before the Supreme Court of India, or may be not if the issue assumes international colour. But what is not in doubt is that the Indian Parliament can amend the Indian Constitution even by deleting Article 370.

Sheikh Abdullah & NehruThe amending power under Article 368 is plenary and in exercise of it Parliament can simply delete Article 370. Article 368(1) reads: “Not withstanding anything contained in this Constitution, Parliament may in exercise of its constituent power amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of this Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in this Article.”

So long as the basic structure of the Constitution is not altered, Parliament’s amending power is unlimited — what is the Constitution’s basic structure is not defined, but a temporary provision like Article 370 cannot be part of it. No agreement or treaty can restrict the scope of this constitutional provision.

Once Article 370 stands repealed, the Instrument of Accession may become operational to the extent that it is consistent with the Constitution — the proclaimed allegiance to the Government of India Act 1935 would extend to its successor, the Constitution of India.

The assertion by any citizen that J&K or any other state is not governed by the Indian Constitution may amount to an act of sedition. The seemingly unending Kashmir problem was born out of a single folly of a single man — Nehru stopping Sardar Patel from dealing with Kashmir. Through a series of more such follies, a Frankenstein of a state has been created that dares the nation even to discuss an issue relating to it. With the passage of time the problem may only get aggravated. What should be done? To begin with, try to win the co-operation of the Kashmiri politicians and MPs from the rest of India to suitably amend and attenuate Article 370; failing this repeal it. Hopefully, well before the Modi government is forgotten, the Kashmiri people would have forgotten Article 370. – Deccan Chronicle, 7 June 2014

» K.N. Bhat is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court and former additional solicitor-general of India. He can be reached at knbhat1@gmail.com

Omar and Article 370

 

Maharaja Hari Singh: My religion is Justice – Bhim Singh

Bhim Singh“The Maharaja proved his conviction as a democrat and nationalist when he drove by himself with the Maharani and his son Yuvraj Karan Singh from Srinagar to Jammu to sign the Instrument of Accession. Mr. V.P. Menon had requested the Maharaja to come to Jammu to sign the Accession. Several historians and politicians have blamed the Maharaja for having delayed his decision to sign the Instrument of Accession before 14 August 1947. Had the Maharaja signed the Instrument Accession at that time, the same critics would have blamed him for hastening the process!” – Bhim Singh

Hari Singh BahadurSince time immemorial, there have been many kings and crowns. Many of them ruled with grace and dignity, yet not a single ruler in any part of the world had courage to declare his religion as justice. On 9 July 1925, immediately after being crowned as Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh declared, “My religion is justice”. This might have annoyed several religious persons, yet Hari Singh stood by his commitment. In 1927, Maharaja Hari Singh issued a Royal Decree introducing a great revolutionary legislation, State Subject, which now has been renamed as ‘Permanent Resident’.

What a great imagination the King of Kashmir had at a time when there was no religious conflict or inner tension in the state though 86% of the population fraternity from Gilgit to Kashmir belonged to the Muslim. This concept shows the unique farsightedness of Maharaja Hari Singh to save not only the land and properties of the residents of J&K, but also put in place a permanent mechanism to save the identities of the Ladakhis, Kashmiris, Baltis, Dogras, and others. Had there been no such legislation, the Kashmiris in particular would have lost not only their land but their cultural identity too.

It is a misunderstanding that the identity and the land of the residents of J&K are protected under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. This is totally incorrect. The identity and property stand protected under the unique law enacted by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927.

Seal of Maharaja Hari Singh on the cover of the Civil ListThe High Court of J&K was established by another Royal Decree by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1928. The protection of civil and political rights of the residents of J&K was guaranteed by the Maharaja, authorizing the High Court and even Sessions Judges to issue writs, including the writ of habeas corpus, in J&K way back in 1928.

J&K was perhaps the first Princely state in India which enacted laws opening all public places, temples, wells etc. for every citizen, including the members of the depressed classes (Scheduled Castes). Maharaja Hari Singh declared the practice of untouchability as an offence and banned child marriage, prostitution, and use of drugs. The Maharaja issued an Ordinance putting a strict ban on the transfer of females from Baltistan to other areas.

Maharaja Hari Singh introduced the parliamentary system by holding election to the State Parliament called as ‘Praja Sabha’ in 1934. Great legal luminaries and political activists like Mirza Afzal Beg were introduced in his cabinet. J&K was the first state under the leadership of Maharaja Hari Singh which evolved an independent constitution which introduced the concept of elected representatives, members of Praja Sabha, and established an independent judiciary.

Jammu & Kashmir State in India.It was Maharaja Hari Singh who brought Kashmir on the map of world tourism. It was he who developed Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Dachigam for international tourism. Students of history may agree that not a single spot has been developed for world tourism in Kashmir since 1947.

