Book Review: Jammu & Kashmir – Dilemma of Accession
by R K Ohri on 19 Jun 2017 10 Comments

The mystery surrounding the delayed accession of Jammu & Kashmir to India has remained shrouded in mystery for the last seventy years. Radha Rajan has tried to clear the cobwebs of confusion surrounding this monumental event. In Jammu & Kashmir: Dilemma of Accession, the author has discussed the behind-the-scene developments relating to Jammu & Kashmir in the years immediately preceding and following India’s independence. Those were tumultuous times during which India was partitioned and the Islamic nation of Pakistan was born in a welter of bloodbath.


Pandit Ram Chandra Kak was the Prime Minister of the State for two years from June 30, 1945 to August 11, 1947. The question of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir had cropped up twice, first in 1946 when the British Cabinet Mission led by Sir Stafford Cripps visited India, and again in 1947 at the time of India’s independence. The response of Maharaja Hari Singh on both occasions was that he did not wish to accede to either India or Pakistan.  


Interestingly, the Maharaja as well as his prime minister Ram Chandra Kak both agreed that the State should not to accede to any country, though for different reasons. The reason for the refusal of Maharaja Hari Singh was the cock-eyed advice given by Swami Sant Dev, a priest of no consequence who surfaced in 1944 and became very close to the Maharaja. He misled Hari Singh by prophesying that his kingdom was destined to become bigger in the near future, which prophecy made the Maharaja dream of greater grandeur.


In the case of   Pandit Kak, however, the decisive factor for refusal was the partisan interference of the Indian National Congress in the affairs of the State and Congress’ insistence on handing over charge to Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. As highlighted by the author, Pandit Kak was aware of the communal mindset of Sheikh Abdullah and was a witness to the latter starting his political career as a leader of the Muslim Conference, a patently communal outfit. He had seen how a violent agitation was launched by the Sheikh in 1931 during which time Hindus were harassed and targeted by mobsters belonging to the Muslim Conference. It was well known in Kashmir valley that later on Sheikh Abdullah had changed the name of his communal organisation to an allegedly ‘secular’ political outfit, National Conference, solely for seeking the support of the Congress party for furthering his political agenda.


The author relies on a copy of a 22-page typewritten private note written by Pandit Kak in 1956, which reveals the behind-the-scene machinations of Nehru, Gandhi and other leaders of the Congress party, to hand over the strategically important State to Sheikh Abdullah as his political fief to undermine the unity of India. The note gives graphic details of the violence and mayhem unleashed by the Muslim Conference presided over by Sheikh Abdullah. Inter alia, the document also reveals that today’s most dangerous weapon of stone-pelting was invented and used by jihadi goons of the Muslim Conference!


With the benefit of hindsight, Kak’s assessment of the duplicitous character of Sheikh Abdullah has proved correct. The bitter truth dawned on Nehru in 1953, when he was compelled to arrest and jail Abdullah on charges of criminal conspiracy and sedition. By then, substantial damage had been done to India’s attempt to reclaim the political ground which the National Conference had captured in the Kashmir valley, ironically with the full support of Nehru and the Congress leadership. In retrospect, it appears that Kak was a better strategic thinker and visionary than the Congress which could not see through the dirty game being played by Sheikh Abdullah because of the Congress’ explicit hostility towards the Indian Princely States. This was a major failure for which the Congress, especially Gandhi and Nehru, were squarely responsible.       


Serious misgivings about the future of the State again rose in the mind of Pandit Kak when Sheikh Abdullah launched the so-called ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign in 1946, when mobs used to surround the houses of respectable members of the Hindu minority in a bid to terrorize the householders, including their womenfolk, by hurling filthy abuses and throwing stones. Ultimately Kak had to order the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah to curb the rising tide of lawlessness, much to the chagrin of Nehru. Without realizing the ground situation, Gandhi drafted a resolution proposed to be passed by the Congress Working Committee which castigated the State Government for arresting the Sheikh and sought his immediate release.   


Among other things, the resolution sought to constitute a committee to probe the so-called repressive measures taken by the State government, a committee which had no legal status. The arrest of Abdullah in May 1946 prompted Nehru to proceed to Srinagar despite a clear warning by Kak that the former would not be allowed to enter Srinagar. Nehru and his accomplices were stopped at the border-post of Kohala and housed in the Dak Bungalow at Uri. In response Gandhi’s call, Nehru returned to Delhi via Rawalpindi. 


The author has exposed the nefarious role played by Lord Mountbatten by misusing his position as Governor General in the post-independence years. While fulfilling the objective of the former British rulers to deny control of the strategic State of Jammu & Kashmir to India, Mountbatten maneuvered to make plebiscite a pre-condition for the state’s accession to India, with the approval of Nehru.


There is an old saying that life is a harsh teacher which gives test first and lesson afterwards. Nehru woke from deep slumber only on August 8, 1953, after intelligence officers placed before him documented evidence of Sheikh Abdullah hobnobbing with Pakistan, including several letters and recorded tapes of his virulent anti-national speeches. The evidence shocked Nehru and he was compelled to order the arrest of his close friend; a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy was registered against Sheikh Abdullah and 23 associates. Unfortunately, the owl of Minerva began its flight over Delhi only after darkness had enveloped the State of Jammu & Kashmir.


Pandit Kak highlights the fact that Lord Mountbatten had visited Kashmir in June 1947 with the specific object of getting a decision on the question of accession. When he directly asked Mountbatten as to which country the Maharaja should accede, the rigmarole reply of Mountbatten was that the final decision was to be taken by the ruler. He, however, advised that the decision should be taken after taking into account the geography of the State, composition of its population and the prevailing political situation. Clearly Mountbatten preferred accession to Pakistan. India had to pay a heavy price for Nehru’s flawed decision to allow Mountbatten to remain as Governor General, after the partition.   


Radha Rajan has established two important facts of the Kashmir narrative. The first is that Kak was a better strategic thinker than Nehru and Gandhi about the future of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The second is that the Congress party’s decision to retain Lord Mountbatten as Governor General was seriously flawed, even harmful to Indian interests. Why and how Nehru decided to keep Mountbatten as head of the Indian government is a subject that requires intensive research. The will be of immense interest to strategic thinkers and analysts. Before concluding, I would like to join in the prayer of Pandit Kak that we Indians will soon regain full control of Kashmir valley and ensure the return of the displaced Hindus to their ancient homeland. 


The views expressed are personal

Jammu & Kashmir: Dilemma of Accession: A Historical Analysis and Lesson

Radha Rajan

Voice of India, New Delhi, 2017.

Pages: 140

Price: Rs. 300/-

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