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.