Sheikh Abdullah: A Political Sufferer-II

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Naya Kashmir: Sheikh Abdullah was desperate to empower landless farmers and do away with the Feudal Landlord System in Kashmir. Having close association with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who was a socialist, Shiekh Abdullah advocated Socialism in order to improve living standards of his people who were the victims of oppression by Autocratic Dogra Rule and also the Feudal Landlords. In the 5th annual session of National Conference held at Pather Masjid in September, 1944, Shiekh Abdullah as the President of National Conference, adopted an elaborate Socialistic Politico-economic document known as “Naya Kashmir”. Naya Kashmir document was authored by a known socialist intellectual B.P.L. Bedi with the assistance of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Maulana Masoodi, Mirza Afzal Beig and G.M.Sadiq. The Naya Kashmir document offered a complete economic programme and high ideas of reformation in every sphere of life with a defined constitutional structure and national economic plan. The documents was divided in two main parts (1) Constitutional structure which laid down details of fundamental rights of citizens, freedom of speech, press, freedom of worship and equality of rights irrespective of religion, colour, caste or sex in all sphere of life. It also guaranteed right to work, right to education and equal opportunity to all. It also proposed a democratic government with an independent judicial system (2) A National Economic Plan, which promised abolition of landlordism, assignment of land to the tillers, right to work with wages and freedom from debts. According to Faiz Ahmed Faiz “Politics in Punjab was dominated by Feudal landlords, but the National Conference under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah adopted Naya Kashmir as its political manifesto which was much ahead of its times as even the Indian leaders failed to offer it to their landless farmers”.

Quit Kashmir

After Second World War in 1945, United Kingdom was in a state economic ruins. When Clement Attlee after defeating Winston Churchill committed to withdraw from India latest by 30th June, 1938 and also arrange for the transfer of British sovereignty in India to a single independent nation. In this connection the British Government decided to send a delegation on 12th March,1946, known as “Cabinet Mission” comprising of 3 Cabinet Ministers, Lord Pathick, Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and Alexander. Cabinet Mission also visited Kashmir and Sheikh Abdullah through a telegram sought their help to get the freedom from the autocratic Dogra Rule. As the Quit India Movement was about to bring freedom to the Indian nation, Sheikh Abdullah on identical lines launched a “Quit Kashmir” Movement on 15th May, 1946 whereby he targeted Maharaja Hari Singh who was asked to quit Kashmir, as he had no moral or legal right to stay on the throne. Sheikh in a speech at Zaindar Mohalla appealed the people to contribute a single rupee each so that Rs. 75 lacs could be returned to Maharaja and independence of Kashmir is bought back. On this fiery speech, Sheikh Abdullah was arrested near Muzaffarabad on 20th May, 1946 and was detained in Badami Bagh cantonment. As usual Sheikh’s arrest brought unrest in Kashmir and many people died and many more were arrested. One of the leaders Ghulam Mohi-u-din Karra remained under ground and carried out “Quit Kashmir” Movement even after the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah. At the advice of Mohammad Ali Jinah Muslim Conference Leaders stayed away from the movement as perhaps he could not forget the humiliation of 1944 at the hands of Sheikh.

Nehru’s arrest in Kashmir :

Sheikh Abdullah was arraigned for treason and sedition. On this occasion, to win the confidence of Sheikh, Nehru decided to visit Kashmir and plead his cause. Maharaja banned his entry into the State. On 16th June he along with Mr. Aasif Ali defied the ban and entered into Kashmir through Punjab via Kohala Bridge. On the orders of Maharaja, Nehru was arrested which evoked demonstration in Delhi against Maharaja of Kashmir. Nehru was kept under house arrest in Dak Banglow. A plane was sent to Kashmir to bring back Nehru to Delhi. Nehru refused but on the persuation of Maulana Azad he agreed to return. But before leaving for Delhi he met Sheikh Abdullah in Badami Bagh cantonment and assured him his support till victory against the Maharaja. Sheikh Abdullah was touched and won over by the good-will gestures of Nehru who came in support in the need of hour.

The trial of Sheikh Abdullah began on 22nd July 1946, Nehru again came to attend the judicial process and this time he was allowed by Maharaja to watch the proceedings. Mr. Asif Ali was defending Sheikh Abdullah. When Sheikh Abdullah was questioned, he said “It is a small matter whether I am imprisoned and tried and convicted. But it is not small matter that people of Jammu & Kashmir suffer poverty, humiliation and degradation…….This has demonstrated the justice of our demand and of our cry “Quit Kashmir”. The Session Judge sentenced Sheikh Abdullah to three years simple imprisonment and fine of Rs. 500/- on the charges of sedition. The judgement added fuel to the fire and agitation of “Quit Kashmir” spread all over the state. From the jail Sheikh smuggled out a letter with an appeal to his people “Dear comrades-in-arms, this is a fight to finish. Either we win over our objective or we perish for ever. I still maintain that Maharaja Hari Singh has no moral right to rules us and he should quit Kashmir.”

