Author: Saadut
•10:55 PM

The political stage in Kashmir has never been allowed to mature and take form naturally, often been manipulated by external forces especially from New Delhi. For decades political leadership in Kashmir has been of the ‘nominated’ lot, genuine political rise often suppressed by ‘power brokers’ and the proxy political masters.  Right since the inception of the ‘anti monarchy, pro peoples rights’ political movement in Kashmir (pre 1947), manipulation and political deception became the order of the day. 

Formed in 1932, Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference (which later became the National Conference on 10th / 11th June 1939) had Sheikh Abdullah, Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas and Molvi Abdul Rahim among others founder members. Political dictatorship and manipulation soon ensured that the likes of Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas (who were later joined by Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah) had no recourse but to split out and form the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference again. (13th June 1941). 

In 1946 Sheikh Abdullah launched the ‘Quit Kashmir movement’, campaigned for the abrogation of ‘Treaty of Amritsar’ and for the sovereignty of Kashmir.  “The time has come to tear up the Treaty of Amritsar....sovereignty is not the birthright of Maharaja Hari Singh” (Sheikh Abdulla’s Speech in Srinagar on May 15, 1946. Ref ‘The Challenge in Kashmir’ Sumantra Bose, Page 25)

It was under corruptible silence of the new political leadership that horrific crimes were committed; notably the October 1947 Muslim massacre of Jammu. In spite of having been appointed as the “Chief Emergency Administrator” on 30th October 1947, Sheikh Abdullah admitted to having known but exerted nothing to prevent this carnage or punish the culprits. (‘Atishe Chinar’ page 312, 331). Horace Alexander wrote in ‘The Spectator’ (January 16, 1948), that the killings had "the tacit consent of State authority" and put the figure of this massacre at 200,000. The Times (London) in its report (‘Elimination of Muslims from Jammu’, Part II, 10th August 1948, p. 5) wrote "2,37,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated…… by all the forces of the Dogra State, headed by the Maharaja in person and aided by Hindus and Sikhs.” (Also read Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal ‘Prejudice in Paradise’, Communalism Combat, 2005). For following two decades (1941 to 1962), Muslim population in Jammu had fallen from 61% to 38%. Political accountability had been sold to the lust of power. 

In August 1947, a limited ‘Standstill Agreement” between the Maharaja of Kashmir and Pakistan was put in place, where Pakistan was given charge of managing post and telegraph services of the state of Kashmir in addition to ensuring supply of essential commodities. Many Kashmiri elders will remember the “Pakistaen noon’ (Pakistan rock salt). Maharaja sought a similar agreement with India, which was declined, India instead asking for a discussion in New Delhi with the Maharaja’s representative. It was here that the seeds of mistrust on Kashmir were sown between Pakistan and India. 

Indian claim on Jammu and Kashmir hangs by the “Instrument of Accession” reported to have been signed between Maharaja Hari Singh and the then Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten. But some experts point out to the inconsistency of such “Instrument of Accession” claims; did the Maharaja even sign it? As per Alastair Lamb the original document could not be located by him, only unsigned typed copies were found during his inquest. VP Menon is said to have got the “Instrument of Accession” signed by the Maharaja, and Alastair Lamb points to the impossibility of Menon having got the signatures of Maharaja, Menon having to shuffle then between Delhi, Jammu, and Srinagar in a single day.

Even though India has been claiming that its troops landed in Kashmir on 27th October (overnight) after the “Instrument of Accession” had been signed the previous day, some inconsistencies have been pointed out 

a)      a) The exercise of airlifting of troops to Kashmir was to be meticulously planned and such operations cannot be done after the overnight signing of “Instrument of Accession”. Given the scale of the operation, aggregating the troops and the logistics involved, surely this operation must have been thought of and planned much earlier. (Also refer to Josef Korbel)

b)      b) Indian troops had reached Kashmir even before 26th October (before the signing of the instrument of accession) when soldiers of the Maharaja of Patiala were dispatched and reached Srinagar on October 17th 1947. These troops had already reached the Srinagar airport, camouflaged in civilian trucks and taken control of the Airport there.  (Refer Alastair Lamb, Kashmir, a Disputed Legacy 1846-1990)

c)      c) The refusal of India to sign the ‘standstill agreement’ with the Maharaja while Pakistan had already agreed to, makes it clear that India had already made up its mind to take over Kashmir (by force or otherwise). 

