From the series of historic events, it is evident that tribal attack was launched only when Pakistan was satisfied that accession to India would be a fait-accompli. It was the time they knew they will have no opportunity to claim it later
In the recent past some misleading articles have been appearing in media distorting the background and overlooking the treacheries that led an independent nation (though ruled by an autocratic Dogra dynasty) into the lap of a large chauvinistic country dreaming of a mythical "Akhand Bharat". The main intention of these articles has been to lay the blame for Kashmir’s present predicament at the door of tribal invasion of 1947 and by association with Pakistan.
It was with the appointment of Mountbatten as viceroy of India that Congress in association with the top leadership of National Conference planned annexation of Jammu and Kashmir. The favourable inclination of Mountbatten towards Congress played a vital role in this regard. There is ample evidence in this regard in the files of my father Munshi Muhammad Ishaq and also in his memoirs. Munshi Saheb in coordination with other self-exiled leaders including Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad (in Delhi) and GM Sadiq (Lahore) as well as Mohi-ud-din Karra (underground in Srinagar)- was working for the movement launched for liberation of Kashmir. Note that the drivers of Sohan Lal Muree Kashmir Transport Ltd of which Munshi saheb was a director cum shareholder worked as couriers of the correspondence and prescribed literature, for which the RC Kak government suspended its operation, after the commencement of freedom movement and posted a Kashmiri Pandit C.I.T at the Rawalpindi office of the said company where Munshi Sahib was during his self-exile.
Till the appointment of Mountbatten, Bakshi Sahib who was leading the movement outside the
state, seeing no light beyond the dark tunnel, was disappointed and in his letter dated March 7, 1947 wrote to Munshi Sahib, “I have got just now a letter conveying critical condition of Moulvi Sahib (Muhammed Sayeed Masoodi). I had advised them not to go on hunger strike but Moulana was a person not to agree. Curse on the day I came here. If in prison, I would have been comfortable. I don’t know at what inauspicious time this movement was started. Even now the inauspicious time does not end.”
From the outset, Congress was not in agreement with the Quit Kashmir Movement launched by National Conference. To pacify Sheikh Abdullah, Pandit Nehru invited him to Delhi. This in the backdrop of their ongoing negotiations with the Chamber of Princes, to win them over vis a vis the Muslim league. About a month earlier Sheikh Abdullah during a previous visit to Delhi had objected to Nehru’s having accepted the invitation of Nawab of Bhopal, Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes but was told that Congress needed their cooperation against the League. This time however Sheikh Sahib was arrested at Garhi on way to Rawalpindi. Though Congress corresponded with the Dogra regime for release or Sheikh Sahib and his colleagues, yet it did not bear fruit. Henceforth their support was mainly limited to defending Sheikh Saheb in the Trail court for which an eminent panel headed by Barrister Asaf Ali was engaged. The statement given by Sheikh Abdullah before the court in his defense, drafted by Asaf Ali in consultation with Pandit Nehru was at variance with his roaring challenge to the Dogra Raj. The then Congress president, Acharya Kriplani during his visit to Srinagar as government guest, issued a statement criticising the Quit Kashmir Movement. The statement was a setback to the movement and Bakshi Sahib protested to Pandit Nehru and Maulana Azad about it. In Aatesh-i-Chinar, Sheikh Abdullah has revealed that Kriplani delivered Sardar Patel’s letter to the Maharaja and in return he was given a cheque of Rs. 50000. (Refer Aatash-e-Chinar page 273)
Bakshi Sahib talked to Pandit Nehru, seeking his support to the movement, as revealed in his letter of March 20,1947 and I quote, “I talked to Panditji, He said with the appointment of new viceroy (Mountbatten), things will change.” Of course things changed and changed in favour of Congress, as is borne by the fast changing developments following Mountbatten’s appointment. The tide of events turned in June, 1947 following the announcement of British government to transfer power with the division of India. Congress, in collusion with Mountbatten became active in their efforts to grab Kashmir. I quote from Bakshi Saheb’s letter of 3rd June, “Nehru and Azad met Ghandiji and stressed on the need to do something for Kashmir, for if the matter was taken lightly there is a risk of losing Kashmir. Gandhi ji announced his intention to visit Kashmir in his Prathna Sabha. Announcement about Hindustan and Pakistan was made today. What we should do is a complicated and perplexed issue? We have written a detailed letter to Sheikh Sahib and are waiting for his reply. Kak has come here (Delhi) today in connection with the Constituent assembly and is trying to meet Patel and Rajendra Prasad. During Kak’s tenure there is no hope of settlement. With today’s announcement the govt. (J&K govt.) may also be thinking of accession to India or Pakistan or independence. Inshallah success will be ours. All are tired. How long can we continue this movement? Panditji has advised us to wait till June,15.”
