People’s wish and accession of J&K to India: Sojourn to the history

08 Jan 2018 13:24:42

 

 


Pankaj Gupta

Democracy is the foundation of any progressive country and people’s participation is ensured only if their wishes are considered. This can be possible only when people can make a choice about their representatives through a democratic process called election. These elected representatives generally make decisions for the welfare and development of the people, who have elected them to that post. Unity in diversity is the greatest strength of India and it can proudly be called a democratic country because it has been running on these principles, since independence. The same ethos has been adopted by India in the matter of all the princely states, which had acceded to it through Instrument of Accession (IoA). The IoA was the standard instrument that had been used by more than 550 princely states to accede either to India or Pakistan. It was the legal document that has to be signed by the then rulers of the respective princely states, in order to accede to either India or Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was one among those princely states, which acceded to India. It is the 15th state, as mentioned in schedule-I of the Indian constitution. It is also important to note here that the only person authorised to sign IoA, in the princely state, was its ruler. Therefore, J&K’s accession to India was completed and final because the then ruler of Maharaja acceded to India by signing this instrument in favour of India on 26th October, 1947 and subsequently the state was integrated with rest of the country. The wish of people was ascertained later through the constituent assembly, as it was the policy of the then Congress government. It is also a known fact that some of the Pakistani sympathisers have been spreading rumours that Maharaja did not take the wishes of the people of the state into consideration, while acceding to India. Though it is true that Maharaja has taken the decision on accession in the capacity of legally laid down procedures at that point of time yet the wishes of the people were ascertained while framing the constitution of J&K. It is important to note here that the proceedings of Constituent Assembly of the state on 6 February 1954 clearly mentioned that the Jammu & Kashmir Constituent Assembly ratified the IOA in the favour of India. This Constituent Assembly had the representatives of the people of J&K who took decision on the matter of Accession. Further, the state was spread in the geographical area of 2,22,236 sq.km. But presently India is having a geographical area of 1,01,387 sq.km. with it whereas the rest of the area has been illegally occupied by Pakistan and China.

 

It is evident that the Maharaja Hari Singh sent identical standstill agreements to the two dominions namely India and Pakistan, during independence. The standstill agreement was the legal document used by Maharaja for maintaining the status-quo. This instrument was readily accepted by Pakistan whereas India wanted to have a discussion on it. Since, Pakistan wanted to include J&K with itself; it broke the standstill agreement, as soon as it got to know about the development between J&K and India. Further, Pakistan invaded J&K to intimidate the recognised rulers and his people so that the state should accede to Pakistan. Though Maharaja took up this matter with the Pakistan Government and the Government of England but he did not get any sort of support or help in this regard. Finally, after sensing the crookedness of Pakistan, Maharaja offered the instrument of accession to India and sent the signed copy of the instrument to Lord Mountbatten, who signified it readily on 27th October 1947. The only thing that had created confusion was the letter of Lord Mountbatten to Maharaja, wherein he asked Maharaja to take people’s wishes into consideration. Though legally this letter was not tenable, as there was no provision of this sort in the legal procedure set out for the other 565 princely states, which acceded either to India or Pakistan, yet certain disgruntled people use this letter to show that it was not the wishes of the people. Again, I like to mention here that the IoA was the legal instrument in this matter, which has to be signed by the ruler of princely state and the same instrument has to be signified by Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India. This entire legal process was completed as per the laid down procedures at that point of time and the individual letter was a matter of conveying personal wish without any legal compulsion, on the ruler, to act on the same.

 

Now coming to the question of people’s wish, it can be said that the state subjects have clearly conveyed their wishes for the accession of the state to India. It is important to mention here that the tallest leaders, at that point of time, of the entire state like Sheikh Abdullah from Kashmir valley, Pandit Premnath Dogra from Jammu and Kushok Bakula Rinpoche in Ladakh fought against Pakistani invaders to safeguard J&K from them, which clearly shows that the pro-Indian sentiments were prevailing in J&K even at that point of time. Following are some of the facts, which convey the clear intention of people that was similar to the wishes of the Maharaja:

