The Political Crises in J&K State : A Handiwork of dishonest politicians

The 71 year old political crisis in Jammu and Kashmir State is the product of dishonesty on part of the Indian as well as the Kashmiri political leadership. Before reflecting on Indo-Kashmir trust deficiency and lack of honesty in mutual relationship, it is very important to first discuss the circumstances under which the Muslim dominated Jammu and Kashmir State acceded to the Indian Union in 1947.The critics of National Conference supreme leader Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, hold him responsible for coming in the way of Muslim dominated Jammu and Kashmir State’s accession with Muslim Pakistan in 1947. The latest available research on the subject however, proves it beyond any doubt that Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s undemocratic Kashmir policy as well as the Pakistan sponsored tribal incursion in Kashmir on 22nd October 1947 have been actually responsible for the Jammu and Kashmir State’s accession with Indian Union on 26th October 1947.

Bilkees Taseer, wife of Prof. M.D. Taseer, former Principal of S.P. College Srinagar and a top Muslim Leaguer, in her book, The Kashmir of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, has proved that the negative attitude towards Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and his repeated humiliation by Mohammad Ali Jinnah forced the Kashmiri leader to ally with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the post-partition era. According to Nawab Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani, a top Muslim Leaguer and former Minister of Kashmir Affairs in Pakistan, Professor Taseer had tried to arrange twice meeting between Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah in early 1945 and 1946.The first meeting did not materialize. It was in early 1946 that Taseer brought Sheikh Abdullah to Gurmani again to arrange a meeting with Jinnah. The Jinnah’s reply was, “If he (Abdullah) wants to see me, let him write a request and then I will consider”. How could a popular leader who carried the mandate of the people stomach this insult? In contrast Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, a taller leader of Indian people treated Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah as his equal. In early 1947 Hafeez Jallanderi, Maulana Daud Ghaznavi and others tried for a meeting between Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the date and time for an appointment was fixed, but when the party accompanied by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah reached Jinnah’s house and were waiting in the drawing room, they were given the message that Jinnah had changed the mind.

After the release of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah from prison on 29th September1947, Main Iftikharudin a Muslim Leaguer came by his own car from Lahore to Srinagar at the beginning of October 1947. The driver Khazir had been in service of Mian Iftikharudin for over thirty years. As per the testimony of Khazir, he drew Mian Iftikharudin in his own car, soon after Dr Taseer visited Srinagar in the first week of October 1947. Mian Iftikharudin left Lahore in the early morning and reached Srinagar the same evening. Mian Iftikharudin met Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah at his home at Soura and stayed for about two hours. Mian Iftikharudin and his driver stayed at Nedous Hotel for the night. The next morning Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah himself came to the hotel. All the three left for Lahore by car via Pindi route. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah spent two nights in Mian Iftikharudin’s house in Aikman Road, while Mian tried to persuade Mohammad Ali Jinnah then in Karachi, on the phone, to meet him. As per Begum Iftikharudin Jinnah got excited and replied, “I don’t need to meet this man, Kashmir is in my pocket”. According to Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, Jinnah’s reply was, “Who is Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah? I am prepared to discuss Kashmir only with the Maharaja or a senior government official from Kashmir”. As per Bilkees Taseer, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah had told  Suhail Iftikharudin (Mian’s son) and his lawyer friend in New Delhi in 1964 that he had made lightening trip to Lahore soon after his release at Mian Iftikharudin’s insistence, who had already contacted  Mohammad Ali Jinnah at phone in Karachi with a request that he would meet Sheikh Abdullah, if he brought him to Karachi. Why did Mohammad Ali Jinnah first agree to meet Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, and then suddenly backtracked to humiliate the main popular leader of Kashmiri nation in post-partition era?. The now defunct Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore had reported the visit of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah to Lahore. According to Habib Kaifi one time Secretary of J&K Muslim Conference, people in Srinagar knew about Sheikh’s visit to Lahore. Begum Zafar Ali, an MLA of J&K Assembly (1975-82) too confirmed the visit of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah to Lahore. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah left on third morning reaching Srinagar at 10 p.m.It was Khazir who dropped Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah at Srinagar.

The research conducted by Bilkees Taseer clearly reveals that it is Mohammad Ali Jinnah who has to be blamed for not honouring Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the popular leader of Kashmiri nation, but instead keeping himself in the good books of Maharaja Hari Singh to secure his signature on the Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with Pakistan. The insult of Jinnah to the most revered leader of Kashmir in mid-1940s was the insult to every citizen of Kashmir. Given the circumstances under which the decision was taken by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah to support the formal request of Maharaja Hari Singh to the Government of India on 24th October 1947 to favour the Government of Jammu and Kashmir State with its military assistance to drag out the 5,000 Pakistani tribal raiders who had invaded Kashmir on 22nd October 1947, was the necessary and justified course of action. The limits of Indo-Kashmir relationship were defined in the Instrument of Accession submitted by Maharaja Hari Singh to the Indian Union on 26th October 1947. The last autocratic Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State surrendered his control to the Indian Union just with respect to defence, foreign affairs and communication. In the covering letter of the Instrument of Accession addressed to Lord Mountbatten the Maharaja made it categorically clear that the provisions of the future Constitution of India except for the areas already covered in the accession will not be a binding on his government.

The dismissal of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah from Prime the Ministership and his immediate arrest on 9th August 1953 was a Himialayan blunder committed by the New Delhi. The Kashmir Conspiracy charges leveled against him could not be proved in the court of law. Similarly, the J&K Plebiscite Front’s questioning of the Jammu and Kashmir State’s accession with Indian Union amounted to dishonesty on part of the Kashmiri leadership especially Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beigh who that was Revenue Minister in the state prior to Abdullah’s dismissal. The honesty demands that both Indian as well as Kashmiri leadership must acknowledge the fact that when Pakistan launched tribal raid in Kashmir on 22nd October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh had no other option but to seek military assistance from India. The limited accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with Indian Union must be respected both by the people of Jammu and Kashmir State as well as the Government of India. The ratification of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with Indian Union on 6th February 1954 as well as the adoption of the original Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir State by the J&K Constituent Assembly on 17th November 1956, subsequently implemented by Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad Government on 26th January1957 must be honestly upheld by every citizen of India including the people of Jammu and Kashmir State to ensure smooth and cordial Indo-Kashmir relationship. It has been well said, “honesty is the best policy”. All the citizens of Indian Union must benefit from this wise policy.

The author can be reached at ghathar@yahoo.co.in