January 15, 2002


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Arvind Lavakare

Nailing more Pakistani lies on J&K

In the article 'Jammu & Kashmir Dispute' posted on the Pakistani foreign ministry Web site, some of the averments made are:

  1. India consistently pressurized the Hindu Ruler to accede to India.
  2. On 27th October 1947, the Government of India alleged that the ruler had acceded to India on the basis of a fraudulent instrument of accession, sent its forces into the State and occupied a large part of Jammu and Kashmir.
  3. The Indian armed intervention in the State of Jammu and Kashmir was illegal.
This writer's last commentary had refuted that allegation of "pressure" through the public attitude of Jawaharlal Nehru and a significant letter from Sardar Patel's ministry, and revealed that the pressure on the J&K maharaja came, in fact, from the official Pakistani side. But two most significant pieces of evidence need to be cited today to drive home the nail once and for all into Pakistan's lie on that score.

The first truth is that the venerable Mahatma Gandhi himself called upon the J&K maharaja in Srinagar on August 1, 1947. "Except that Mahatma Gandhi advised the maharaja not to remain in conflict with his people, nothing is clearly known about the conversation between the two. But if Gandhi's mission was to persuade the maharaja to make up his mind one way or the other, he failed to achieve his objective" (My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir, Jagmohan, Allied Publishers Limited, April 1992 edition, p 83).

But, and this is critical, note the above words, "not to remain in conflict with his people". What did they signal to the maharaja of a Muslim-majority State? "Pressure to accede to India"? That's a joke.

Then there's Lord Mountbatten, then governor-general of India. He made a four-day visit to Kashmir in June 1947 in a bid to persuade the maharaja to make up his mind. The following excerpt from Time Only to Look Forward: Mountbatten's Speeches (Jagmohan, ibid, p 83) shows that Mountbatten was neutral on the subject.

"On every one of those four days, I persisted with the same advice: ascertain the will of your people by any means and join whichever Dominion your people wish to join by August 14 this year. He [the maharaja] did not do that and what happened can be seen. Had he acceded to Pakistan before August 14, the future government of India had allowed me to give His Highness an assurance that no objection whatever would be raised by them. Had His Highness acceded to India by August 14, Pakistan did not exist then, and therefore could not have interfered" (Jagmohan, ibid, p 83).

Though there was thus absolutely no pressure whatsoever from the official Indian establishment on the J&K maharaja to accede to India, there certainly is a published account of how a certain cultural organisation and its workers exerted whatever influence they could on the maharaja to join up with India. It is a rare account that numerous historians of J&K have ignored. Very briefly, it goes like this.

The organisation's J&K chief, Pandit Prem Nath Dogra, submitted several memoranda and followed them up with personal interviews with the maharaja. Several other social and political organisations were also persuaded to adopt resolutions urging the maharaja to join India without delay. Thousands of telegrams were sent to him from all parts of J&K and other neighbouring states. The organisation's chief for Punjab, held in high esteem by the maharaja, hastened to Srinagar to meet and advise him.

But some forces were inimical to India. And August 14, 1947, saw the Pakistani flag hoisted on the Srinagar office of the postal authorities. Reason? The postal offices within J&K came under the Sialkot circle that now formed part of Pakistan. Promptly, the organisation's workers pulled down that green flag and, the next day, it was the Indian Tricolour that fluttered over most of the houses and shops in Srinagar. The organisation's workers had overnight prepared and distributed the Tricolour in hundreds.

Finally, the organisation's supreme chief met the maharaja in Srinagar on October 17 and brought home to him the futility of harbouring the idea of retaining his State as an independent kingdom. The maharaja, it is believed, was seeing reason finally.

Tragically, it was all too late. The first attack by Pakistani raiders came on October 11, 1947. Many on the Indian side were butchered, large numbers of women abducted. In a week's time, the entire Jammu-Sialkot border was aflame, reducing a score of border villages to ashes. Without troops on hand, the fate of Jammu City hung in the balance. The organisation's young workers, of courage unbelievable, repulsed the repeated attacks. Thus was Jammu saved. And without Jammu, would Srinagar have had the ghost of a chance to survive?

As it was, the regular raids from the Pakistani side began on October 20, 1947, when, as Joseph Korbel records on page 77 of his book Danger in Kashmir (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1954), "a large column of several thousand tribesmen armed with Bren guns, machine-guns, mortars and flame-throwers attacked the frontiers of the State" and "Srinagar trembled before the invasion of the tribesmen".

Margaret Bourke-White's research on that attack is in her Halfway to Freedom (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1949) where, on page 77, she asserts that "in Pakistan towns close to the border, arms were handed out before daylight to tribesmen directly from the front steps of Muslim League headquarters" and mentions that "the invaders were equipped with two aeroplanes". Even a Pakistani political scientist, Ayesha Jalal, asserts in her The State of Martial Rule (1990) that "...the government of Pakistan with the connivance of the Frontier ministry was actively promoting the sentiments that had encouraged the tribesmen to invade Kashmir". What's more, she adds, "Pakistani officers, conveniently on leave from the army, were certainly fighting alongside the Azad Forces -- a conglomerate of Kashmiri Muslims and Pathani tribesmen".

The sudden invasion, the SOS to Delhi by the maharaja of J&K, his signing the Instrument of Accession (stipulated by the Indian Independence Act, 1947) on October 26, 1947, and the flying of Indian troops the very next day to save his State -- all these events followed in quick succession. That last action of India was her duty and right to perform because, on the previous day, the whole J&K state of Maharaja Hari Singh had become part and parcel of India -- legally as per the monarchical system of governance and constitutionally as per a provision in the British Parliament's Indian Independence Act.

Was the Instrument of Accession that Hari Singh signed "fraudulent" as averred by Pakistan's foreign ministry? Now, as Dr A S Anand, India's ex-chief justice, has argued in his book The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (Universal Law Publishing Co Ltd, 1998), "fraud" is to cause a person to do something to his detriment or to another's advantage by deceit. But there was absolutely no evidence of any deceit practised by India. Further, says Dr Anand, if by fraud it is meant that the Government of India should not have accepted the accession unless it had been endorsed by the people of J&K, well, the Government of India had no authority to question the maharaja as he alone had the right and power to take a decision for his State.

It is a small mercy that, unlike the so-called historian Harry Alastair Lamb and some recent Pakistani journalists -- to whom India's oh-so-secular English newspapers generously extend the premium space of their op-ed pages -- Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs hasn't doubted the very existence of this Instrument of Accession.

To pre-empt that eventuality in future, let it be mentioned here that the BJP Today magazine of August 1-15, 2001, reproduced in its entirety a copy of the Instrument of Accession with blanks duly filled in and signed in Maharaja Hari Singh's own handwriting dated October 26, 1947. What's more, India's external affairs ministry has reportedly distributed its copy to every news organisation.

So what precisely is the "J&K dispute" that Pakistan's foreign ministry prevaricates about in the vast world of the Internet? And what British game is Tony Blair up to when, on board his aircraft the other week, he said, "Pakistan has a strong position on Kashmir and is entitled to that political position"?

If the two entities have the plebiscite of the United Nations resolutions in mind, that lie too will be nailed -- next week.

Meanwhile, you're probably itching to know which is the cultural organisation that almost succeeded in persuading the J&K ruler to come over to India's side before fate intervened. The answer will enrage Romila Thapar, Irfan Khan and other 'eminent' historians of their pink, 'secular' kind. That organisation was the... RSS.

Arvind Lavakare

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