I will say categorically that what Shri. Modi said about Sardar Patel in the parliament was absolutely correct. I shall discuss it in this presentation.
The article titled ‘The half-truths on Patel. Undivided Kashmir could have been with India had Patel acted on Gandhi’s advice’ written by Shri. Vappala Balachandran wherein he had said “Modi got history wrong when he claimed, “If the country’s first prime minister was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, this part of my Kashmir would not have been with Pakistan today” I have done an intensive research on the subject spanning over quite a few years. I have no intention of getting into an argument with the learned writer though I will say categorically that what Shri. Modi said in the parliament was absolutely correct. I shall discuss it in this presentation.
Maharaja was quite certain that accession of his state to Pakistan would spell genocide of Hindus and on the other hand accession to India would mean the end of his dynasty.
That, after the lapse of British paramountcy on 15th August, ‘the sale deed would end and that the paramountcy of the Kashmiri people will begin’ was the contention of Sheikh Abdullah which he conveyed to the visiting Cabinet Mission. End of British paramountcy only meant that the rulers of the princely states would thereafter be free to exercise their choice of either merging with India or Pakistan or be independent of both. The process of integration of the princely states could only start after the lapse of British paramountcy ie 15th August 1947. It is a fact that Maharaja Hari Singh had been made to believe that he could remain an independent ruler of his state by his earlier Prime Minister Ram Chander Kak and he stuck to this view as he was very much aware of the close friendship between Sheikh Abdullah and Pandit Nehru. He was quite certain that accession of his state to Pakistan would spell genocide of Hindus and on the other hand accession to India would mean the end of his dynasty.
According to the biographer Sarvepalli Gopal quoted in “Jawahar Lal Nehru” “Nehru looked upon Abdullah as an old friend and colleague and a blood brother” Christopher Thomas has said in his book ‘Fault Line Kashmir’ “The Maharaja disliked Nehru who despised Maharaja, an enmity that helped shape the course of contemporary Kashmir history.” As pointed by Alan Campbell-Johnson in ‘Mission with Mountbatten’ “Nehru who descended from Kashmiri Brahmins and Sheikh Abdullah are not only political colleagues but also close personal friends”
Maharaja had a genuine grouse against Pt. Nehru. Shri. V. Shankar the then Private Secretary to Sardar Patel had this to say “The Maharaja had an allergy for Pt. Nehru who had tried to intervene in Kashmir affairs…… He often criticized Pt. Nehru for making Sheikh Abdullah’s cause his own and thereby involving both himself and the Congress in his affairs” M.J.Akbar, a renowned author has quoted a conversation between V P Menon and Lord Mountbatten when Menon suggested taking Pt. Nehru to Kashmir for some rest that Mountbatten laughed and said ‘What would happen? I thought he (Nehru) wanted to make the Maharaja lick his boots, or alternatively that the Maharaja was likely to throw him in jail.’
Sardar Patel was instrumental in refusing the payment of 550 millions of rupees that were to be paid to Pakistan as part of the deal as it would amount to enabling Pakistan to buy arms and ammunition to kill our soldiers in Kashmir.
So Maharaja continued to vacillate till the tribals started striking the forward posts manned by scanty J&K forces. Then Maharaj badly wanted Govt. of India to intervene. He sent his new Prime Minister M C Mahajan with a letter of accession on any terms. Even then Pt. Nehru will not accept until it was endorsed by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. The tribals could see the burning lights of Srinagar. But they held back at Baramulla and did not advance further. I would like to quote Late V.P.Menon, the then Secretary of States that “The planners of this tragic holocaust are entitled to commendation for the originality of the plan and the swiftness with which it was executed. Where they failed was in their ignorance of the fundamental characteristic of the ‘raider’. They did not take in to account his love of loot and the licence which kept them in Baramulla for days, days which to them proved fatal” and of course a good luck for the people of Kashmir and the Indian nation.
Coming to the role of Sardar Patel in the J&K imbroglio: Alex Von Tunzelman refers to the discussion in her book ‘Indian Summer’ on sending troops to the valley when Pt. Nehru was still evasive and that “ Patel exploded. ‘Jawahar Lal, do you want Kashmir or do you want to give it away?’ ‘Of course, I want Kashmir, replied Nehru. Before he could add anything else, Patel turned to Manekshaw and said “You have your orders” (4) Field Marshal Manekshaw was then Director of military operations in the rank of Lt. Col. and had been taken along by Sardar Patel. She further says “It was Patel who went off to All India Radio and ordered a command requisitioning of private aircrafts and it was Patel who organized the fly in of Indian troops to Kashmir the next day” It was such a stupendous task that neither Mountbatten or the political leadership of Pakistan as also that of Great Britain could ever believe that such massive airlift of hundreds of Indian troops along with artillery units with the big guns and other ordnance stores, engineering and medical components as also other infrastructural support units could have been possible in a short span of just a few days” Sardar Patel had done it. Again Sardar Patel was instrumental in refusing the payment of 550 millions of rupees that were to be paid to Pakistan as part of the deal as it would amount to enabling Pakistan to buy arms and ammunition to kill our soldiers in Kashmir.
“If all the decisions rested on me, I think I would be in favor of extending this little affair in Kashmir to a full-scale war with Pakistan…..Let us get over it once for all and settle down as a united continent”
Sardar Patel visited the battlefield immediately after the Indian troops were inducted, got briefing from the Brigade Commander the then Brigadier L.P.Sen, rushed the needed reinforcements and the required back up offensive support, got built up the surface infrastructure, telecommunication network to connect the valley, which was said to be the miracle of the sorts by the foreign reporters. There is no doubt that the initial thrust and the successes of the Indian army to push back the tribals was all due to this visit of Sardar Patel, a visit about which the British Commander in Chief of the Indian army was said to have put it on record that it was an extremely risky visit.
Pt. Nehru had divested Sardar Patel of the charge of J&K though he was a Minister of the States also. H.V.Kamath, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly of independent India has written in “Bhavan’s Journal- Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel: Some Memories” that Patel once told him “If Jawahar Lal and Gopalaswami Ayyangar had not made Kashmir their close preserve, separating it from my portfolio of Home and States’, he would have tackled the problem as purposefully as he had already done in Hyderabad” Sardar Patel gave his mind also to the late President of India Rajendra Prasad that “Kashmir too might have been solved but Jawahar Lal did not let troops go from Baramulla to Domel. He sent them towards Poonch”,
The last observation as to how effectively Sardar Patel would have handled Kashmir. B. Krishna has said in his book titled ‘Sardar Patel-the Iron man of India’ that “While he was acting as Prime Minister, he sent for Air Marshal Thomas Elmhirst, chairman of Chiefs of the Staff Committee for discussing a point relating to Kashmir war. Elmhurst writes: ‘He was not well and the meeting was in the sitting room of his home and we were alone. He said something to this effect, “If all the decisions rested on me, I think I would be in favour of extending this little affair in Kashmir to a full-scale war with Pakistan…..Let us get over it once for all and settle down as a united continent” According to Elmhurst, Patel was ‘obviously a man of action, of few words, frank, straight-forward and unequivocal…whose intelligence, firmness and strength of character, I much admired’
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
- No Half Truths on Patel – PM Modi was absolutely right - October 28, 2018