There has been a popular misconception that the accession of J&K was a situational compromise and it was not done constitutionally. However, a closer look at the sources of history debunks this claim as a myth
-Dr Mahesh Kaul
The partition of the Indian subcontinent should be seen in the perspective of the Anglo-Muslim alliance that was forged by the British to retain their strategic foothold in the Indian subcontinent to have access to the Russian activities and the appreciable influence on the Central Asian region mainly regarding oil reserves. As the oil reserves were in the domain of the Central Asian and Middle Eastern Islamic countries and regions, the British encouraged the separatist Muslim sentiment in India to impress the Muslim world and at the same time kept the nationalist movement for the Indian independence under check, which the British viewed as the ‘Hindu Nationalist’ upsurge.
A clipping from Hindustan Times reporting the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to India
Jammu & Kashmir problem is the outcome of the ‘Great Game’ which the British played to keep the Muslim separatist element alive to keep its stakes high even though World War II had changed the dynamics of the strategic world order. This move was further meant to make the north-Indian borders weak and pregnable forever, and the result is the present Kashmir crisis. It was a clear move to sow the seeds of the Balkanisation of the Indian Union.
The Divisive Ploy
The process of maintaining the checks and applying brakes on the Indian nationalists had been devised by the British well before 1947 and Jinnah was a British prop to materialise the separatist Muslim claims for the partition of India.
These ploys and what was going on in the British mind have been revealed by Krishna Menon, who was close to the British circles, in the following words to Lord Mountbatten well before the partition on June 14, 1947, “Is this frontier of (the northwest of India abutting Afghanistan & Iran) still the hinterland of the Imperial Strategy? Do Britishers still think regarding being able to use this territory and all that follows from it? There is a considerable amount of talk in this way; and if Kashmir, for one reason or another, chooses to be in Pakistan, that is a further development in this direction. I do not know of British policy in this matter. I do not know whether you know it either. But if this is the intent, this is tragic … As it becomes more evident, the attitude of India would be resentful, and Britain’s hold on Pakistan would not improve it.” (The Untold Story of India’s Partition, pp.15-16)
Sardar Patel with Maharaja Hari Singh
Menon was pointing towards the British strategy of using West Pakistan as a base to stop the Soviet expansion towards the Indian Ocean, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf and secondly, he implied that British policy was so ‘subterranean“ that even the Viceroy was ignorant of it. These intrigues shaped the Jammu & Kashmir problem and result is the present state of chaos and desperation.
The accession of the Jammu & Kashmir State to the Indian Union needs to be understood by keeping in mind the traits of the British and the separatist Muslim mindset of the Muslim League nurtured by the imperial policymakers to divide India to suit their strategic hold on the subcontinent.
There is a false premise on which Jammu & Kashmir’s accession to India is always understood by certain vested interests: “That the Radcliffe Boundary Commission award giving Gurdaspur District to the Indian East Punjab was announced on August 17, 1947, two days after the new Dominions of India and Pakistan had already come into being.” It is absurd.
Jammu & Kashmir problem is the outcome of the ‘Great Game’ which the British played to keep the Muslim separatist elements alive to keep its stakes high The demarcation of the areas that would go to Pakistan had already been decided by the British well before 1947, the year of the partition. Its blueprint was prepared by the Viceroy Lord Archbald Wavell in 1946 to ally with Jinnah’s Muslim League, the foundation of this unholy alliance was laid in 1940-41 by his predecessor Linlithgow to project Jinnah as the sole spokesman of ‘Muslim India’.
The same blueprint was kept under cover till the opportune time came in 1947 for the British withdrawal. It was deliberately kept in abeyance so that the finger of suspicion for the vivisection of India is not raised against the British Empire.
The accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Indian Union needs to be understood by keeping in mind the traits of the British and the separatist Muslim mindset of the Muslim League nurtured by the imperial policymakers
Narender Singh Sarila, who was an ADC to the last Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten, was a witness to the British decisions and policy. He has observed candidly in his book The Untold Story of India’s Partition that “secret archives cannot be depended upon to reveal the entire picture. Many decisions that are taken by the government are never committed on paper or, if so committed, are not revealed even after the probationary period for keeping them under wraps has lapsed. For instance, Lord Mountbatten’s reports to London, sent after August 15, 1947, while he was the Governor-General of India, have not been unsealed even after almost sixty years, thereby depriving us of information surrounding British policy on Kashmir.” ( Ibid pp.168)
Lord Wavell was constantly in touch with the Secretary of State in London. His blueprint for the partition was being taken seriously in London. On January 29, 1946, the Secretary of State revealed the British policy by stating, in a telegram to Wavell, that “It would help me to know when I may expect to receive your recommendation as regards definition of genuinely Muslim areas if we are compelled to give a decision to this (Partition)”. (Ibid, pp.194-195)
Gurdaspur district was not incorporated into the Indian Union after the partition; Wavell’s partition plan forwarded to London on February 6-7, 1946 makes it clear as to what was in store for millions of people of the Indian subcontinent. His partition plan which was implemented by his successor Lord Mountbatten reads “1) If compelled to indicate demarcation of genuinely Muslim areas I recommend that we should include (a) Sind, North-West Frontier Province, British Baluchistan and Rawalpindi, Multan and Lahore Divisions of Punjab, Less Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts … 2) In Punjab the only Moslem–majority district that would not go into Pakistan under demarcation is Gurdaspur. Gurdaspur must go with Amritsar for geographical reasons and Amritsar being the sacred city of Sikhs must stay out of Pakistan…” (Ibid, pp.195)
Therefore it becomes clear that the decision regarding the Gurdaspur district was taken well before partition and the argument regarding its inclusion in the Indian Union after the partition does not hold any ground as it is far from the historical fact made amply clear by Lord Wavell’s partition plan.
(Re)Interpretation of History
So the point raised by the fifth columnists and other left-liberal intellectuals that “Maharaja Hari Singh could not accede to the newly created Indian Dominion and the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru could not accept such a request on or before August 15, 1947 because under the provision of July 1947 Indian Independence Act passed by the British Parliament, Pathankot tehsil at that time, the only geographical link of Jammu & Kashmir, was located in Gurdaspur District of West Punjab which had been notified under the aforesaid Act as part of Pakistan“is falsification of the reality.
Another observation by these individuals that “The Maharaja Sahib had, therefore, no other option than to think of Standstill Agreement with both new dominions of India and Pakistan and making Jammu & Kashmir an Eastern Switzerland of Asia” is another misinterpretation of constitutional realities and the facts.
As India under the British was composed of British India and the Princely States which accepted the British rule, the rulers of these States were thus bound to accede to one of the dominions, and there was no provision for their independent existence.
The celebrated political scientist Mohan Krishen Teng, in the preface to his book titled Kashmir: The Myth of Autonomy has cleared this misconception regarding the accession of Jammu & Kashmir and the other Princely States to the Indian Union. He writes, “The partition of India did not envisage the accession of the Princely States to the dominion of India and Pakistan on the basis British India was divided. The partition of India left the States out of its scope, and the transfer of power accepted the lapse of the Paramountcy: the imperial authority the British exercised over the States. The accession of the States to India was the culmination of a historical process which symbolised the unity of the people in British India and the Indian States”. (Kashmir-Myth of Autonomy, pp.VII)
It is a populist view to cover the truth regarding the accession that Maharaja Hari Singh was trapped and was hence indecisive to accede to India. To clear this misconception further, Teng writes, “In 1947 when Jammu & Kashmir acceded to India, the ruler of the State, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the same standard form of the Instrument of Accession, which the other major Indian States signed. The accession of the State to India was not subject to any exceptions or pre-condition to providing for any separate and special constitutional arrangements for the State. Neither Nehru nor Patel gave any assurances to Hari Singh or the National Conference leaders that Jammu & Kashmir would be accorded a separate and independent political organisation by the Muslim Majority character of its population.” (Ibid)
Thus it is crystal clear that the accession of the Jammu and Kashmir State to the Indian Union is complete in a Constitutional manner.
(The writer is a Post - Doctoral Fellow with the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), New Delhi)