Accession:

The freedom movement in India was at its climax and the sub-continent was ready to get divided in the name of religion. An agreement was reached on 3rd of June, 1947 in which Vice Roy of India Lord Mountbatten finally announced the plan to partition Indian sub-continental into two dominions… India and Pakistan. With these developments in India, Quit Kashmir Movement was also at its peak and Maharaja was in dilemma as what to do in the given situation. Maharaja was in favour of independent Jammu & Kashmir as advised by his Prime Minister Ram Chand Kak and his wife Tara Devi. Pandit Nehru in any case wanted Kashmir to be part of India. He sent Congress President Aharaya Kirplani in May, 1947 to Kashmir to influence Maharaja Hari Singh, but he failed to convince him. On 19th June, 1947, Lord Mountbatten paid visit to Kashmir and persuaded Maharaja not to make any declaration of independence but to opt either for Pakistan or India, latest by 14th August, 1947. Maharaja conveyed to Lord Mountbatten that he neither want to accede India nor to Pakistan and he wishes to be independent. Lord Mountbatten returned disappointed and ultimately Pt. Nehru decided to send Mahatma Gandhi for setting deal with the vacillating Maharaja. On Ist August, 1947 Mahatma Gandhi arrived in Srinagar and he had a meeting with Hari Singh and Tara Devi. He gave them full assurance that in case he accedes to India, his interests as head of the State would be protected. Further he advised him to release Sheikh Abdullah and also remove Ram Chand Kak from Prime Minister-ship as he was against the accession with India. Next day Gandhiji visited Soura to meet Begum Abdullah where he tasted Kashmiri Kulcha and goat’s milk. He assured Begum Abdullah that Sheikh Abdullah will be released soon. Gandhi’s visit proved to be of grand success to the plans of Pandit Nehru. Ram Chandra Kak was asked to step down on August,11th and Janak Singh was appointed as new Prime Minister. Though Maharaja Hari Singh gave up the idea of independent Kashmir but Gandhi’’s visit could not fill up the gap between Maharaja Hari Singh and Pandit Nehru. Maharaja was apprehensive that in case he accedes to India Nehru would take revenge of his arrest in Kashmir. He had also a fear that Nehru would hand over the power to Sheikh Abdullah who was his confirmed enemy. The accession with India would also mean Pakistan would block all the supplies and State will be in a great trouble. In this backdrop Maharaja announced his intention to sign a standstill agreement on 12th August, 1947 both with Pakistan as well as India. Telegrams were sent to India and Pakistan by Prime Minister, Janak Singh. Pakistan accepted the agreement by a reply telegram whereas India refused to enter into any such agreement with Maharaja of Kashmir. After the independence of Pakistan and India on 14th and 15th August respectively, Sheikh Abdullah was released on 29th September, 1947. Gandhi had already paved the way for his release. On the intervention of Government of India, a meeting was arranged between Shiekh Abdullah and Maharaja Hari Singh at Gulab Bhawan where Sheikh offered some gold coins in traditional court manner. Dr. Karan Singh claims that Sheikh Abdullah was set free after an apologetic letter he had written to Hari Singh on 26.09.1947. After few days of his release on 3rd October, 1947 Sheikh Abdullah, while addressing a gathering of one lac of people at Hazuri Bagh demanded that before the accession either with Pakistan or India, Maharaja should transfer power to the people of Kashmir. He said if the 40 lacs people of Jammu & Kashmir are by-passed and the state declares its accession to India or Pakistan I shall raise the banner of revolt. By now Sheikh Abdullah had conceived a dream vision of Kashmir with a political dispensation in which, regarding matters concerning to Kashmiris, their voice would be supreme and they shall have complete ownership on their resources. This arrangement, he had worked out to confederate Jammu & Kashmir either with India or Pakistan with complete internal autonomy limiting the accession to three things i.e. Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communication only. As a pre-condition he wanted a constitutional guarantee to this effect.

In view of above on Ist October, 1947 a delegation from Pakistan headed by Dr. Taseer had a meeting with Sheikh Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beig and others at Majestic Hotel, Lal Chowk Srinagar, where Sheikh Abdullah in a categorical terms told Dr. Taseer “We would join Pakistan on the basis of Naya Kashmir programme and State’s accession to Pakistan would be limited i.e. Defence, Foreign Affairs and communication only. Pakistan shall have to promise a guarantee to our internal autonomy”. In the meeting it was decided that G.M. Sadiq would accompany Dr. Taseer to Pakistan for further discussions with Mohammad Ali Jinah. Nehru was very watchful on these developments and he invited Sheikh Abdullah to Delhi. He agreed to all the conditions of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and assured him that his dream vision is possible in India only. As he knew his temperament well and he never wanted to offend him at this critical point of time. Dr. Taseer and Sadiq reached Pakistan on 3rd October where Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was already waiting for them. A meeting was arranged with Pakistani leaders and also with Liaqat Ali Khan on 8th Oct. 1947. Sheikh directed Mualana Masoodi to leave for Lahore immediately to take part in the negotiations that were going between Sadiq and Muslim League Government. On 23rd Oct. Sadiq was informed by Liaqat Ali Khan that Qadi-Azam is not willing to meet Sheikh Abdullah. He is not willing to negotiate any terms, he insisted that Kashmir should join Pakistan unconditionally. Sadiq insisted for a meeting with Qadi-Azam. The meeting was yet to take place, Kashmir was invaded by tribal men of North West province of Pakistan. Now Sadiq’s dialogue with Pakistan had become irrelevant and he left for Delhi to join Sheikh Abdullah. Sadiq informed Sheikh about the developments in Pakistan. Sheikh had already some misgivings about Pakistan Feudal Landlords and he was sure that they will create hurdles to implement his “Naya Kashmir” manifesto. As Sheikh’s mind and heart was already won by Pandit Nehru. He had a tilt in favour of India. These developments lead to throwing his weight in favour of India..

