29 Oct 2010
Kashmir Conundrum: The Myths, The Truth, and More
By Dr. Ajay Chrungoo

Indian State's policy in Jammu and Kashmir, in a common man's idiom, can be summed up as: 

India allowed the bricks of separatism in its various hues to be laid down with an understanding that those who are building the house will allow plaster of Indian sovereignty and secularism over the building blocks. The bricks are now so much soaked in the water of separatism that they refuse to take up the plaster.

1. Can communalism be defeated by patronising communalism? Indian state tried to do that for decades. It is still trying it. Patronise 'azadiwallahs' to fight 'Paksitan wallahs'. Patronise 'autonomy wallahs' to neutralise 'azadiwallahs'. and now we have Pakistanwallahs plus Azadiwallahs plus autonomywallahs all asking India to quit Kashmir.

2. In Kashmiri "seki lar" means house of sand. Indian secularism has been turned into "Seki lar ism", an obsessive and compulsive urge to build houses of sand .... a small whiff of air can dismantle it.

3. In Kashmir slavery has become freedom and real freedom has become slavery. We are witnessing a State policy of reimaging the terrorists as victims and communalists as revolutionaries.

4. Communalism is the at the root of alienation in Kashmir and not misgovernance, rigged elections or unfulfilled promises. The irony is that Indian state has only invested in muslim communalism in Jammu and Kashmir.

5. The new bluff is that Jammu and Kashmir didn't sign the instrument of merger, so accession issue remains unsettled. Instrument of merger,known also as Instrument of Attachment, was for smaller princely states to merge together or with the provinces to form into administratively viable units. It was not for larger princely states like J&K which had to sign a standard Instrument of Accession for such states.

First Myth: As per partition plan Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir should have acceded to Pakistan.

The Truth: Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state and partition plan applied only to British India. Generations in Kashmir, since1947, should have been told this truth and also the fact that it was Muslim league which opposed the application of partition plan to the princely states.

Myth Two: When the British left India, the scheme of transfer of power envisaged the option of Independence for the States, which was denied to Jammu and Kashmir through share Manipulation by Indian State.

The Truth: The British Government had made it expressly clear in their parliament that they will neither give dominion Status to States nor reconise them as independent entities.

Myth Three: Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah's consent accomplished the Accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India on conditions which subsequently India flouted.

The Truth: Sheikh had no locus standii in the matter. After being spurned by Jinnah and face to face with an Invasion by Pakistan, he was desperate that India should accept the accession offer unconditionally and without delay.

Myth Four: Mountbatten's letter to Hari singh suggesting eliciting the opinion of people made accession conditional. 

The Truth: As per the Indian Independence Act neither Mountbatten nor Nehru had any power to alter the Instrument of accession or even refuse it after it was duly signed by the ruler.

Myth Five: Mountbatten's letter to Haris Singh suggesting eliciting opinion of people was a promise to people of Kashmir which was never fulfilled.

The Truth: People's opinion could not be elicited because Pakistan did not vacate the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir which was an imperative requirement.

Myth Six: The leaving of British in 1947 automatically empowered the people in Jammu and Kashmir to decide about their future.

The Truth: Both the British as well as the Muslim League stubbornly insisted on reversion of the powers to the rulers after lapse of Paramountcy. Indian National Congress had in vain pleaded that people in princely States should decide about the issue of accession after the exit of British.

Myth Seven: Maharaja ran away like a coward when Pakistan supported Tribal invasion of Jammu and Kashmir took place and deserted his people. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah stood by his people like a brave leader.

The Truth: On 24 October,1947, Brigadier Rajinder Singh, the Commander in Chief of the State Army who was leading his forces to stop the invaders, found the position of his troops too precarious. He called his main Signal Man, Lt. Nasib Singh Rawat, who was injured in the battle and asked him to go to Maharaja Hari Singh and advise him three things on his behalf. 

One, without any delay ask for help from the Government of India to defeat the Pakistani invasion. Two, leave Srinagar immediately to the safer area of Jammu as his survival was critical for the State. And three, evacuate the three daughters and wife of Brigadier Rajinder Singh to safety. 

Lt Nasib Singh Rawat delivered the messages of the C-in-C of the State forces personally to Maharaja. The Maharaja Hari Singh was furious for having been advised to leave his forces and reach Jammu. He refused and told Nasib Singh Rawat that he will command his forces to the last. 

It was V P Menon, who in an intense discussion with the Maharaja Hari Singh, convinced him about how crucial his survival was for the battle at hand and how critical it was for him not to be captured by the enemy.Maharaja left for Jammu on early hours of 25 Oct,1947. He drove himself leading the royal caravan. On 26 Oct.1947 India Accepted the accession offered by Hari Singh.

On 27 Oct.1947, the first aeroplane carrying the contingent of Indian troops landed on Srinagar Airport. It is in this plane itself, the family of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, was whisked away to Delhi. Sheikh was already there well before the accession.

Myth Eighth: Only people of J&K were denied right of self determination.

The Truth: The Partition was imposed on the people of India by denying them the right to decide about it by the British and the Muslim league. It was denial of the right of self determination to the entire people of India. This right was only recognized for the people of the state. Pakistani occupation destroyed the scope of a plebiscite.

Myth Nine: Instrument of Accession was drafted after due consultation with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and other NC leaders.

The Truth: When the Instrument of Accession was drafted Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and all main NC leaders were in Jail. So they were nowhere near to influence the content and quality of Instrument of Accession.

Myth Ten: Accession had no peoples support. Indian arguments are purely legal bereft of any democratic legitimacy.

The Truth: Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was released from Jail on 29 Septembe,1947. Three days after the Working Committee of the most popular party of Jammu and Kashmir, the National conference, met and endorsed the accession of the state with India.

Author heads Panun Kashmir, an organisation representing the ethnic Kashmir Pandits. The article is an adaptation of the views expressed by the author on Kashmir between September 2010 and October 2010 on a micro-blogging site. 

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