Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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Milchar
May-June 2004 issue

Kashmir's International KP Logo - Proposed & Designed by Sandeep Sopori, USA

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

 

From the Pages of History

J.N. Kachroo

Indo-Pak War - Part III

Plebiscite - Its Genesis and Current Status: The secessionists hold that the Kashmir's accession was subject to people’s will and also to the implementation of an UNO resolution. They claim India has not honoured her promises. On the other hand, critics of Nehru blame him of Idealism. It would be appropriate to trace the historical march of events in this regard for an impartial, realistic, and logical (devoid of emotions) conclusions. Human memory is short and always needs to be refreshed.

Before proceeding ahead, it would be useful to keep in mind the salient features of the political scene in Kashmir on the eve of India’s Independence. It can be summed up as follows:

A secular party, the National Conference (NC) led the freedom struggle by the citizens of J&K against their Hindu Maharaja. The Congress was closely associated with the NC and its movement for democratic rights. The Muslim League, professed champion of Muslims of the sub continent, denounced the secular democratic movement and its connection with the Congress.

The country was in the grip of massive communal riots. There were large scale riots in the Punjab, The western borders of J&K were too fragile to prevent infiltration. According to an assessment by Prime Minister Nehru, Maharaja Harisingh’s army would not be able to face any border trouble, the signs of which were increasingly visible, without popular support. Obviously, the only major group that could help was the NC under Sheikh Abdullah, who was in jail alongwith his followers.

The decision of the British Govt. to partition India was announced on 3rd June 1947 the rulers of the states could make their own decision.

Maharaja Harisingh’s Procrastination: The Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten visited Kashmir on 19th June 1947 to meet Maharaja Harisingh. One day before he flew to Srinagar, he issued a statement saying, "Constitutionally and legally the Indian states will be independent sovereign states on the termination of paramountcy and they will be free to decide themselves to adopt any course they like". His mission was to make Harisingh realise the gravity of the situation and act decisively. But, unfortunately, the crucial meeting between them scheduled for 22 June 1947 could not take place. Harisingh suffered a colic attack. Shortly after his return to London, Mountbatten said in a speech, "On everyone of the four days, I persisted with the advice : Ascertain the will of your people by any means and join by August 14th this year ... Had he acceded to Pakistan before 14th August 1947, the future govt. of India had allowed me to give His Highness an assurance that no objection whatever would be raised by them.". And had the Maharaja joined India, Pakistan could not object, as it did not exist" (Refer 'Time Only To Look Forward' P.69). The Viceroy returned without any success.

Mahatma Gandhi visited Kashmir on 29th July 1947 on almost the same mission without any visible success. S.M.Abdulla continued being in jail. Maharaja Harising, perhaps frightened by Jinnah’s Islam in Pakistan and Nehru’s democracy in India, opted out for procrastination. S.M.Abdullah, continued to be in jail.

Maharaja Harisingh opted out for a 'Standstill Agreement' with Pakistan. Theoretically he attained his Independence on 15th August 1947 on the termination of British paramountcy. Integration of Indian States: 565 Indian states would assume sovereignty on 15th August 1947. To deal with the situation a Department of States was constituted and brought under the control of Home Minister, Sardar Patel on 5th July 1947. V.P.Menon, a confidant of the Viceroy, became the Secretary of States. The stated objective of the States Department was to supervise the integration of the Indian States with the emerging Indian Union. V.P.Menon’s book 'Story of Integration of Indian States' gives interesting, at times thrilling accounts of the integration stories of some States. Most of the princes signed the Instrument of Accession willingly, some had to be persuaded, and some coerced. Typical among the reluctant were the Nawab of Bhopal, Dewan of Travancore and Maharaja Hanwant Singh of Jodhpur. The last mentioned almost worked out a deal with Jinnah for acceding to adjoining Pakistan, in spite of overwhelming Hindu majority of the state. All these were persuaded to join India. However, Hyderabad, Kashmir and Junagarh remained undecided.

