The Modi Government must review its stand on these Articles and undo all the wrongs the Congress committed in the state from time to time
The BJP was absolutely right when it on October 31, 2018, again questioned the manner in which JL Nehru handled the Kashmir issue in 1947 and thereafter. Indeed, Nehru never acted in the best interests of the nation. On the contrary, he made controversial statements at regular intervals about Jammu & Kashmir and created an impression that a final decision on the State’s political future had yet to be taken. Jammu & Kashmir was the only Princely State that was not handled by Sardar Patel, as Nehru had de-linked it from the Home Ministry and attached it with his own Foreign Ministry as if the State was an alien country.
I started with the presumption that it is for the people of Kashmir to decide their own future. We will not compel them. In that sense, the people of Kashmir are sovereign.
Glance through Nehru’s telegram No 413, dated October 28, 1947; and telegrams No 25 and 255, dated October 31, 1947, to his Pakistani counterpart; letter from Nehru to the Pakistani Prime Minister, No 368, dated November 21, 1947; his statement in the Indian Constituent Assembly, November 25, 1947; The Statesman, January 18, 1951 and May 1, 1953; statement in Parliament on February 12, 1951; address at public meeting in Srinagar, June 4, 1951; report of the AICC, July 6, 1951; statements made in Parliament on June 26 and August 7, 1952 and March 31, 1955; letters from Nehru to the Pakistani Prime Minister, dated September 3, 1953, and November 10, 1953; statement made in the Indian Council of States on May 18, 1954; The Times of India, May 16, 1954; and so on.
Here are some of the statements Nehru made between 1947 and 1955, the most crucial period as far as the State was concerned.
1. “We have always right from the beginning accepted the idea of the Kashmir people (read Kashmiri Muslims) deciding their fate by referendum or plebiscite. Ultimately, the final decision of settlement, which must come, has, first of all, to be made basically by the people of Kashmir.”
2. “In regard to accession also, it has been made clear that this is subject to reference to people of the State (read Kashmir) and their decision.”
3. “First of all, I would like to remind you of the fateful days of 1947 when I came to Srinagar and gave the solemn assurance that the people of India would stand by Kashmir in her struggle. (Who was he to speak on behalf of the people of India and who had given him that mandate?) On that assurance, I shook Sheikh Abdullah’s hand before the vast multitude that had gathered there (read Srinagar). I want to repeat that the Government of India will stand by that pledge, whatever happens. That pledge itself stated that it is for the people of Kashmir to decide their fate without external interference (read New Delhi’s interference). That assurance also remains and will continue.”
4. “Kashmir should decide on the question of accession by plebiscite or referendum under international auspices such as those of the United Nations.”
5. “…The people of Kashmir would decide the question of accession. It is open to them to accede to either Dominion (read Indian or Pakistan Dominion) then.”
6.“But as far as the Government of India is concerned, every assurance and international commitment in regard to Kashmir stands.”
7. “India is a great country and Kashmir is almost in the heart of Asia. There is an enormous difference not only geographically but in all kinds of facts there. Do you think you are dealing with a part of UP or Bihar or Gujarat? You are dealing with Kashmir”. (Home Minister P Chidambaram almost said the same thing in Srinagar after assuming the charge in 2009. He had said: “Solutions applicable to other parts of India cannot be replicated in Kashmir, as Kashmir has unique geography and unique history.” It appears he has gone through the Nehru’s June 4, 1951 address at a public meeting in Srinagar.)
8. “We had given our pledge to the people of Kashmir, and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide.”
9. “We have taken the issue to the United Nations and given our word of honour for a peaceful solution. As a great nation, we cannot go back on it. We have left the question for a final solution to the people of Kashmir and we are determined to abide by their decision.”
10. “If, after a proper plebiscite, the people of Kashmir said, ‘We do not want to be with India’, we are committed to accepting that. We will accept it though it might pain us. We will not send an army against them. We will accept that, however hurt we might feel about it, we will change the Constitution, if necessary.” (Interlocutors for Jammu & Kashmir Dileep Padgaonkar and Radha Kumar also expressed similar views in Srinagar in October 2010.)
11. “I want to stress that it is only the people of Kashmir who can decide the future of Kashmir. It is not that we have merely said that to the United Nations and to the people of Kashmir, it is our conviction and one that is borne out by the policy that we have pursued not only in Kashmir but everywhere. Though these five years (1947-1952) have meant a lot of trouble and expense and in spite of all we have done we would willingly leave Kashmir if it was made clear to us that the people of Kashmir wanted us to go. However sad we may feel about leaving, we are not going to stay against the wishes of the people. We are not going to impose ourselves on them at the point of bayonet. I started with the presumption that it is for the people of Kashmir to decide their own future. We will not compel them. In that sense, the people of Kashmir are sovereign.”
12. “The whole dispute about Kashmir is still before the United Nations. We cannot just decide things concerning Kashmir. We cannot pass a bill or issue an order concerning Kashmir or do whatever we want.”
13. “As a result of the plebiscite over the entire state, we would be in a position to consider the matter, so that the final decision should cause least disturbance and should take into consideration geographical, economic and other important factors.”
All this should establish that Nehru was willing to allow Jammu & Kashmir go out of India. How sad?
The Modi Government must review its stand and undo all the wrongs the Congress committed in the state from time to time to drive the state away from the national mainstream.
However, it is sad that PM Narendra Modi is not treading the path SP Mookerjee charted. His government is, again and again, urging Supreme Court to not hear national and rational pleas against Articles 35A and 370 by advancing spurious arguments. Take, for example, what it did in the Supreme Court on November 16. It told the apex court that situation in Jammu & Kashmir was very “sensitive” and it would not be advisable to hear the plea challenging the “constitutional validity of Article 370”. The Supreme Court endorsed the official argument and ruled that it would hear the plea only in the first week of April 2019. The Modi government’s stand in the apex court, on the one hand, created an impression across the world that situation in the entire state was volatile, which was not the case. Jammu and Ladakh, which constitute 89 per cent of the state’s land area, are peaceful and want abrogation of Articles 35A and 370. It’s only the tiny Kashmir, where the situation is bad and bad since decades despite the fact that Kashmiri Sunnis have occupied everything that belongs to the state and New Delhi has handed over everything to them. On the other hand, the stand of the Modi Government only electrified the communal scene in Kashmir, which has not become 99.99 per cent Muslim.
It’s an irony that Nehru denied full Indian citizenship to the Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains through Articles 35A and 370 to appease Muslims in Kashmir and the Modi Government has been successful in persuading the Supreme Court to defer again and again hearing on these Articles. The Modi Government must review its stand on these Articles and undo all the wrongs the Congress committed in the state from time to time to drive the state away from the national mainstream.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.