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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Shiv Narain Fotedar Replies Maulana Masoodi

Below is the text of the speech delivered by late Sh. S.N. Fotedar on the floor of the Parliament on 17 September, 1953, while participating in the debate on Foreign Affairs, with particular reference to Kashmir.

Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in fact I had no idea to participate in theMasoodi debate on the foreign policy of India. But the time I came, I found my learned friend, Maulana Masoodi, saying certain things on Kashmir. I feel that a stage has come, when it is no use beating about the bush, and keeping things up your sleeves, when the fate of great empires and countries is involved on the issue of Kashmir. With all the reverence that I have for my friend, Maulana Sahib, against whom I stand up today not in a spirit of animosity but only with the idea of clearing certain points which he has put in a manner, which is bound to create a certain amount of confusion and suspicion.

No doubt, the activities of certain organisations here in India and in the Jammu Province did influence the opinion of the people in Kashmir, but to place outright the responsibility of a certain idea which may have been sedulously gaining ground in the mind of Sheikh Sahib himself, since a long time on them, is not correct.

So far as the question of independence is concerned, I think it is not quite a fresh idea or a recent development in Sheikh Sahib so far as I know. I belong to Kashmir and Kashmir, I always feel and I do feel even today, is an integral part of India. As such, I can speak things in an authoritative manner when compared to many other friends here, who do not belong to Kashmir.

So far back as 1948, Sheikh Sahib did raise a slogan of independence. It was not in the year 1953, it was in the year 1948 that he took into confidence certain foreign press correspondents and told them that independence was the only solution for Kashmir. At that time, Sardar Patel was living and Sheikh Abdullah was summoned over here. Then, my friends may be remembering, he said that he was thinking aloud. This was the time when Mr Loy Henderson was in Kashmir along with his wife. In the year 1952 when the Ranbirsinghpura speech was made by Sheikh Sahib, there was no Jan Sangh, at that time there were no activities by the Praja Praishad, much less of the Jan Sangh against Kashmir government. Yet there was that much-maligned statement made at a public meeting which was covered by the Press Trust of India and subsequently by other papers and about which even the idol of the people, the great leader of the country, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, had to speak in a public meeting that he was not feeling happy. Then also the working of Sheikh Abdullah’s mind regarding the future political status of Kashmir was quite visible and could not escape detection.

I do not belong to the Working Committee of the National Conference, but I do know things and learn things from the members of the Working Committee. On that authority, as also on what I have learnt directly from Sheikh Sahib on the eve of my departure from Kashmir to attend the present session of the Parliament, I lay this before the House for information and guidance. I had a long talk with him about Kashmir for about two and a half hours and finally he told me that there was no solution for the Kashmir question, except independence, that those parts of Jammu which are inhabited mostly by Hindus, and Ladakh, should go to India and the parts held by Pakistan at the present moment should remain with Pakistan, the rest to be converted, after the wreckage of the state into an independent territory, to be recognised both by India and Pakistan. Not only that, he said that since both these countries were getting a slice, both should subsidise what remained of the State--the independent Kashmir valley--so that we could develop Kashmir from within.

Well, this was the talk I had with him. I don’t suppose I have much time at my disposal to describe enti-narrative here, although it is very much necessary. The idea of independence was gaining ground in the mind of Sheikh Abdullah since a long long time. And here my friend, Maulana Sahib--with all deference to him--said that it was the Jan Sangh, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Praja Parishad which influenced the decision of Sheikh Sahib. I do not absolve them of their share of responsibility, but all the same, I feel, and I say it with a sense of responsibility, that such events alone did not constitute any basic reason in Sheikh Sahib’s mind to drift into the channel of independence.

In fact, the Jan Sangh, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Praja Parishad do not form India and Sheikh Abdullah had no reason to mount the stage and condemn the whole of the Indian nation and the Indian Republic, to speak things against the whole of India and to compare Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru with Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. (Cries of ‘shame’, ‘shame’ from all benches).

He said in the Working Committee and the workers meeting that there was no difference between Pandit Nehru and Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. This was an unkindest cut and the height of ingratitude. That was the state of affairs in the workers’ meeting, where I heard him speaking things against India and the people, and also the workers being roused against India.

I used to put this question to myself after all what has India done to deserve this denunciation? Did India go as an aggressor to Kashmir? India came to Kashmir when Pakistan was the aggressor. India on the invitation of the people came to defend the independence, the life and property and chastity of womanhood in Kashmir against Pakistan aggression. Did he (Sheikh Abdullah) not say, that there was no power on earth which can separate Kashmir from India and that independence was impolitic and inappreciable? Therefore, what has India done? India never interfered. The greatest charge I can lay at the door of India today is that India never cared to interfere with the internal Administration of Kashmir. (Cheers from opposition benches). India said that she had gone there at the invitation of the people and if the people asked India to leave Kashmir, India would not take even a single minute to leave the country.

