Tuesday, February 22, 2011

J&K Mishandled :: Misunderstood ::Misplaced by Daya Sagar

J&K Mishandled :: Misunderstood ::Misplaced 
by  Daya Sagar

Thursday, October 9, 2008

J&K Mishandled :: Misunderstood ::Misplaced 

(*Daya Sagar Author is a leading coloumnist and a writer on Kashmir affairs) 

The love and lust that Nehru showed for Sheikh Mohd Abdullah, the closeness that Nehru had with Mountbatten and the manner in which Nehru supported the Quit Kashmir movement that Sheikh Abdullah ‘s NC launched in May/ June 1946 have been agitating some minds , though not many. Quit Kashmir movement of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah was termed by Mohd Ali Jinah as a agitation of a few mal contents who were out to create dis order in the Princely Sate of Maharaja Hari Singh. The remarks of Mohd Ali Jinah did suggest that Sheikh Mohd Abdullah had no love lust for the two nation theory or Jinah’s Pakistan before August 1947.

It was on Pandit Nehru’s instructions that even Kashmir day was observed in Srinagar on 2nd June 1946 by the people lead by Sheikh Mohd Abdullah. A week later from then Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel had while addressing the General Council of the All India State People's Conference in the afternoon of 8 June 1946 advised the subjects of Indian Princely States of British Empire not to get involved in direct isolated actions in states at that moment but to be patient and carry on the agitations peacefully for responsible government of future. But the quit Kashmir Movement and observance of Kashmir day by National Conference was surely an isolated action out side the general programme of All India State People’s Conference and it was not questioned by Vallabh Bhai Patel . 

Even Patel too in the case of J&K did not hold fast to principles and plans what he suggested for other Princely States.. During later months of 1946 and earlier months of 1947 Sheikh was at the mercy of GOI as well as the Maharaja but it was only and only Jawahar Lal Nehru who was providing Abdullah moral and personal support. Ultimately the events and circumstances pertaining to J&K from August 1947 onwards landed both Maharaja and GOI in a ditch where Sheikh stood on the wheel with rope in his hand. Such actions made the local leaders of differing opinions regarding relationship with the up coming new dominions of India & Pakistan and also a few elements who were in favour of two nation theory more and more ambitious with each day passing.

The way J&K affairs have been handled raise many genuine suspicions on those in seat at Delhi.. Many questions on the intentions of even very senior leaders of those time times could be raised for treating Princely State of J&K in a quite different manner than other Indian Princely states .Even Mahatama Gandhi visited Srinagar ( Kashmir) and impressed upon Maharaja Hari Singh for conceding the “demand of people” for a constitutional government ( actually it was particularly for handing over local administration to Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minister). Where as the general policy as drawn for immediate settlement ( till any final plan of relationship / settlement was made after the Government of independent Dominion took over / settled ) with the acceding Princely States was that a local popular government duly elected headed by a Chief Minister was to be installed to work with the Prime Minister of the acceding State holding a superior position & the acceding Prince as the head of the State

On 19-06-1947 Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General, visited Kashmir for 4 days to apprise Maharaja of J&K of risks in indecision regarding his decision about accession of J&K with either of proposed Dominions of India and Pakistan. ... As per Mountbatten he found Maharaja elusive and had to return without discussing with him. While the boundaries of Indian and Pakistan were still being marked out of British India at time. Under the drat/ interim proposed plan the whole of Gurdaspur district of Punjab was to be part of Pakistan. Mountbatten well new that J&K would have no link by road available with India as per such draft plan of boundaries drawn till then. Later on when the Radcliff Award was ready it mad esome parts of Gurdaspur District including Pathankot as part of Indian Dominion but it was announced only on 16-08-1947. Some people have opined that the final Redcliff award was ready around 11th or 12 th August 1947 but was finally announced on 16 Aug 1947. 

Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India , well knew the importance of such an award since in the absence of such an award J&K would have no road or/ rail link with Indian Dominion . And this could surely come in the way of Maharaja Hari Singh for deciding to accede with Indian dominion before 15th Aug 1947. Hence there are reasons for some to infer that Lord Mountbatten was not for J&K ( Kashmir ) going for India though he was family friend of Jawahar Lal Nehru. The conduct of Mountbatten did show that he wanted Hari Singh to accede to Pakistan or keep it pending so that they could help their Friend Sheikh Abdullah through some isolated arrangement and hence Maharaja was kept under pressure through delay in announcement of Redcliff award. Such accusation do stand valid to logic. Maharaja Hari Singh had made request both to the preparatory governments of the India and Pakistan on 12 th August for an standstill agreements to give him some more time about deciding the future of J&K. Pakistan did accept the Stand Still Agreement but the Indian government inwaiting wanted Hari Singh to discuss the issue first.

Though the disturbances on the borders of J&K started much earlier than 14th August 1947 from the areas that were to go with proposed Pakistan , the marked violation of the borders by the raiders from across borders with Pakistan started after 15 august 1947.All knew that raiders were cutting across State borders in J&K. Since no favourable response was received from Pakistan by the Maharaja for putting a check on the border violations , the Government of Maharaja was in regular contact with GOI ( particularly for arms/ ammunition/ petrol/ communication equipment on cost basis ) after 15 August 1947 and raiders from across Pakistan borders had started regular advance nearing 20th of October 1947 . Mehar Chand Mahajan ( PM in the Princely State of J&K ) had sent a strong worded telegram to Mohammed Ali Jinnah the Governor General of Pakistan on 18-10-1947 asking to personally interfere to check the violation of State borders. He had also conveyed to Pakistan that in case of failure from the side of Pakistan to check infiltration J&K Government would be having no option than to ask for friendly help from out side. The same day ( 18 Oct 1947) telegram was also sent to Prime Minister of United Kingdom by J&K Government informing that about one lakh muslims from India have been given safe conduct to their new abodes in Pakistan.

Prime Minister of Hari Singh Meharchand Mahajan had written to Mr Vallb Bhai .Patel ( Home and States Minister GOI) on 23 Oct 1947 that Several Muslim military personnel and police have deserted State Forces under communal pressure from outside and some are military men are under arrest at Sialkot with Pakistan Army as deserters. The J&K Prime Minister also informed Indian Leadership that Kotli had been beseized by Pakistani raiders and Poonch was similarly being invaded and there were signs that Mirpur and Bhimber towns of J&K may be the next objective causality . He repeated the request to send ammunition and arms as was requested long back..

J&K Prime Minister was regularly informing GOI of the status on advance of raiders particularly from 22nd October onwards and begging for arms and ammunition ( if not troops ) in the absence of accession . But so strangely still Lord Mountbatten the Governor General of India wrote to Patel on 25th October 1947 that as per information received from Maj Thomas Wyndord Rees ( head of Military Engineering Staff attached to Emergency Committee of Cabinet ) it appeared that KOHALA ( on Srinagar Muzafarabad route ) had not been attacked till then ( where as raiders were far inside Kashmir Valley) and Tribesmen advancing at Uri were intercepted by small contingent of Kashmir State Troops and heavy battle appeared to be in progress.
Srinagar ( Kashmir ) too would have been lost to Mountbatten’s imagination had the delay been not there at the part of the Raiders who had come to Kashmir more out of lure for loot and women than for any thing else and had stopped on way lured by autumn atmosphere, beautiful land scape of Baramulla, rich prospects of loot and rape of women and had forgotten Jinah's resolve to celebrate Eid on 25 October 1947 in Srinagar. They converted every mosque into a brothel and European Nuns of local mission hospital were also brutally molested/ raped. Had they not done so, Kashmir would have been lost in the name of Nehru and Mountbatten..

After the Indian troops land at Srinagar on 27th oct 1947 morning they over powered the raiders risking all the available bits with them. Mountbatten , the then Governor General of India still showed much of ignorance, rather pretended for not being aware of the immediate successes of the Indian army . It could be alleged that Mountbatten was still thinking in his mind that needed delay in sending troops/ accepting accession has been made to enable raiders cut off Kashmir from India . Hence just to prove his innocence Lord Mountbatten again wrote to Patel even on 27 October that there ::::::: was no doubt that if India had sent forces a fortnight ago to Srinagar we could have relieved the State Forces in Jammu to go to Srinagar ( where as the Maharaja’s State military/ forces left in Jammu were too meager to count ) and the position could have been held with comparative ease . Mountbatten opined while writing to Patel that though Indian troops had landed at Srinagar on 27 Oct 1947 the risk was great and chances of keeping raiders out of Srinagar were no good . Mountbatten further said that it was fortunate that the tribes men were on loot and since non Muslims were very less in number ( in Valley) they will only loot and massacre their own co religionists and the this will give India a political advantage.:::::: People of J&K were bleeding and the British man was still looking for political advantages in the blood of the innocent common man.

