Jammu & Kashmir: History is fascinating if we refresh our memories with facts. Jammu & Kashmir reveals more fascinations as time passes. India as on now is quite young and politically divided just seven decades back. Over a period of time, many events went to gather dust and stopped remembering except by serious history watchers. But Kashmir is an exception to it. The pot is boiling since then and no visibility of logical ends in near future. If we look to history, Kashmir issue was self made and one way, due to selfish and foolish thinking of Jinnah, India was lucky enough to get it back with some strains. Let us look to it as it was.
Partition of India
On 3rd June 1947, Partition plan was announced for British India. It was decided to divide the country at western and eastern front on the basis of majority religion practiced by people in that area. Sindh, Baluchistan provinces were declared part of newly created Pakistan. Punjab, Bengal provinces were to be partitioned on the basis of majority religion residents. NWFP (present Khyber Faktunwa) province and Sylhet district in Bengal province will be allocated after the verdict in referendum. All other provinces will go to India. Remember, all this description was confined to British India only. These details were incorporated in Independence Act, 1947 and through Amendments to India Act, 1935. As far as 560 Princely States, it was mentioned that Head of State will take a decision whether to accede to either India or Pakistan. It was stated position in the Act.
However, different interpretations were made by politicians according to their convenience. For example, Mountbatten convened meeting of Nehru and Jinnah to exchange views. In that meeting, Jinnah took a firm stand stating “Every Indian State was a sovereign State”. Nehru opposed it equally in firm tone. Root cause of the serious differences originated from these interpretations.
Interpretations based on inner motives
At the outset, the Indian stand was also based on leaders’ perception but not based on the provisions of Act. Mountbatten though representative of Crown, influenced the thinking of Nehru and Patel. Ultimately, Nehru and Patel came to a principle that wherever Ruler belongs to a religion different from that of majority of his subjects (people), Will of People will be ascertained with regard to accession of the State. Indian leaders thinking might have influenced with the status of Junagadh and Hyderabad States. In fact, Junagadh Nawab signed Instrument of Accession with Pakistan before 15th August 1947. Nizam of Hyderabd did not sign any document by that day and wanted to be Independent State. These developments created anxiety in the minds of Nehru and Patel. This was exploited by Mountbatten and convinced them to take that stand. It applies to Jammu & Kashmir also. The Indian leadership reconciled to the fact that the fate of Jammu & Kashmir will be decided along with Junagadh and Hyderabad together as these three States fall into the same category.
Jinnah’s thinking was totally different. If he took the line of plebiscite/ referendum, Kashmir may come to Pakistan but Hyderabad and Junagadh will go to India which he was not inclined to concede. It was the real motive for taking the stand that princely States were free to decide whatever they want. He was more interested in Hyderabad to become Independent. At the same time, he was so confident that Maharaja of Kashmir will accede to Pakistan being Muslim majority State and contiguous border State unlike Hyderabad and Junagadh which were located in interior areas of India.
How Jinnah lost the plot in Kashmir?
It is quite surprising that Jinnah was more invested his efforts initially in Hyderabad than Kashmir. In Kashmir, Shaik Abdullah started with Muslim Conference and later converted it into National Conference to attract non-Muslims also into its fold. He launched mass movement against Maharaja Hari Singh. When Jinnah visited Kashmir, both Shaik Abdullah and Choudary Ghulam Abbas representing Muslim Conference mainly in Jammu area received Jinnah in a grandeur manner. However, Jinnah sided with Abbas and disapproved Abdullah’s actions. It was the beginning of rift between them. Jinnah always kept the interest of Hyderabad while dealing with Jammu & Kashmir. It was the first blunder he committed in his overall strategy. If Jinnah developed rapport with Sheik Abdullah instead of rift, entire situation in Kashmir would have been different. Gradually, Jinnah lost the original plot and staged revolt when frustration reached its peak with Maharaja’s silence.
The revolt instigated through Pathan tribe was boomeranged. Shaik Abdullah bitterly opposed this tribal invasion planned by Jinnah due to his own apprehensions on Jinnah’s move. The quick move of India in mobilizing the Army into Srinagar with signing of Instrument of Accession by Maharaja Hari Singh was beyond Jinnah’s calculations. So, he lost the original plot by opposing Shaik Abdullah and by invading Kashmir territory.
Jinnah missed the second opportunity
Mountbatten somehow wants to convince Jinnah on these three princely States. Mountbatten personally wanted Jammu & Kashmir to go to Pakistan. He visited Lahore on 1st November 1947 just two and half months after Independence and presented comprehensive formula to Jinnah covering three States namely Hyderabad, Junagadh and Kashmir. He proposed an impartial referendum in these three States to decide their accession. Mountbatten and Jinnah talked for more than three and half hours. Jinnah agreed to plebiscite in Kashmir and Junagadh but not
agreed with the formula for Hyderabad. His obsession with Hyderabad kept the formula pending. Mountbatten was disappointed man. He invited Jinnah to Delhi as his personal guest to complete these discussions to logical conclusion but Jinnah did not visit. Nehru and Patel prepared to agree to the proposals of Mountbatten. It was the stated position initially by both these leaders though Patel differed with Nehru later to refer the matter to UNO.
Jinnah got an opportunity to correct his first blunder in this proposal. If he accepted Mountbatten’s proposal for plebiscite under neutral observer, the fate of Kashmir would be different. Though Shaik Abdullah politically opposed Jinnah when plebiscite occurs, things would have totally different. Communal passions would have dominated the scene as it occurred in NWFP. Rejection of Mountbatten’s proposal was second blunder committed by Jinnah by which India got benefitted. In both the cases, Jinnah committed these blunders for the sake of Hyderabad. Ultimately, he not only lost Hyderabad, junagardh but also Jammu & Kashmir except few pockets occupied illegally. Even, the principle of Independence which was boasted by Jinnah was not adhered to. Khan of Kalat wanted to be Independent by not acceding to Pakistan. Jinnah who was advocate of its sovereignty before British forcefully occupied on 27th March 1948.
India was lucky enough. Otherwise, we would have lost Jammu & Kashmir totally to Pakistan. Immediately after Independence, India faced lot of problems and that was the reason, Nehru and Patel wanted to accept the formula suggested by Mountbatten. It was averted by foolish and selfish decisions of Jinnah. Result: Pakistan loss, India gain.