Leaf from the past

Nehru-Abdullah-Mukherjee Formula on Kashmir


As Kashmir is on boil today,various solutions are being offered. The latest is being that of senior Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) leader L.K. Advani who on July 6 said “if Nehru could have accepted the views of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh then the crown of Himalayas may not have been disturbed.” Advani added that the thought and foresight of Mukherjee were very important but due to Nehru's 'wrong policies,' the condition in the Kashmir valley was very precarious today.

Advani presumes that Mukherjee was against the autonomy and was for full merger of the state into the Indian union, and if it would have been accepted then the subsequent troubles in Kashmir valley would have been avoided. On the contrary, J&K chief minister, Omar Abdullah traces the current problems of Kashmir valley to the failure of the federal government to restore the full autonomy of the state. Now it will be worthwhile to understand what Mukherjee actually stood for. Though he did enter the state to support the demand of the Praja Parishad, Jammu affiliate of the Jana Sangh, for ek pradhan, ek nishan and ek vidhan (one president, one flag and one constitution), finally he came to the contrary conclusion.

Shyama Prasad’s prolonged triangular correspondence with Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah on the status of the State, which was published at that time by the party, is the most authentic evidence of his stand on the issue. In his letter dated January 9, 1953 to both of them, for instance, he wrote: “We would readily agree to treat the valley with Sheikh Abdullah as the head in any special manner and for such time as he would like but Jammu and Ladakh must be fully integrated with India.” While Nehru rejected the idea straightway warning against its repercussions in Kashmir and its international implications, Abdullah sent a detailed reply in which he, inter alia, said. “You are perhaps not unaware of the attempts that are being made by Pakistan and other interested quarters to force a decision for disrupting the unity of the State. Once the ranks of the State people are divided, any solution can be foisted on them.”

Finally, the prolonged correspondence is concluded with Dr. Mukerjee’s letter to Pandit Nehru on February 17, 1953, in which he suggested.

1. “Both parties reiterate that the unity of the State will be maintained and that the principle of autonomy will apply to the province of Jammu and also to Ladakh and Kashmir Valley.

2. Implementation of Delhi agreement—which granted special status to the State—will be made at the next session of Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly.”

Nehru replied that proposal for autonomy to the three provinces had been agreed by him and Abdullah in July 1952. If Mukerjee had realised his mistake, he should withdraw the agitation unconditionally. Mukerjee was unwilling to do it as it amounted to surrender. The deadlock prolonged over some way which could provide, what may be called, a face saving to the Jana Sangh.

However, after sudden death of Mukerjee, Nehru made an appeal to the people of Jammu to withdraw their agitation as their demand for regional autonomy had been conceded. The State government endorsed the appeal on July 2, when Praja Parishad leaders were released who went to Delhi where they met Nehru on July 3. Thus the Praja Parishad agitation was withdrawn on the assurance of regional autonomy and immediate implementation of the Delhi Agreement.

Meanwhile the State government had sent a 45 page draft on regional autonomy to Durga Dass Verma, the underground dictator of the Parishad agitation. He returned it with approval after consulting the constitutional experts that were available to him.

If the final agreement on autonomy of the State within India and regional autonomy to the three regions within the State, had been implemented, there might not have been any Kashmir problem by now. At any rate the perpetual tension between the regions, which in Jammu often takes a communal form while in Kashmir it assumes anti-India form, might have ended.

But there are number of ifs and buts. One factor which prevented its implementation was that Praja Parishad and Jana Sangh backed out of it. According to Balraj Madhok, who later on became the president of the Jana Sangh, the party withdrew its commitment to the State autonomy and regional autonomy under the directive from Nagpur (the RSS headquarters).The party continued a ceaseless campaign against regional autonomy and Article 370.

BJP, the principal opposition of the country, is against any change in the status quo of the state. It does have an importance in the context of easing the situation in the troubled state, while the views of Omar Abdullah as chief minister and the leader of the National Conference, the prominent mainstream party of the Kashmir valley, can also not be ignored. Let the two parties along with the Congress led UPA revisit Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah and Mukherjee’s agreement in 1953. This may help in seeking a possible solution to the Kashmir issue. Or at least a step forward towards that.

(Balraj Puri is Director, Institute of Jammu and Kashmir affairs, Karan Nagar Jammu. He can be reached at www.humanrightsjournal.com)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST

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