Kashmir Muddle

News Today 27.08.2022

Sheikh Abdullah, who was the principal architect of Kashmir’s accession to India was dismissed from the position of Prime Minister of Kashmir on 9 August 1953, on New Delhi’s machinations. How could this happen when Nehru was India’s Prime Minister, especially because Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah were not only close political colleagues but also good friends? To be able to answer this question, one should look to the series of developments preceding his removal. On 26 October 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh took the decision on Kashmir’s accession to India, the State had ceded to India its authority only in three subjects ~ foreign affairs, defence and communications. In these matters the Government of India would have absolute power to take decisions which would be binding on Jammu and Kashmir, while in matters internal, it would enjoy autonomy. (Read More)

Immediately after the signing of the ‘Delhi Agreement’, Sheikh Abdullah proceeded to abolish the institution of hereditary monarchy and got the necessary resolution passed by the State Constituent Assembly on 21 August 1952. While abolition of hereditary monarchy in J&K was consistent with the Congress Party’s ideology, Sheikh Abdullah’s move to depose Maharaja Hari Singh and prepare for his possible impeachment for anti-State activities raised a political storm, particularly in Jammu. It seems, in retrospect, that the ‘Delhi Agreement’ was a part of the strategy that Nehru had adopted to satisfy Abdullah’s vision of Kashmir’s ‘autonomy’ as New Delhi did not want to alienate him at a time when the Kashmir issue was still on the agenda of the UN Security Council. But Nehru himself was not too keen on maintaining this ‘autonomy’ for Kashmir, especially after Sheikh Abdullah’s attitude towards Kashmir’s future became ambivalent as he was toying with the idea of an independent Kashmir which becomes evident from the report of the US Ambassador, Loy Henderson (September 1950), and this attitude developed further due to developments in J&K. (Read More)

The removal of Sheikh Abdullah from power was followed by a succession of Prime Ministers/Chief Ministers (from 1966 onwards) who were indirectly chosen by New Delhi because of their proximity to the leaders in Delhi and for this the Indian government turned a blind eye to their corruption and undemocratic practices. All the elections held in J&K, barring the one in 1977, were rigged. Political opponents who demanded ‘plebiscite’ to determine Kashmir’s future were prevented from taking part in elections and put behind bars, thus muzzling their voices. Suppression of dissent and corruption in administration created resentment among a large segment of the educated middle class, who were not a part of the ruling elite. Despite his ‘modernisation’ and ‘integration’ programmes, Bakshi was removed from power on 11 October 1963 due to corruption and his dictatorial mode of functioning. Nehru looked upon Kashmir as a symbol of India’s secularism. (Read More)

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