T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Vol I Issue XI

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

March 2003

I N S I D E


Spotlight 

Romeet K WATT

 

Comment     

A B Vajpayee

 

Column     

S Chaulia       

                   

View Point      

Romeet K WATT

 

On Track     

Romeet K Watt 

                  

Opinion

Kanwal Sibal

 

Analysis

Sawraj Singh

 

State Craft

Subhash Kapila

 

Perspective

T R Jawahar

 

Last Word

Anil Narendra 

 

                            


 

BACK ISSUES

 

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

January 

February 

 


A b o u t  U s

F e e d b a c k

Disclaimer

C o p y r i g h t 

O N   T R A C K

Kashmir: Tryst with destiny

Romeet K WATT


This happens to be India’s 56th year of independence. A landmark, although fifty-six years is an exceedingly small an epoch in nation’s history bearing in mind, our civilisation dates back to over eight thousand years. A multi-religious, multi-ethnic polity like India, which did not at any point of time have communal power sharing engagements should have fragmented into pieces long ago. It is alive, 56 years after her birth, which in itself is no mean an accomplishment.

Barely two months after India was born, Indian troops were flown to Srinagar on the morning of 27th October, just in time to prevent the complete siege of the city, and to thwart the evil and nefarious designs of Pakistan to proclaim accession, after the city had been captured. With this started an era of claims and counter claims over Kashmir. This forlornly happens to 56 years of disputes over Kashmir, which has resulted in four (if one includes the Kargil) cruel wars in the sub-continent.

Sitting back and tracking some of the historical events is no doubt a daunting task, but it also brings along with some astounding facts. Certain facts are so subtle in nature that one is scrupled to present one’s personal point of view. The intricacy of the subject matter makes it highly subtle in nature. The ground reality is that gaffes have been committed in the past, which has brought about turmoil and mayhem.

In 1931, Sheikh Abdullah established Muslim Conference to reorganise Muslims of Kashmir against the Dogra rule. In the subsequent years, he was impressed by the liberal policies of Pandit Nehru and the secularistic plank of the Indian national Congress. He left Muslim Conference and formed National Conference as a secular party of the people of Kashmir. In response to the Quit India Movement, he organised the Quit Kashmir Movement against the Dogra ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh.

It is pertinent to recall that Hari Singh’s father, Raja Gulab Singh had purchased Jammu and Kashmir from the British, according to the previously agreed arrangement for 75 Lakh rupees, just after the first Anglo-Sikh war in 1846. In November, 1846, Gulab Singh entered Srinagar and, what followed, is widely believed, a reign of terror commencing on the Kashmiris (read Muslims). Kashmiri Pandits, on account of their superior educational background were presented with high positions in the administration.

In addition, it would be relatable to mention that during the reign Maharaja Pratap Singh (1894 - 1925) the state of affairs deteriorated, with British intensifying communal thoughts amongst the Muslims in Kashmir, and in 1931 there was the first communal clash. Muslim communalism was championed by the Muslim Conference, the state-level political party.

Subsequently, in 1946, the Maharaja of Kashmir imprisoned Sheikh Abdullah and sentenced him for 20 years for leading a revolt against his throne. On 29th September 1947 Sher-e-Kashmir (as he was popularly known) was released at the instance of Pandit Nehru. After his release, Abdullah campaigned for democratic rights and did not publicly concern himself with accession.

On 16th September 1947, in a statement to the press (TOI 17th Sept. 1947) Nehru said, "I believe that the division of India was a short term political solution which could not override cultural affinities and economic compulsions and as such the G.O.I disavowed any intention of harming Pakistan or creating it as an enemy and expressed their continuing hope that, when the current turmoil ended, the two states might unite by the free will of their peoples".

On the night of 24th October, tables were turned upon Nehru´s vision that the confrontational attitude will end, when news reached Delhi, that well organised tribesmen had entered into the valley from Pakistan and were heading towards Srinagar; the next day when the P.M of Kashmir, Ramchand Kak, called on Nehru and requested that Indian troops be flown into Kashmir, Nehru expressed his helplessness and was only persuaded by Abdulla and Sardar Patel to agree.

Nehru´s policy, and the decisions on Kashmir were not, as is a common notion, being taken by him in isolation, that too when his “romantic attachment” to the mountains was a well known fact. This fact rarely influenced his policy on Kashmir.

At meeting of Defence Committee on 26th October, Mountbatten was successful in persuading Patel and Nehru to demand immediate accession as a pre-condition to military assistance and offer of a plebiscite after the restoration of law and order.

On 27th October, after the accession of Kashmir was accepted, Indian troops were flown out just in time to prevent the complete siege of Srinagar and to thwart what was believed to be the plan of Pakistan to proclaim accession after the city had been captured so that “Jinnah could make a triumphal entry.”

On the same day, Nehru in a letter to S. M Abdulla said, "…… I heard today that our troops had reached Srinagar ……… We have taken the plunge and we shall swim across to the other shore……"

Meanwhile in Kashmir, tribesmen had created pools of blood everywhere by slaughtering Sikhs and Hindus. They not only indulged in these brutal killings but also committed innumerable rapes alongside arson and looting. The efforts taken by the Muslim majority in general and the National Conference workers in particular to safeguard the lives of Hindus and Sikhs at a great risk is praise worthy.

In his secret note of 1947, Ram Manohar Lohia informed the then G.O.I that between 1887 and 1947 the Pandit population had dwindled from One Lac to 80 thousand where as the Muslim population had augmented from 5 Lacs to 20 Lacs. This demographic transition is worth mentioning here primarily because it gives a fair amount of indication as to how minorities were marginalised in the state over a span of time and as such had no say in the political affair of the region.