The Maharaja having absolute power at his command ensured that his opponents were not harassed or harmed by the administration or police. Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beg and several others who were agitating against the Maharaja were not harmed or subjected to any kind of oppression by the administration. There was not a single instance of custodial killing during the time of Maharaja Hari Singh or any other Dogra ruler during 101 years of their rule from 1846 to 1947.

In 1931, the police resorted to firing on an angry mob of protesters in Kashmir resulting in death of several people. The Maharaja suo moto ordered a probe under a British officer – the Glancy Commission. The recommendations of the Commission were implemented within a couple of months and the guilty policemen brought to justice. Can anybody compare the justice delivery system of the Maharaja with the rule of the so-called democrats today?

The Maharaja proved his conviction as a democrat and nationalist when he drove by himself with the Maharani and his son Yuvraj Karan Singh from Srinagar to Jammu to sign the Instrument of Accession. Mr. V.P. Menon had requested the Maharaja to come to Jammu to sign the Accession. Several historians and politicians have blamed the Maharaja for having delayed his decision to sign the Instrument of Accession before 14 August 1947. Had the Maharaja signed the Instrument Accession at that time, the same critics would have blamed him for hastening the process!

Sheikh Abdullah, the leading politician and leader of Kashmiri Muslims, might have joined with Jinnah to counter the Maharaja. The situation would not have favoured the sentiments of the people of Kashmir nor would it have worked in favour of the Union of India. It is a great tragedy that Indian intellectuals, particularly historians, have not realized the great wisdom of Maharaja Hari Singh.

Brig. Rajinder SinghThe Government of Pakistan led by Jinnah signed a no-war pact (Stand Still Agreement) with the Maharaja on 16 August 1947. Yet it was Pakistan which invaded J&K in violation of its agreement to grab Kashmir. The people of J&K stood as one to oppose the aggression from the Pakistani side. Brig. Rajinder Singh, a Dogra hero, sacrificed his life with 125 Dogra soldiers at the outskirts of Baramullah on 26 October 1947. The Maharaja had to hasten the process of joining India to save the people of J&K from the wrath of the Pakistani raiders.

The greatness of the Maharaja and his commitment to the cause of India is demonstrated when he swallowed all insults and humiliations to which he and his family were subjected after signing the Instrument of Accession. The Maharaja was forced to go into exile from his home state, J&K. During 14 years of exile in Bombay, the Maharaja never uttered a word on the subject despite heavy provocations and unlimited temptations by the Anglo-American Bloc to denounce the Accession. He died at the age of 66 years in Bombay leaving a clear message to the people of J&K that our future lies with India. – Vijayvaani, 23 Sept. 2012

» The author is a Senior Advocate; Chairman of the National Panthers Party; and Member, National Integration Council

Kashmir: Status quo or pre-1953 status? – Sandhya Jain

Sandhya JainA major national daily earlier this month hinted a tectonic shift was underway as the interlocutors may recommend that barring defence, foreign affairs, and communications, J&K should be exempt from Central oversight in all matters.” – Sandhya Jain

Omar AbdullahSeveral events have conspired to create apprehensions about the report the Union Home Ministry-appointed interlocutors will submit regarding Jammu and Kashmir. As some dangerous formulations can be argued to fall within the purview of the constitution, and the valley is excited over the recent ‘private’ visit of a former executive of Occupied Kashmir (whom chief minister Omar Abdullah reputedly addressed as ‘former prime minister of Azad Kashmir’), the nationalist anxiety is legitimate.

But even the arrogant Omar Abdullah must have been taken aback when the ‘guest’ blurted, “I do not recognize mainstream politicians like Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as elected representatives of the people of Kashmir… Officially Pakistan and PoK Governments does not recognize Jammu and Kashmir Government and the election process. But Omar Abdullah and other leaders of the mainstream political parties are no doubt stakeholders…”

Syed Ali Shah Geelani with the former Prime Minister of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Barrister Sultan Mehmood ChaudharyWhat was the UPA thinking of, granting this man a visa? Though barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary (Pakistan People’s Party) visited Srinagar to attend a wedding, the timing of his visit was unfortunate. Exploiting his celebrity status, he proposed free travel across the Line of Control; an intra-Kashmir conference to solve the Kashmir issue; and said the international community must realise that peace in Afghanistan requires a solution in Kashmir. He met separatist and mainstream leaders, and interlocutor Radha Kumar. He had the audacity to ask New Delhi not to hang Afzal Guru, convicted in the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.

