Death blow on the effectiveness of the Security Council

Text of the letter written by Late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah

To: The Hon'ble Members
Security  Council,
United Nations' Organisation,
New York.

Your Excellencies,
Fast developing events  indicate  that the nine-year  old Kashmir question is very likely to come up for your consideration very soon, and in all probability  you will give your most earnest attention to it with a view to affect a final settlement  of the Dispute.   Quite naturally, on such an important  occasion I would have very much liked to be able to personally present before your Excellencies some outstanding aspects of the question and explain the urgent and  immediate need for a final settlement and early  termination of the protracted  agony of my people.  But that is not to be! Your Excellencies are perhaps aware that I am completing my third year of incarceration in a detention camp in the State where I have been whisked off as a result of  coup-d'etat  of  9th  Aug. 1953.   Accordingly, the only course available to me is to send out this letter and pray for Your  Excellencies indulgence in the hope that facts stated here will receive  Your  Excellencies earnest  consideration.
2. As a spear-head of people's struggle against autocracy and economic exploitation I led a powerful mass-movement in Kashmir for over two decades.   This movement which passed through various troubles and travails had always "sovereignty  of the people" as its bed-rock.   Many of our comrades-in-arms laid their lives for this cherished goal and many others went through great sufferings in the pursuit thereof. With the tragic partition of the sub-continent of India, though the flames of communal orgy engulfed the sub-continent, taking a heavy toll of human life, the State of Jammu and Kashmir kept its head cool and considerably succeeded in maintaining communal harmony in Kashmir. Unfortunately, however, the partition of  India did not wholly spare  Kashmir from its after affects and a tribal invasion  on  the State from the North-West  followed in 1947.  Under the stress of this invasion the then Maharaja of Kashmir appealed to India for armed intervention.
3. In order to make military intervention  from  India legally possible the Maharaja  had to sign an instrument of Accession with India. This accession was, however, declared by India only a provisional and the disposal of the State was finally to be made in accordance with the free will of the people.   On 27th Oct. 1947 Lord Mountbatten the then Governor General of India wrote to Maharaja in reply to his letter offering accession of the State with India that ''... as soon as law and order have been restored  in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of State's  accession should be settled by a reference to the people.''
4. On 2nd Nov. 1947 Pt. Jawahirlal  Nehru, Prime  Minister of India  in his broadcast speech declared ''We are anxious not to finalize anything in a moment of crisis and without the fullest opportunity  to be given to the people of Kashmir  to have their say . . . .  The accession must be made by the people of that State . . . .  We will not and cannot back out of it.  (See appendix No. 2.).
5. On behalf of India there are innumerable commitments made to the United Nations Organisation as well as to the people of Kashmir  that the latter alone can decide their fate through an impartial plebiscite.  Thus, India came to Kashmir as the champion and protector   of our right  of self-determination and under that slogan fought  back the invaders with our support.
6. On 13th Aug. 1948 and later on 5th Jan. 1949 the U.N. Commission on India and Pakistan  passed two historic resolutions incorporating  the solemn agreements  of  the  two countries  that accession shall  be decided through  a free and impartial  plebiscite under the aegis of U.N. organisation.   These international commitments to the people of Kashmir are categorical and unambiguous.
7. In 1951 a Constituent Assembly was convened in the Indian-occupied part of the State with a view to give constitutional shape to the Govt.   Pakistan, suspecting backdoor  decision on accession through  this Constituent  Assembly, took strong  exception in the Security Council to the convening of this Assembly and its competence to decide the question  of  accession.    Sir B.  N. Rau,  leader  of  the Indian Delegation in the United Nations, in his speeches before  the Security  Council delivered  on 12th  and 29th March 1951, made the object of  the Assembly abundantly clear and declared unequivocally that in reference to accession the Constituent Assembly can take no decision and his Government  will be bound  by her commitments made  to the United Nations in this regard. The Security Council on the basis of this international commitment registered its verdict on these terms '' ... and any action that Assembly might attempt  to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State,  or any part  thereof would not constitute a disposition  of the State  in accordance  with the above  principle.''  (Resolution of Security Council of March 1951).  Pt. Jawahirlal Nehru while answering questions in the Indian parliament in Feb. 1955 characterised the Kashmir Assembly's pronouncement on accession as "unilateral" and therefore of no consequence.
7. Meanwhile the Security Council had suggested that the two countries should try to affect a peaceful settlement of this dispute through direct negotiations.