While Maharaja Hari Singh was indecisive about accession of Kashmir in favour of India, Nehru concocted a larger plan so as to create favourable and compulsive circumstances for Maharaja to accede to India. India had 562 princely States under the lordship of British crown which were given option to accede either India or Pakistan. All the States except Kashmir, Junagarh and Hyderabad signed the instrument of accession. Unlike Hyderabad and Junagarh which had Muslim rulers ruling over Hindu population, Kashmir had a Hindu Ruler and population was predominantly Muslim. Sir Cyril Radcliffe was assigned job to demarcate areas that contains Muslim majority on the one side and non-Muslim majority on the other side. Gurdaspur was having Muslim population and was supposed to be a part of Pakistan. If it would have been so India would have no land route access to Kashmir and Maharaja would have no choice but to link destiny of Kashmir with Pakistan. Nehru did not allow this to happen and he influenced Radcliffe through Adravena Mountbatten wife of Lord Mountbatten, who was quite friendly with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. Against the laid down principle Gurdaspur was awarded to India, giving Nehru a hope to chase and possess the Vale of Kashmir. To click the deal in favour of India, stress circumstances were created for Maharaja and tribal raid was engineered. Interestingly Army Chief of both the countries of Pakistan and India were British officers. There seems to have been some understanding between two chiefs. As mentioned by Devi Dass in his book “Kashmir in search of future”, the Indian army Chief knew three days in advance about tribal raid. A clandestine plot was hatched in the Frontier Province of Pakistan by one Khurshid Anwar a retired Major of Indian Army with the consent of Chief Minister NWFO, Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan. On 20th October the tribal war Lords of Frontier Province began to march for Kashmir. The Governor of NWFP was ignorant and on receiving the information he Immediately informed Liaqat Ali Khan who was taken by a surprise and is said to have stated that Pakistan had no intention to indulge into such an adventure. On 22nd October, Tribal Forces comprising of 2000 troops entered into Kashmir. Maharaja Hari Singh ordered his Army Chief R.S.Jamwal to fight back the raiders to the last men and last bullet. Dogra army could not resist them. On 26th October they captured Baramulla. Maharaja had already sent his Prime Minister Mehar Chand Mahajan to Delhi with a request to Government of India for military help. On 25th October,1947 a meeting of Defence Committee was held under chairmanship of Lord Mountbatten. There was a hot debate on the question of request of Maharaja Hari Singh. Lord Mountbatten held that sending troops to a neutral State would be a great folly in the eyes of international community. Mehar Chand told Nehru that “he had orders to go to Pakistan in case the immediate aid was not given”. On this Nehru lost his temper and shouted at him, “to get out”. As mentioned by Tarif Naaz in his book “Sheikh Abdullah a victim of betrayal”, Sheikh Abdullah who was listening all the debate from the adjacent room sent a note to Nehru and requested him to agree to the request of Maharaja. Nehru cooled down and a decision was taken to send three men to Srinagar, V.P.Menon, Col. Manikshaw and an Air force officer to assess the ground situation and also to know whether Hari Singh is interested in acceding to India . Menon reported to Nehru from Srinagar that Maharaja is nervous because of tribal war and he was eager to escape from Srinagar. Nehru captured the moment and asked VP Menon to urge maharaja to sign the accession and also help him to escape from Srinagar. Menon asked Maharaja and Maharani Tara Devi that their life in danger. They should immediately sign the accession and for the time being shift to Jammu. Menon succeeded in his mission and got the document of accession signed by Maharaja on 26th October, 1947. Same day VP Menon returned Delhi with a letter of Maharaja and instrument of accession addressed to Lord Mountbatten. He handed over documents of accession to Pandit Nehru who was jubilant as he had succeeded in deciding the fate of 4 million Kashmiris. Lord Mountbatten wrote a letter back to Maharaja Hari Singh that stating the question of State’s accession is provisional and shall be finally settled by reference to the people. Nehru was very shrewd. To keep the good will of Sheikh Abdullah , the instrument of accession was drafted with care so as to respect Shiekh Abdullah’s dream of autonomy for his State.

On 27th October 329 Jawans of Sikh Regiment were airlifted to Srinagar. Tribal men were five miles away from Srinagar. Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference through their volunteers gave a full support to the Indian Army. They raised a slogans “Hamlavar Khabardar Hum Kashmiri Hai Tayar” Yeh Muluk Hamara Hai Iski Hifazat Hum Karinge” and Sheri-Kashmir Ka Kya Irshad Hindu Muslim Sikh Itihad” People had a blind faith in Sheikh which is indicated from the fact that when Maqbool Sheerwani who mislead the invader, was nailed on his head with a tree, he continued to shout Shier-i-Kashmir Zindabad.

Just before the arrival of Indian Army in the night between 25-26 Oct, Hari Singh fled to Jammu. Maharani Tara Devi showed her presence of mind and asked the servants to collect all the valuables and carry them along. When she reached Udhampur she dishevelled her hair and instigated a worst type of communal riots. This lead to killing of about 20,000 Muslims at the hands of RSS workers in Jammu and RS Pura. When Sheikh came to know about it, he rushed to Jammu and he wept bitterly . The job of restoring normalcy was given to Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad who recovered a number of abducted Muslim girls from Dogra houses including daughter of Chaudary Ghulam Abbass who was latter dispatched to Pakistan. .

The invaders were pushed back by Indian Army to Lal Pul near Uri. A cease fire was declared through United National Security Council and the State got divided into two halves one administered by Pakistan known as “Azad Kashmir” and other administered by India known as Jammu & Kashmir State.

