Into the history of Accession
IT WAS ALL WELL SCHEMED BEFORE THE TRIBALS RAIDED, SUHAIB MATTOO RUMMAGES THROUGH HISTORY
IN most of the articles recently published in GK about Accession it was given to understand that the tribal attack on 22nd October 1947 forced the Maharaja to accede to India. True to some extent, this statement does not reveal the entire truth.
According to P N Bazaz, a contemporary historian and prominent freedom fighter, “the tribal attack of 22nd October was not an isolated event, rather there was enough circumstantial evidence suggesting Maharaja’s intention of acceding to India”. According to the Hindustan Times June 7, 1947 “Abdullah had advised the Maharaja to at once accede to the Indian Union and not to remain independent”.
MY Saraf, ex Chief Justice of Azad Kashmir in his book Kashmir’s fight for freedom reinforces Bazaz’s claim. According to Saraf “by the end of Aug, it had become quite evident that Hari Singh had almost made up his mind to accede to India. The transfer of the Muslim majority tehsils of Gurdaspur and Batala to India by Radcliff under the influence of Mountbatten, the dismissal of Pandit R C Kak on 11th Aug, the removal of Pakistani flags from the post offices on 14th Aug, the visit of Gandhi and his complete success in winning over the Maharaja, the enlistment of fresh troops and the distribution of arms and ammunition among non-Muslims, the reign of terror let loose in the districts of Poonch, the harassment and organised killings of Muslims in the districts of Jammu and Kathua and the consequent exodus of thousands to Muslims to Pakistan for shelter, and the increased political activities of officials between Srinagar and Delhi left no room for any doubt that plans were being secretly finalised for the State’s accession to India”.
The Congress had made such insidious inroads into National Conference (N.C) that many a people considered it as a local branch of the Congress. The conversion of Muslim Conference into N C in 1938 at the hands of Sheikh Abdullah was the first indication of the future political orientation of the State. Subsequent to the “Quit Kashmir Movement” Congress and Nehru saw their interests in Kashmir under threat and so left no stone unturned to secure the release of Sheikh Abdullah. Nehru in a letter dated 27th Sep, asked Patel (Patel was a close friend of Maharaja) to exert his influence on Hari Singh to diffuse the impending crisis by releasing Abdullah and acceding to India. The Congress knew that their key to Kashmir lies with Abdullah without whom, Kashmir would be lost forever. It was in this context that Nehru himself visited Kashmir to plead the case of Sheikh Abdullah. The importance Congress accorded to the trial was demonstrated by sending two leading lawyers Asif Ali & Dewan Chaman Lal to Srinagar for the defense of Abdullah.
The ‘Quit Kashmir’ movement 1946 was nothing but a drama aimed at blackmailing the Maharaja to accede to Abdullah’s demand for some privileges. Unable to secure Sheikh Abdullah’s release, a meeting was held on 29th July 1947 between Lord Mountbatten, Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar Patel wherein the decision to send Gandhi to Kashmir was taken. Being aware of the fact that any schism between Hari Singh and Abdullah shall be very detrimental to their interests in Kashmir, Gandhi embarked on mission Kashmir in the beginning of August 1947 to strike some compromise between the Dogra Maharaja and S M Abdullah. Gandhi impressed upon the Maharaja to release and co-operate with Abdullah, replace R C Kak from Prime Ministers post by a person acceptable to the Congress and most importantly to accede the state to the union of India. The coming of Gandhi to Kashmir during August when political leadership of all hues was converging at Delhi in view of the approaching partition testifies that something was going on behind the scene. Before the visit of Gandhi, Lord Mountbatten too had visited Kashmir on 18th June 1947 to convince Maharaja to accede to India. He told Maharaja that,” it would be very difficult for him to do anything to protect Kashmir after 15th August (from India) when Pandit Nehru would become the PM of Hindu India” (Transfer of Power Documents).
Maharaja Hari Singh started implementing the recommendations of Gandhi without wasting any time and on 11th Aug replaced R C Kak by Mehr Chand Mahajan, a fanatic Hindu as his Prime Minister. Mahajan was a close aide of Sardar Patel and it was he who had recommended Mahajan’s name to Hari Singh. Before assuming the office of Prime Minister, Sardar Patel had impressed upon Mahajan to secure the documents regarding accession from Hari Singh as soon as possible. A few hours after taking over, Mahajan issued a highly provocative statement to the press praising Indian leaders and denouncing Pakistan, presumably with the approval of the Maharaja. Mahajan played a very notorious role in this accession fraud. He belonged to Kangra as did Rani Tara Devi and was a close friend of the family besides being their legal adviser. When he was appointed as a member of Punjab Boundary Commission by Mountbatten, Tara Devi offered him premiership of the State on the condition that he prevails over the Boundary Commission to partition Punjab in such a way as to provide India access to the State. Thus when the Boundary Commission awarded Gurdaspur and Batala tehsils to India facilitating its connectivity to India, through Pathankot, the Maharani fulfilled her promise by getting him appointed as the Prime Minister of the State.