8. As leader of the National Conference prompted by the sole desire of facilitating  a settlement with due regard to the wishes of the people I, in consultation with the Executive  of  my organisation  and with the full approval  of  a top-level committee  nominated  by  the Executive of the National  Conference for the purpose, drew  up a list of possible  alternative   means  of settlement  of  this dispute.
Accordingly, I  communicated these alternatives to the Prime Minister of India early in July 1953, so that in the forthcoming  talks between  the two  Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan our approach to the peaceful settlement of the dispute  would not be lost sight of. Unfortunately India did not seem to like this and turned hostile.
9. A deep and carefully screened conspiracy against me and my followers was the result. Kashmir, unfortunately, is the root cause which deeply embitters the relations between India and Pakistan and in any conflict this State is bound to be the first casualty. No peaceful progress is possible within the State  unless this dispute is finally and amicably settled. These are weighty considerations and no one who has the real good of the State at heart can lose sight of these factors. For some time past I had therefore been pressing for an early settlement of this dispute with Pakistan (See appendix No.1).  Indian reaction was averse to this approach and her resentment towards me gradually culminated in positive hostility.
10. Disruption and factionalism in our ranks and corruption  of our people was therefore  resorted  to by India for breaking our unity and thus achieving its nefarious end. The plot culminated in the coup-d'etat on 9th Aug. 1953. In the early hours of that night I and my cabinet were dismissed without a confidence motion of the Assembly by the legally and constitutionally  questionable fiat of the Head of  the State. I was put under arrest  along with another Minister of my cabinet and am now under continued detention nearly for the last three years without trial and without even a charge.
11. Simultaneously with my arrest  thousands of my followers and co-workers, including Deputy Ministers, high ranking  Gazetted  Officers, respectable  businessmen, lawyers,  Members of  the Assembly and public men of high position in life were clapped into prison. All manner of repressive measures were let loose in order to crush the spontaneous uprising of the people throughout the valley. Indian  Central  Reserve Police and army as well as the militia, and the special police were given a free license to shoot at sight and commit all other possible atrocities  on the defenseless people- thousands were beaten or starved in the jails in order to break them into submission-the number of those killed was officially reported  to be 36 although the public version puts it very  much higher. No judicial enquiry was held to investigate into these atrocities which include among their victims even pregnant women and children.  More than a score of Assembly members was detained without charge and many others kept under house arrest.
12. It was under these bloodcurdling circumstances that a session of the Assembly was called to record its approval of the coup and a vote of confidence in the new government. From prison I sent telegraphic requests to the President of  the Union  of  India,  to its Prime  Minister and to the Speaker of the Assembly to allow me to appear  before the House and face a motion of no-confidence in a democratic manner but no heed was paid to it. Thus almost with a pistol on the necks of the Assembly Members and with massacre and terrorism all over the Valley, a vote of confidence for the Govt. pitckforked into office with  the  help  of Indian bayonets was secured.  No greater  fraud on democracy can be conceived! What moral, legal or constitutional value this fraudulent act has need hardly be explained.
13. Thus India manoeuvered to remove those elements from the Kashmir  scene which she thought stood in the way of her anti-Kashmiri designs and subsequently sought ratification  of  accession  through  the Assembly.   To say the least, it is a fraud upon the people, betrayal  of their right of  self-determination   and gross breach of  international commitments and promises.
15. In March 1956, the Prime Minister of India made a public declaration ruling out plebiscite in Kashmir.   It has shocked the world conscience and stunned the people of Kashmir  to whom innumerable assurances  had been held out that they will shape their own destiny through a fair and impartial plebiscite.                                    
Reasons advanced for this face volte are that Pakistan has Joined SEATO, received Arms Aid from America and signed the Baghdad Pact. The absurdity of the argument is patent. Whatever Pakistan may do or might have done, that can be no valid reason for denying the Kashmiris the exercise  of  their right of  self-determination in order to shape their own future. Secondly India's Prime Minister has hinted that a vote in favour of Pakistan will rouse communal passions in India  and endanger  the security  of its Muslim  minority. This argument is also untenable. Is India's secularism so skin deep that it will collapse like a pack of cards as soon as Kashmiris exercise their right of self-determination. One may as well ask: Are Kashmiris to be held as hostages for fair treatment of Muslim minority under the so-called Secular Democracy of India. Were India's oft repeated promises to the people of Kashmir that they alone shall have the right to decide their own future through an impartial and fair plebiscite  intended  to  be implemented only in case a vote in her favour was certain?
