J&K: Nehru & coterie betrayed the nation
by Hari Om on 01 Jul 2011 29 Comments
Jammu & Kashmir is again in the news, with anti-India forces upping the ante and virtually asking New Delhi to quit the State to forge a lasting peace in the region. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), a congregation of 57 Muslim nations, including Pakistan, termed the Indian Jammu & Kashmir as “Indian-occupied.” It used this outrageous terminology in its invitation letter to the All Party Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on the eve of talks between the Indian Foreign Secretary and her Pakistani counterpart; the talks took place on June 23 and 24, in Islamabad.


There was a special and exclusive session on Jammu & Kashmir. In other words, Pakistan succeeded in getting Kashmir delinked from the so-called composite dialogue process, and this was a crowning triumph of Pakistan’s aggressive and coercive diplomacy.


It is a different matter that the entire Pakistani media, print and electronic, dismissed the meeting as not that fruitful. This is understandable for the Pakistani media, like the Pakistani political establishment, the Army, the ISI, civil society and retired generals, is not interested in talks for the sake of talks. It is interested in result-oriented talks; in a solution that merges Jammu & Kashmir with Pakistan, which all Pakistanis consider as the “unfinished agenda of partition.”


The latest survey in Pakistan has cleared all the cobwebs of confusion and established that the bulk of Pakistani civil society considers India and not Taliban the “biggest threat to Pakistan.” This survey should expose those in India who have been preaching day in and day out that Pakistani civil society and Pakistan-based commentators and opinion leaders want to befriend India or long for Indo-Pak friendship. They want Kashmir because they want to control and utilize the State waters to enrich Pakistan, protect its territorial integrity, and to balkanize India. There should be no doubt on this score.    


Anyway, three more developments took place in Pakistan almost simultaneously on the eve of Indo-Pak talks. One, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made a provocative speech in Pakistan-occupied-Jammu & Kashmir (POJK). It was in fact an unequivocal threat to India. He quoted Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and declared he was religiously committed to Bhutto’s declamation that: “Pakistan is ready to fight a thousand-year war with India for Kashmir.” He said: “Kashmir is the core issue.”


Two, President Asif Ali Zardari again reiterated that Kashmir continued to be Pakistan’s “jugular vein.” Three, newly-appointed Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar did not lag behind. The arrogant and unsophisticated lady said: “If not Kashmir, what else to be discussed with the Indian Foreign Secretary?” “Kashmir is the core issue,” she, like Geelani and Zardari, asserted even before the commencement of talks. She added: “Issue of terror could not be linked with the Indo-Pak dialogue process as terrorism is an issue that affects the whole region. The real problem that has estranged the relations between India and Pakistan is Kashmir and talks have to be Kashmir-centric.”


Jammu & Kashmir also witnessed almost all “mainstream” and separatist leaders, including Union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, People’s Democratic Party leaders Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti, Tehrik-e-Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani, All-Party Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and so on, singing the same song: “We hope Kashmir would figure during the talks.” It is hardly necessary to reflect on what they meant: India must resolve the issue to the satisfaction of Islamabad and the Kashmiri-speaking Sunni leadership. 


All these developments in Pakistan, POJK and Indian J&K established beyond doubt that there was none who did not wish New Delhi to address Pakistani concerns in Jammu & Kashmir as well as of those in Kashmir who have been working overtime to get the State delinked from India. Besides, these developments served to indicate that India is the culprit; India is the aggressor; and India is the root cause of all troubles in the region.


No well-wisher of India and no Indian patriot would appreciate what happened on the eve of the Indo-Pak talks or what transpired during the talks between the two Foreign Secretaries. But one would certainly question the manner in which New Delhi and the Congress handled the Kashmir issue in 1947 and thereafter, because the policy-planners in South Block never acted in the best interests of the nation. Ambivalent, weak and non-committed as they were, they made statement after statement to queer the Indian pitch in J&K or to weaken the Indian position in the State, which, like all other Princely States, had acceded to India in terms of the constitutional law on the subject. They made statements at regular intervals and created an impression that though the State had acceded to India, a final decision on the State’s political future had yet to be taken and the decision could even go against India itself.


Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru repeatedly made statements about Jammu & Kashmir which enabled Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists to beat India mercilessly and assert that the State’s political future was not decided in October 1947. Glance through Nehru’s telegram No. 413, dated October 28, 1947; and telegrams No 25 and 255, dated October 31, 1947, to his Pakistani counterpart; letter from Nehru to the Pakistani Prime Minister, No 368, dated November 21, 1947; his statement in the Indian Constituent Assembly, November 25, 1947; The Statesman, January 18, 1951 and May 1, 1953; statement in Parliament on February12, 1951; address at public meeting in Srinagar, June 4, 1951; report of the AICC, July 6, 1951; statements made in Parliament on June 26 and August 7, 1952 and March 31, 1955; letters from Nehru to the Pakistani Prime Minister, dated September 3, 1953, and November 10, 1953; statement made in the Indian Council of States on May 18, 1954; The Times of India, May 16, 1954; and so on. Here are some of the statements Nehru made between 1947 and 1955, the most crucial period as far as the State was concerned.


1.       “We have always right from the beginning accepted the idea of the Kashmir people (read Kashmiri Muslims) deciding their fate by referendum or plebiscite. Ultimately, the final decision of settlement, which must come, has first of all to be made basically by the people of Kashmir


2.      “In regard to accession also it has been made clear that this is subject to reference to people of State (read Kashmir) and their decision.”


3.      “First of all, I would like to remind you of the fateful days of 1947 when I came to Srinagar and gave the solemn assurance that the people of India would stand by Kashmir in her struggle. (Who was he to speak on behalf of the people of India and who had given him that mandate?) On that assurance, I shook Sheikh Abdullah’s hand before the vast multitude that had gathered there (read Srinagar). I want to repeat that the Government of India will stand by that pledge, whatever happens. That pledge itself stated that it is for the people of Kashmir to decide their fate without external interference (read New Delhi’s interference). That assurance also remains and will continue.”


4.      “Kashmir should decide question of accession by plebiscite or referendum under international auspices such as those of the United Nations.”


5.      “…The people of Kashmir would decide the question of accession. It is open to them to accede to either Dominion then.” 


6.      “But so far as the Government of India are concerned, every assurance and international commitment in regard to Kashmir stands.”


7.      “India is a great country and Kashmir is almost in the heart of Asia. There is an enormous difference not only geographically but in all kinds of facts there. Do you think you are dealing with a part of UP or Bihar or Gujarat?” (You are dealing with Kashmir. Home Minister P Chidambaram almost said the same thing in Srinagar after assuming the charge. He had said: “Solutions applicable to other parts of India cannot be replicated in Kashmir, as Kashmir has unique geography and unique history.” It appears he has gone through the Nehru’s June 4, 1951 address at a public meeting in Srinagar.)


8.      “We had given our pledge to the people of Kashmir, and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide.”


9.      “We have taken the issue to the United Nations and given our word of honour for a peaceful solution. As a great nation, we cannot go back on it. We have left the question for final solution to the people of Kashmir and we are determined to abide by their decision.”


10. “If, after a proper plebiscite, the people of Kashmir said, ‘We do not want to be with India’, we are committed to accept that. We will accept it though it might pain us. We will not send any army against them. We will accept that, however hurt we might feel about it, we will change the Constitution, if necessary.” (Interlocutors for Jammu & Kashmir Dileep Padgaonkar and Radha Kumar also expressed similar views in Srinagar in October 2010.)