Kashmir ignored: No effort was made to persuade, much less to pressurise or coerce Harisingh to accede to the emerging Indian Union. Hadson writes in the 'Great Divide': "The States Ministry of the Govt. of India was meanwhile strictly passive. Kashmir was deliberately omitted from a committee of States representative called by Pre-Independent States Department to discuss the terms of accession, though Hyderabad was included".

V.P.Menon writes in his book 'The story of Integration of Indian States': "... We left the State (Kashmir) alone. We did not ask the Maharaja to accede, though at a time (after partition) as a result of Red-Cliffe Award, the State had become connected by road with India. Owing to the composition of population, the State had its own peculiar problems. Moreover, our hands were full and, if truth be told, I for one had simply no time to think of Kashmir".

What does this attitude suggest ?

1. Was India not interested in integrating 3rd biggest State in spite of its strategic importance?

2. Was the States Ministry convinced that the composition of its population did not warrant any efforts to persuade the Maharaja to accede to India, in spite of NC factor?

3. Whatever it is, the fact remains that no pressure was brought upon Harisingh to take S.M.Abdullah into confidence to take a decisive step for three weeks from the date of his release till 22nd October 1947 when Kashmir was raided by tribals backed and organised by Pakistan army.

Release of Abdullah - Time Lost: Meanwhile the situation on Kashmir borders worsened. Alarmed by reports, PM Nehru, on 27 Sept. 1947 wrote a long and well argued letter to the Minister of States (S.Patel) saying "I rather doubt if Maharaja and his State forces can meet the situation by themselves without popular help. Obviously only major group that can side with them is the NC under Sheikh Abdullah’s leadership... we have definitely great asset in NC... Sheikh Abdulla has repeatedly given assurance of wishing to cooperate and of being opposed to Pakistan".

S.M.Abdullah was released on 29 Sept.1947 and on 4th October he said, ...I never believed in the Pak slogan... Pandit Nehru is my best friend and I hold Gandhiji in real reverence".

Yet for three weeks between 29 Sept 1947 upto 22 Oct. 1947 when Kashmir was raided by Pak backed armed tribals, nothing was done to put pressure on Harisingh to take Sheikh Abdullah into confidence and take a firm decision.

However, Sheikh Abdullah, perhaps realising the urgency took a bold step. He sent a delegation led by G.M.Sadiq to Pakistan with a three point proposal: 1) Pakistan should not precipitate a decision upon them. 2) Give them (Kashmir) time and support the freedom movement in Kashmir and; 3) recognise the democratic right of the people to decide their future. Sadiq went to Pakistan twice, without any success.

Even on 31 October 1947 (after accession) Sheikh Abdulah sent a signal of Peace to Pakistan. He said “….I request Mr.Jinnah to accept the democratic principle of the sovereignty of the people of our State, including as it does 78% of Muslims whose free and unhampered choice must count in the matter of final expression” - (Hindustan Times 2 November 1947).

Pakistan with an eye on Hyderabad and Junagarh would not accept it. Mr.Jinnah is reported to have commented, “Kashmir is in my pocket”.

Accession to India: The armed raid on 22 October 1947 precipitated the matter. Kashmir could not resist the massive raid. Death and destruction were unleashed. The state administration almost collapsed. India could not send any help unless J&K had acceded to India. On 26 October 1947 Maharaja Harisingh signed the Instrument of Accession to India, endorsed by Sheikh Abdullah. Accepting the accession, the Governor General Mountbatten wrote in a separate letter, “……In consistence with the policy of the Govt…. it is, my governments wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored and soil cleared of the invader, the question of State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people”.

