Kashmir: The View From Within

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  • Publish Date: Aug 5 2018 10:30PM
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  • Updated Date: Aug 5 2018 10:30PM
Kashmir: The View From Within

Excerpt from the book Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle by Professor Saifuddin Soz

 

One reason why the Praja Parishad, the Jana Sangh, the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS had started a vigorous campaign against the Sheikh [Abdullah] was a thoroughly parochial and sectarian idea that revolutionary reforms envisaged in the ‘New Kashmir’ manifesto such as abolition of landed estates, the institution of the board for cancellation of debts, etc., were meant to benefit only Muslims. Undoubtedly, the land reforms were revolutionary and other pro-people measures had no parallel in the subcontinent, but it was not true that these were meant for Muslims alone. These Hindu organizations never cared to accept the reforms had benefited the entire labour and peasantry (largely Hindus) in Jammu province also.

Gandhi was a bridge of understanding between Nehru and Patel. On his assassination, Nehru lost a big support. He felt lonely and gradually lost his vigour to combat communal forces inside and outside Parliament. Patel did not support him on many occasions. Azad’s support wasn’t something powerful to help Nehru fight his enemies. Surprisingly, Nehru had imagined the Sheikh would gradually appreciate his difficulties.

While Nehru’s speech in Parliament on the Delhi Agreement (on 24 July 1952) constituted a weak defence of the agreement and the agreement was not put on records, the Sheikh presented the same agreement to the Jammu & Kashmir Constituent Assembly and spoke on it on 11 August 1952 as his lifetime achievement.

Alas! The builder of modern India, the visionary who looked to India’s future as a federal, secular, progressive and vibrant democracy, got weakened in his support to the Sheikh on the question of autonomy envisaged in the Delhi Agreement.

The Sheikh had earlier lamented the fact that leaders such as Sardar Patel and Rajendra Prasad had not supported Nehru on the question of special status to Jammu & Kashmir. He took particular notice of Patel’s antagonistic stand on many issues he raised with Nehru. He records in his autobiography Aatish-e-Chinar that once a senior officer of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), B.N. Mullik, was sent to Srinagar in the middle of 1949 to report the factual situation in Kashmir. Mullik met Mohyuddin Kara, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, G.M. Sadiq, D.P. Dhar, Maulana Masoodi and others. He sent a report to his office in Delhi and Nehru felt happy and sent copies of the report to all embassies. When Patel came to know of it, he summoned Mullik and admonished him for sending the report directly to Nehru. Mullik got nervous and immediately told Patel that he had only sent the report to the senior officer of the IB.

In his book Kashmir-My Years with Nehru, Mullik notes, ‘Sardar spoke against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and said he differed with Nehru on his assessment of him and considered the Sheikh as dangerous and staunchly anti-Hindu. Mullik got the hint and his later reports to Delhi got accordingly changed. The Sardar made Mullik chief of the Intelligence Service superseding thirty officers and the rest is history.’

The Sheikh says further, ‘What colour Mullik gave to the reporting about him (the Sheikh) and his activities later, during that fateful time, was, essentially, what was expected of him by the Home Ministry.’

But it was clear that the Sheikh would not accept any dilution of autonomy granted to the state. When he found things drifting and relation with the Union getting awry, he publicly showed his disgust.

The Sheikh’s dismissal and arrest on 9 August 1953, apart from causing a revolt in the state, caused a deep wound in the psyche of Kashmiris. It meant while Kashmir remained steadfast with secular India, the Union didn’t!

Writing in his book Maverick Unchanged, Unrepentant, prominent jurist Ram Jethmalani expresses a strong feeling that the institution of the Constituent Assembly for Jammu & Kashmir had settled the political issue once and for all saying, ‘Commentators and sympathizers of the Kashmir problem would do well to remember that the Constitution of India was not foisted upon the state and that it applies only in those parts that have been voluntarily accepted by the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The state is primarily governed by its own Constitution, unlike any other state in India, Kashmir has voluntarily become part of a free progressive, secular republic. That is Azadi.’

While Jethmalani expresses these thoughts in his book, he feels that jingoistic elements have spoiled the constitutional relationship with Kashmir. I know it at personal level that Jethmalani has his own set of grievances with Pakistan, but he has continued to be of the view that neighbourhood can’t be changed and India has to find ways to have cordial relations with Pakistan.

Jethmalani further writes, ‘The Kashmir problem is not insurmountable and could have been solved long ago, but the political will and adroitness to do so have been lacking. If the president of Pakistan is ready for negotiation, the prime minister of India has to be willing. If parties like the BJP advocate immediate cessation of diplomatic relations, the people of India should and will dismiss it as a political bankruptcy and electoral insanity.’

Perhaps, Jethmalani wrote these lines after General Pervez Musharraf’s famous formula for peace between the two countries had not found favour with the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

 

(Extracted with permission from Rupa Publications)

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

In Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Saifuddin Soz takes a passionate and compelling look at the past, present and future of a vastly misunderstood people.

Throughout its long, diverse, distinctive but scarred history, the beautiful and bountiful land of Kashmir has captured the imagination of travellers, kings, historians and nations. From its origins as an ancient civilization, to embracing Islam, to fighting invaders, to militancy; Kashmir has seen it all.

What is the future of Kashmir, then? What is the destiny of its people? Can there be solution to the weary problem confronting Kashmir? Can Kashmir reconcile with the past for a better future? Can the Valley return to a life of dignity, peace and development? How?

Saifuddin Soz discusses these questions and provides credible and implementable solutions to end the grave crisis.