Padgaonkar asks Delhi to reverse integration in J&K
by Hari Om on 14 Jul 2013 12 Comments

Former chief interlocutor for Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Dilip Padgaonkar, recently urged the Union Government to implement the recommendations contained in his October 12, 2011 176-page report and suggested that if the Kashmir issue is to be resolved, it is imperative to take on board Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists and review the Centre-State relations in accordance with the “1952 Delhi Agreement”. In fact, Padgaonkar suggested that Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists are the chief factors in the political situation of J&K, and that one of the fundamental causes responsible for the alienation of Kashmiri Muslims from India is the failure of New Delhi to implement the 1952 Delhi Agreement.


It appears that the Kashmiri leaders, especially Union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah and J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, have succeeded in misleading Padgaonkar.  Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, besides other National Conference leaders, repeatedly assert that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and J&K Wazir-e-Azam Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, and their aides, got involved in negotiations between June 14 and July 24, 1952, to work out an arrangement that would regulate the ties between the Centre and the State.


According to them, the outcome of these lengthy and tortuous parleys was what they term as the “Delhi Agreement”, signed on July 24 by Nehru and the Sheikh. This is absolutely incorrect, and it is anyway just one side of the story. The other side of the story is far more interesting and mind-boggling. It, in the words of Farooq Abdullah, is that “it was Parliament which (ratified the Delhi Agreement and) promised autonomy” and that “the Bill (to this effect was) piloted (on July 24) by (the) then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru”. This claim is bizarre and false, as no such thing happened in Parliament. 


It bears recalling that in 1992, the fugitive Farooq Abdullah and his out-of-power Jammu and Delhi-based Kashmiri associates unleashed a no-holds-barred campaign to convince the nation, Parliament, the authorities in South and North Blocks and the media that the root cause of Kashmiris’ alienation was the conspiracy hatched by New Delhi and its “power-hungry Kashmiri agents” to subvert the “Delhi Agreement” and bring J&K surreptitiously within the ambit of Central laws and institutions. Ever since then, they have been using all the available fora and saying that there is but one way in which the separatists can be deflated, the Kashmir problem solved and the estranged Kashmiris won over, and that is by redefining Centre-J&K relations strictly in accordance with the lines indicated in the “Delhi Agreement”.


In effect, they (and their report on the State Autonomy Committee and the June 26, 2000 Assembly resolution on it) have been vouching for a dispensation that not only snaps all the State’s politico-constitutional ties with New Delhi and re-arms the Valley’s ruling class with extraordinary legislative, executive and judicial powers, but also makes it mandatory to meet all the financial needs of the Kashmiris. (Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had rejected outright the autonomy committee report in 2000 itself.)


It is relevant to discuss very briefly the circumstances under which Nehru and the Sheikh met during June-July, 1952, and what transpired between them, in order to clear all the confusion and put things in proper perspective and establish that there exists no such accord as the “Delhi Agreement”. The whole exercise started on April 10, 1952, when the Sheikh made some highly inflammatory speeches at Ranbirsingh Pura in Jammu and repeatedly poured venom on the Indian State. Highly infuriated, Nehru asked the Sheikh to meet him in Delhi and explain his position. During the meeting that followed, and subsequent meetings with Nehru, the Sheikh raised certain issues concerning the Centre-State relations.


Sheikh Abdullah told Nehru that he and his party were for an autonomous J&K. He also urged the Indian Prime Minister to allow the J&K Constituent Assembly, which was set up in 1951 after wholesale rigging, to frame a constitution that could empower the State to exercise absolute control over all matters except defence, foreign affairs and communications. To be more precise, the Sheikh wanted Nehru to accept at least 10 demands.


These were: (1) The “State Subjects”, or persons domiciled in J&K, will be the citizens both of the State and India; (2) The “State Subjects” will have all rights all over India, but “non-State Subjects” will have no rights whatsoever in J&K; (3) The fundamental rights as contained in the Indian Constitution will  not be conferred on “State Subjects in their entirety”; (4) The State will have the power to “define and regulate the rights and privileges of the permanent residents of J&K”; (5) The State will be allowed to have its own flag”; (6) The State will have the power to elect its own Head of State (Sadar-e-Riyasat) and the person so elected shall be answerable to it (read ruling party); (7) Article 356 shall not be applicable to J&K. In other words, the Centre will not intervene in the State in the case of any internal disturbance; (8) Article 324 of the Indian Constitution will apply to the State only in the case of elections to Parliament as well as the offices of the President and Vice-president; (9) The Supreme Court of India will have limited jurisdiction over J&K and will deal with only such disputes as are covered under Article 131 of the Union Constitution; and (10) All residuary powers will be the sole preserve of the State.


It is very important to note that both Nehru and the Sheikh had arrived at an agreed solution only as regards the aims and ideals and bare outlines of the new constitution. Numerous matters which form the basis of Centre-State relations had been left undetermined as proper subjects for further discussion and explanation. Some of these issues, such as the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Election Commission, emergency powers, fundamental rights and question of finance were yet to be clinched.


On July 24, 1952, Nehru informed the Lok Sabha as to what transpired between him and the Sheikh. This is what the National Conference is taking as a solemn agreement between New Delhi and Srinagar! This, despite the fact that there is no Constitution (Application to J&K) Order available to this effect. The Lok Sabha statement of the Prime Minister, which was rather ambiguous on several issues, has no moral, legal or constitutional significance.


However, to write all this is not to suggest that there exists no written agreement between the Centre and the Sheikh. There does, and that is the 1975 Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah Accord. This has been implemented in letter and spirit. The deflated Sheikh became Chief Minister in 1975 itself under this Accord, despite the fact that his party did not have even a single legislator either in the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council and that he himself was not a member of the either House. Not only this, the Sheikh gave up his 25-year-old demand for greater autonomy in 1981, when the Chairman of Central Laws Review Committee and the then J&K Deputy Chief Minister, DD Thakur, submitted his report and told the Chief Minister that the “needles of the clock cannot be turned back” and that the application of the provisions of the Indian Constitution to J&K had only benefited the State and its citizens.  

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top