By: Ameer Tarin 04-03-2023
Jawaharlal Nehru in a telegram to Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, on October 31, 1947 stated: “Our assurance that we shall withdraw our troops from Kashmir as soon as peace and order are restored and the decision about the future of the State to the people of the State is not merely a pledge to your government but also to the people of Kashmir and to the world”.
Kashmir’s popular leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah; a rallied source of strength helped Nehru shape the political future of the State of Kashmir. Sheikh’s naive leadership and political inexpedience cost people of Kashmir heavily. Sheikh trusted Nehru in good faith and believed in all his lies and verbal promises to help him maintain the independent status of the State of Jammu And Kashmir.
The foundation to annex Kashmir was laid much before the freedom fighters entry from now Pakistan administered Kashmir and areas inhabited by Muslims of Jammu and the surrounding areas. The information received by freedom fighters that India was preparing to send its army to Kashmir sent shock waves and in desperation, emotionally charged up youth, sought help from all willing to fight for the rights of their Muslim brothers.
The nation just born, Pakistan was still coming to grips with stabilising the country even when a chair or table wasn’t available for its new Governor General Muhammad Ali Jinnah to conduct himself to run a country of Pakistan’s size. India, to start with choked it financially and aimed to see Pakistan end up as a failed state. Pakistan’s new army chief, General Douglas Gracy posed another serious problem by refusing to follow orders from Mr Jinnah and showed allegiance to Indian Governor General Lord Mountbatten sat in Delhi instead.
Pandit Nehru with help and information received from the caucus of trusted Brahmans in Srinagar formed the basis of this political adventure initially to influence Sheikh with secular ideals being futuristic view of India and verbal promises Pandit Nehru made to him, the people of Kashmir, United Nations and above all the international community.
Nehru used Abdullah on international level to justify Indian occupation of Kashmir. Military occupation complete and the dust settled down, Nehru removed the trump card Abdullah on August 9, 1953 from power shifting him from one prison to another for umpteen years. This is how someone was given measure by measure when Abdullah had sworn that “Pandit Nehru is my best friend and I hold Gandhiji in huge reverence”.
Another jewel Maharaja Hari Singh supposed to have signed ‘instrument of accession’ was exiled to Bombay to die there in oblivion. Pandit Nehru in a telegram to British Prime Minister Clement Attlee on October 25, 1947 wrote: “I should like to make it clear that question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any dispute territory or State must be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people and we adhere to this view”.
Pandit Nehru thought he played his cards right as the feedback he received convinced him of dealing with, the titles given by Kashmiri Pandits to their Muslim compatriots Psoriasis-ravaged heads, uneducated population who could easily be tamed and controlled with political manoeuvring coupled with India’s military might eventually in control that he had envisioned.
Maharaja’s disliking for Pandit Nehru made it imperative to depute V P Menon, Dwarkanath Kachru and versatile Mehr Chand Mahajan aided by Mountbatten of Burma to convince Maharaja to sign the purported ‘instrument of accession’. V P Menon, after getting the paper signed returned to Delhi on Sunday, October 26, 1947 and flashed out the paper before Alexander Symons, British Deputy High Commissioner, saying Kashmir is now ours.
Sardar Patel was faced with annexation of Junagadh and Hyderabad, as the Princely States accession to Pakistan was gaining ground and India’s unilateral action was legitimised and used as a justification. State of Kashmir was distinctly different from all other Princely States. Initially it has always been a sovereign independent state with a constitution and a flag in place and two houses of Parliament namely Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. So the Kashmir State with a Muslim majority population should have principally remained independent or gone to Pakistan but that was not to be.
Towards the end, Nehru’s display of devious handling of Kashmir had cast aspersion on his character internationally tarnishing his image and a lot was at stake for a so called statesman, a very well known leader who managed to earn for his country the label of ‘democracy’ ‘secularism’ and ‘non-aligned status’.
Nehru, in a surprise move, dropped all fabricated charges of treason or corruption against Sheikh who in spite of his long jail terms respected and revered him more than anyone else in India. 1962 war with China, the greatest blow, as some believe, Nehru now showed interest to settle Kashmir issue and improve on good neighbourly relations with Pakistan which Nehru thought was inching towards a closer diplomatic and military relation with China.
The people of Kashmir fully at Abdullah’s back considered him to be a force to reckon with and firmly believed in him to face any challenges that would thwart the ambition of seeking independence for the country. The trickiness of Pandit Nehru was too much for Sheikh to comprehend even until his death and never believed a friend like Nehru to take him for a ride and dump him.
The evidence is rife and well documented that Sheikh Abdullah was emotionally attached to the ideals of Pandit Nehru who made him believe that Kashmir based on the principle of secularism and democracy will help carve out an independent Kashmir and Indian ethos based on same principles will guarantee Kashmir’s well being and security.
Nehru, under a new plan, allowed Abdullah to visit Pakistan to negotiate settlement of Kashmir with President Ayub Khan of Pakistan. A positive response from the Pakistani President was too much to deal with and excited Sheikh’s encounter with international Press outside President’s office displayed impish behaviour and lack of political acumen.
Answering a question to the Press Sheikh said “I am fully satisfied with my talk with the President of Pakistan and now I will rush to Delhi to have my heart to heart talk with Pandit Ji”. That is where Sheikh showed his inexperience as within a short time the news was flashed that Pandit Nehru is dead. Abdullah’s hopes dashed, rushed to Delhi (May 28, 1964) to meet Nehru on his deathbed at Teen Murti (Nehru’s official residence), wailing and crying for losing a great friend. Ayub Khan sent a high level delegation led by Foreign Minister ZA Bhutto to take part in the last rites of Pandit Nehru.
It is widely believed that Nehru died on May 27, 1964 in mysterious circumstances in the likeness of another prime minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri who died in Tashkent in similar circumstances again negotiating a solution for Kashmir with President Ayub Khan of Pakistan. It is noteworthy that sons Sunil and Anil Shastri and wife of late Prime Minister Shastri impressed upon government of India that the family firmly believed that their father was killed by poisoning.
Abdullah still hoped that Indian establishment would honour the commitment made by Pandit Nehru but that was not to be and Sheikh, instead, was again sent to prison first by government headed by Lal Bahadur Shastri and soon after by Indira Gandhi.
BJP accuses Nehru of internationalising the Kashmir Issue by taking it to UNSC in January 1948 and considers the action the biggest blunder of Pandit Nehru. So just because Nehru committed a political blunder the punishment should be accorded to defenceless and innocent people of Kashmir. Kashmir till date has over 150,000 souls of all ages dead, thousands of women raped, thousands disappeared and billions worth of property razed to the ground. This all is done by the Hindutva fascists in the guise of largest mockracy of the world.
Nehru Pandit on July 6, 1951 had this to say about Kashmir State
“People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future and further stated, If we did anything of the kind our government would not last many days and there would be no peace….it would lead to war with Pakistan because of public opinion here and of war-like elements (referring to RSS/BJP nexus) coming in control of our policy.”
Kashmir for India is like a cancerous limb of the body that it is dragging along and if it is not severed soon it will be devastating for the whole body.