Was Kashmir handled or mishandled?
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addressing a gathering in Srinagar in November 1947. Sheikh Abdullah sits in a chair next to him. Photo: The Hindu Photo Library.
*-K. N. Pandita
t a recent social gathering in
And when the Kashmir secularist euphoria gripped
A blunder more Himalayan than that of putting all eggs in Sheikhs basket was the dramatic removal of the Sheikh from power on
I once asked late Maulana Masudi, once the powerful General Secretary of National Conference, why he had not taken up the issue of the Sheikhs dismissal and arrest with Nehru? The Maulana said he had, and when the matter was broached,
And who among his foreign friends did not stab
One should read the amusing story of how the Shiekh and his lieutenant Afzal Beg managed to get article 370 inducted into the Indian Constitution. No self-respecting Prime Minister, no dignified statesman and patriot would accept the humiliation which the Shiekh heaped on the Indian nation and its leadership while negotiating constitutional provision for his Sate. Sheikhs every single argument began and ended with the threatening that if his conditions were not conceded, he would rescind the accession of the state to the Indian Union. The crux of his conditions was that the identity of the Muslim majority, vulnerable to unspecified threats in unknown future by the Hindu majority of Indian nation needed constitutional safeguards. And finally the secularist
And when late Pandit Shiv Narayan Fotedar, the President of Kashmiri Hindu Yuvak Sabha in Srinagar wrote to Nehru not to make such dangerous concessions to the Sheikh, and if these concessions were made then justice and common sense demanded that the Pandit minority in Kashmir should also have similar safeguards in the Sate and Union Constitutions, Nehru jerked as if somebody had rubbed salt into his wound and charged Shiv Narayan with communalism.
Baramulla town was recaptured by the Sikh Light Infantry on 12-13 November 1947. During the preceding fortnight of its capture, the invading tribesmen had taken the entire Pandit community of the town as captives. Hundreds of their womenfolk were put in the concentration camp in Tehsil complex. In this entire operation the locals played the key role of informers and guides including that of identifiers of known Pandit elders who were selectively gunned down. Soon after the recapture of the town, the remnants of the oppressed and persecuted Pandits told Shiekh Abdullah that his slogan of communal harmony had been trampled under foot first by his own party men and then by others when the town fell to the invaders. A fortnight later
The result of this willing suspension of disbelief is that today the
And who among hiises associates was it that
Within months after
When the Shiekh assumed unbridled power after the invaders were thrown out in mid November 1947, he embarked on a policy of vengeance. He banished most of his opponents who had a say among political circles like Mirwaiz Maulavi Yusuf Shah, the person who had been instrumental in making
The story of the role of local people in October /November 1947 in the erstwhile districts of Baramulla and Muzaffarabd in functioning as guides and informers to the marauder tribesmen has not been told so far. A day will come when researchers will tell this sordid story and expose to the hilt the Goebelian canard of Kashmir secularism orchestrated from
I hope my friend, who had sarcastically asked me the question, will do some self-introspection after going through this piece.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies,
*K.N. Pandita: Born in Baramulla, Kashmir in 1929 did graduation from St. Joseph’s College in Arts with English literature. The tribal raid of October 1947 destroyed his family like hundreds of other Kashmiri Hindu families in Baramulla. |
After doing M.A. from Punjab University, he served as Lecturer in State Degree Colleges and in 1958 earned a scholarship from the Indian Ministry of Education for higher studies at the University of Teheran, Iran. Four years of study and research at the University of Teheran earned him a Ph.D. in Iranian Studies. He joined Kashmir University in 1963 and it’s Centre of Central Asian Studies in 1976. He rose to become Professor and Director of this Centre till his superannuation in 1987. He is not only the first Kashmiri to obtain Ph.D. from Teheran University but is also the first to have worked in close collaboration with a number of Central Asian Academies of Science particularly the Tajik Academy. His travelogue titled My Tajik Friends won him Sovietland Nehru Award 1987.
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