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Instrument of Accession Could Have Come Earlier

By  M.M. Munshi  

Apropos the article “Kashmir Problem was created by Nehru ,Abdulla”  by Maharaj Koul in the June and July 2011 issues of your esteemed magazine. The author deserves to be congratulated for analyzing the real causes of the problem namely Nehru’s idealism ,Abdullah’s dreams and role of Mountbatten and senior British officers serving with the armed forces of India and Pakistan in 1947-48. I would like to supplement  the background of the integration of the princely states including Kashmir  in a  slightly greater detail.

A difficult and delicate problem that faced India at the advent of Independence was the transfer of power  of a large number of princely states covering an area of about 1,880 thousand square kilometers with a population of about 9.5 crores.  The British Govt. probably with the intention of weakening the newly created dominions refused to transfer the paramountcy of princely states  to Indian government. These states did not form a contiguous geographical block but were scattered all over India.  With the exception of few the attitude of most princes was hostile towards the Indian Union. As Coupland said India without these states would have remained incoherent. The task of integration of these states fell on the shoulders of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who was a member of the Interim Government in charge of the States department. Mountbatten  preferred the task to be carried out by Patel rather than by Nehru. 

Majority of these states resolved  to confront the congress and remain Independent. For example the Dewan of Travancore Cochin in south declared that his state was an independent entity and would be free to deal with any government in the world. It was rumored that Tarvancore, Cochin, Mysore and few other states in the south might form an  independent federation. The Nizam of Hyderabad who had been pampered  by the British with the title of “His exalted Highness” considered himself much above the others ,put forward fantastic claims of sovereignty depending on his henchmen like Laik Ali, Kasm Rizvi and the militant Razakars and claimed support of Muslims of India and Pakistan On 1st June 1848 Jinnah declared that Nizam’s dominion was an independent state and not only muslims of Pakistan but the muslims of whole world sympathized with the him. Maharaja of Jodhpur tried to negotiate with Jinnah for passage through Pakistan up to Karachi. Even smaller states like Junagarh ,Bhopal etc started dreaming about independence .Sardar Patel put pressure on most on  the states  which acceded to the Indian Union only Junagarh, Hyderabad and Kashmir held out. Most probably Junagarh also would have acceded to Indian Union but yielded to Jinnah’s exhortation to remain out of Indian Union under ‘ any circumstances untuill August 15 when he would send Pakistani reserve constabulary to help  the Nawab to get rid of Hindu majority in his state.. Indian Leaders especially Sardar Patel raised a lot of hue and cry as to how a Hindu majority state could  to  accede to Pakistan. Indian police entered Junagarh , the Nawab escaped to Karachi and his dewan Sha Nawaz Bhutoo (grand father of Benazir Bhutoo)requested govt. of India to take over the administration. Futile negotiations continued with Nizam  who created a war like situation with his state forces and razakars Indian cabinet lost its patience and under the operation “ Hyderabad Police Action “ Indian Army marched into Hyderabad Nizam surrendered and acceded to Indian Union in September 1948.  

The Kashmir problem has a history of its own. Abdullah organized Quit Kashmir moment against the Maharaja Hari Singh in 1946. He was arrested and when tried in court he expressed that he was agitating only for responsible Government by elected representatives of the people. Neverthless he was sentenced. Nehru tried to intervene but was banned from entering the state and arrested at Kohala . Nehru was released only when the then congress president Maulana Azad called him back. Some bitterness developed between Hari Singh and Nehru . Mountbatten visited Srinagar in June 1947 and conveyed the message from Sardar Patel to Hari Singh that if the latter choose to join Pakistan ,India would not protest and it was also conveyed to Jinnah and others through Mountbatten that India would not force the accession of Kashmir with India, Like rulers of other states Hari Singh  also was toying with the idea of remaining independent with friendly relations with Pakistan under the advice of  his  hindu prime minister . Some how for what reasons not clear Hari Singh sacked his  hindu prime minister on 11th August 1947 and after some time appointed Mehar Chand Majhajan as PM. Hari Singh could not decide on the issue and entered into a standstill agreement with Pakistan. India refused to have any standstill agreement unless Hari Singh gave responsible govt. in the state. In the meantime Pakistani Tribals from NWFP intruded along the southern and south western borders of the state and state forces which were thinly deployed along the lengthy border were not effective  in preventing the intrusions, moreover  Mirpuri and Poonchi muslim troops  comprising about 40 %  of the state forces deserted and went over to Pakistan. Situation became when about 4500 tribal Lashkar from NWFP led by Pakistani officers were joined by two companies of Mirpuri and Punchi muslims of  4 J&K infantry  crossed the Kohala bridge annihilated the Dogra component of the battalion including the commanding officer The acting chief of staff of J&K state forces rushed with about two hundred men to Uri could only delay and not stop the advance of the tribal force . In the meantime Sardar Patel  was pressuring the unwilling princes to accede to India through V.P.Menon and others but ignored Kashmir till Srinagar was threatened by Pakistani led tribal force. He along with Sir Teg Bahadur Sapru an ex member of Viceroy’s executive council suggested that Non Muslims from Kashmir should be  pulled out.  Nehru was shouting horace that military help must be sent to save Kashmir, Mountbatten insisted troops could not be sent to Kashmir as it had not acceded to India, British commanders of army were pointing to difficulties in sending and maintaining troops in Kashmir as the winter was aproching . It was only on 25th Oct  1947 V.P Menon accompanied by then Col.Manikshaw  (latter Field Marshal Manikshaw ) in an air force plane piloted by Wing Commander Dewan to Srinagar who obtained Hari Singh’s signature on the instrument of accession and flew back to Delhi in the wee hours of 26th Oct . Hari singh travelled the same night from Srinagar to Jammu  by road with his bag and baggage. This is corroborated by the statement of Manikshaw himself The rest is history. Had Sardar Patel attanged to obtain Hari Singh’s signature on the instrument of accession with whom he was close a month earlier, history would have been  probably different . Nehru’s biggest mistakes pertaining to Kashmir was accepting Mountbatten as first Governor General of free India and referring the Kashmir issue to United Nations. Besides others Sardar Patel has also to share the blame. 

 
 

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