Phase (II) (1947-53)

Emergency Government:

Soon after the tribal invasion, Pakistan had blocked Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road and there was acute shortage of day today essential commodities so much so salt had become a luxury item. To deal with this critical situation, on 30th October, 1947 an emergency administration was established, with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as the Chief Administrator, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad as Dy. Chief Administrator, Maulana Masoodi, Mifrza Afzal Beig, G.M.Sadiq and Mohi-u-din Karra as Emergency Officers. With the support of Jawahar Lal Nehru Sheikh Abdullah was very swift in arranging supplies from India. With this emergency administration in place, Mehar Chand continued to be a Prime Minister and Maharaja Hari Singh as Head of the State. Sheikh Abdullah pleaded before Pandit Nehru And Gandhiji that Maharaja should step down and sought transfer of absolute power to the new administration. Amongst the acute differences on the issue Gopala Swami Ahanger who had remained Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 1937-1943, was sent to arbitrate between Maharaja and Sheikh Abdullah. He drafted a proposal for interim government which came into being on 5th March, 1948. Sheikh Abdullah was appointed as Prime Minister, Bakshi as Dy.Prime Minister, Beig, Sadiq, Girdhari Lal Dogra, Sham Lal Saraf and D.P. Dhar as the Ministers.

There was lull with apparent peace as people on one hand were watchful that their fate has been sealed with India against their wishes and at the same time they were looking forward for fulfilment of the promises made by Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah was keen to make some radical economic reformation and immediately fulfil all the promises he had made to his people. He wanted to implement the “Naya Kashmir” manifesto particularly transferring the ownership of land rights to the tillers. Sheikh Abdullah was unable to deliver, as he was finding resistance from Maharaja Hari Singh. He wrote a letter to Nehru that to avoid serious trouble, Maharaja should step down and at least abdicate in favour of his son Yuvraj Karan Singh. Nehru was able to persuade Sardar Patel that the Sheikh’s proposal needs to be favourable considered till the pressure of United Nations to de-militarize and hold plebiscite in Kashmir is defused. Maharaja and Maharani were called to Delhi and he was persuaded that he should leave the State temporarily and appoint Karan Singh as Regent of the State in his absence. Hari Singh was forced to write the proclamation that for health reasons he is leaving the State for a temporary period entrusting to the Yuvraj Karan Singh Bhadur, all his powers and functions in regard to the Government of the State during the period of absence. On 20th June, 1949 Hari Singh and Tara Devi left for Bombay and he died there in 1961. The removal of Hari Singh boosted by morale of Sheikh Abdullah.

Agrarian Reforms:

After getting empowered as prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah immediately wanted to fulfil his promised policy of “Land to the Tillers” and do away with “Jagirdarana System”. The government enacted the “Big Landlords Estates Abolition Act in 1950” which did not allow landlords to keep more than 20 acres of agricultural land and one acre of residential land. The land in excess of the ceiling was transferred to the tillers and subsequently on March 26, 1952 Constituent Assembly passed a resolution that the tillers would not pay compensation to the landlords. Thus the Landlord Feudal System was abolished and thousands of peasants earlier living as slaves became land holders. Hindu landlords who got adversely affected by the reforms got annoyed, as the beneficiaries were Muslims. They influenced Pandit Nehru and also Tara Devi poisoned Sardar Patel against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Thus the land reforms became root cause of mistrust between Sheikh Abdullah and Government of India.

Constituent Assembly:

As the matter was already in the United Nations Security Council and Sir Oven Dixon was nominated as UN representative to arbitrate between India and Pakistan who had had proposed to hold plebiscite under neutral administration. On the suggestion of Pandit Nehru on 27th October, 1950 a meeting of General Council of National Conference was held to reject the proposal of Dixon. The Council also decided to convene a Constituent Assembly in the State based on adult suffrage for determining the future of Jammu & Kashmir State. Nehru wanted to use it to counter the pressure of the Security Council for holding a plebiscite.

Karan Singh issued an order dated 30th April, 1951 for formation of Constituent Assembly. The Delimitation Committee was appointed who demarcated electoral constituencies and divided Jammu & Kashmir into 100 constituencies, with 43 in Kashmir, 30 in Jammu and one each for Ladakh and Baltistan, 25 Constituencies were reserved for POK. Elections were declared, whole of Jammu and Kashmir was looking read with National Conference flags. Slogans of Naya Kashmir Zindabad,” “Land to Tillers” “Long Live Abdullah” and “Hindu Muslim Unity Zindabad” were being shouted everywhere. Of the 75 seats, National Conference won 73 un-opposed. Jammu Praja Parishad boycotted the elections. On 31 March, 1951 Constituent Assembly was convened in Srinagar. All the 75 members were present under the chairmanship of Maulana Masoodi, G.M.Sadiq was elected as first President.

On 5th November, 1951 Sheikh Abdullah made an impressive in-augural speech in the Constituent Assembly and stressed that the Constituent Assembly has the mandate of drafting the constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, to decide the future of royal dynasty, to make final decision of accession of Kashmir and to decide on the question of compensation to the landlords. On the matter of accession he talked in detail about the pros and cons of the various options available. According to him there were three options available which are, either to remain independent or accede to Pakistan or India. The independent option, he out rightly rejected as Jammu & Kashmir cannot guard its long borders and maintain its independence. As far as Pakistan is concerned, he said, “the only powerful argument which can be advanced in favour of Pakistan is that it is a Muslim State and Jammu & Kashmir is having big majority of Muslim population. The claim of being a Muslim State is of course camouflage and it is a screen to dupe the common man, as he cannot see clearly that Pakistan is a Feudal State, where Feudal landlords are trying these methods to maintain itself in power. The appeal to religion constitutes a sentimental and wrong approach to the question. Sentiment has its own place in life but often it leads to irritational action.” Thus he ruled out the possibility of accession with Pakistan also. Regarding the accession with the India, he had all praises for its secular democracy which is based on justice, freedom and equality for all without distinction. He also reminded the house that Indian National Congress has constantly supported the cause of state people’s freedom. Naturally if we accede to India, there is no danger of revival of feudalism and democracy.