Why had India put a condition when it was not needed under the Independence Act? Explaining the Indian stand and action, Mountbatten speaking to the Editor of Statesman on 28 October 1947 said “You cannot build a nation on tricks …. Jinnah at Abbatabad had been expecting to ride in Triumph into Kashmir… India’s move on Kashmir was an event of different order. Her readiness to accept a Plebiscite had been stated from the outset. The Maharaja’s accession gave complete legality to the action so far taken."

It is interesting to note that legality of Kashmir’s accession to India was never questioned by any power in the security council. On 4th February 1948, the U.S representative in the Security Council said: “……with the accession of J&K to India, his (Maharaja’s) foreign sovereignty went to India, and that is how India happens to be here as a petitioner”.

Why Conditional? Was this offer of reference to people’s opinion unique in the case of Kashmir? If not, what was the evolution of this policy? A ‘policy’ should be distinguished from a constitutional provision. The former is usually a mechanism to deal with an evolving situation and is often subject to modification and amendment to suit the time of its implementation.

The evolution of the policy: A close study of the historical development vis-à-vis the integration will show that;

Most of the states acceded to India on agreed conditions either willingly or as a result of persuasion / negotiation without any such condition for ratification. In all such cases the ruler exercised his powers of decision conferred upon him after the termination of British paramountcy. But unfortunately, three States Junagarh, J&K and Hyderabad remained undecided till 15 August 1947 and beyond.

Incidentally all the three had more or less similar problem. The rulers and the majority of the ruled did not belong to the same religion.

Junagarh presented the first opportunity to the Govt. of India to evolve a policy to deal with the delinquent who did not act judiciously and timely. Let us examine the sequence of events related to Junagarh :

What does this attitude suggest ?

1. Was India not interested in integrating 3rd biggest State in spite of its strategic importance?

2. Was the States Ministry convinced that the composition of its population did not warrant any efforts to persuade the Maharaja to accede to India, in spite of NC factor?

3. Whatever it is, the fact remains that no pressure was brought upon Harisingh to take S.M.Abdullah into confidence to take a decisive step for three weeks from the date of his release till 22nd October 1947 when Kashmir was raided by tribals backed and organised by Pakistan army.

Release of Abdullah - Time Lost: Meanwhile the situation on Kashmir borders worsened. Alarmed by reports, PM Nehru, on 27 Sept. 1947 wrote a long and well argued letter to the Minister of States (S.Patel) saying "I rather doubt if Maharaja and his State forces can meet the situation by themselves without popular help. Obviously only major group that can side with them is the NC under Sheikh Abdullah’s leadership... we have definitely great asset in NC... Sheikh Abdulla has repeatedly given assurance of wishing to cooperate and of being opposed to Pakistan".

S.M.Abdullah was released on 29 Sept.1947 and on 4th October he said, ...I never believed in the Pak slogan... Pandit Nehru is my best friend and I hold Gandhiji in real reverence".

Yet for three weeks between 29 Sept 1947 upto 22 Oct. 1947 when Kashmir was raided by Pak backed armed tribals, nothing was done to put pressure on Harisingh to take Sheikh Abdullah into confidence and take a firm decision.

However, Sheikh Abdullah, perhaps realising the urgency took a bold step. He sent a delegation led by G.M.Sadiq to Pakistan with a three point proposal: 1) Pakistan should not precipitate a decision upon them. 2) Give them (Kashmir) time and support the freedom movement in Kashmir and; 3) recognise the democratic right of the people to decide their future. Sadiq went to Pakistan twice, without any success.

Even on 31 October 1947 (after accession) Sheikh Abdulah sent a signal of Peace to Pakistan. He said “….I request Mr.Jinnah to accept the democratic principle of the sovereignty of the people of our State, including as it does 78% of Muslims whose free and unhampered choice must count in the matter of final expression” - (Hindustan Times 2 November 1947).

Pakistan with an eye on Hyderabad and Junagarh would not accept it. Mr.Jinnah is reported to have commented, “Kashmir is in my pocket”.

