The Accord of Discord
Of Sheikh Abdullah's signing or not signing the document
A debate is going on about the 1975 Indra- Abdullah Accord with NC general secretary arguing that Sheikh Abdullah was not signatory to it. Mirza Afzal Beg’s son Dr.Mehboob Beg responded with his version. Over the issue, it seems, there is a confrontation between two factions or for that matter two families both part of ruling National Conference. Common man may not be interested in as to who signed the agreement or held parleys and on whose behalf. His interest is whether this Accord served any purpose as far as Kashmir issue is concerned and if any good was done by this Accord for the general public of the state.
Sheikh Abdullah was removed from the post of Prime Minister of the state in a late night coup engineered by his long time associate G.M.Bakshi at the behest of New Delhi. The circumstances leading to this coup are varied. The situation continued till 70s with Sheikh Abdullah and his closest associate Mirza Afzal Beg held behind bars in different situations and under various sections of the law. Before the Accord State Peoples Convention was held and S.M.Abdullah tried to take the major players on his side over the forthcoming events. Few people read the writing on the wall while others were either naïve or accepted Abdullah’s version. Those who resented included Sofi Muhammad Akbar and an unsung hero of Kashmir freedom struggle Gulam Ahmad Mir (Ama Mir ) of Safa Kadal. It is alleged that Mir, then very young, had shot at Prem Nath Bazaz. Late Gulam Nabi Hagroo once told me that, during State Peoples' Convention, Mir talked about economics and explained how Karachi port could be used effectively for export of Kashmir fruit. Not influenced by his position, Sheikh Abdullah is said to have lost his cool against Mir. Mirs’s son Mukhtar told me that Sheikh Abdullah was angry enough and called Mir “Mir tu Pakistani hai”.
The Accord of 1975 saw S.M.Abdullah back in the seat of power after what is commonly known as Beg Parthasarthi parleys which culminated in Indra Abdullah Accord. Sheikh Abdullah, in his autobiography Aatish-e-Chinar records on page(835/837) . “I had told my Indian friends that there is no dispute about the accession of the state with the union of India but the laws extended to the state undermining article 370…….. I deputed Mirza Afzal Beg to undertake the parleys with Mr. Parthasarthi, Prime Minister of India’s representative. Similar sentiment is put forth by Ajit Bhattacharjea in his book ‘Kashmir: The wounded Valley’. Ajit writes “Appropriately enough, it was Beg, President of The Plebiscite Front, who made it known that plebiscite was no longer an issue .The dispute with New Delhi was over the quantum of autonomy. This was in February 1972. Abdullah followed up with an interview to the London Times on 8 March which was more specific:
There is no quarrel with the government of India over accession; it is over the structure of internal autonomy .One must not forget that it was we who brought Kashmir into India ; otherwise Kashmir could never have become part of India.”
This is an ample proof that the parleys and, subsequent, Accord was signed at the behest of Sheikh Abdullah. Against this Accord, which undermined Pakistan’s position to a greater extent, Mr. Bhutto gave a protest call. Although the strike was complete across the state, excluding the Hindu dominated areas, yet All India Radio in its evening news bulletin reported about the hartal; “The people of Kashmir gave a resounding rebuff to Mr. Bhutto’s call for hartal.” Sheikh Abdullah, on his arrival in Srinagar, talked of the hartal call by Mr. Bhutto and confirmed that it was complete. However, he used the situation in his favour declaring that ‘New Delhi is telling lies as they said about the hartal. Tomorrow they may disseminate similar information about the Accord also and keep you in dark’ giving the impression that he had achieved something about the Kashmir dispute. The gullible residents were influenced by his words.
The issue of circumstances leading to the Accord may be of interest to the students of political science but it hardly matters for the common people of Kashmir. They must be interested as to what came out of this Accord. The Accord took S.M.Abdullah’s party to the seat of power at the expense of Congress government which had taken reigns after a shoddy election. Subsequent, to this when NC and Janata Party fought elections, NC won on the sympathy wave of S.M.Abdullah’s bed ridden condition. The rest is history. Successive elections saw the power hungry politicians playing tricks on the electoral front and the Kashmir issue was rendered to a phony problem with Pakistan raising the issue occasionally at UN general assembly. During early nineties, things changed and same politicians had to run for their life in Jammu or Delhi.
History bears testimony to the fact that the Accord was anything backed by a popular support or a statesman’s political testament for his nation. Had it been something of substance, formulated by the tallest leader of the nation or the so called most intelligent lieutenant, the youth would not feel the necessity of taking up guns and indulging in a conflict or gory revolution which devoured its own children. The issue still hangs. My engineer friend tells me that the only outcome from the Accord was the financial support for the construction of Soura medical institute, cricket stadium and the indoor stadium. A political analyst has a scathing attack when he says that the politics of Abdullah post 1947 remained roller coaster and his roar against or in favour of final solution of Kashmir imbroglio has been proportional to his ascending to or descending from the chair. And his family follows suit.
It reminds me the assessment of BBC correspondent Mark Tully. While reporting in early 90s he informed his editor that a black out is in force in Kashmir. Giving the background of the situation his prophecy is coming true when he said that ‘the issue is so complex that may be our children are discussing the same after 25 years’.
(Writer is the author of “The Half Widow” and can be e- mailed at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST
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