The Constituent Assembly went ahead with the concept of autonomous State with its own constitution, separate flag, elected government, elected Sadri-Risayat, independent judiciary and citizenship. Different Committees were constituted with Mirza Afzal Beig as Chairman. While constitution was being drafted, Pandit Nehru intervened in its working and advised the members not to do anything which would be in contradiction with Indian Constitution. Pandit Nehru’s hidden agenda of total integration of Jammu & Kashmir with India started appearing, which fuelled the suspicion between Delhi and Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah was in sharp disagreement with Centre with respect to application of provisions of the Constitution of India to the State with regard to citizenship, fundamental rights, jurisdiction of Supreme Court and financial integration with the Union. This finally resulted into a agreement between Sheikh Abdullah and New Delhi which was signed on 2th July, 1952 which is popularly known as Delhi Agreement. According to the Agreement the Kashmiri would enjoy dual citizenship and prohibits Indian citizens to acquire property in Kashmir. Regarding fate of Dogra dynasty Rule same would be replaced by Head of State, Sadri-Riyasat which would be recognized by President of India. The most important part from Indian point of view, that President of India has to right to declare State of Emergency in case of invasion, external danger or internal disturbances.

Kashmir at United Nations:

On the advice of Lord Mountbatten, Nehru took Kashmir issue to the Security Council of United Nations on January Ist, 1948 asking the Council to direct Pakistan to stop aid and abating tribals. Next day the Foreign Minister of Pakistan , Zaffar Ullah Khan made a historical speech in Security Council and stressed that issue of Jammu and Kashmir should be settled by a free and fair plebiscite and all the forces including Indian Army should vacate Jammu & Kashmir. India was represented by Gopalswami Ayyenger and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. On 5th February,1948 Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah made a speech in Security Council where he reacted to the explanation of Foreign Minister of Pakistan and said, “we are in Security Council to discuss the Aggression and not the Accession. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Governor General of Pakistan had opposed the quit Kashmir movement as I did not believe in his two-nation theory. It is said that Sheikh Abdullah is friend of Pandit Nehru. Yes, I admit that. I feel honoured that such a great man claims me as his friend. And he happens to belong to my own country. He is also a Kashmiri, blood is thicker than water. The representative of Pakistan has stated that Sheikh Abdullah cannot be impartial, therefore he must depart…. they should know as long as my people wish, I shall be there, there is no power on the earth which can displace me from position which I have.”

Having heard both India, Pakistan and Sheikh Abdullah, Security Council passed a resolution on 21st April, 1948 with the directions to both India and Pakistan to stop fighting and resolve the dispute through impartial plebiscite. On 30th August, 1948 another resolution was passed which comprises of three parts (i) Stipulated cease fire order with appointment of Military Observers to supervise the cease fire order. (ii) To provide truce agreement. (iii)that future of Kashmir should be determined in accordance with the will of people. The resolutions were passed but were not implemented. In 1950 Sir Owen Dixon was appointed to arbitrate between two aggressive countries. He suggested that dispute be resolved through a plebiscite under the supervision of either neutral administration or an executive constituted by United Nations representative. The Indian Government rejected all the proposals. He reported to Security Council that plebiscite is not possible as India’s agreement would never be obtained in this matter. In 1951 Dr.Frank P.Gharam was nominated as UN representative for mediation but India rejected this also and Kashmir dispute continues to as such.

Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest in 1953:

While the Constituent Assembly was still engaged in drafting the Constitution, there was stiff resistance from the various political leaders of Delhi who strongly and publically objected to the autonomous structure of the constitution for Jammu & Kashmir. Praja Parishad of Jammu raised the slogan of EK Pradhan, EK Nishan, EK Vidhan. Dr. S.Prasad Mookerji, President of All India Hindu Mahasabha, while opposing autonomy of Kashmir made a statement “if the Muslims of Kashmir do not want to remain with us let them go away but Kashmir must and will be ours. This is a vital matter for security of India”. Mr. Mokerji decided to enter Kashmir without permit on 11th May, he was arrested while crossing border and was detained in a Banglow near Nishat Bagh. On 23rd June Mookerji died under mysterious circumstances. Sheikh was held responsible and it evoked a lot of anger against him. Nehru was embraced before the nation. He was already unhappy with Sheikh for perusing autonomous constitution. Sheikh Abdullah was feeling suffocating Nehru was not standing by terms of commitment with respect to the autonomous structure of the State. He called a meeting of Working Committee in May, 1953 under his president-ship and took his colleagues into confidence. The matter of beach was placed before them and after prolonged discussions eight member committee was constituted under his chairmanship to explore the avenues of settlement of future of Kashmir. While the Working Committee was in session Pandit Nehru was also in Srinagar. The constituted committee met on June 9, 1953 , proposed following possible alternatives for a honourable and peaceful solution of Kashmir: (i) Through plebiscite in which Independence be also kept as option (ii) Independence of the whole State with joint control (iii) Independent State (Iv) Dixon’s plan with Independence for plebiscite area. Early in August, 1953 Sheikh Abdullah called a meeting of Working Committee of General Council to review the whole situation. By now it was established that there was a breach of trust between Sheikh Abdullah and Pandit Nehru. Nehru was watchful through his trustee D.P. Dhar and Karan Singh. While all these developments were taking place in Kashmir, Nehru did sent a communication to Sheikh Abdullah on 28th June, 1953 with a copy to Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, the extracts of which I quote “Recent developments have further lead me to think that you have either changed your mind completely or are not clear about your thinking……… The difference appeared to me considerable when we talked at Srinagar last in Sonamarg,. You told me that there are only two courses open for Kashmir; either full integration or full autonomy, whatever that autonomy might mean. I did not agree with you. For this nor do I agree with you even now. Nobody can guarantee the distant future. We have argued enough and must accept each other personal conclusions and then discuss the future on that basis. If that future unhappily leads to divergence with all its conclusions, we fashion our respective course accordingly….. I am sending a copy of this letter to Bakshi as letter deals with the problems and approaches in which he is obviously interested also”. This letter makes it clear that Sheikh and Nehru had parted ways each pressing their own agenda.

