M J Aslam
In chapter 36 titled “Medley of Internal Troubles” SMA in a real medley of things connects “accession” and “sending of Indian troops” to Kashmir to the “tribal attack” of 23rd October, 1947. However, he openly admits that it was only at his repeated “request” and after his approval of “accession” that Nehru agreed to dispatch troops to Srinagar. 1. He further admits that in “the ensuing darkness” of tribal attack that was likely to “take away nationhood and freedom” of Kashmiris, he “had gone to seek the Indian leaders’ help”. 2.
At the threshold, one is within one’s right of asking, as to by “supporting and confirming” accession with India and “requesting for dispatching Indian troops to Kashmir promptly”, whose “sovereignty and nationhood”, he claims to had been protecting? Apparently, it wasn’t “Kashmiri” at all, as he avers. That said; let us now refer to the facts and circumstances, as below, that have had “closest and most real connection” with the developments of that last week of October, 1947 which are missing in the whole narrative of SMA in the cited chapter.
Sheikh’s release from prison: Firstly, he was released from the prison on 29th day of September, 1947, though he was serving three years’ imprisonment on sedition charges, and his abrupt release from jail “was no princely whim on the part of the Maharaja”, 3. but it was pre-planned by Nehru who had secured his pre-mature freedom from prison for a “job-role” which is clear from a letter dated 27-09-1947 written by Nehru to Patel that contains as under:
“Indeed, [..] there is no other course open to the Maharaja than this: to release Sheikh Abdullah and other NC leaders, to make a friendly approach to them, seek their co-operation and make them feel that this is really meant, and then to declare adhesion to the Indian Union”. 4.
On 29-09-1947, SMA was released from detention which was followed a few days later by release of other NC leaders; but nothing was done to free Choudhary Ghulam Abbas and his Muslim Conference colleagues at that time, 5, albeit they had not been convicted of serious charges of sedition like SMA. 6 Releasing Abdullah and his followers helped to “bring about the accession of Kashmir to the Indian union”. 7. His release was the price of the accession which was to follow. 8.
Sheikh’s speeches & actions after his release: Secondly, immediately after his release, SMA set up a number of meetings and declared on 05-10-1947 before a gathering of one lakh people at Hazuri Bagh (present day Iqbal Park) Srinagar that “I don’t know why I was arrested nor do I know why I’ve been released. We want first “freedom” and then only we can think of “accession”. If we have to decide about our accession, we will have to keep in mind Indian “baniyas” who constitute market for our Kashmir art and craft, on the one hand, and Pakistani “tangewalas”, on the other hand. We shall be cut to pieces before we allow alliance between JK and Pakistan….” 9.
It may be noticed here that hundreds of Kashmiri-Muslim-families who had settled years before in parts of East Punjab were returning home (Kashmir valley) same time as they had escaped death, lost all their belongings (at the hands of Hindu & Sikh rioters) and reached home half-naked and in tears. 10. Since the basic pattern for accession by the Princely States to India or Pakistan was being decided exclusively on a communal basis, there can be no doubt that the sense of Sheikh Abdullah’s statement was decidedly pro-Indian-at least anti-Pakistani. The Sheikh’s subsequent actions are likewise significant. 11.
Sheikh’s reprimanding Masoodi: Thirdly, after release from prison, NC workers gathered in the lawn of Pather Masjid, Srinagar to decide about future course of action that was to be adopted. In his address, Mawlana Masoodi stated that as new Dominion of Pakistan had taken birth, the party leadership should rethink about its secular political outlook. He was undoubtedly advocating accession with Pakistan. Revealing his anti-Pak mindset, SMA at this time interrupted Mawlana Masoodi and told the workers that “Mawlana Masoodi was in jail, has been released just yesterday & does not know anything about the outside world”. SMA had disclosed same pro-Indian mindset to Moti Ram Bogra also when in 1946 he had met him in Badrawah jail. 12.
Opposing Poonch revolt & supporting Dogra rule: Fourthly, after campaigning for accession with India after his release, SMA visited Delhi where he reaffirmed his policy of joining against Pakistan and confirmed that the Poonchis were in open revolt against the ruler, Maharaja. 13. It may be noted here that the Poonchis who had already in June, 1947 started revolt against the Maharaja’s oppression and excesses were ex-service men of Indian and Dogra Armies. They had fought in WW 2nd for British and when they returned home, their hearts were brimmed with anger and eyes with tears when they saw and heard from their people about the excruciating atrocities of the Dogra rulers inflicted on them which included back-breaking exorbitant taxation on all household items [even]. They were supported in their rebellion by people of Sialkot, Muzaffarad and NWFP tribesmen. 14. The Kashmiris had themselves instigated the Kashmir dispute, and not Pakhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan, as India has long claimed, & in which claim Pakistan has, surprisingly, long acquiesced,15).; more so, because of local NC plus Indian propaganda as there was no way to counter it then as NC dominated entire political landscape of Kashmir then and there was no vibrant mass media and effective political opposition, either.
1). SM Abdullah’s Blazing Chinar (2016) page 292; 2). Ibid, pages 291-292 ; 3). Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, page 70; 4). Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru-, Second Series, Vol. 4, page 264 (Nehru to Patel, 27th September, 1947); also cited in Kashmir Issue (2002) A M Mattu, page 46; 5). Kashmir: A disputed Legacy ( 1991) Alaster Lamb, page 130; M M Isaaq, Nida e Haq (2014) page 177; 6). Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, page 70; Lord Birdwood, Two Nations & Kashmir (1956) page 62; 7). Ramachandra Guha, India after Gandhi (2007) 63; 8). Lord Birdwood, Two Nations & Kashmir (1956) page 61; 9). Ibid at page 62; M M Isaaq, Nida e Haq (2014) Page 176; 10). M Y Saraf, Kashmiris-Fight for Freedom (2009) Volume two, Page 799; 11). Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, Page 71 (emphasis supplied) ; 12). M M Isaaq, Nida-e-Haq (2014) pages 177, 165 (his actions of opposing ML were equal to stabbing in the back of Islamic world, Masoodi had written to GM Bakshi); 13). Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, page 71-72; 14). Kashmir: A disputed Legacy (1991) Alaster Lamb, Page 130; Saeed Naqvi, Being the other :Muslim in India (2016) page 176; M M Isaaq, Nida e Haq (2014) page 179 & 15). Christopher Snedden‘s Understanding Kashmir & Kashmiris (London, 2015), page 3.
—The author can be reached at: [email protected] (The views expressed are solely personal)
—To be continued..