Truth about the Accord

and don't forget that the truth is irrefutable

THE ACCORD

ASHRAF DURRANI

The recent statement of Sheikh Nazir Ahmad stating that Sher-e-Kashmir had no role to play in respect of Sheikh-Indira Accord is rather indiscrete and naïve. Moreso when it is well known that he has for nearly half a century been associated closely with all the activities of National Conference and the Plebiscite Front. 
Some insular politicians assiduously try to distance themselves from certain awkward situations, presuming perhaps that common people are gullible and can be cheated. The contents of every piece of correspondence between National Conference Leadership, GOI and their respective political functionaries are now available in abundance.
Article 370 of the constitution of India had been demolished, layer-by-layer by all the governments after 1953, and subsequently with active participation of some members of the bureaucracy of J&K State. The Government had not even bothered to keep a chronological record of the laws and amendments leading to the erosion of the said article.
It had become evident that Sher-e-Kashmir had reached an implicit understanding with Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1972 towards restoration of his position as head of the Government provided he would not rake up the issues of autonomy/restoration of status as it existed in 1953 and further the allied activities viz. functioning of Plebiscite Front would be wound up.
While discussing this matter with Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg he had shown earnest desire to take over the governance of J&K State within the framework of the implicit understanding of the above referred subject. This will be subject to the condition that the NC leadership would not insist on restoration of special status, as was promised by the Government of India prior to signing of Instrument of Accession. It was in this context that Sher-e-Kashmir gave the assignment to Mr. Beg advising him to be ready to initiate negotiations with the aim to convey our viewpoint on each and every issue that had been raised with the Government of India from time to time.
One specific reason for taking over the government of J&K as expressed by Sher-e-Kashmir was his health. Therefore he thought it pertinent to reverse the damage as much as possible by taking over the reigns of the government of J&K.
The ramifications and political fallout of the ‘settlement’ were very evident to Beg Sahib, who conveyed it to Sher-e-Kashmir. But as a devoted companion of the Sher-e-Kashmir, he nevertheless agreed to participate in any parleys/negotiations and to see that the damage is minimized as much as possible.
When his family members who would occasional discuss routine political matters with Beg Sahib, after watching him go through acute mental stress enquired about the reason for the same, he came out with the straight reply that Sher-e-Kashmir wanted to take over the power – the government of J&K for which he was asked to go through a process of negotiations with the emissary of GoI. He had also to suffer the added humiliation of liquidating the Plebiscite Front.
Nevertheless it was a consensus decision of the leadership of the national conference and senior functionaries to initiate the dialogue with the Government of India without any pre-conditions and later come to the final decisions if the agreed terms are found to be suitable.

The following documents of the correspondence between G. Parthasarthy and Sheikh Muhammed Abdullah with Mrs. Indira Gandhi give a clear picture of the proceedings of the negotiations and viewpoints expressed by both the parties from time to time.

April 23rd, 1974
“My Dear Shri Parthasarthy,
      Apropos to our talks yesterday and the day before.
 I hope that I have made it abundantly clear to you that I can assume office only on the basis of the position as it existed on 8th August 1953. With regard to the provisions or the union laws and entries applied to the Jammu & Kashmir state after 9th August 1953, judgment thereof will be deferred until the newly elected assembly comes into being. 

         Your’s Sincerely,
         (SD ) S. M. Abdullah”
“Agreed conclusions as incorporated in a joint statement (SD) by Mirza Mohammed Afzal Beg and G. Parthasarthy dated November 13th 1974 is the main subject matter of the letter written by Sheikh Sahib to Mrs. Indira Gandhi (PM) dated 25th November.
The opening part of the letter is reproduced here under

