Folklore has it that Jawaharlal Nehru had stopped the Indian Army that was on “hot pursuit” of Pakistan/Pashtun invaders who were supposedly “on the run”. He later decided to hand over the matter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Indians themselves insist that Nehru’s decision of “referring Kashmir to UNSC” had voided the Instrument of Accession that was signed by the Maharaja Hari Singh and that Kashmir is now under the control of the United Nations. Nehru promised plebiscite and self-determination to Kashmiris that would enable Kashmir to separate from India. Recently, Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy has stated recently that Jawaharlal Nehru snatched away Kashmir from Patel’s hands and did not want to share with anybody.
Peace process always continues a parallel track while wars rage on. There was nothing wrong with referring Kashmir issue to the United Nations! And, it was neither Nehru’s whimsical decision nor Mountbatten’s mischief as claimed. The decision was taken by the cabinet which included leaders like BR Ambedkar, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Baldev Singh (Defense Minister). The claims that Nehru referred Kashmir to UN without informing Patel or over Patel’s protests have no foundations in fact. Patel’s trusted lieutenant VP Menon never cited any such disagreement and was, in fact, defensive of the decision. VP Menon mentions a series of meetings between Jinnah-Mountbatten and Liaquat Ali-Nehru where Pakistan went from denial of any knowledge to defiance to avoidance altogether, after which India had no alternative but seek external help to stop aggression.
The insinuations like nobody in the cabinet other than Sardar Patel had any opinion on that matter is insulting the intelligence and integrity of others like Law Minister Dr BR Ambedkar who should have known more about the international law than Sardar Patel. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee left the cabinet on the flimsy excuse that Nehru and Liaquat Ali decided to setup Minority Commissions in respective countries. In that case, why was Mookerjee quiet when Kashmir issue was referred to the UN.
Jawaharlal Nehru was assisted by able minister Gopalaswami Ayyangar who served as Minister for States after Patel’s death. Ayyangar knew Kashmir lot more than Sardar Patel did. To claim Nehru kept Kashmir all to himself is either ignorance of that fact or unwillingness to accept Ayyangar’s existence. Would Tathagata Roy resort to such contempt if Ayyangar was a Bengali, Gujarati or a Punjabi?
Claims of Nehru “ internationalising Kashmir” and that Kashmir is now in the hands of United Nations constitute a betrayal of the country. UNSC has no jurisdiction over territorial claims because that would be the domain of the International Court of Justice! VK Krishna Menon, then hailed as the Hero of Kashmir, very successfully convinced the world that Kashmir is an integral part of India because of the treaty signed by Maharaja Hari Singh and that nothing changed since then. But, many people in India refuse to be convinced. What could possibly be wrong with Nehru asking the UN to force Pakistan to vacate Kashmir when the Indian Army had failed, despite their best effort? Lal Bahadur Shastri retook UN help in 1965 to address the Kashmir issue.
BJP repeatedly claims that Sardar Patel could have solved the “Kashmir Problem”! Apart from Patel trying to give away Kashmir to Pakistan, nobody rationally explains what he would do differently or how could his actions possibly change the course of history in India’s favour!
But more fundamentally, what is the Kashmir Problem? Nobody in India can articulate! Is it Pakistan occupying parts of Kashmir? Is it exodus of Hindus from the valley? Is it the Jammu versus Kashmir divide? Is it the demand for self-determination and autonomy? Is it the stone pelting? The current Kashmir problem started in 1989, more than 25 years after Nehru’s death. Until then Hindus lived happily in the valley and were even demanding self-determination and autonomy themselves! The events of 1947 have nothing to do with the happenings of the modern day. In 1947 when communal riots ravaged entire India, especially the border states, not a single riot took place in the Kashmir Valley.
Kashmir is in India because of Nehru and Nehru alone. Thank god Nehru snatched it away from Patel! But if BJP thinks Nehru committed a blunder, they may undo it and hand Kashmir over to Pakistan. This can certainly be discussed in Parliament, and all those who feel betrayed by Nehru should be happy to support such a bill. Pakistan and India now have a common enemy: Jawaharlal Nehru! Pakistan which was never happy with Nehru taking away Kashmir will probably be grateful and will become our greatest friend instead of the worst enemy!