After replacing Kak from the post of PM, the next step was to release Abdullah. Hari Singh finally released Abdullah on 29th September 1947 but not before securing an unconditional apology and commitment towards India from him. It was only after Sheikh Abdullah in an obsequious letter dated 26th September 1947 had pledged to remain loyal and faithful to the Maharaja, his throne, crown and heirs, that he was transferred to B.B. Cantt Srinagar. Soon after his release from jail, Abdullah in his speeches lauded the role of Congress and its leaders especially Gandhi and Nehru and at the same time condemned and vilified the Muslim League, its leaders and portrayed them as villains and antagonists of Kashmir cause. By indulging in such activities Sheikh Abdullah was obliquely pleading the case for India.
Pandit Dwarka Nath Kachru, a close aide of Nehru visited Kashmir in the first week of October on the instructions of Nehru to assess the situation at ground zero. In a letter to Pt Nehru on 4th October he wrote that “Sheikh Abdullah and his close aides have taken a decision in favour of India. However, the decision is not being publicly announced now and an impression is being created that NC has not yet taken any decision in this regard. Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdullah has started mobilising public opinion in favour of the impending decision”. Thus NC was befooling the people by clamouring that the accession shall be decided by the people, when in fact they had already decided in favour of India.
Mehr Chand Mahajan and the Dogra Maharaja having already decided to accede to India were looking for an opportunity to join India and in this regard were levying baseless allegations against Pakistan Government. The main allegation were that that Pakistan had imposed an economic blockade on the State to force it into submission, attacks on Kashmiri nationals on Kohala border, infiltration into the State especially Poonch etc. Bilqees Taseer in her book The Kashmir of Sheikh Abdullah quotes Bazaz; “it is not correct to say that it was a calculated move on the part of Pakistan authorities. It just happened because so far most of the truck drivers were Punjabi Sikhs and now after August 1947, it was not possible for them to drive trucks by road to Srinagar. In any case the road was not safe”. She further quotes Raja Maqsood, the then Tehsildar of Muree; “the truck drivers mostly from the Jehlum district wee not willing to risk sending their trucks beyond Pakistan border (i.e. Kohala)”.
Meanwhile the Govt of India and the Govt of J&K were taking all necessary steps to ensure a smooth and hassle free accession of the State to India. Sardar Patel in a letter to Maharaja Hari Singh assured him, “I am expediting as much as possible the linking of the state with the Indian Dominion by means of telegraph, telephones wireless and roads. We fully realise the need for dispatch and urgency”. The Pakistan Times in its 16th October 1947 edition wrote that ”the Kashmir Govt has confirmed the news that it is linking the state with east Punjab (India) and is making a bridge over the river Ravi, after which it is expected that the declaration will be made for joining India”. The Maharaja Govt believed that declaring adhesion with India before building a direct communication line between the State and Indian Union through Pathankot would forewarn Pakistan and put the State to a lot of risk.
The two Governments along with Sheikh Abdullah were collaborating with each other to pre-empt any military intervention from Pakistan. Mahajan had requested Patel to concentrate some military force at Madhovpore or at an equally near and convenient centre for rendering that state succour in case it is needed. The NC leaders and volunteers were instructed to provide the logistical support to the Indian army in repulsing any such attack. On 7th October Patel urged the defense minister Baldev Singh to expedite the supply of arms and ammunition to Kashmir by air if necessary.
The Pakistani leaders were keenly watching the developments in the State. Though already being aware of the unholy alliance among Congress, Sheikh Abdullah and the Maharaja, they still believed that better sense would prevail upon Maharaja and Abdullah. However with each passing India gained more and more foothold in Kashmir, besides the conspiracies became more intense. Finally Jinnah sent a telegram to Hari Singh on 20th October 1947, rightly indicting “The real aim of your Government’s policy is to seek an opportunity to join the Indian dominion through a coup d’etat by securing the intervention and assistance of that (Indian) dominion” (PL Lakhanpal-Essential documents and notes on Kashmir).
Thus every action of the Maharaja, Mahajan and Sheikh Abdullah was sufficient to convince even the most skeptical that the State was slowly but forcibly being made a part of India. It was only then the tribal attack took place.
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 2 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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