In October 1947 before the tribesmen from Pakistani frontier invaded Kashmir, an internal revolt had already been brewing in Poonch (in June 1947) against the partisan taxation of Maharaja targeting Muslims only. Pertinently Poonch had always had its men in the armed forces (including the British army), who now stood disarmed for long by the Maharaja (especially before the Jammu massacre). On 22nd October 1947 tribesmen (with the active support of Poonch rebels) invaded Kashmir, Maharaja looking towards India for military help (even though he still nurtured his Independent Jammu & Kashmir wish). Military help was extended in lieu for accession talks (although the document of accession has its shades of doubts).

"It is a fact the Indian National Congress has extended full support to our movement. But the question of accession will be decided in the best interests of the people of Kashmir. Our first priority is to get rid of the Dogra domination. Then if the people decide to accede to Pakistan, I will be the first one to sign my name” (Sheikh Abdullah ‘Athish e Chinar’ Page 86).

India (Nehru) took the Kashmir dispute to UN after the Indo Pak war of 1948 on Kashmir, even thought the original suggestion of taking the dispute to UN was made by Lord Mountbatten (in December 1947) after efforts of truce and resolution for Kashmir between Pakistan (Liaquat Ali Khan) and India (Pandit Nehru) had reached a deadlock. 

The UN resolution of 5th January 1949 (by the UNCIP ‘United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan’) stated that “the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through a free and impartial plebiscite”.

In October 1949, the relationship of Kashmir with India was incorporated with a draft Article 306 A (present Article 370 is derived from this) limiting the influence of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to foreign affairs, defense and communication only. The Constitution of India came into effect from 26 January 1950, recognizing the distinct and asymmetric relationship of Kashmir with India (which was later eroded over decades of deceit by New Delhi).

The issue kept coming up at the UN and soon UNSC appointed Sir Owen Dixon to resolve Kashmir. Sir Owen Dixon presented the ‘Dixon Plan’ (on 15th September 1950) wherein he proposed ‘partition of Jammu and Kashmir along the cease fire line and plebiscite only in Kashmir valley and Muzaffarbad (Azad Kashmir)’.

Having erased political competition before 1947, and wrested power in the ‘Emergency Administration’ after the Maharaja had left Kashmir; Sheikh Abdullah kept dangling the ‘Rai Shumari’ (plebiscite) carrot for the gullible Kashmiri’s, while with Nehru he postured towards accession. In September 1951, elections to the J&K Constituent Assembly were held and surprisingly National Conference won all 75 seats unopposed. Amid widespread accusations of rigging, intimidation and flimsy rejection of opposition nomination, Sheikh Abdullah forced his way to power. Lack of political awareness among the commoners, low levels of literacy / education and decimation by centuries of yoke had been sold by the new political establishment to replace one Monarchy by the other.  

In 1952 while the Graham report (Ist, IInd, IIrd & IVth) were being formulated for withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani forces from Kashmir and preparing grounds for a plebiscite; parallelly Sheikh Abdullah in July 1952 signed the ‘Delhi Agreement’ with India. The ‘Delhi Agreement’ provided for Autonomy of J&K state (later ironically eroded by same forces). Interestingly on 5th November 1952 the Graham report (IVth) on plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir was endorsed by Security Council. 

While India was planning and manipulating to gain full control of the ‘Kashmir real estate’ it had lost Kashmiris forever.

Part II shall write about the duplicity of politicians, 1953 to 1972

19th June, 2012

This entry was posted on 10:55 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.