We need to set the things right to understand history in the right perspective
‘Forget 1947.’ ‘Don’t be prisoner of Jawaharlal Nehru’s pledges and statements.’ ‘Talking about the Security Council Resolution is whipping a dead horse.’ ‘Grow beyond debate over ‘date and fact’ of the Instrument of accession.” These didactical cliché are refrained in every conferences, seminars and workshops organized by some New Delhi based “Non-Governmental Organization” (NGO’s) active in Kashmir for past many years. Some of the NGO’s, recipient of liberal grants from some European countries and other international organizations under the façade of working for peace in the region have succeeded in winning over a clientele in various universities and academic institutions to their ‘ideas ’. And made them believe ‘status quo’ with a little change was the only solution for ending political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir.
Some of the “persuaded” friends forgetting that no dispute could be resolved without reverting to the ‘reference point’ or in isolation of history of the dispute have been often asking us to forget the history. In case of J&K, October 1947, is the reference point to any discourse on Kashmir in New Delhi, Islamabad, Washington or UNSC. On November 5, 2013, one of the senior most politician of India and leader of BJP, L. K. Advani stirred a Kashmir related debate regarding developments in October 1947. In his blog, he had written that Nehru had called Sardar Patel as “total communalists” and he was “reluctant to send army to Kashmir in 1947 and wanted to take Kashmir to the United Nations but the Home Minister Sardar Patel prevailed over him.’ Advani Ji has based his assertions on an interview of then Lieutenant Colonal, Sam Manekshaw then , with a prominent Indian journalist, Prem Shankar Jha. He had interviewed him for his book Kashmir 1947, Rival Version of History published in 1996. Prem Shanker had in fact written his book as rejoinder to Alastair Lamb’s book , Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy 1846-1990 published in 1993. Lamb’s book was iconoclastic in challenging India’s Kashmir narrative on accession of ‘the state with India, the Instrument of Accession” and airlifting troops to Kashmir on October 27, 1947. The book having challenged the ‘fact and date’ of accession had caused waves in diplomatic circles across the world. The book had gone into many reprints. It not only got ravishing reviews in the international press but also deconstructed the White Paper on Kashmir published by Government of India in 1947- that provided both warp and woof to New Delhi’s narrative on Kashmir.
To counter Alistair Lamb’s well researched story Prem Shankar Jha needed someone who was supposed to have been witness to the developments preceding to October 1947- perhaps Sam Manekshaw was only living witness to the happenings. Sam had accompanied V.K. Menon to Jammu and Kashmir to call on Maharaja to get his signatures on the instrument of accession. The December 18, 1994 interview of Manekshaw with Prem Shankar Jha reproduced in his biography titled “Leadership- Field Marshall Manekshaw written by Maj. Gen (Retd) S. D. Sood, conducted with objective to falsify the assertions made by Lamb as a fact of matter raised more intriguing questions than answering any. In response to a question, whether he was present when the Maharaja signed the instrument of accession Sam says, “I was in Palace when VP Menon, Mahajan and the Maharaja were discussing the subject. The Maharaja was running from one room to another…..I did not see the Maharaja signing it, nor did I see Mahajan. All that I know is that Menon turned out and said, “Sam we’ve got the accession”. He mentions place of signing the accession document at Srinagar but Rama Chandra Guha mentions that the Maharaja had signed the document at Jammu, after was woken from sleep. (India After Gandhi page 68). Answering another question, he subtly suggests that the Maharaja had turned insane when Menon visited him and got the Instrument signed by him. The question arises can a document signed by one is not in full senses be taken as valid. When Jha asks him ‘was the Maharaja, in your presence, demurring from signing, was he laying down conditions? He gives an interesting answer that casts doubts on the very exercise, “That, I honestly cannot tell you. All that I can say the Maharaja was……he was not in his full senses. He was running about saying, I will fight there. Unless Indian army comes, my own forces will fight; that sort of rubbish was going on.”
India has been holding that Indian troops started landing in Kashmir on 27 October 1947. When Prem Shankar asked him that you have said that first lot of troops were flown in around noon was it 26th or 27th October. He answers, “We went to Srinagar, I think on 25th. I cannot tell you the dates. We came back on the 26th and same day we started to fly troops in.”
So he has put question mark on the very date of landing of troops in Srinagar. He was too junior an officer, so he would not know how soldiers of Patiala regiment were already stationed in Srinagar when Indian troops landed – this question had intrigued Gen Sen also who has mentioned it in his book. “Patiala forces were legally part of India army after August 15, 1947.” Writes Alastair Lamb, “Somewhere around the second of October the decision was taken in New Delhi to send actual troops …some units from Patiala state army…were transported to Jammu and Kashmir….the movement was complete by October 18,….this intervention took place at the personal request to Maharaja Yadavindra Singh by Jawaharlal Nehru.” ‘ A letter dated 27 September 1947 in which he asks for ensuring Kashmir accession before onset of winter sufficiently suggest that senior politician decided about the action weeks before even 15 October.’ (Incomplete Partition page-129-132).
Ensuring stationing of batteries of Patiala troops in Kashmir also suggests that Jawaharlal Nehru had in fact executed military intervention in Kashmir much before even the tribesmen appeared on the scene on 22 October 47. While Gandhi at his prayers meeting was advocating respecting choice of people of Kashmir and not forcing them to join India, Nehru had sent General Atal a Kashmiri Pandit to launch secret operations throughout Kashmir, including trying to bomb several bridges across Jhelum.’ Stanley Wolpert writes that personal passion for Kashmir had affected ‘diplomatic judgment of Nehru.” Nehru and Patel were on same page in sending troops on Kashmir- there lot to substantiate this assertion. The last chapter of book Shameful Flight” by Stanly Wolpert provides lot of insight into the subject.