11.   “I want to stress that it is only the people of Kashmir who can decide the future of Kashmir. It is not that we have merely said that to the United Nations and to the people of Kashmir, it is our conviction and one that is borne out by the policy that we have pursued not only in Kashmir but everywhere. Though these five years (1947-1952) have meant a lot of trouble and expense and in spite of all we have done we would willingly leave Kashmir if it was made clear to us that the people of Kashmir wanted us to go. However sad we may feel about leaving, we are not going to stay against the wishes of the people. We are not going to impose ourselves on them at the point of bayonet. I started with the presumption that it is for the people of Kashmir to decide their own future. We will not compel them. In that sense, the people of Kashmir are sovereign.”


12.   “The whole dispute about Kashmir is still before the United Nations. We cannot just decide things concerning Kashmir. We cannot pass a bill or issue an order concerning Kashmir or do whatever we want.”


13.   “As a result of the plebiscite over the entire state, we would be in a position to consider the matter, so that the final decision should cause least disturbance and should take into consideration geographical, economic and other important factors.”


Nehru was not the only one who messed up in Kashmir and created doubts in the minds of the international community about the political status of Jammu & Kashmir. Mahatma Gandhi, Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Krishna Menon, Vijayalakshmi Pandit and others in the Government of India made statements and wrote letters enabling the anti-India elements to exploit them to the hilt and question the Indian presence in the State. Hence, it would be appropriate to reproduce here what they said from time to time and it imperative that Indians go through Mahatma Gandhi’s October 26, 1947 speech at Prayer Meeting in Delhi; December 31, 1947 letter from Government of India to the United Nations; the January 15, 1948 Ayyangar statement at the UN Security Council; the Government of India’s White Paper on Kashmir (1948); the April 5, 1951 Menon statement at the UN General Assembly; The Statesman, New Delhi, August 2, 1951 & January 19, 1962; the September 11, 1951 Government of India letter to the UN Representative for India and Pakistan; the December 8, 1952 Vijayalakshmi Pandit statement at the Security Council; the January 24, February 8 and 20 and October 9, 1957 Menon statements at the UN Security Council; and so on.


Gandhi said: “If the people of Kashmir are in favour of opting for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so. They should be left free to decide for themselves.” Note that Gandhi didn’t say that the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, like all other princes, alone had the right to decide the State’s political future. Remember, the Indian Independence Act of 1947, under which Pakistan came into being, nowhere suggested that the future of Princely States would be finally settled by reference to the people of the respective States.


And, what did Ayyangar, Menon, Pandit and the Government of India say and write about Jammu & Kashmir from time to time?


1.       “The people of Kashmir would be free to decide their future by the recognized democratic method of plebiscite or referendum, which in order to ensure complete impartiality may be held under international auspices” (From Government of India to the United Nations, December 31, 1947.)


2.      “In accepting the accession they (the Government of India) refused to take advantage of the immediate peril in which the state found itself and informed the ruler that the accession should finally be settled by plebiscite as soon as peace has been restored. They have subsequently made it quite clear that they are agreeable to the plebiscite being conducted if necessary under international auspices. On the question of accession, the Government of India has always enunciated the policy that in all cases of dispute the people of the state concerned should make the decision. We have no further interest, and we have agreed that a plebiscite in Kashmir might take place under international auspices after peace and order have been established. We desire only to see peace restored in Kashmir and ensure that the people of Kashmir are left free to decide in an orderly and peaceful manner the future of their state” (Ayyangar’s statement at the Security Council, January 15, 1948).


3.      “The question of accession is to be decided finally in a free plebiscite, on this there is no dispute” (White Paper on Kashmir).