Bakshi’s letter of June 6 is equally revealing. Here is an extract.
"Panditji was prepared to go to Kashmir, but Gandhi ji restrained him saying that he would go himself. Kak tried to prevent Gandhiji’s visit but failed. Here is happy news. Viceroy called Kak on June 4, reprimanded him and warned him to set right the affairs in Kashmir immediately. Gandhiji met viceroy yesterday. Viceroy advised him not to go to Kashmir for the present, as he will himself go there to set things right. Viceroy who has been pressurized, is keen to please Gandhiji and Nehru in his own interest. You may inform Mohi-ud-din but tell him to keep it a secret. All this has been possible with the efforts of Kuchroo Sahib (D N Kachroo, private secretary to Pandit Nehru). He and Bamzai Sahib convey salam to you.” Mountbatten’s interest as specified in this letter was obviously his desire to be the first governor general of free India.
Bakshi Sahib’s letter of June 17 conveyed that the viceroy would visit Kashmir on June 18 and Gandhiji would go after his return. On June 24, Bakshi Sahib wrote, “On Pandit Ji’s advice I informed Mohi-ud-din to suspend the movement, but Sheikh Sahib desires to continue it. I am in a fix what to do though in changed circumstances I agree with Pandit Ji.” Changed circumstances are indicative of the success of Viceroy’s dual mission, namely, removal of RC Kak considered as a road block by Bakshi Sahib and the advice of Nehru and Azad to do something for Kashmir, lest it is lost to India.
With the viceroy having paved the way for Gandhiji’s visit, the requisite steps for the ultimate goal of accession to India were taken. Kak was dismissed in humiliation and succeeded by interim Prime Minister, Thaker Janak Singh (Maharaja’s maternal uncle) till Merhar Chand Mahaja, nominee of Nehru and Patel was appointed on contract for a period of five years. Pertinently Mahajan was present when Sheikh Abdullah, while detained in special jail of Badami Bagh Cantt was given audience by Maharaja after having sent him a letter of loyalty. During the audience Maharaja while discussing terms of appointment as Prime Minister gave a clear signal to Sher-i-Kashmir to forget the dream of responsible government under the aegis of Maharaja. Sheikh Abdullah was required to pay a few gold coins as customary nazrana, a proof of loyalty to the ruling family. It is interesting to note that a Kashmiri Pandit bureaucrat Sham Lal Dhar, a rival of R C Kak, was present on the occasion paid the gold coins to Sheikh Abdullah (Refer Aatish-e-Chinar page 276). I was told by his close kin that he was mediating through Bakshi Sahib during Quit Kashmir Movement and he was appointed to a plum post by government of India after retirement from state service. With advantage I would refer to an article of Virender, editor Daily Pratap, Jullander reproduced in "Sach" Jammu in its issue dated December 28, 1989. In the said article it is mentioned that Nehru and Patel recommended Mahajan’s appointment in the context of his successful pleadings before Redcliff Tribunal resulting in award of Tehsil Gurdaspur to India which provided the crucial link road between Kashmir and India. Besides it was thought that Mahajan was competent enough to tackle the explosive situation of the state following the birth of Pakistan and he could also persuade the Maharaja who was dreaming of independent state to change his mindset in favor of India.
