On J&K accession anniversary – Pages from history

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Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah

New Delhi : The Kashmir story has been nothing but as dramatic as the tale of its accession over these last 75 years. While Pakistan now labels it as an indigenous uprising or they prefer to give it the nomenclature of a “freedom struggle”, the reality is that the seeds of the Kashmir imbroglio were sown in the dark days of the accession.

Under Westphalian sovereignty rules, J&K morally, legally and constitutionally is wedded to India; and Pakistan which sent Afridi raiders to overrun Kashmir in October 1947, has no right over it.

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It was around 1931 that the downtrodden populace of the Valley rose to a man against the repressive rule of the Maharaja. They were led by a man who was for all practical purposes a nationalist, though disturbing evidence over time points otherwise.

Sheikh Abdullah, a nationalist who somewhere along the way got boxed in due to the contradictions that traversed the corridors of his mind. In his mind he could never quite define internal autonomy for Kashmir and as such this acquired the hue of independence from the Union of India. His thinking evolved across that vector – from nationalist to preacher and harbinger of autonomy for the Valley. And even tinkered with the idea of an Eastern Switzerland, an independent Kashmir just as his predecessor Maharaja Hari Singh thought of Dogristan an independent entity wedged between the Dominions of India and Pakistan.

Economic aspirations and all-inclusive growth were the bulwarks of the New Kashmir movement and this was in many ways Sheikh’s mandate.

This story is also about the princes, of which Maharaja Hari Singh was very much a part of their hopes and ambitions in the run-up to independence and the lapse of paramountcy. Intertwined in this tale is the larger story of the Indian princely order which wanted to turn the flawed two-nation theory into the three-nation theory. They are equally a part of the drama that was unfolding in the days preceding the partition. And finally, the story dovetails the role of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Nehru’s disparate twin as it were in the freedom struggle and formation of India’s first government.

Facilitator of the accession, antithesis of Sheikh, supporter of Hari Singh, acting as a counter weight to the Nehru-Sheikh axis, Sardar Patel stood tall against the princes and their collective and individual intrigues and machinations as they tried to stay out of the ambit of the burgeoning might of the Congress party.

Hari Singh’s court’s Rajguru Swami Sant Deo was principally responsible in stoking this notion – to be the sovereign of “an extended kingdom sweeping down to Lahore from the heights of Ladakh”.

But this story of accession is as much about Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, that titan amongst statesmen, and his friendship with Abdullah. It is also about Nehru’s resolve stoked by his private secretary Dwarka Nath Kachru’s(another Kashmiri) inputs. Nehru was convinced that Kashmir was worth fighting for and he advocated the Mysore Model after its accession. He wanted an interim government in Kashmir based on the Mysore Model. In Mysore, the leader of the popular party was asked to choose his colleagues, he himself being the Prime Minister. His hope sprung from the fact that Sheikh Abdullah, a Muslim leader, and “somebody who could deliver the goods” would lead the state out of the morass that it had sunk into during the Maharaja’s rule.

since even before the accession, but he felt that he could no longer support Sheikh Sahib. Bamzai reached there in the middle of the night, around 1.30 a.m. Nehru was by now living in Teen Murti House. He found the lights on in the first-floor study of Pandit Nehru. Mathai took him to meet Panditji in his study, where he delivered the letter. Panditji looked tired and unhappy.

Soon after this, Abdullah was arrested in Gulmarg and replaced by Bakshi Ghulam Mohd as Prime Minister of J&K. It was not only the Sheikh’s own cabinet ministers who opposed him. He had lost support at the centre too, especially from Maulana Azad and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai. Kidwai was one of those who persuaded Nehru of the need for action and Panditji reluctantly agreed. Nehru was extremely unhappy at the turn of events and he could not reconcile to the incarceration of his friend and political associate Sheikh Mohd Abdullah. Later, when the Kashmir Conspiracy case against Sheikh Mohd Abdullah proved to be weak, Nehru pushed for his release. But Abdullah’s political hibernation lasted till 1975 when the Indira-Sheikh Accord allowed him to return to the centre stage of Kashmir politics. — IANS

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