  • First of all, the Instrument of Accession was a legal instrument used by all the princely states, whether they acceded to India or Pakistan. This instrument was designed after much deliberation by the British and the concurrence for the same was given by the respective rulers of the princely states. This instrument clearly left it to the wisdom of the ruler of the state to accede to either of the dominions. Though certain media houses reported that some people wanted to replace the dynasty rule yet it was the undeniable fact that Maharaja Hari Singh was the recognised and the only legal person to make decision on the matter of accession.
  • Secondly, there is no such record of that time, which shows that people were against the decision of the Maharaja. On the contrary, the documents were showing how brutally the administrative structure was crushed by Pakistani mercenaries and people had to run away from their houses for saving their own lives. The affected areas during this bloodbath were Bhimbar, Kotli, Mirpur, Mujjafarabad and Rajouri, where thousands of men, women and children were slain in a day. Presently, all these areas except Rajouri are under illegal occupation of Pakistan. The documents also speak volumes about how barbarically the males and children were butchered and females were raped during this time. This has made the people of the state to look upto India for help and it was quite obvious that they would stand by the decision of Maharaja.
  • Thirdly, the Sheikh Abdullah, himself endorsed the accession of J&K to India, while making the speech at the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) on 5th February, 1948 and in the constituent assembly on 5th November, 1951. In his speech he categorically mentioned that why he wishes that the state of J&K shall accede to India and not to the Muslim majority country i.e. Pakistan. He also mentioned that he does not believe in two nation theory or communalism itself. Further, he lamented the massacre of residents of the state. He was even ready to justify the accession of the state to India. In his speech in the UNSC, he categorically mentioned the common wish of Maharaja and the people of the state while acceding to India. He even mentioned that the Prime Minister of India showed his gesture of gratitude when he said ‘India does not want to take advantage of the difficult situation in Kashmir’ and will seek the ratification of people of the state once it is freed from Pakistani invaders.
  • Fourthly, the Lord Mountbatten letter of 27th October, 1947 has no legal sanctity as there was no pre-condition in the entire process of accession, which legally bind the ruler, to take people’s wishes into consideration. Further, there were no opposition or protest against the decision of Maharaja. On the contrary people participated in election process of the constituent assembly so that it would prepare the constitution of the state.
  • Fifthly, it was not found anywhere in the history that different sorts of instruments, containing specific conditions for any particular princely state(s), were used for accession. So, Maharaja was the only legal person in the matter of accession of J&K to either of the two dominions.
  • Sixth, the Indian government went to the UNSC against the Pakistani aggression in J&K and not for any dispute on accession of the state. The same was accepted by the UNSC and it even asked the Pakistan to vacate the piece of land occupied by it illegally though it was a different matter that UNSC did not do anything to ensure the compliance of its decree.
  • Seventhly, even Government of India was ready for the plebiscite provided that the two conditions preceding to plebiscite must be fulfilled. These two conditions were ceasefire by Pakistan and withdrawal of Pakistani intruders from the soil of the state so that free and fair elections for the state can be ensured. But the first two conditions never fulfilled and the plebiscite, which was to ensue after the fulfilment of the two conditions, for the entire state never happened. India waited for the international community to intervene in this matter and make a peaceful solution to the problems created by the Pakistani invaders, in this part of the country, but nothing happened in this matter. Therefore, on January 23, 1957 Mr. V. K. Krishna Menon, the Indian representative to UN, made it clear in the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) that J&K including POJk belongs to India only.
  • Eighthly, a Constituent Assembly of democratically elected leaders was formed to prepare the Constitution of the state. This Constituent Assembly was created, which has the representation of democratically elected individuals, chosen by the people of the state.
  • Finally, the first general elections were held in the state in 1957, after the dissolution of constituent assembly, through well defined procedure for the same and the National Conference emerged as the largest party which formed the government in J&K.

 

The above facts make it amply clear that the myth of the so called Kashmir problem has been created by certain opportunists in Kashmir valley, India and in the media houses. It is important to understand here that Kashmir valley is one the smallest portion (i.e. 7%) of the entire state and the number of separatists elements even quite a few, who are spread in a limited number of district of Kashmir. But they have the vast control over the institutions like Media, Bar Association of Kashmir, which hinder in spreading the correct information in the entire country. Focus has always been given on a few selective people, who twisted the historical facts and separatists are some of these selective people, who are given undue advantage. It is also evident that the discussion on J&K is limited to the smallest portion of land and the problems like detention of Kashmiri stone-pelters, Armed Forces Special Power Act, are given more importance whereas there are much bigger issues. It has been infested in the mind of the people that the option of plebiscite was never exercised by India though it was not correct. The above facts also break the myth that the people of J&K never wanted to accede to India. Also, tinkering with the well laid legal procedure would have opened the Pandora box and every princely state would have raised similar demands on such flimsy grounds. It is also evident that people were not consulted when two nation theory was cropped up and decision on the same was taken to part India into two dominions but it does not mean that people wishes were not paid heed during that time. On the question of people wish I again want to reiterate that people used their vote to convey their wishes. Though the Pakistan invaded J&K to terrorise its people yet it failed in its dubious plans and the state completely integrated with India. In conclusion, the Accession of J&K to India was a matter of great pride, as it completely integrated with India and became its 15th state. Though the people’s wish was always taken yet certain miscreants are spreading the wrong information about it and a sort of confusing environment is created across India including J&K. The reason for such confusion was obviously that the then government was not able to look beyond Sheikh Abdullah. Though there were certain sections in J&K who wanted that all the provisions of Indian constitution must be implemented in the state, like any other state in India, yet no one was against the accession of the state to India. So, it clearly shows that it was not actually the residents of the state but the foreign elements from Pakistan, who were against the accession. I feel no person, who is having an iota of common sense, would accept that the wishes of the people of the state were the same as that of the invader. It is strange and painful that people are speaking the language used by Pakistan and unfortunately, their false propaganda was spread whereas the factual information was never brought within the public domain.

 

 

 

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