“My Dear Indira Ji,
Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg has written to me that he and Shri G. Parthasarthy have reached the conclusions in regard to constitutional matters concerning the relationship between Jammu & Kashmir State and the Union of India. At our insistence they had detailed discussions on these matters and I have received copies of documents from Mr. Beg containing the points on which no agreement could be reached. I have several times explained to you my point of view in regard to the matters on which the two emissaries have disagreed. I trust you will kindly accommodate our viewpoint to enable me to achieve the main objective.
Some points have been left for the settlement between you and me. I hope that we shall be able to sort out the points satisfactorily when we meet. I feel sure that such a settlement will provide an amicable basis for me and the people of the State to cooperate in cementing the Centre-State relationship.
I am awaiting your convenience when we can meet to consider these issues.
        (SD) S.M. Abdullah”
When Mrs. Gandhi in her letter dated December 16th, 1974 expressed doubts whether anything would be gained by discussing the matters again, since the views of Sheikh Sahib had been thoroughly discussed by Mr. Beg and Shri Parthasarthy. Having said that she nevertheless agreed to a meeting during the last week of December 1974. Sheikh Sahib perhaps resenting the tone and antipathy of the letter wrote a long and strongly worded letter to Mrs. Indira Gandhi where in he seems to have poured his heart out. This letter amongst other things narrates the perfect synopsis of his ideology that he had been committed to throughout his political career, his feelings of hurt and humiliations, betrayals, sufferings and tribulations for years on end. The important or relevant portions of the letter are reproduced here.
“It pains me that even after the decades of my sufferings and sacrifices for these very cherished values, I should be called upon to sign an undertaking to stand by them. This attitude clearly shows the lack of trust which continues in the minds of those with whom I may have to deal in the future. I hope you will agree with me that the only way to repair the vast damage done to the Indo-Kashmir relationship by the Arbitrary action of 9th august 1953 is possible only through complete understanding and mutual trust. If this trust is lacking even in a very small measure, all our efforts to reach an understanding will prove fruitless.”
“Ordinarily, the broad principles of the partition of the sub-continent might well have taken the state to Pakistan in 1947, but for various reasons, things happened other way. And because of our identity with basic ideals and fundamental values with which India stood, the Leadership of the National Conference Supported the accession of the State to India, on the basis of the instrument of accession signed by the Maharaja.…………….”
“I have no doubt in my mind that the manner in which the Government of India systematically eroded both letter and spirit of the special provision of the Union Constitution jeopardized the very foundation of the relationship so laboriously built over years of tireless effort and dedication.……………”
“In spite of all these Betrayal’s and Sufferings and Tribulations that we had to undergo years on end, I welcomed your desire which you expressed in 1972 to take a fresh look at Indo-Kashmir relationship. I made it clear to you and to the public at large that my differences with India were not over the accession of the state but on the quantum of accession. In my opinion accession and autonomy are interdependent. I had agreed to throw in my lot with India on the basis of the instrument of accession signed by the Maharaja, which guaranteed complete internal autonomy for the state. If this autonomy is taken away then the very foundation of the relationship is destroyed……………………………………………………………..”

“ If there is no agreement on these basic issues then what would be the use of discussing the issues that are not basic? We consider the matters on which agreement has not been reached equally vital and basic for us and, unless there is agreement on them, I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by prolonging our discussions

Yours Sincerely,
Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah”

Read the following & notice the reconciliatory tone and a climb down.

         3 Kotla Lane.
         New Delhi
         February 11, 1975
“My dear Prime Minister,
I have studied the document and have also had discussions with you. As you are aware it is my view that constitutional relationship between the Centre and the state of Jammu & Kashmir should be what it was in 1953. Nevertheless, I am happy to say that the agreed conclusions provide a good basis for my cooperation at the political level and Centre-State relationship. I appreciate that the main purpose of the dialogue was to remove apprehensions on either side to ensure that the bond between the Union and the state is further strengthened and to afford to the people of the state full scope for undertaking social welfare and developmental measures.
The accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India is not a matter in issue. It has been my firm belief that the future of Jammu & Kashmir lies with India because of the common ideals we share.
I hope you would appreciate that the sole reason for my agreeing to cooperate at the political and Governmental levels is to enable the State Government to initiate measures for the well being of the people of the State, which I have always considered as my sacred trust………………”
       Yours Sincerely,
SD/ Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah”

The reasons for this climb down are not difficult to visualize. There was perhaps some person very dear to him who dissuaded him from foreclosing the door on the proposed negotiations. Nevertheless Sher-e-Kashmir, who was at 3 Kotla Lane New Delhi when he wrote the above letter on 11th February 1975, received an immediate response the next day i.e. on 12th of February 1975 from Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
The following few lines of the letter indicate with telling effect the unyielding attitude of the Government of India, which was not reacted to, and the final settlement was arrived at without any further modifications whatsoever.
“I am aware of your views in the Centre-State relationship with respect to the State of Jammu & Kashmir. I have already explained to you that the clock cannot be put back and we have to make note of the realities of the situation….”
         Mrs. Indira Gandhi (PM)
Would any prudent person, say even now that Sher-e-Kashmir had no role in negotiating the terms and conditions of settlement which later came to be known as Indira Gandhi - Sheikh Abdullah Accord.

Why bring up an issue in which no body is now interested?
Nobody should belittle the role of Sher-e-Kashmir when he swept over Kashmir as a one man Tsunami destroying every imperial structure in its way. However in later years in his life, true to human nature, he proved to be just mortal like you and me.

(Ashraf Durrani is formerly General Manager – H.M.T. Limited , Govt. of India Undertaking)

Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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