Fore sighting no solution to the problem, Nehru had no thought of compromise. On December 3, 1947, Nehru wrote to S. M. Abdulla that Kashmir had become to him a symbol of basic conflict in India and on the decision there ´one might almost say, depends not only the future of Kashmir but the future of Pakistan and to a considerable extent the future of India.´ Such was the gravity of the matter that a foresighted Statesman like Nehru was in a dilemma.

Finally Nehru was persuaded by Mountbatten to refer the Kashmir problem to United Nations but with only limited references (complaint was lodged under Article 35 of the UN Charter and sought vacation of aggression). The historical mistake made by India was to refer the case to the U.N to which Nehru later regretted.

India suffered in a major way when the case was referred to the security council as Pakistan not only successfully refuted all charges made against them but effectively countered by allegations against India, of hostility to Pakistan. U.N´s decisions were partial and biased, heavily loaded in favour of Pakistan.

British delegate, Philip Noel-Baker (guide on the matter to the security council) intimated India that he was convinced that Pakistan was no way involved in providing assistance to the raiders. On 16th February 1948, Nehru wrote to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, "I cannot imagine that the security council could probably behave in the trivial and partisan manner in which and it is not surprising that the world is going to pieces ……… and the U.S. and Britain have played a dirty game, Britain being the chief actor behind the scenes …………"

The British policy of betrayal and treachery continued to dominate the region even after independence of the country, with effective support from the U. S. The stand taken by the British delegate Noel-Baker was partisan and helped Pakistan to counter India in an effective manner.

When finally the commission arrived in Pakistan in July, it received specific information that three brigades of regular Pakistani troops had been fighting in Kashmir since May. On 15th July 1948, Mountbatten (from London) wrote to Nehru, " ……… with such evidence before it, commission would …… reasonably favourable report …… to resolve the tangle …… acceptable to India."

The commission did not take into account the admission of Pakistan about the presence of its troops in Kashmir in its resolution of 13th August, 1948, and said that there should be a ceasefire and a withdrawal of Pakistani troops, nationals and tribesmen; India should begin to withdraw the bulk of her forces after Pakistan had withdrawn her tribesmen and nationals and her troops were being withdrawn; and the future status of the state would be determined by a plebiscite.

On May 1949, since UN commission had been unable to make any headway on the implementation of Security Council resolution, so it came forward with some new proposals which were so biased in nature that Nehru found them unacceptable.

In December 1950, India rejected U.N.´s offer to mediate on Kashmir. "The only way to solve it is for India and Pakistan to know that the burden is upon them and no one else", Nehru wrote to U.N. The negative attitude of Britain and the U.S. at the Security Council was a cause of worry for New Delhi. The draft resolution took strong objection to the convening of the constituent assembly and provided for the super-session of the Kashmiri Government and the possible entry of foreign troops to resolve the tangle.

On 2nd June 1950, Nehru wrote to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, "If Pakistan´s communal approach and policy prevail in Kashmir, it would not only be a tragedy for Kashmir, but it would upset the whole scheme of things in India, ……… I find the British and American people skating merrily on this very thin ice over the deep ocean, and accusing us of intransigence?"

Nehru´s note for S. M Abdullah, 25th August 1952 read: "The Govt. of Pakistan is like someone riding a bicycle. They feel that the moment they return to normalcy, the bicycle stops and they fall down."

Nehru had weaved his Kashmir policy around one man -- S. M Abdulla. The massive victory of National Conference in the elections to the constituent assembly made Nehru more optimistic about the prospects of a plebiscite and took up the matter with Abdulla.

At the same time, for the first time at the Security Council, the attitude of America and Britain was strongly criticized by Soviet Union. The draft resolution put forward by the British delegate at the Security Council lacked clarity, ignoring India´s version as well as the past commitments made by U.N Commission. Despite a strong protest lodged by India, the resolution went through. At the very outset, Nehru rejected it in totality.

At the domestic front, a major cause of concern to the G.O.I was the changing attitude of S. M. Abdullah over the years. It was his popular support in Kashmir that Nehru played his cards by prompt military action at the time of invasion. "The only person who can deliver the goods in Kashmir is Abdullah …… I have high opinion ……… He may make any no of mistakes in minor matters …… ", Nehru had written to the Maharaja of Kashmir on 13th November 1947.

By now, the intentions of Abdulla had created doubts in the minds of Nehru who was unaware that Abdulla, perhaps from the start had nurtured ideas of independent Kashmir. Nehru was secretively informed about the possible nexus between S.M Abdullah and the U.S. for possible independence of Kashmir.

Sardar Patel strongly protested to Nehru when in September 1948, Abdulla made a statement that certain people in India believed in surrendering Kashmir to Pakistan. But Abdullah himself was unapologetic over the matter, and soon the divergence of approach between him and Nehru became visibly marked.

The Sheikh favoured “Independent Kashmir" even after the accession. Sheikh Abdullah´s imprisonment in August 1953 was the commonsensical corollary of his Anglo-American associations. It was not until the Indira-Sheikh accord of 1975 that Abdulla ultimately gave up his plans for an “Independent Kashmir”. Although, by then, intrinsic damage had taken place in Kashmir, with the pro-Pakistan forces gaining foot-hold, largely because of the inability of Abdulla to translate his dreams into reality.

    

Home

 Copyright©2002-2003 Kashmir Bachao Andolan

All Rights Reserved