4.      “My government has always taken the view that resolutions, if they are passed, must be implemented…We adhere strictly to our pledge of plebiscite in Kashmir – a pledge made to the people because they believe in democratic government…We don’t regard Kashmir as a commodity to be trafficked in…The Government of India not only reaffirms its acceptance of the principle that the question of the continuing accession of the state of Jammu & Kashmir to India shall be decided through the democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations, but is anxious that the conditions necessary for such a plebiscite should be created as quickly as possible…If, as a result of a plebiscite, the people decided that they did not want to stay with India, then our duty would be to adopt those constitutional procedures which would enable us to separate that territory…The resolution of January 17, 1948 and the resolutions of the UNCIP, the assurances given, these are all resolutions which carry a greater weight - that is because we have accepted them, we are parties to them, whether we like them or not…These documents (UNCIP reports) and declarations and the resolutions of the Security Council are decisions; they are resolutions, there has been some resolving of a question of one character or another, there has been a meeting of minds on this question where we have committed ourselves to it…India believes that sovereignty rests in the people (read Sheikh Abdullah and his followers) and should return to them…” (Menon’s statements, dated Apr 5 And Aug 2, 1951; Jan 24, Feb 8 and 20 and Oct 19, 1957; and Jan 19, 1962).


5.      Vijayalakshmi Pandit sang the same song on December 8, 1952, at the Security Council: “I want to say for the purpose of the record that there is nothing that has been said on behalf of the Government of India which in the slightest degree indicates that the Government of India or the Union of India will dishonour any international obligation it has undertaken.”


What do all these statements and correspondence between Nehru and his Pakistani counterpart and between India and the United Nations show? They show that it was Nehru and the Congress who behaved in a fashion no real leader and no genuine political party in any self-respecting country ever acted. That Nehru and Congress would adopt an ambivalent attitude towards Kashmir and put all their eggs in the basket of Sheikh Abdullah just to avenge his arrest at Kohala in 1946 at the behest of Maharaja Hari Singh doesn’t enhance our confidence in Nehru and Congress.


One may or may not endorse the BJP’s policy towards Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan, but one cannot but endorse what L.K. Advani wrote about Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah just a few days ago: “Kashmir problem is Nehru’s gift to India and Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah did not consider Jammu & Kashmir as an integral part of India.”


The nation is paying a very heavy price for the crimes Nehru, his colleagues and relatives committed while handling Jammu & Kashmir. Don’t forget this was the solitary princely state that Nehru deliberately handled himself and handled in a manner that enabled all the anti-India forces gang up against India with all or nearly all of them supporting Pakistan and Pakistani agents in Kashmir.


No wonder then that Kashmiri leaders of all hues are accusing New Delhi of going back on its promises. It’s also only natural that Kashmiri commentators are using these statements in order to make the Muslims of Kashmir believe that the ongoing so-called freedom struggle in Kashmir is the fall-out of the failure of Nehru and New Delhi to honour the commitments they made. Kashmiri commentators like Mehboob Makhdoomi have adopted a new approach to make their point: Quote what Indian leaders said from time to time and quote what New Delhi wrote from time to time and make readers draw their own conclusions and inferences.


A month ago, Makhdoomi justified the ongoing secessionist movement in Kashmir: “Kashmir imbroglio may be hard to resolve, because of India’s adamance (read adamancy), but it’s not hard to ascertain the culprit among the parties involved. I have no intention to go through the events from 1947 to 2011, in order to prove my interpretation right. In fact, I would like to present some facts, which will leave no room for interpretations. Let’s see what was promised to us (Kashmiris), not by the international community, not by Pakistan but by the very Greats of the Nation of India.” The rest of his essay was a catalogue of statements Indian leaders made …


Yet it is important to note that neither Kashmiri leaders nor Kashmiri commentators present an accurate picture of facts. For example, they talk of plebiscite but do not inform the public that plebiscite could be held only after Pakistan vacates the aggression and Indian forces occupy POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. They would never reveal this truth. Their single-point agenda is to mislead and hoodwink gullible Kashmiri Muslims and further their respective agendas. 


Still, the conclusion remains that Nehru and his coterie betrayed the Indian nation. It’s a matter of grave concern that the attitude of his successors, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has been no different. Dr Singh, like his predecessors, has been pursing a policy that only emboldens Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists. And, the greatest worry is that the entire opposition is in a state of paralysis.



The author is former Chair Professor, Maharaja Gulab Singh Chair, University of Jammu, Jammu, & former member Indian Council of Historical Research

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