Nehru’s ‘lust and love” for Sheikh Abdullah had delayed the signing of instrument of accession by Hari Singh. Mountbatten was not playing the role of a honest Governor general of India had nearly made Kashmir to land up in a ditch from where no return would have been possible.

Mehrchand Mahajan, The Prime Minister of J&K/ Dewan of Maharaja of J&K had written on 18th November 1947 to S. Baldev Singh , Defence Minister in Nehru’s Cabinet, that .::::::::: situation in J&K required personal attention of Defence Minister . He conveyed to Baldev Singh that he had also discussed about this in person with Major General Kulwant Singh as well as GOC Western Command General Carriappa ( when he visited Jammu ). J&K Prime Minister conveyed to S. Baldev Singh the emergency for taking protective actions in view of collection of very large number of Pathans across border on Sialkot side and he opined that a further attack on Jammu city like the one that was engineered for Srinagar appeared evident . He stressed that for defence of Jammu there was not even one full battalion of troops available, road from Jammu to Kathua was within 3 to 4 miles from Pakistan Border but GOI had deployed only two companies of army on this border . And more worrying was that the border from Jammu to Bhimber as well Mirpur was completely unprotected and no army , whatsoever, was available to recapture Mirpur without any loss of time ( immediately ). 

Mehar Chand Mahajan warned that in case serious action was not taken immediately then GOI will require very large number of troops to retrieve the situation . It was regretfully conveyed to Indian Defense Minister that had timely actions been taken as per the information that was being sent by his government to Delhi even Rajouri would have been saved ( though it was later retrieved ) and thousands of people would have been kept alive . And to add to that he said that trouble about Mirpur would have been much less had the military moved earlier towards that side since for internal security and to stop internal killing of Hindus by Muslims he had no troops whatsoever, Gilgit had already been lost, province of Ladakh was not by then protected though it required just only three companies at that time and could be lost otherwise. Mehar Chand further added that Kargil was a crucial point, Iskardu the winter capital of Ladakh Province had only two platoons and Chitralis and Swati may infilterate into Iskardu via Rondu side, so atleast a company or two be sent to Kargil to strengthen Iskardu garrison and the like that had caused extreme necessity for more troops in Jammu as well immediately :::::::. But still no much curiosity was shown by Nehru and Sheikh and even Mir Pur district of J&K fell to raiders on 25 November 1947 , it would surprise many that Mirpur fell after one month of J&K acceding to India ( on 26 Oct 1947 ) .

It was on 30 November 1947 that Mehrchand Mahajan wrote to Pandit Jawahar Lal that on reaching Jammu from Delhi he has come to know that Indian Troops had abandoned Kotli, where as Mirpur was abandoned earlier and had been destroyed by enemy, border from Bhimber to Rajouri had been occupied by enemy who was pushing towards Akhnoor; Poonch area except the Poonch town ,district of Mirpur , Muzaffarabad and a part of Jammu district were in their ( enemy) possession, state of affairs was very unsatisfactory and it was only by a directive from him ( Nehru, Prime Minister of India) that the positions could be regained. But the directives never came at the needed time .

In an interview to Doordarshan on 5-04-2005 Srinagar Lt.(Retd) S. K. Sinha Governor of J&K o referred to his memories of those days when the advancing Indian Army got orders from New Delhi for moving to Poonch and Rajouri for undertaking relief operations that deprived them of the opportunity to reach Kohalla and Domel adding further that at that time Kashmir had stood against the Raiders challenging “ Hamlawar khabardar, hum kashmiri hain tayyaar”. General had not opened the chapter a new . Questions had been raised on the then GOI for loss to life, property and territory that the people of J&K suffered in 1947 and the GOI having left the recovery loss ( of territories) half way. 

