Author: Saadut
•8:21 PM

In a total volte-face in 1953, Sheikh led National Conference's working committee adopted a ‘total Independence for Jammu & Kashmir’ resolution, describing the Delhi Agreement as temporary and transitory. Many political observers saw this as a political posturing by Sheikh, while others held that the 1952 Praja Parishad protests had unnerved him.

On 8th August 1953, Sheikhs ‘best friend’ Nehru ensured that Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed as Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, arrested and imprisoned for 11 years bar an interval of four months (he was released for four months in 1958). Sheikh was replaced in power by one of his own trusted lieutenants, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad, who was later used as a perfect tool by New Delhi to erode the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. Such was the puppetry of politics controlled by New Delhi here that the same people in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly who earlier stood strongly behind Sheikh Abdullah, now unanimously passed a vote of confidence in the new Bakshi government (on October 5, 1953). But then since all of these political faces had been nominated through political manipulations, they feared no electoral onslaught for such deceit.

One of the bigger nails in the autonomy coffin was hammered by the then Home Minister of Jammu and Kashmir D.P. Dhar, when on February 14, 1954 he moved a motion ‘in order to enable the Centre to discharge its responsibilities which devolve upon it under the Constitution, those provisions of the Constitution of India, which may be necessary for the purpose, should be made applicable to the State in an appropriate manner’ and got it passed in the Constituent Assembly. The Jammu and Kashmir Constitution (Amendment) Act was passed on May 14, 1954, under which now the Sadr-e-Riyasat (Prince Maharaja) was the final interpreter of the Constitution instead of the council of ministers. Such a move ensured that India’s jurisdiction in Jammu and Kashmir now extended much beyond the original three subjects of defense, foreign affairs and communications; now covered all subjects under the Union list and beyond. This programmed ‘Constituent’ change by New Delhi and its proxies in Jammu and Kashmir annulled the 1952 Nehru Abdullah accord for autonomy. The customs barrier between Indian and The state of Jammu and Kashmir was lifted on 13th April 1954. A covert operation to ratify India’s accession (and control) in J&K left drastic curbs on fundamental liberties and freedom of speech. Now everything and anything could amount to treason, any ‘political thought’ or ‘expression could be suppressed under the garb of ‘national security’.

In 1957 the state elections were again forced into the ‘unopposed contest’ mode and National Congress led by Bakshi was ‘proxied’ to have ‘won’ all 40 seats (all Kashmir seats were won unopposed as opposition was evaporated by the Imperial force of New Delhi).
In the 1962 elections the ‘proxy and theatrical elections’ was again played by Bakshi winning 97% of the seats. This ‘electoral theatre’ was played so clumsily that right after the elections Nehru wrote to Bakshi “In fact, it would strengthen your position much more if you lost a few seats to bona fide opponents”. 
Meanwhile all these years Security Council calls for resolution of Jammu & Kashmir were being rejected by India, including the mediation call of President Kennedy (January 24, 1962).

The December 27, 1963 ‘Holy relic’ movement galvanized people and protests first for the recovery of the ‘Holy relic’ and then turning against proxy regimes puppeted by New Delhi in J&K.  Soon Delhi wanting to steam out dissidence on ground, released Sheikh Abdullah and Afzal Beigh (who had been imprisoned by New Delhi under the ‘Kashmir Conspiracy Case’). Post 1947 this was one of the first times that public anger was directed towards political proxies of New Delhi in J&K, Bakshi faced the axe. The nomenclature of Prime Minister was changed to Chief Minister in J&K and Bakshi was succeeded by another New Delhi proxy in the form of G. M Sadiq (Kamraj plan came into action). Ironically (and hilariously) sensing that their ex-weapon could backfire on them (and engineer a coup), New Delhi arrested Bakshi in 1964 (under the Defense of India Rules). Having reached ‘the end of use’ for New Delhi, Bakshi was to be disposed off. Anybody in Kashmir who did not toe New Delhi’s line (or presented a political danger to puppetry) was a liability to be dealt with.

India must have known for long that it faced colossal trust deficit in Kashmir, when on 5th February 1964 Indian Defense Minister Krishnan Menon reasoned against the Security Council call for plebiscite "Kashmir would vote to join Pakistan and no Indian Government responsible for agreeing to plebiscite would survive.”

Whatever remained of the ‘autonomy’ in Jammu and Kashmir was erased and eroded by New Delhi after G M Sadiq had become its first Chief Minister in 1964 (till then Prime minister of J&K). New Delhi ensured that Articles 356 and 357 of the Indian Constitution (empowering New Delhi to dismiss elected state governments) were made applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. The powers included imposition of President's rule in Jammu and Kashmir by the New Delhi. The burial of ‘autonomy’ was complete. 

In 1967 the ‘proxy theatre of elections’ again continued in Jammu & Kashmir. In Kashmir valley, National Congress candidates were elected unopposed in 22 of 42 seats, 39 of the total 75 assembly seats were won uncontested in Jammu and Kashmir.

By 1972 parties like Plebiscite Front and Jamaat-i-Islami had already gathered huge public support. Syed Mir Qasim of National Congress who succeeded Chief Minister G M Sadiq (Sadiq died while in power) wrote in his memoirs ‘My Life and Times’ “If the elections were free and fair, the victory of the (Plebiscite) Front was a foregone conclusion”. Soon Mir Qasim (and New Delhi) ensured that the Plebiscite Front leaders were mass arrested and their activities given a closure in the ‘best interests of New Delhi in Kashmir’. The ‘proxy theatre of elections’ continued and National Congress ‘grabbed’57 of the 74 seats.

By the time in June 1972 when the ‘political banishment’ order on Sheikh Abdullah was lifted by New Delhi, he had already mellowed down from Plebiscite to greater autonomy. ‘Plebiscite’ had been bargained and sold for personal ‘political fruits’.

Part III shall write about the 1975 ‘Indira Abdullah Accord’ and the further erasure of political voice in Kashmir.

2nd July 2012, 8:16 PM  

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