Accession to India: The armed raid on 22 October 1947 precipitated the matter. Kashmir could not resist the massive raid. Death and destruction were unleashed. The state administration almost collapsed. India could not send any help unless J&K had acceded to India. On 26 October 1947 Maharaja Harisingh signed the Instrument of Accession to India, endorsed by Sheikh Abdullah. Accepting the accession, the Governor General Mountbatten wrote in a separate letter, “……In consistence with the policy of the Govt…. it is, my governments wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored and soil cleared of the invader, the question of State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people”.

Why had India put a condition when it was not needed under the Independence Act? Explaining the Indian stand and action, Mountbatten speaking to the Editor of Statesman on 28 October 1947 said “You cannot build a nation on tricks …. Jinnah at Abbatabad had been expecting to ride in Triumph into Kashmir… India’s move on Kashmir was an event of different order. Her readiness to accept a Plebiscite had been stated from the outset. The Maharaja’s accession gave complete legality to the action so far taken."

It is interesting to note that legality of Kashmir’s accession to India was never questioned by any power in the security council. On 4th February 1948, the U.S representative in the Security Council said: “……with the accession of J&K to India, his (Maharaja’s) foreign sovereignty went to India, and that is how India happens to be here as a petitioner”.

Why Conditional? Was this offer of reference to people’s opinion unique in the case of Kashmir? If not, what was the evolution of this policy? A ‘policy’ should be distinguished from a constitutional provision. The former is usually a mechanism to deal with an evolving situation and is often subject to modification and amendment to suit the time of its implementation.

The evolution of the policy: A close study of the historical development vis-à-vis the integration will show that;

Most of the states acceded to India on agreed conditions either willingly or as a result of persuasion / negotiation without any such condition for ratification. In all such cases the ruler exercised his powers of decision conferred upon him after the termination of British paramountcy. But unfortunately, three States Junagarh, J&K and Hyderabad remained undecided till 15 August 1947 and beyond.

Incidentally all the three had more or less similar problem. The rulers and the majority of the ruled did not belong to the same religion.

Junagarh presented the first opportunity to the Govt. of India to evolve a policy to deal with the delinquent who did not act judiciously and timely. Let us examine the sequence of events related to Junagarh :

What does this attitude suggest ?

1. Was India not interested in integrating 3rd biggest State in spite of its strategic importance?

2. Was the States Ministry convinced that the composition of its population did not warrant any efforts to persuade the Maharaja to accede to India, in spite of NC factor?

3. Whatever it is, the fact remains that no pressure was brought upon Harisingh to take S.M.Abdullah into confidence to take a decisive step for three weeks from the date of his release till 22nd October 1947 when Kashmir was raided by tribals backed and organised by Pakistan army.

Release of Abdullah - Time Lost: Meanwhile the situation on Kashmir borders worsened. Alarmed by reports, PM Nehru, on 27 Sept. 1947 wrote a long and well argued letter to the Minister of States (S.Patel) saying "I rather doubt if Maharaja and his State forces can meet the situation by themselves without popular help. Obviously only major group that can side with them is the NC under Sheikh Abdullah’s leadership... we have definitely great asset in NC... Sheikh Abdulla has repeatedly given assurance of wishing to cooperate and of being opposed to Pakistan".

S.M.Abdullah was released on 29 Sept.1947 and on 4th October he said, ...I never believed in the Pak slogan... Pandit Nehru is my best friend and I hold Gandhiji in real reverence".

Yet for three weeks between 29 Sept 1947 upto 22 Oct. 1947 when Kashmir was raided by Pak backed armed tribals, nothing was done to put pressure on Harisingh to take Sheikh Abdullah into confidence and take a firm decision.

However, Sheikh Abdullah, perhaps realising the urgency took a bold step. He sent a delegation led by G.M.Sadiq to Pakistan with a three point proposal: 1) Pakistan should not precipitate a decision upon them. 2) Give them (Kashmir) time and support the freedom movement in Kashmir and; 3) recognise the democratic right of the people to decide their future. Sadiq went to Pakistan twice, without any success.