The second thing is this. Here my friend said that no decision was taken. But, is it not a fact that after having found himself in a minority in the Working Committee, in the administration and the Cabinet, as also in the Constituent Assembly, Sheikh Abdullah rushed on to the stage? Was it not negation of democracy, and political tyranny, to talk to the people that things cannot be decided in closed room? He called the Working Committee a closed room; he called his own cabinet a closed room; cabinet members are the chosen representatives of the people. Cabinet members were selected from among the members of the Constituent Assembly, which Sheikh Abdullah always termed as the sovereign authority of the land. Was it a room? If that is a room, then I think our Parliament is also a room. For everypurpose then we shall have to run to 36 crores of people. He said all these things, I think, to divert the attention of the masses from acute economic distress and maladministration in the country.

I felt sad and surprised to see that the great leader of the country for whom I have great reverence, should have degenerated into communal channels and repudiated the time-honoured stand of the National Conference of which he was the Head. Perhaps the idea was to help and strengthen certain elements in Pakistan and in foreign countries, while negotiations regarding the future of Kashmir were going on. I am not concerned with all that at the present moment. My friend Maulana Sahib said about himself that he was against Pakistan and the idea of independence. I know it very well as he used to talk to me then, while he was leading a sort of a movement against Sheikh Abdullah’s misconceived stand within the ranks of the National Conference. He was a leader of a movement which was bound to bring about the downfall and the collapse of Sheikh Abdullah’s undemocratic and dictatorial edifice. When the edifice has fallen, he was responsible for all this and now he should not have any reason to feel unhappy over It, I donot want to take the time of the House. I want to say only this thing, Sir, that it is really unhappy that such things should have happened in Kashmir. But, I may say that the leadership which has come to power with Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed at its head did not save only Kashmir from disaster, it saved the whole of Pakistan and the whole of the republic of India from a great disaster which would have overtaken them. (Cheers from all benches). So, I feel that we should really be grateful to that leadership and also Maulana Sahib for taking an authoritative stand against Sheikh Abdullah’s stand--stand rejected by the National Conference times without number.

Now, it is said that we should understand something about the actual and basic position. There cannot be one person in the world who can influence the decision of the teeming millions. It is the age-long ideology of the people and an organisation which counts. In the year 1947, it was not one person or a coterie of friends, but, in fact, the entire mass of the Kashmiris who wanted to go to India and not to Pakistan and who influenced by their time-honoured political professions and faith fought Pakistan raiders. It is not correct to say that only one person or a coterie of people can deliver the goods. That will be to reduce the people to automatons, to make them something like machines in the present age of democracy. Then the question of ascertaining the will of the people becomes a sinning mockery. I say that in the year 1947, there was no doubt, that Sheikh Sahib and his friends, the Maulana Sahib, Bakshi Sahib and others did a very great thing in the history of Kashmir.

At the present moment, to say that because the Jan Sangh, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Praja Parishad indulged in communal activities, therefore, such a thing happened, is not correct. Are Jan Sangh and the Hindu Mahashaba the whole of India? India consists of 36 crores of people. If Sheikh Abdullah was responsible before 30 lakhs of people, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his government are responsible before 36 crores of people. Did not this Government of India endorse the activities of the Kashmir government unreservedly, when the movement was going on in Jammu? Did not Panditji say that it was a most mischievous and pernicious movement? Did he not say that if he would have been there as the Head of Administration he would have taken sterner measures against this mischievous and pernicious movement? Did not the Government of India and the Indian Parliament and the whole Congress back Sheikh Abdullah for five years? Is it not manufacturing an excuse now, for the realisation of some sinister objective, to say that the Jan Sangh and Praja Parishad did certain things and all these things happened, and therefore a volte-face.

My friend Maulana Sahib said that a Commission of Enquiry should be appointed to enquire into the recent happenings in Kashmir. Maulana Sahib is the General Secretary of the National Conference. It is the National Conference government that is functioning in Kashmir. Why does he not ask his own government, his own party to do that? If at all there is any truth in the stories of atrocities. I feel that besides what is being said, many things must have happened because it was a tremendous upheaval--all the same the astounding things said in the Pakistan press and in the foreign press are only to cater to their own nefarious political ends. I think these are all mendacious inventions which deserve not even the dignity of a formal denial. The people of Kashmir want good government which was denied to them all these six years. On matters pertaining to the future political set-up of Kashmir, they have energetically expressed themselves in 1947, against odds, danger to life and religious appeal, while fighting Pakistan aggression.

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