Any claims that “Pandit Nehru declared a ceasefire when Indian forces were chasing out Pakistan tribals from Kashmir” have no foundations in fact. It will be easy to see-through such misinformation if one simply follows the timeline, even if one has no knowledge of Indian history. The quick response from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, his cabinet ministers and ex-CM Digvijay Singh to dismiss BJP National Vice-President Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s statements is admirable, given the decades of Congress’ track record of looking the other way.
Incidentally, Mr Chouhan never explains why Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not allow the Indian Air Force nor the Indian Army to cross the Line of Control in 1999, while Pakistan had no qualms doing so. Instead of declaring ceasefire himself, Vajpayee could have continued the war and occupied the rest of 1/3 of Kashmir which Nehru supposedly failed to occupy!
This claim made by Mr Chouhan can be found as far back as Acharya JB Kriplani’s biography My Times and VP Menon’s book Integration of Indian States. In their defense, neither Kriplani nor VP Menon claim any firsthand knowledge but quote unnamed army sources, which could just be somebody bragging. While Mr Kriplani was never in the government, VP Menon admits that he was not involved in Kashmir affairs after January 1948.
Despite the benefit of a 72-year hindsight, our experts are seemingly unaware that Ceasefire and Referral to United Nations (UN) were separated by a whole year! In his book Integration of Indian States, VP Menon dates India referring the matter to UN as December 31 1947 while the ceasefire was declared a year later in January 1949. As the matter was being debated in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the war continued unabated.
In fact, the war continued for 8 months even after UNSC Resolution 47 was passed in April 1948! The Kashmir war started in October 1947 and continued for a total of 14 months, which would be three times longer than all other wars since put together. Further, contrary to Mr Chouhan’s claim, it was a “bilateral” ceasefire and not “unilateral.” The ceasefire declared by Vajpayee government in 1999 on the other hand was “unilateral.”
Incidentally, the annexation of Hyderabad happened in the intervening period, September 1948. Contrary to popular claims, Nehru’s hesitation to act on Hyderabad was due to this more urgent and ongoing war in Kashmir.
Even after sending representation to the UNSC, Nehru’s government had continued to execute 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 in early 1948 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 summer and autumn of 1948, well after India referred Kashmir to the UN. Then a Brigadier LP Sen who defended Srinagar in 1947 writes (in his book Slender Was The Thread) that the war was a stalemate by September 1948 and that not even an inch could exchange hands along PoK without heavy causalities. Far from stopping the army, many times during this period Nehru reportedly grew impatient and spoke of picking up a gun and fighting the Pakistani army himself.
Mr Chouhan claims that if Nehru waited for few more days before declaring ceasefire, entire Kashmir would become India’s. Such claims were made by others earlier on behalf of General KM Cariappa while the time-frame which Cariappa had supposedly sought ranges from 24 hours to 3 weeks. These claims however reflect ignorance of the geography of Kashmir and weather conditions, on part of likes of Mr Chouhan.
If anybody visited the current Line of Control (LoC) in winter (December/January), it would become obvious that no war nor movement of troops could take place in that time-frame in the snow-covered mountains, ravines and valleys. In later years armies in fact withdrew from certain areas well before winter, which in fact precipitated the 1999 Kargil War. Any suggestion that entire Kashmir would be ours if Nehru allowed General Cariappa 3 more weeks, let alone 24 hours in January 1949 is laughable!
Peace processes always run a parallel track while wars rage on. There was nothing wrong with involving the United Nations! It was neither Nehru’s whimsical decision nor Mountbatten’s mischief as claimed. The decision was taken by the cabinet which included not only Sardar Patel but BR Ambedkar, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Sardar Baldev Singh (Defense Minister). To put things in perspective Junagarh, Hyderabad and Goa have all been referred to UNSC by their erstwhile rulers. That did not make any of these territories “disputed.”
The claims that Nehru referred Kashmir to UN without informing Patel or over Patel’s protests have no foundations in fact. The insinuations that 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 and Baldev Singh who was responsible for executing the war.
Patel’s trusted lieutenant VP Menon never cited any such disagreement. VP Menon was, in fact, defensive of the decision. 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. Faced with a faceless enemy, India had no alternative but seek external help to pressure Pakistan and thus stop atrocities on innocent civilians in Kashmir, according to VP Menon.
All the successive Prime Ministers from Lal Bahadur Shastri to Narendra Modi have gone to the same UNSC over the same Kashmir issue from 1965 war to recent Pulwama attack. Yet amazingly, nobody sees the irony when BJP blames Nehru for going to UNSC!
The current Kashmir problem started in 1989, more than 25 years after Nehru’s death. Those that know about Indira Gandhi’s tenure know that Kashmiri Hindus from DP Dhar to PN Haksar to ML Fotedar controlled not just Kashmir but entire India! Until the early 1990s, Hindus lived happily in the valley and were even demanding self-determination and autonomy themselves! The events of the Nehruvian era 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.