Even on 31 October 1947 (after accession) Sheikh Abdulah sent a signal of Peace to Pakistan. He said “….I request Mr.Jinnah to accept the democratic principle of the sovereignty of the people of our State, including as it does 78% of Muslims whose free and unhampered choice must count in the matter of final expression” - (Hindustan Times 2 November 1947).

Pakistan with an eye on Hyderabad and Junagarh would not accept it. Mr.Jinnah is reported to have commented, “Kashmir is in my pocket”.

Accession to India: The armed raid on 22 October 1947 precipitated the matter. Kashmir could not resist the massive raid. Death and destruction were unleashed. The state administration almost collapsed. India could not send any help unless J&K had acceded to India. On 26 October 1947 Maharaja Harisingh signed the Instrument of Accession to India, endorsed by Sheikh Abdullah. Accepting the accession, the Governor General Mountbatten wrote in a separate letter, “……In consistence with the policy of the Govt…. it is, my governments wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored and soil cleared of the invader, the question of State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people”.

Why had India put a condition when it was not needed under the Independence Act? Explaining the Indian stand and action, Mountbatten speaking to the Editor of Statesman on 28 October 1947 said “You cannot build a nation on tricks …. Jinnah at Abbatabad had been expecting to ride in Triumph into Kashmir… India’s move on Kashmir was an event of different order. Her readiness to accept a Plebiscite had been stated from the outset. The Maharaja’s accession gave complete legality to the action so far taken."

It is interesting to note that legality of Kashmir’s accession to India was never questioned by any power in the security council. On 4th February 1948, the U.S representative in the Security Council said: “……with the accession of J&K to India, his (Maharaja’s) foreign sovereignty went to India, and that is how India happens to be here as a petitioner”.

Why Conditional? Was this offer of reference to people’s opinion unique in the case of Kashmir? If not, what was the evolution of this policy? A ‘policy’ should be distinguished from a constitutional provision. The former is usually a mechanism to deal with an evolving situation and is often subject to modification and amendment to suit the time of its implementation.

The evolution of the policy: A close study of the historical development vis-à-vis the integration will show that;

Most of the states acceded to India on agreed conditions either willingly or as a result of persuasion / negotiation without any such condition for ratification. In all such cases the ruler exercised his powers of decision conferred upon him after the termination of British paramountcy. But unfortunately, three States Junagarh, J&K and Hyderabad remained undecided till 15 August 1947 and beyond.

Incidentally all the three had more or less similar problem. The rulers and the majority of the ruled did not belong to the same religion.

Junagarh presented the first opportunity to the Govt. of India to evolve a policy to deal with the delinquent who did not act judiciously and timely. Let us examine the sequence of events related to Junagarh :