Nehru with the help of D.P. Dhar and Karan Singh had created a wedge between Sheikh Abdullah and his colleagues. Bakshi, Sadiq and others whom D.P. Dhar was projecting as pro-Indian group. D.P. Dhar had a inquisitive mind and was excellent planner. He was frequent visitor to Nehru and had kept him informed about managed conflicts of National Conference. Karan Singh and D.P. Dhar even poisoned Nehru against Sheikh with a concocted story that Sheikh has some nexus with U.S. and is planning to get independence. Incidentally he had met U.S envoy Mr.Adali Stevenson in Srinagar who was on visit to Kashmir. Nehru was convinced that the time has come to remove Sheikh Abdullah from his office. Nehru conveyed his decision to Dr.Karan Singh on 8th August, Sheikh Abdullah went to Gulmarg for a holiday. D.P. Dhar and Bakshi along with B.M..Koul met Karan Singh at his residence. They discussed the pros and cons of the plan and finally decided to cage the lion. Precautionary measures were taken to save the vital installations like, Radio Station, Power stations and exchange which were put under tight security.

Karan Singh despatched his ADC BS Bajwa, SP City L.D.Thakur and Dy.S.P. Sheikh Ghulam Qadir (Qadir Ganderbali) to Gulmarg to arrest Sheikh. On 9th of August early in the morning when Sheikh was in deep sleep, on hearing a bang he opened the door. To his great surprise, his dismissal order and arrest warrant were handed over to him. He was shocked and asked for time for morning Nimaz. He was straightway taken to Tara Niwas Guest House at Udhampur where he was kept in detention. When the news of his arrest broke there were large protests and few hundred people got killed.

Karan Singh who was eagerly and anxiously waiting for the news had not slept during the night. In the morning he went to his bed room where he informed his wife Asha “It is over” and smile was on the faces of both. Karan Singh was happy for his revenge against the man who exiled his father, was behind the bars. There was reaction in Pakistan also where procession which was lead by Fatima Jinnah who condemned the arrest of Sheikh. The dreams of people of “Naya Kashmir” were shattered and the seeds of hated and anger against Dogra Rule got converted into anti-Indian sentiments which are even seen deeply rooted in the psyche of people even today.

Phase (III) (1953-75)

Bakshi as Prime Minister:

Baskshi was sworn as new Prime Minister. In All India Radio broadcast, he charged Sheikh of a conspiracy with U.S for declaration of Jammu Kashmir as independent State, Bakshi was dynamic and able administrator. To win over the people, he started populist programmes and promised economic concessions to the people. He announced ration on subsidized rates, free education and abolition of Mugwaza i.e. procurement of food grains from peasants on fixed rates. He undertook huge development projects in hand such as Construction of Jawahar Tunnel, Engineering College, Medical College, Bakshi Stadium and Tagore Hall. His famous Jashni-Kashmir diverted the attention of the people from politics to progress. In climate of fear and terror nobody could raise head against Bakshi’s dynasty rule. To isolate sheikh, Bakshi also released Mirza Afzal Beig on ill health grounds. But he utilized this opportunity to float new political party the “Plebiscite Front” on 9th August 1955. He was again arrested in 1957 because of his anti Indian political activities.

At the insistence of Nehru, Bakshi reconstituted all the Committees which were set up for the purpose of framing the constitution of the State on 6th February 1954, the Constitutional Assembly ratified and confermed the accession of the state to the Union of India . Bakshi made sweeping changes and on Ist November, 1956 the constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. The important provisions of the Constitution of India as wished by Pandit Nehru were applied to the State. On April Ist, 1959 Bakshi made a bold decision by passing a resolution to abolish the permit system required for Indian citizens to enter the State, Bakshi became dictatorial and raised a voluntary force under the name of Peace Brigade which was used to victimise and suppress pro-Abdullah and Pro-Pakistan people. Corruption and Gundaism were important components of his Government.

