A Misconception.

It is quite unfortunate that majority of Indian population is ignorant about the real historic background and chemistry of Kashmir problem. Not only the common Indians but also a section of educated and knowledgeable Indians are ignorant about this sensitive and volcanic issue of the sub continent. The issue that has led to several wars, disintegration and creation of nations, and made the whole region vulnerable to nuclear conflict leading to devastation.

In India people are not either fully aware of the issue and its historic background or have biased opinion about the subject due to false euphoria created by politicians of lesser order to full fill their ulterior motives. There is a misconception within the Indians that the accession of Kashmir with India is absolute with the consent of the erstwhile ruler and subsequent ratification by masses.  The logic given by majority of the people in India is that Kashmir had to accede to India or Pakistan on some principals as other states did at the time of partition, after implementation of partition plan governed by independence act of 1947, (which has ensured retrocession of paramountcy, making the princely states of India to decide their future) and it was the ruler’s choice that was properly exercised in case of Kashmir. The logic would have been palatable and had many takers if in 1947 states department of India headed by Sardar Patel would have used same yardstick to unify (annexation in some cases) all the princely states of India. What was the choice of rulers of erstwhile states of Junagadh, Bhopal, and Travancore is known to all, and why was operation ‘polo’ ordered to annex the state of Hyderabad in September 1948? Surely ruler’s choice was not honored in every case. So the logic of rulers choice for authenticity of instrument of accession (conditional) of Kashmir signed by late Maharaja Hari Singh is not justified.

It is history; under what circumstances Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession. But even under intense circumstantial pressure, manipulation and political intrigue he was averse to this idea of accession due to personal reasons. Maharaja was over ambitious, and some broader ambitions were taking shape in his mind. He did not want to part with the absolute authority and powers vested with him. That is what made instrument of accession to have in it self certain riders appended to it on behalf of Maharaja Hari Singh as envisaged in clause 7 and 8 of the instrument, which pertain to the sovereignty of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Hari Singh was least interested or concerned about the sovereignty of sate for the sake of sovereignty, but he wanted to have his state sovereign for continuation of his despotic autocracy. So any body’s claim, that accession was choice of the ruler (Hari Singh) and absolute in nature is not proper.  And further Mountbatten’s commitment on behalf of Government of India made to Maharaja Hari Singh in response to his acceptance of the instrument of accession on 27 0ctober 1947 (which was obviously having consent of both Nehru and Sardar Patel) provides credence to the logic that accession was conditional and out of compulsion not with consent and was not absolute.

An excerpt of Mountbatten’s response:

“In the special circumstances mentioned by your Highness, my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir state to the Dominion of India Consistently with their policy that, in the case of any state where the issue of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the state, it is my Governments wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invaders, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people”

Indian leaders never ever tried any possible method to force maharaja to accede to India before 15 August, because they were aware of the mindset of Hari singh. His reservations to accession to union of India. Instead Sardar Patel (real man behind accession of princely states with India, whom he referred as basket of 565 apples) in charge states department was quite indifferent and averse to the accession of Kashmir to Indian dominion up to 15 August. May be Patel was anticipating and waiting for blessings of Radcliffe award, (finely maneuvered by Nehru through his sympathetic Lord Mountbatten) and other favorable conditions. No doubt Nehru was trying his best to persuade every quarter in India to resolve Kashmir accession issue. But that never amounted to force maharaja. And Nehru always put a precondition to accession the endorsement of accession by Sheikh Abdullah, about which he was quite sure.

Extract of Nehru’s letter dated 27 September 1947 written to Sardar Patel:

We have definitely a great asset in National Conference provided it is properly handled. It will be a pity to lose this. Sheikh Abdullah has repeatedly given assurances of wishing to cooperate and of being opposed to Pakistan; also to abide by my advice

And extract of Sheikh’s speech at Srinagar on 4th October1947 after his release where he responded as per the wishes of Nehru:

I never believed in Pakistan slogan———- Pandit Jawahar Lal is my best friend

So two concepts were running parallel in India with regard to accession of Kashmir during 1947. One was having patronage of Nehru who wanted Kashmir to be part of India as soon as possible, as he was emotionally attached with Kashmir. Second was that of Sardar Patel who stuck to his doctrine of wait and watch till favorable situation and right conditions are available or created for annexation of Kashmir, and until the boundary commission (Headed by Sir Cyril Radcliffe) award (favoring India) was indifferent to Kashmir. Patel knew he could not afford to have different yardsticks for different states.  Wily Patel as in charge states department was aware of intricacies and other implications involved in the accession of Kashmir to Indian dominion. He first created favorable conditions and congenial atmosphere for annexation of Kashmir and then implemented his Kashmir plan.

Patel’s encouragement after boundary commission award and relief from hectic job of collection of his apples (princely states) made him active after 15th of August. So Patel’s behind the scene manipulation with V.P. Menon in tow as secretary of states department, Nehru’s vigorous persuasion with belief of Sheikh’s outright support to accession and Maharaja’s inability to hold on Kashmir gave India a golden opportunity to annex Kashmir and embed it in its crown. Annexation was made apparently smooth with face saving promise of plebiscite made through Mountbetten (refer to the Mountbetten’s reply on behalf of Government of India to Hari Singh in response to latter’s acceptance of instrument of accession in the start of this write up). And subsequent assurances from Nehru on record making Kashmiries to believe in modus vivendi of coexistence, and suffer till date on all accounts.

Rest is history.

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