1. On 15 August 1947, the Nawab announced his decision to accede to Pakistan.
2. On 21 August 1947, V.P. Menon, asked Pakistan to clarify her policy, keeping in view that a) Junagargh had no geographical continuity with Pakistan b) the majority of people were Hindus and c) peoples consultation was necessary.
3. On 12 Sept.1947, Nehru sent a written message to Pakistan through Lord Ismay, Mountbatten’s chief of staff proposing to accept people’s verdict.
4. On 13 Sept. 1947, Pakistan accepted the accession of Junagarh
5. India refused to accept the validity of the accession, but Mountbatten regarded it legally valid, though politically and morally incorrect.
6. On 17 Sept. 1947, India sent V.P. Menon to Junagarh to advise the Nawab to accept the proposal for reference to the people.
7. Respecting Mountbatten’s views, India resisted the temptation of an armed intervention.
8. On 25 Sept. 1947, Pak turned down India’s proposal for a referendum, stating “this was a matter between the Nawab and his subjects”.
9. On Sept 30, 1947, the Prime Minister proposed in the newly constituted Defence Committee, “Wherever there is a dispute in regard to any territory, the matter should be decided by referendum / plebiscite…. We accept the decision whatever may be”. (Hudson - Great Divide) The decision was immediately conveyed to Pakistan.
10. Next day Nehru made a public announcement of this decision .
11. In a meeting of Joint Defence Council attended by Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan, Mountbatten said that the decision of the Defence committee of India, referred to above (item no.9) would apply not only to Junagarh but to other areas as well.
12. Liaquat Ali Khan made no comment. Was it because of Junagarh and Hyderbad? Or, was it because of Pakistan’s lack of confidence to win in S.M.Abdullah’s Kashmir ?
13. Pakistan chose to insist on the ruler’s prerogatives in the case of Junagarh and Hyderabad. She maintained her conspicuous silence regarding Kashmir.
14. After meeting Liaquat Ali Khan on 16 October 1947, Mountbatten reported that Pakistan was agreeable to a plebiscite, but the Pak Prime Minister backed out saying it was a misunderstanding.
15. India held a plebiscite in Junagarh on 20 Feb. 1948. Pakistan did not cooperate.

India remained committed to her declared policy which was stated in his letter by the Governor General on 26 Oct 1947 while accepting the accession of J&K.

India’s efforts and Pakistan’s reaction: The Govt. of India showed its seriousness about the commitment right from the start, but unfortunately failed to persuade Pakistan to accept the offer. The following are some instances;

1. On Nov. 1, 1947 Mountbaten conveyed to Mr.Jinnah the commitment of the Govt. of India, Mr.Jinnah suggested a Round Table conference of Mountbatten, Nehru, Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan, Harisingh & Sheikh M Abdullah. The last two had no locus standii after accession.
2. Without prior sanction of the cabinet, Mountbatten suggested to Mr.Jinnah to hold a plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nation. Jinnah rejected it and suggested a plebiscite under the supervision of Mountbatten and Jinnah himself.
On 2 Nov 1947, Nehru in a broadcast said, “…In Kashmir, India is willing to hold a referendum under some such international authority as that of the United Nations”. (V.P.Menon says that no Indian Minister objected)
3. On 25 Nov 1947 speaking in Parliament (reading from a prepared statement, while both Patel and Shyama Prashad Mukherjee were present) Nehru said, “….we have suggested that when the people are given a chance in future, this should be done under the supervision of an impartial tribunal such as the United Nations Organisation”.
A meeting of Nehru and Liaquat was arranged by Mountbatten at 4.00 p.m. on 26 Nov. 1947. A series of meetings at lower level took place to discuss disengagement. Liaquat Ali Khan returned to Pakistan ahead of his delegation’s departure. He issued a statement that Pakistan would never give up Kashmir. Fresh batches of raiders were sent to Kashmir and ghastly atrocities by the raiders were reported. Mountbatten's effort failed once again.

United Nations Efforts: The United Nations Commision for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) comprising representatives of Czechosolvakia, Argentina, Belgium and Colombia and the United States, arrived in Karachi on 5 July 1948. On 9 July 1948 the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Sir Zaffarullah Khan informed the commission that three brigades of Pakistani army had been operating in Kashmir. When the commission arrived in New Delhi, Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary General of External Ministry reacted sharply and pleaded that the situation had changed since the commission was formed in April 1948. “Pakistan should be named an aggressor and condemned”, was the Indian demand. However, after much negotiations the UNCIP passed a resolution on 13 Aug 1948. The basic resolution had three parts; Part one relates to cease fire; Part two made it incumbent upon Pakistan to withdraw all forces, regular and irregular, while accepting that India could retain sufficient forces for the security of the state including the observance of law and order. Part three provided as follows;

“The Govt. of India and Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future of the state of J&K shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people and to that end, upon the acceptance of the Truce Agreement both Governments agree to enter into consultation with the commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured”.

(To be continued)

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