By: Ameer Tarin February 13, 2021
Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, though a towering personality, a crowd puller and unrivalled leader, lacked political acumen, vision and was devoid of seeing future political developments in British-India and on international level. A simpleton without any political schooling messed up Kashmir’s future and fell a prey to political machinations of coordinated nexus among Nehru, Patel and Gandhi.
Maharaja Hari Singh, the Dogra ruler had made up his mind to maintain the status-quo to safeguard the independent and sovereign status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The World War II shattered Her Majesty’s Government economically and made it hard rather impossible for Prime Minister Clement Attlee to run a country of India’s size with huge financial constraints. In a quick decision Louis Mountbatten of Burma was called in to decide the future of the sub-continent which included historical decision of Partition of India on communal lines.
Lord Mountbatten tried hard to persuade Maharaja Hari Singh to join either dominion of India or Pakistan but Hari Singh without mincing any words stressed in no uncertain terms that he preferred to stay independent and maintain the sovereign status of his State. The message came as thunderbolt to Indian leaders who had presumed that Hindu Maharaja would opt for joining India beyond any shadow of doubt.
The trio Gandhi, Nehru and Patel drew a new plan to tackle Kashmir and to start with decided to sideline the Maharaja as the Dogra ruler did not see an eye to eye with Pandit Nehru. Maharaja was vehemently opposed to Nehru’s plan of Kashmir joining India when Nehru even involved the Viceroy Lord Mountbatten to persuade the Maharaja but failed to extract consent from an adamant ruler.
Nehru then in a clever move worked on befriending Sheikh Abdullah and brainwashed him to start Quit Kashmir Movement (May 1946) to throw the Maharaja out and even promised him all the help necessary. Abdullah failed to realise that being a rightful State Subject Hari Singh could in the worst situation shift to Jammu (which he finally did), his ancestral home with majority Hindu following, and could not be dispensed with completely. Abdullah arrested by Maharaja was released after Nehru persuaded the Viceroy at Delhi to intervene. Sheikh felt immensely obliged and came closer to Nehru to create a bonded relationship.
Abdullah politically immature wasted all his resources, time and energy on a political movement (Quit Kashmir) which was absolutely unnecessary. Nehru managed to convince Sheikh that he (Nehru) was only helping him to get rid of autocratic Maharaja and carve out an independent, secular and democratic State of Kashmir, which Nehru knew was the dream of the Kashmiri leader. Nehru made it a point to hoodwink Sheikh by offering verbal promises but gave him nothing in black and white.
Nehru with a full grip on Abdullah used him to control the malleable mindset of Kashmiris to gain time for a military stronghold on Kashmir. The mission accomplished, Nehru, on August 9, 1953, removed expendable Sheikh accusing him of autocratic methods, treason and corruption. People of Kashmir were pained to see Sheikh’s continued and persistent trust reposed in someone who stabbed him in the back many times over.
Maharaja an impediment, Nehru laid a trap to entice Sheikh and left the job of tackling the Maharaja to British trained bureaucrat V P Menon supported by imposed prime minister of Kashmir Mehar Chand Mahajan with the blessings of Lord Mountbatten.
The third most important player MK Gandhi played a vital role visiting Sheikh’s ancestral house in downtown Srinagar (July, 1947) to keep Sheikh’s wife Jehanara Begum and daughter Khalida Shah engaged in Bapu and non-violence magic which turned out to be the last nail in the political coffin of Sheikh Abdullah.
The political intrigues spearheaded by the select two-faced white collar Pandits of the valley always present, Abdullah faced another formidable opposition from Hindu-dominated Jammu region. Disgruntled officials in Hari Singh’s administration and deprived Hindu landowners through Abdullah’s Land Reforms Bill formed an organization Praja Parishad that always managed to give Abdullah a tough time.
Abdullah a chemistry student with no political background did not visualize the upcoming geographical and political developments in the sub-continent. Abdullah’s support for Maharaja Hari Singh for latter’s effort to keep both India and Pakistan away by offering to sign standstill agreement could have paved the way for a sovereign independent Kashmir. Under the circumstances if Abdullah were a seasoned politician he would wait to keep Maharaja engaged in domestic politics allowing him to rule as sovereign head of the state especially when International political support was visible.
The subsequent development of relation between Abdullah and Nehru sent alarming bells to Pakistani leadership but Pakistan’s Governor General Muhammad Ali Jinnah refusing to take direct military action opted to seek British help to stop India from military intervention where he did not succeed. Kashmiris with British-Indian army background, the mastermind of Pathan invasion notably Major Khursheed Anwar, and Akbar Khan, if taken into confidence by Pakistani political leadership, would have joined hands and strategy evolved would culminate into a situation that would leave Kashmir undisturbed by both India and Pakistan. The NWFP Pathan invasion would have been out of question.
Prime Minister Modi’s BJP blames Nehru for blunders in Kashmir because Nehru put all his eggs in one basket. The bedrock of the planned relationship of Kashmir with India was based on purported accession document signed by Maharaja Hari Singh who soon after was banished to Bombay to die there in oblivion. The trump card Sheikh Abdullah was shuttled from one jail to another for eleven years who in the end died a political death. The accession based by India on the loyalties extended by Maharaja and Abdullah smashed to smithereens exposed India’s blatant lies. Abdullah did not match Nehru’s cleverness and was dwarfed by his Machiavellian behaviour and masterly political expediency.
Now in the 21st century, after 73 years of military occupation, the autocrat in the guise of a democrat believes he can lump Kashmir with a loud noisy belch using Indian military might. Mr Modi fails to grasp that Journalist Asif Sultan’s RISE OF BURHAN inspired people to fight occupiers to achieve the goal of independence.