Kashmir Truth Be Told Blog
Yus neereth gassan, pheereth cha yevaano: morda che gassan zinde (Kashmiri saying)

6/28/08

1953: A Pivotal Year in Kashmir's History

Pakistani backed Kabalis attacked Kashmir on October 22, 1947. A few days later, on October 26, 1947, Hari Singh signed the intrument of accession with India. He had earlier made it known that he was still undecided about the options presented before him; the options were either acceeding to India or PAkistan or even remaining independent. Although he was heavily leaning toward remaining independent and maintaining his sovereignity, the invasion made him reluctantly accede to India.

After signing the instrument of accession, he released Sheikh Abdullah from prison and made him Prime Minister of a caretaker governemnt. A few more months later, on 20th June 1949, after facing pressure from Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah, he abdicated his throne, moved to Bombay, and made his 18 year old son, Karan Singh, the first (and last) Sadr-i-Riyasat of Kashmir. A few years later, on 1st May 1951, Karan Singh issued a proclamation calling for elections to the state Contituent Assembly. These elections were completed by August of the same year and National Conference swept them easily.

The first meeting of the 75 members of the first democratically elected Constituent Assembly of Kashmir was held on October 31st 1951. The opening speech was delivered by the President of National Conference and the newly elected Prime Minister of Kashmir, Mr Sheikh Abdullah. He jubiliantly remined people that, "Today, in 1951, embodying aspirations, men and women from the four corners of the state in this Constituent Assembly have become the repository of its sovereign authority. This Assembly, invested with the authority of a constituent body, will be the fountain-head of basic laws laying the foundation of a just social order and safeguarding the democratic rights of all citizens of the state."

Little did he know at the time that less than two years later, a 20 year old Karan Singh would send him to prison for demanding that the UN resolutions be implemented, and that the members of his own cabinet would betray him and his dream of a peaceful and self-reliant Kashmir would be shattered.

"A fraud was being committed on the interests of the country. The slogan of independence was dangerous. Under the control of an imperialist power an independent Kashmir would have been a serious danger for the people of India and Pakistan...." These words were spoken by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in justifying the arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on 8th August 1953. Sheikh Sahib was charged with treason and conspiracy agaisnt the state and the infamous "Kashmir Conspiracy Case" unfolded with the Lion of Kashmir spending the next eleven years behind bars. His closest comrades including Mirza Afzal Beg, and 22 other NC loyalists were sent to jail as well by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.

I will try to analyse what led to Sheikh Sahib's arrest given that he was close to Nehru and had been elected with an overwhelming support of the public. Nehru's relations with Abdullah started to deteriorate when he wrote his infamous Note of August 25, 1952, calling Kashmiris "not what are called a virile people. They are soft and addicted to easy living". Also, it was common knowledge at the time that even though he had publicly acknowledged to grant Kashmiris the right to a self-determination, Pandit Nehru had decided privately decided in 1948 not to hold a plebiscite. He asked Sheikh Abdullah to get the Constituent Assembly to ratify the accession - a demand which Sheikh Abdullah needed time to analayse and get the people to back him.

Even though Sheikh Abdullah had publicly declared in 1948 and then in 1951 that accession to India was in the best interest of Kashmiris, he never claimed that the accession by Hari Singh was engraved in stone or that his approval of the accession meant that he would surrender the right of the people to decide their fate themselves or that the people would not have a say in this paramount decision.

Nehru and Karan Singh grew impatient with the Sheikh's insistence that the people of Kashmir be involved with the decision of accession and were quite alarmed on his argument that the elections to the constituent assembly was not a substitute to the promise that Nehru made of granting them a right to choose their national fate. This resulted in a conspiracy of a grand scale with members of Sheikh Abdullahs own party who had stayed with him through thick and thin being bribed to commit treachory against Sheikh Abdullah.
To be continued....

1 comment:

  1. The so called "Constituent Assembly" was a big fraud in itself against oppressed people of J&K as the same was constituted without casting a single vote by the entire population.All the members of this assembly were declared elected unopposed by joint efforts Sheikh Abdullah and Indian army.All the acts of this institution were thus illegal.

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