Release of Sheikh Abdullah:

To save image and reputation in the international community, Nehru against the wishes of Bakshi and Karan Singh decided to release Sheikh Abdullah on 8th January 1958 when he was given a rousing reception from Jammu to Srinagar. By now people were fed up with Bakshi’s Gunda Raj. Soon after the release, Sheikh as usual started anti India and anti Bakshi propaganda. He planned to observe 17th January as “D.Day”so as to snatch Mujahid Manzil from Bakshi’s control. Tight security around Mujahid Manzil made it difficult for Sheikh to reach there but he suddenly made his appearance in Hazratbal where he made a explosive speech where he stated “….Accession of Kashmir is not decided by guns and bullets, Kashmir does not belong to Krishna Menon, Nehru or Bakshi. The people alone can decide its future.” Again for another anti Indian speech on 21st February, Sheikh was arrested on 30th April and was prosecuted for a conspiracy case concocted by Pandit Nehru with the allegation that Sheikh has received illegal aid from Pakistan. The case remain pending for more than two years. Hundred witnesses were questioned but finally case was unconditionally withdrawn.

Kamraj Plan and Moe-Muqadas:

On the charges of corruption and nepotism Nehru was poisoned against Bakshi by D.P. Dhar. D.P. Dhar one again as usual created a conflict between Bakshi, Sadiq and Mir Qasim. At the behest of D.P. Dhar Sadiq parted ways from Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and floated a new political party under the name of Democratic National Conference. Nehru and Dhar wanted to get rid of Bakshi and handover the power to Sadiq. The Kamraj plan was already in offing where in the Government of India, the powerful ministers were supposed to resign to take over the charge of the party affairs. Bakshi was also made to resign which against his expectations was accepted. Bakshi succeeded to sabotage Sadiq’s nomination as new Chief Minister and instead got one his supporters Shams-u-din elected as Chief Minister. This did not go well down the throat of Nehru and D.P. Dhar. In this background all of sudden an important event happened on 27th December, 1963, the Holy Relic (Moe-Muqadas) disappeared from Hazratbal shrine. There was mass protests which later got organized by Maulana Masoodi and Awami Action Committee under the chairmanship of Molvi Farooq. Nehru deputed his confident BN Mullick to manage the crises, The Holy Relic was traced on 4th January under mysterious conditions in a wooden box inside the shrine. Shams-uddin was made to resign and Sadiq took over as the Prime Minister against the wishes of Bakshi and his supporters. Bakshi planned to move a non confidence motion. At the behest of Nehru, Bakshi was also arrested by Sadiq and was put in the same jail at Hari Niwas in which he had put Shiekh Abdullah. On the direction of Nehru Sadiq played a vital role of further integrating Kashmir to Indian Union and on 30th March, 1965 he changed the nomenclature of Sadri-Riyasat and Prime Minister to Governor and Chief Minister respectively. Sadiq also paved way for merging National Conference into Indian National Congress.

Sheikh Abdullah’s release and visit to Pakistan:

Mass upsurge in the Moe-Muqadas movement had un-nerved Delhi and it was on 8th April, 1965 an application was formally moved for withdrawal of conspiracy case before the Court and Sheikh was released on the same day. A grand reception was organized in his favour. He toured to the various Muslim majority areas of Jammu & Kashmir to demonstrate his popularity. Everywhere he as welcomed, soon after Sheikh was invited by Nehru and given a political bait. He left for Delhi on 29th and stayed at Tin-Murti Bhawan as his personal guest. Nehru sought his views to resolve Kashmir issue. Sheikh still having faith in his words proposed a solution of confederation which probably could be acceptable to all three parties, India, Pakistan and Kashmir. Nehru wanted Sheikh to seek approval of his proposal from Pakistan. As mutually agreed Sheikh left for Pakistan on 24th May, 1964 with Mirza Afzal Baig and others. He was received by Z.A.Bhutto and Kashmiri leaders Ch.Ghulam Abbass and Mir Waiz Yousuf Shah. He was given a red carpet welcome. Next day he met the President Mr.Ayub Khan. Ayub Khan out rightly rejected the confederation proposal. On 27th May, 1964 Sheikh left for Muzaffarabad, where while he was talking to media, news of Nehru’s death was announced. His dream of lasting solution of Kashmir was once again shelved . Next day he along with Mr. Bhutto flew to Delhi to pay homage to Nehru. Forgetting all the grievances against Nehru Sheikh burst into tears when Nehru was put to flames. Soon after the death of Nehru prominent Indian leaders began to raise the voice for abrogation of Article 370 which included Gulzari Lal Nanda. The doors of reconciliation seem to have been closed. In this backdrop Sheikh left for Haj pilgrimage and also visited Egypt, England and Algeria. Pakistan arranged his meeting with Chou-Zu-Lai who invited Sheikh to China. On these developments Delhi was annoyed and there was uproar in the parliament. His passport was cancelled. Pakistan wanted him to run the freedom struggle from Azad Kashmir but Sheikh took bold decision to return to Delhi. On 8th May, 1965 he was arrested at Delhi airport and sent to Ooctocamund Jail. His arrest evoked disturbance and there was shut down in Kashmir.

Indo Pak War of 1965 :

Kashmir has a sentimental value for Pakistan and having failed to get UN Resolutions implemented, they decided to have it by military might. In 1965 on 9th August they decided to launch operation Gibraltar to liberate Kashmir. As per the plan about 3000 soldiers sneaked into Kashmir in local dress who had planned to mix with protesters to incite a revolt and eventually capture Radio Station and Airport. To provide logistic support to their men, Pakistan attacked Jammu from Teetwal and Poonch. Pakistan was making a good headway but India decided to open international border and attacked Pakistan from Western Punjab. On 6th December there was official declaration of war. The war lasted till 22nd of September, 1965 when at the intervention of United Nations a cease fire was declared by India and Pakistan. USSR played a role of peace maker and an agreement was signed on 10th January, 1966 popularly known as “Tashkent declaration” in Uzbekistan between Prime Minister Lal Bhadur Shastri and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan. Next day Indian Prime Minister Lal Bhadur Shastri died in USSR.