Why could not the troops be sent to Mirpur district from jammu side in first week of November itself, has remained unanswered. Why were troops diverted from Kashmir Valley ?. Further the Indian claims over the years have weakened in the eyes of international community due to careless / wrong handling of J&K affairs for last six decades at the level of New Delhi to the extent that it has provided enough time and opportunity to Pakistan ( and supporters of Pakistan) to exploit the religious sentiments/ affiliations of the innocent poor/ backward / simple Kashmiri masses in favour of two nation theory/ against India. The extent of damage could also be read in the words of Lt. General ( Retd ) S. K. Sinha when he further said in the same interview that the bus ( Carvan e Aman as of 7 April 2005 ) will also carry the historical and spiritual message of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani and Lala Ded. One would ask where would the bus carry the message, is it from “Kashmir to Kashmir “ ? Outsiders could infer that people in Muzaffarabad had separated from J&K on their own and not due to aggression of Pakistan sponsored invaders. Need is there to be not so casual about J&K affairs.

The Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 Oct 1947 and also through a covering letter addressed to Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India explained of the circumstances/ conditions in the State and of his intention to set up an interim Government at once and asking Sheikh Abdullah (Maharaja submitted to pre condition of GOI, rather to Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru) to carry the responsibilities in the emergency with Mehar Chand Mahajan as Maharaja’s Prime Minister ). But Nehru and Mountbatten were still hesitant. It is also said by the elders that Mehar Chand Mahajan even threatened to proceed to Karachi and offer Kashmir to Jinah to secure ( safety of ) his people. Atlast Nehru Mountbatten combine still made the accession conditional on a plebiscite to be held in the State when law and order situation allowed so.. Mehar Chand Mahajan was an irritant for Nehru from day one of his appointment/ selection as Prime Minister of J&K by Maharaja Hari Singh in October 1947 and the opinion of Vallab Bhai Patel ( Minister for Home and states Ministry) was otherwise. It appeared that Nehru still feared that Sheikh may not be removed by Maharaja later and for Nehru Sheikhs interest was more important than any thing else. Irritants were hence still kept in Kashmir that could deepen the confusions and aspirations od Sheikh Abdullah that started showing faint signs in 1946 when Sheikh Abdullah called for quit Kashmir movement against Hari Singh even without discussing with leadership of Congress as well as All India States Peoples Congress .

Why could Indian troops not save Mirpur and retrieve other areas in Jammu province as well as push out raiders from Muzafarrabad when they could take control of Srinagar just in two days time from the raiders who had reached near Badgam much before the Indian troops landed at Srinagar airport in the morning of 27th October remains a bid question to be answered to people of India by those who inherited the reins of power from Jawahar Lal Nehru. All these years the concepts about the history of J&K, the likes and dis likes of people of J&K as regards the accession with India & acceptance of two nation theory have been much remodeled and projected to the choice of those who did not logically matter in deciding the future of the Princely Sate of Maharaja Hari Singh . It was on 1-1-1948 that India approached UN Security Council with complaint against Pakistan and it was exactly after one year on 1-1-1949 that India declared ceasefire with the intruders from across the borders of J&K with Pakistan. Was not there enough time for India to secure the territories of J&K State that acceded to India on 26 October 1947?. And if not why so?

And cleansing of Kashmir valley of Kashmiri Hindu in 1989 and their return having being kept at low priority level for last 19 years has further left the innocent Kashmiri masses and youth only exposed to anti India , anti accession, anti nationalist symbol ( Indian,). propaganda of the separatists, anti India, so called main stream leaderships displaying pro separatist ideology and the Government at New Delhi allowing the anti India / separatist elements to stand at equal posts to the leaders like Farooq Abdullah, if not more, has been sending some more otherwise signals. It needs be accepted that those commoners who may be for Pakistan or for staying independent may not be aware of intentions of India and hence can not be assumed to be against India. Hence the issues have to be examined, understood and need to be treated more at the social and community level immediately. This aspect has been neglected. The people of J&K are still paying the price. What do people in Kashmir, rather Jammu & Kashmir , today want I would discuss in my next article..

(*Daya Sagar Author is a leading coloumnist and a writer on Kashmir affairs)

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