And accession was ratified

Abdul Gani Goni’s address evoked heated discussion in the Constituent Assembly on February 5 and 6, 1954. The members took serious note of Goni’s apprehensions and did not even spare the Naya (New) Kashmir concept which had to form the basis of the state’s constitution. Goni finally walked out of the house much to the comfort of the members.  He vehemently opposed the motion (ratification of accession).

After presenting his note of dissent, Goni in response to a comment made by a member said the reports presented in the house not only are against the principles of New Kashmir but they also smack of Indian imperialist mentality. We are handing everything to the Indian union.” (SIC, JK Constituent Assembly Official report, Vol 1, page 739).
 Goni also reminded the house of the speech of the head of Indian delegation in UN, BN Rau who while addressing the Security Council on March 29, 1951 said: “Some of the members of the Security Council fear lest the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir may give its opinion on the accession question. If the assembly wishes to give its opinion on this subject, it can do so, but this opinion of the assembly can neither be a binding on government of India nor can it be a binding on the Security Council ….”

“Let us withdraw the Indian army for five days and see whom this house represents”, Goni said. His long speech, made no difference. At one point of time he said: “It seems the members are here to nod their heads only.”

The way the members behaved in the house reflected their desperation viz-a-viz urgency of the task assigned to them. The cat was finally out of the bag and the `honourable’ members did not mind it. This day there was no need to conceal the baggage they had been carrying for long. It lay there totally exposed on the floor of the house.

The members debated the issue and in the process severely criticised personalities ranging from Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. The Prime Minister, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad in his concluding address quoted statements of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg to justify ratification of accession. He said: “Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was very generous in the matter of giving statements and would issue not les than a thousand in a year. In this way he should have issued some six thousand statements during the six years of this office and if I take even a single minute for a statement I would require six thousand minutes for the task. So I would briefly quote a few statements of his.” (SIC)

Bakshi quoted the statement of April 12, 1952. It reads: “The decision of the people of Kashmir to accede to India was irrevocable. Under no circumstances would Kashmir lower the Gandhian flag of secular democracy.”

Regarding Pakistan he (Sheikh Abdullah) said: “In Pakistan for instance, communalism was being openly encouraged and every opportunity taken to exploit it in Kashmir. In India the Nehru government was determined to put down communalism in every shape and form. Kashmir, which four years ago spontaneously threw its lot with India and identified itself with the secular character of that country could strengthen its bonds only if she acted prudently and took the realities of the situation into consideration.”   

Bakshi also quoted a statement of Beg published in Hindustan Times on April 17, 1952. The statement read: “If Kashmir had gone to Pakistan the voice of `New Kashmir’ would have been strangled. Kashmir today represents not a mere territory of natural beauty. She represents a progressive movement which is directed for the common people’s good. If Kashmir acceded to Pakistan, this great movement would have received a set back for all time to come.  The soul of Kashmir would have been crushed.”

Bakshi also spoke about `sufferings of the people of Azad Kashmir under the feudal yoke’. He concluded his speech by saying: “Today is a day of fulfilment for all-a day when we finally and triumphantly assert our right to decide our own future, free from threats of force and outside dictation.”

This was followed by the speech of Syed Mir Qasim, the president of the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Committees.  He requested the house to adapt the report of the committee minus Goni’s dissent note. This was seconded by R P Saraf.  A volley of questions was posed to Abdul Gani Goni. He left the house. Soon after amid thundering applause from the members, the house adapted the motion and thus ratified the accession.

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