Kashmir is the flashpoint of any conflict since 1947; ready to ignite the whole world at some point of time. This intricate issue had become more and more complicated with every passing year. Partition bruised many parts of the subcontinent, with the passage of time almost every wound got healed; leaving only scars here and there and making people to reconcile with the fate. Unfortunately a single sore (Kashmir issue) was left unattended by the British willingly with a wish to keep the flames of hatred on fire in this region. The age old strategy of divide and rule was put to best use and an issue was shaped, making people of Kashmir to suffer for last more than six decades. Many initiatives were taken to resolve this vexed issue by Pakistan and India, even many wars, both overt and covert were fought. Unfortunately every initiative was laden with ego and occupational mindset with no concern for aspirations of people of Kashmir. Kashmiri people also contributed in resolving this issue as per their own wish and got entangled into a long drawn struggle for emancipation with huge loss of life and property.
Many leaders lead this war against suppression on behalf of people of Kashmir and many more claims to be the torch bearers of Kashmir struggle. No one can deny the stature and role of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in emancipating and empowering the people of Kashmir but even he could not succeed in guiding them to achieve the ultimate goal of complete emancipation. Senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani summed-up Sheikh Sahib’s leadership more than two decades earlier as, ‘The contribution of a courageous man, who, braving all odds alerted people trapped in a building on fire; but without guiding them whether to come down through the stairs or jump out of the window, ultimately all the trapped people in panic jumped out of the window’. (this statement was made by Mr. Geelani while addressing a public meeting at Sopore in mid-eighties).
Three historic agreements influencing Kashmir issue, the Instrument of accession, Delhi agreement and Kashmir accord executed since 1947, were accomplished with the consent and active participation of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah the most influential leader of Kashmir. These agreements changed the status of Jammu And Kashmir State in most gradual manner, eroding its sovereign character and divested it of its historic and cultural uniqueness. What prompted Sheikh Sahib to endorse the accession and whether his conclusions were justified, only history will judge in coming times. A decision of such an immensity which changed the socio-political and other characteristics of the subcontinent and is tormenting the millions in this region even now can not be judged by a small fry like me in these columns of very humble significance. But yes, its implications and consequences are fairly visible.
Delhi agreement was crafted in 1952 by mutual agreement between Prime Minister of India and State of Jammu and Kashmir regarding the contours of State’s association with India, a year before the historic eviction and subsequent arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in August 1953 on charges of anti-national activity. Delhi agreement as per Sheikh Sahib included, ‘certain broad principles and tentative decisions’. Delhi agreement was not an agreement for the sake of agreement but a bunch of ‘tentative decisions’ with lot of ambiguity in every clause for future exploration at the time of any eventuality with regard to amalgamation of State of Jammu and Kashmir with union of India.
Kashmir accord can be termed as the final phase and ratification of gradual erosion of sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir State. This sham accord forced on the people of Kashmir was culmination of our lust for power and occupational mindset of Indian leadership. But circumstantial and self centered political compulsions, overburdening Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah can not be ignored altogether, which compelled him to enter into an agreement with politically much wily Indra Gandhi. Much political water had flown down the rivers and streams of Kashmir since August 1953 with lot of deception and political trickery practised by one-time friends and colleagues of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. However, no genuine historian can take the logic ‘supplication for power as compensation for endured deception’ to justify the ‘Kashmir Accord’. Every actor who initiated the events leading to this accord and those who accepted and implemented this accord will have to face the balance of justice and get the exact place in the annals of history.
Now, for last many weeks much more tittle-tattle is heard about the veiled talks regarding Kashmir, the thorniest political issue of the region. First of all it looks quite ambiguous that an issue related to the fate of millions and of international importance with far reaching consequences should be talked about in the confines of secrecy. If central leadership is to be believed, much headway has been made in ensuring personal contacts between a section of Kashmiri leadership and the twenty-first century Parthasarthis. These clandestine encounters are substantiated by the veiled statements of local political agents of the central political arrangement and selective leakage of information by a section of the Indian press. Indian home minister’s catchy line “away from media glare” conveys a lot about the under carpet happenings and developments vis-à-vis complex Kashmir issue. Even after these strong pointers of secret parleys with central authorities by a section of Hurriyat leadership, it looks like a bad dream and is beyond the comprehension of the common man. For people on the streets of Kashmir it looks like an illusion produced by certain vested interests who want to make the Kashmir issue and the Kashmir society more complicated and under par. It is also true that for quite some time certain sections of Kashmir’s leadership talk of tripartite talks somewhat vigorously, others forcefully suggest a different model of involving all the three parties India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir in a phased manner and the third radical group is strongly asking for declaring Kashmir a disputed territory prior to any talks. This sudden passionate pour out of assertions by separatist political identities in favor of resolving Kashmir imbroglio and their hyper activism invites an intense attention and further substantiates the apprehensions of some spicy soup being cooked to feed the gullible Kashmiries.
At the moment no one is either confirming or denying, what clandestinely is going on between a particular section of Hurriyat and the Government of India? But before concluding these (if any) secret parleys into any form of agreement , these leaders and their follower should peep into the pages of history and read the experience of one time most familiar leader of Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
Sheikh Sahib once considered the great nationalist within Indian polity, when arrested on charges of antinational activities was constrained to say from the confines of Udhampur jail “Time would tell who had been disloyal to India”.
Accepting accession, on 15th of August 1948 Sheikh Sahib said “After two days of discussion in the National Conference, at Srinagar, we have decided fully to accede to India permanently. This decision was essential………..” A decade after, out of compulsion and betrayal by his one time friends he said on January 13th 1958 at Hazratbal Srinagar “Our struggle will continue…….. This country (Kashmir) does not belong to Krishna Menon or the USSR, USA, Pakistan or India……The decision regarding the future of this country will have to be collectively taken by forty lack men and women of Kashmir”. This change of statement shows the desperation of a leader of great standing and mass support due to continuous betrayals and every time taking peoples support for granted and resorting to practice of not taking his people into confidence in a legitimate way. Further the Kashmir accord an other glaring example of ignoring people’s genuine aspirations can be summed up in the own words of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah for our present and future leaders, while discussing any deal with the political leadership of India, ‘forgetting my past experience, I agreed to compromise with the congress but soon had to regret my decision’.