On September 12, 1947, Sardar Patel wrote to Baldev Singh that he would have no qualms if Kashmir went to Pakistan. In August 1947 at Amritsar, Sardar Patel appealed to Pakistan to take Kashmir but leave Hyderabad. Thanks to Nehru, we have both! VP Menon writes that Sardar Patel sent a personal message in June 1947 through Governor General Mountbatten to Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir that India would not take offence if Maharaja decided to merge with Pakistan. Patel also encouraged the Maharaja to take his time to make his decision even though August 15, 1947, was the deadline set by Mountbatten. Sardar Patel enforced the deadline on the other Princely States but not Kashmir!
If Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession before August 15, there would be no Pakistan to send raiders, and the international border (Radcliff Line) would include entire kingdom in India. The raiders who were from Afghanistan had crossed the international border (Durand Line) only because the British Indian Army withdrew on August 15th. VP Menon wrote that Ministry of States had way too much work with rest of the 550 Princely States that had already signed accession treaty and hence had no time for Kashmir. This argument is not to blame Sardar Patel. It is easy to find faults 70 years later without any comprehension of the milieu. But what do Indians gain by turning this around and smearing Nehru who gave them Kashmir against many odds?
Kashmir war started in October 1947 and continued for 14 months until January 1949. That would be three times longer than all other wars since put together. Many times during those 14 months Nehru grew impatient and spoke of picking up a gun and fighting Pakistani army himself. India referred the matter to UNSC on December 31, 1947, but continued to fight the war. Nehru neither stopped the army, nor did he declare any ceasefire. Quite to the contrary, Nehru had personally visited the garrison in Poonch which was contemplating withdrawal because it came under intense attack. Nehru reminded the garrison of their duty to protect the civilians who bravely stayed in their homes laying trust in India and urged the army not to betray their trust. Many crucial battles from Limbar Nallah to Drass Valley took place in 1948 after India referred Kashmir to the UN.
UN Resolution asked Pakistan to vacate occupied areas of the kingdom so that India could hold the plebiscite. Jinnah and Liaquat Ali knew that India would win the Plebiscite hands down between the popularity of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah and hence refused to comply with UN. Even to this day, Pakistan wants India to hold Plebiscite within the areas held by India but never agrees to vacate PoK, Gilgit or Baltistan! Pakistan’s arguments are based on their national interest. But why do Indians, especially those who now run the country, help perpetuate Pakistan’s false arguments and give ammunition to destabilising forces in Kashmir? The answer is simple: To drag Jawaharlal Nehru through mud, no matter what the consequences to the nation!
LP Sen in his book “Slender Was the Thread” writes that the war ended into a stalemate by September 1948 and that not even an inch could exchange hands along PoK without heavy causalities. If anybody visited the current Line of Control in December/January, it would become obvious that neither could anybody “run” nor could anybody “hotly pursue” in the snow-covered mountains and valleys.
Nehru promised self-determination not only to Kashmir, but also the entire nation. He delivered this promise by January 1950 through the new Constitution. Before 1947 India was partly under colonial rule while the rest of the country was under the feudal control of monarchs who pledged allegiance to the colonial rulers. Elections were held in 1952 in all states, including Jammu and Kashmir, and MPs/MLAs were elected. This representative democracy was what Nehru promised as opposed to dictatorial rules by Maharajas, Nawabs, Governors and Governor Generals. Jawaharlal Nehru never promised a separate country for Kashmir, and that was not the self-determination he ever promised anybody.
There are even sillier claims that “iron-man” Sardar Patel sent the Army to Kashmir. If Army really went to Kashmir on orders of Sardar Patel, why would they stop their “hot pursuit” on Nehru’s order? Why didn’t Patel overrule Nehru again and order the Army continue their hot pursuit?
Sardar Patel had no more military experience than Nehru. PM Narendra Modi’s claim that “entire Kashmir would be ours” if Sardar Patel were the PM is neither factual nor rational. If Nehru was indeed incompetent, why not Modiji himself launch a full-scale war instead of just Surgical Strikes, and fulfil the vision of Sardar Patel? That would be far more fitting tribute than building statues and giving money to China so that China can build an economic corridor through PoK! Else 70 years from now, someone else will stand up in Parliament and wonder how great the country would be if Nitin Gadkari became PM instead of Modi in 2014. Did any BJP or any non-Congress or any non-Nehru-Gandhi government ever add a single inch to our territory? When Pakistan was not shy about crossing LoC in 1965 and 1999, why not India prove once and for all?