Maharaja Hari Singh 1920There are other disturbing voices. A major national daily earlier this month hinted a tectonic shift was underway as the interlocutors may recommend that barring defence, foreign affairs, and communications, J&K should be exempt from Central oversight in all matters.

This indicates a virtual return to the situation that prevailed prior to 1953, which caused deep anxiety to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues, particularly Home Minister Sardar Patel. Although the Instrument of Accession signed by the princes who acceded to the Indian Union, including Maharaja Hari Singh, was exactly on these lines, all States followed the nationalist momentum towards full integration in the new nation.

But Sheikh Abdullah created problems from the start, exploiting India’s vulnerability in the Security Council where Britain and America showed unexpected hostility towards India. The Sheikh projected himself as sole spokesman of the people of the erstwhile kingdom (much as Jinnah did for the subcontinent’s Muslims when demanding Pakistan), but acted on behalf of Muslims alone. He had the Maharaja booted out of the State and dealt a series of cruel blows to the Dogras of Jammu, and was exceedingly harsh on Hindu and Sikh refugees from Occupied Kashmir. Indeed, they have been denied state citizenship to this day.

Sheikh Mohammed AbdullahThough Sheikh Abdullah promised Nehru that “Kashmir will be a part of India,” he all along toyed with the idea of independence. In this spirit, he called for a Constituent Assembly without discussing the matter with Nehru (a step that annoyed the Security Council, to New Delhi’s embarrassment), and ensured unanimous election of National Conference delegates by getting all opposition nominations rejected! Sheikh then used the state Constituent Assembly to abolish the rule of the Maharaja and replaced him with a Sadar-e-Riyasat (Governor) to be elected by the Kashmir Legislative Assembly. For political expediency, he got Yuvraj Karan Singh elected as the first Sadar-e-Riyasat in November 1952. This Constituent Assembly also approved a separate flag for the state for all normal occasions, with the Indian flag restricted to formal functions. At the same time, he ensured that the national Constituent Assembly adopted Article 370 which gave J&K special status.

The state Constituent Assembly was a stratagem towards Sheikh’s ultimate objective of an independent, Switzerland-like tourist paradise. Though leaders like Bakshi Ghulam Mohd, G.M. Sadiq, D.P. Dhar, and others tried to ensure some integration with India, the Sheikh group fought to keep Kashmir as autonomous as possible, with only a tenuous bond with India via accession on defence, communications and foreign affairs. Hence he resented the Centre’s attempts for financial integration and extending the jurisdiction of the Comptroller and Auditor General to the state, insisting that “Kashmir’s accession to India will have to be of a restricted nature”. His growing recalcitrance compelled Maulana Azad and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai to urge Nehru to dismiss him.

Bakshi Ghulam MohamedIn July 1953, Sheikh Abdullah suddenly went to Tanmarg, near Gulmarg, to meet an emissary from Pakistan, leaving Nehru with no choice but to order his dismissal and arrest. Thereafter, Bakshi Ghulam Mohd was sworn in as state prime minister. He led J&K ably and achieved considerable progress in all spheres. Bakshi took the initiative to integrate the top level administration and police with the all-India services, and brought the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to J&K. Several other measures of integration were concluded by the time he resigned in 1963 under the Kamraj Plan. This is the crux of the pre- and post-1953 position.

Obviously, any attempt to undo these linkages and restore the pre-1953 position would trigger off secessionism in the Muslim-majority valley and Muslim-majority districts. This is what London and Washington sought to achieve through UN auspices via Dixon and others. President Barack Obama may re-ignite Kashmir via Farooq Kathwari, member of his Advisory Commission on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. Recently, Kathwari visited Srinagar to attend a wedding.

Nizam-ud-Din BhatThen, People’s Democratic Party MLA Nizam-ud-din Bhat moved a private member’s bill in the J&K Assembly, seeking deletion of sub-clause (b) of Section 147 in the state constitution, which bars legislation challenging J&K’s status as an integral part of India. The Speaker rejected the bill on Sept 16. Formally, the PDP repudiated Bhat’s move, but its October 2008 document, “The Self-Rule Framework for Kashmir Resolution,” had proposed shared sovereignty with Pakistan, economic integration between the two parts of Kashmir, dual currency, demilitarization, and abolition of Article 356 (imposition of President’s Rule) to J&K.

Michael MullenSimultaneously, the British House of Commons’ debate on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir fizzled out for poor attendance. But, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at the end of his term at the Carnegie Endowment, said events in Iran, Pakistan, India and China and other neighbouring countries cannot be separated from US strategy in Afghanistan, and solving the complicated issue of Kashmir would also unlock many issues between India and Pakistan… An ominous trend. – Vijayvaani, New Delhi, Sept. 27, 2011

» Sandhya Jain is editor of www.vijayvaani.com