India has repeatedly  claimed that Kashmir is fast progressing and that the political uncertainty has ended. Nothing can be farther from truth. Kashmir is at present ruled by monstrous laws which have crippled all political and social life in the State and paralysed all progress. A lawless law of Preventive Detention has been promulgated in the State  with the sanction of the President of the Republic of India which has stifled all civil liberties. This law authorizes arrests and detention for a period of five years without trial or even without disclosing the grounds of detention. Free and frequent use is made of this law of the jungle.  Respectable citizens and political workers  have been arrested under  this law  on  the excuse  of  having  publicized the speeches of opposition members delivered in the legislature or even legitimately organising support for the opposition in the House.   Members of  the Assembly who expressed their intention of crossing the floor in the House were put under arrest. In certain cases resignations were extorted under the pressure of  this monstrous law and instances are not wanting where the members were publicly threatened of getting them involved in fabricated criminal cases if they failed to support the Govt. party.
Indian money is being lavishly used for organising gangsters for looting, insulting and publicly flogging respectable citizens who do not see eye to eye with the ruling party. Colossal amounts borrowed on interest from India are used in corrupting public life and thereby purchasing the public conscience.  It is however, gratifying to note that all these dirty methods have so far failed to corrupt the people into submission, and with one voice they demand the fulfilment of the promise made to them by India, Pakistan and United Nations to exercise their  right  of self-determination  in a free and democratic manner.
The Indian press almost without exception, is positively hostile to all tendencies in favour of the plebiscite.   Any Indian newspaper writing in favour of the fulfilment of the promise held out by India to the people of Kashmir or criticising the present administration in Kashmir is immediately bribed or blacklisted and its entry into the State banned.   Foreign correspondents  are seldom  allowed in and if and when such a journalist finds his way to the Valley every precaution is taken that he does not get a peep into the realities of the situation.  There is a virtual Iron Curtain over the Valley.  No citizen dare to approach a visitor to acquaint him with the tale of his misery for fear of gestapo  and subsequent  torture. I challenge anyone to refute it.  Under an impartial agency the scathing sea of resentment of Kashmiris will be unleashed and a real picture will come to light in those circumstances alone. Recent civic elections held  in Srinagar and in Jammu afford a proof  positive of  oppressive and fraudulent  practices  of the ruling party in Kashmir. Muslim organisations and political bodies with overwhelming Muslim membership completely boycotted these elections.  Some Hindu opposition organisations however contested these elections against the ruling party. The Hindu press both in and outside the State has published a surprising   account  of corruption,  malpractices,  impersonation and fraudulent methods used in these elections by the ruling party. It was through these shady means that the ruling party has secured all the seats in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and majority in the Jammu Corporation.
15. Kashmiris are facing  untold  miseries  during the present phase of their history. No progress - economic or political - is possible under such circumstances.  Kashmir has become an oozing sore in the bodypolitic of the sub­continent.  It has embittered beyond measure relations between the two countries.  The two armies facing each other across the cease-fire line,  constitute  a potential  powder magazine which may flare up any time into a devastating war. Its consequences are too grim to imagine.  In such an eventuality Kashmir will be wiped out completely - and far worse may happen. Is the world conscience so dead as not to wake up in time?
If a member  of  the world organisation is so easily to denounce international  commitments and trample  over without qualms the human rights  of millions it will, I am afraid, deal a death  blow on the effectiveness of the Security Council, will shock the confidence of small nations  in the wold organisation and endanger world peace.
17. On  behalf  of  the millions of  Kashmiris  and  in the name of peace and  progress  of hundreds  of millions of the sub-continent I appeal to your Excellencies to firmly stand by the pledges of the Security  Council and execute its decision.  I also appeal to the freedom loving countries of  the world, to those who have signed the United Nations Charter and pledged themselves to honour it in word and deed as well as to those nations whose leaders have fought and given their lives to establish people's right of self-determination, to rise above international  differences and disputes and lend a firm and unanimous support  to the right of four million down-trodden Kashmiris  and allow them to decide their  own future  in a free and democratic atmosphere. That alone will end the agony  of  the people of Kashmir and eliminate a grave danger to peace.

Yours sincerely,

Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST

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