Phase (IV) (1975-82)

1975 Accord :

In 1968 Sadiq was of the opinion that Sheikh has un-necessarily gained political importance by being in jail. If he is released he will be politically irrelevant Sheikh was released and he got engaged with his plebiscite front organization but soon he found that people had no much enthusiasm for this slogan. Sheikh’s popularity dropped fast. Out of political frustration he appealed for social boycott against “Congress Men” & even called them “creatures of gutter”. He also gave call for “election boycott” and declared “Jehad”. But soon he reinvented himself in the political life by taking to sentimental assignment of reconstruction of shrine of Hazratbal. He went street to street and home to home for collection of funds. With the passage of time there was another war between India and Pakistan in 1971 which gave birth to Bangladesh. Pakistan had to face humiliating defeat by surrender of 93000 forces in East Pakistan. It had demoralizing affect on all political ambitions of people and its leaders in Kashmir as they were backing upon the support of Pakistan to achieve the goal of plebiscite. The war ended up in Simla Agreement signed on 2nd July, 1972 between Z.A.Bhutto and Mrs. Indira Gandhi where among other things, it was agreed that all the outstanding issues including that of Jammu & Kashmir shall be resolved henceforth bilaterally. These developments in sub-continent changed the political outlook of “plebiscite front leaders”. Sheikh was old and exhausted. His family was eager for reconciliation and rehabilitation. On 8th March 1972 Sheikh in an interview to the London Times said “there is no quarrel with the Government of India about accession. It is over the structure of internal autonomy, one must not forget that it is he who brought Kashmir to India otherwise Kashmir could never have been part of India”. With this reconciliatory statement he showed an olive branch to New Delhi for his rehabilitation and Indira Gandhi was quick to respond in the Parliament where she stated “we welcome the change in the thinking of leaders of plebiscite who have accepted the finality of accession to India.” This resulted into a bilateral dialogue between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh through their representatives G. Parthasarthi and Mirza Afzal Beig respectively which started on June, 12 1972. Sheikh insisted for restoration of 1953 position with respect to constitutional relationship between Jammu and Kashmir and India but Mrs. Gandhi was empathetically clear that hands of clock cannot be turned back. “An Agreement was signed on 13th November, 1974 between G.Parthasarthi and M.Afzal Beig the agreement famously known as “Kashmir Accord “ which reads that “the state of Jammu & Kashmir which is a constituent Unit of Union of India, shall in its relation with the Union, shall continue to be governed by Article 370 of Constitution of India”. Sheikh Abdullah with the support of Congress legislature was sworn as Chief Minister on 25th February, 1975. Sheikh was criticized by his opponents, the he had surrendered the plebiscite slogan for the sake of power. Kashmir accord was believed to be more of a family rehabilitation plan than of any political significance. It is believed that he signed the Accord under tremendous pressure from his family to pave way for family rule in Kashmir.

1977 Elections :

After Emergency, in 1977 when Indira Gandhi lost her elections, Congress withdrew the support of Sheikh government. On the recommendations of Council of Ministers, the then Governor LK Jha dissolved the Assembly. The election were ordered to be conducted within three months, All the Sheikh’s rivals got organized under the banner of Janta Party under the leadership of Maulana Masoodi and Molvi Farooq. There was a tough contest in the elections. Sheikh sought the mandate for settling the political scores with Delhi by restoration of 1953 position. Mirza Afzal Beig campaigned vigorously and convinced the people that their end remains same and only means have changed. It is now or never. Sheikh managed to win 46 seats and “Yum-Fatah” the day of victory was celebrated. It gave new lease of political life to Sheikh. Sheikh ruled the State for 5 years, stressing upon the development but could virtually do nothing on the political front viz-a-viz restoration of 1953 position as promised in election. He virtually lived the days of helplessness. He declared Farooq Abdullah as his successor, on March Ist 1981.

End of an era :

After brief illness he breathed his last on 8th September, 1982. About 10 Lac people paid tearful homage by offering Nimaz-Jinaza after day long march from Polo ground to Hazratbal in which Indira Gandhi and Giani Zail Singh, President of India were also present. Era of Lion of Kashmir came to an end. While he was buried tri colour national flag was on his body. Right from 1931 Sheiklh Abdullah lived and died as Indian though he was never accepted to be so. But his love for India and Nehru family never diminished which was evident, when Indira Gandhi visited him while he was ailing during his last days, he requested her to put her august hands on the head of Farooq Abdullah. Inspite of the differences throughout his political carrier sheikh always saw the future of Kashmir with Indian union. He is paying price to be an Indian, as while in grave also he continues to be in security.

Wherever we are, we are because of well thought long term planning of Pandit Nehru who had won mind and heart of Sheikh Abdullah. The others who made it to happen are Prem Nath Bazaz, D.P. Dhar, Lord Mountbatten, Adravena Mountbatten, wife of Lord Mountbatten, Radcliffe and of course Mohammad Ali Jinah who though an imminent lawyer had taken things for granted on the name of “Islam”.

For more than half a century Sheikh Abdullah lived a life of a political sufferer as he never knew that it is not Morals but the Might that rules the world. Only occasion which brought joy and smile on his face was when Maharaja Hari Singh fled Kashmir during the night of 25-26 October, 1947. As long as political and economic aspirations of divided Kashmir remains un- achieved, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah shall continue to face political audit by those who are yet to be born. Concluded

Author is a retired IFS and member All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat. New Delhi He can be reached at:[email protected]

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