Mountbatten’s role favouring India was evident from his statement before his visit to Kashmir in which he opined the division of Gurdaspur and some districts of Bengal. Let me also quote from “Pakistan Eye, of The Storm” authored by Owen Bunnet (BBC correspondent in Pakistan);
“ Of far greater importance is another Muslim majority district Gurdaspur, which provided the only link between India and Kashmir, if it were to be awarded to Pakistan it would be difficult to see how the Maharaja could opt for India. Mountbatten was certainly aware of Gurdaspurs strategic importance. In June 1947 before visiting Kashmir he publicly raised the possibility that despite the Muslim majority, Gurdaspur could be awarded to India and if that happened Maharaja’s option regarding future status of Kashmir would be kept open”.
The said author has also referred to the account published by Redcliff’s private secretary Christopher Beamount in the year 1989 disclosing that, "Redcliff had decided to allot the Ferozpur to Pakistan and advised Punjab governor, Sir Evans Jenkins, to make necessary security arrangements. This came to light in the war 1948 when Pakistan government found the map in a safe of the governor.”
Sheikh Abdullah while in jail in 1947 had already ruled out independence because in his view, despite partition of India there existed in India parties and individuals with a political ideology congruent to that of National Conference, (Refer Aatish-i-Chinar page 270).Sheikh Abdullah in a letter to the National Conference leader of Udhampur, Moti Ram Baigra from Bhaderwah jail after the announcement of independence along with birth of Pakistan conveyed that he did not at all think of joining Pakistan. Thereafter M R Baigra accompanied by some close associates of Sheikh Abdullah along with D P Dhar who in words of Sheikh Abdullah as recorded in Aatish-i-Chinar, was an agent of India right from 1947, met him in the said jail. Sheikh Abdullah reiterating his option for accession to India asked Baigra Sahib to advise Dogra Sabha to persuade Maharaja to make unconditional accession to India. Beg Sahib and Pt Kashyap Bandhu co-prisoners’ were also present. Baigra Sahib made a disclosure of it in a broadcast from Radio Jammu. (Refer my article lessons from the past Greater Kashmir Dated May 30, 2001). Sheikh Abdullah recorded in Aatish-i-Chinar that he stood steadily for accession to India (refer Aatish-i-Chinar second Edition page 385). Despite the fact that Plebiscite Front was set up by Mirza Afzal Beg in consultation with him and it was fully controlled by his family but he did not become even its primary member obviously to keep doors open for compromising the demand of plebiscite. He was not averse to the confabulations with the representatives of Congress who met him during his imprisonment but Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad was a road block till Sadiq government came in power. During his brief freedom from jail in 1958 Mrs Vijay Lakshmi Pandit came to Srinagar and Pt. Kasdhap Bandhu was mediating between her and Sheikh Sahib. On the day she was invited to dinner by Sheikh Sahib. Bakshi Sahib got him rearrested without the knowledge of P L Nehru. This was disclosed by Bhandu Ji after his arrest to Munshi sahib in Central jail Srinagar. Sheikh Sahib has completely ignored Plebiscite Front in Aatash-i-Chinar which led to strongest political struggle for more than two decades, but unfortunately called “awargardi” by its founder and buried unceremoniously.
Sheikh Sahib’s anxiety for accession to India and arrival of Indian army is exposed by Indra Gandhi in her address to Parliament on March 3, 1975. Here is an extract from Kashmir Samjota page 13 printed at Indraprastha (CBT) New Delhi 110001 – April 16 "During the meeting Government of India was considering our views and future action in this matter (accession of Kashmir). Being mentally tense I stood outside the door waiting for the decision so that Indian army could be sent. In the evening Sheikh Abdullah phoned me at least twice pressing for immediate decisions so that Indian army could be sent".
Sheikh Abdullah’s Speech on the day of his release from jail at Hazuri Bagh gave ample indication of his mindset towards accession to India. He visualized the market for Kashmiri handicrafts in India “land of baniyas” and not in “the land of Pathan Tongawalas”. He observed that in taking a decision about the accession care has to be taken of Kashmiri Pandits who are like “beacon of light guiding the ships in the sea”. His slogan for Azadi before accession was a camouflage for local consumption as conveyed to Pandit Nehru by his private secretary who was sent to Srinagar to get clarification from Sheikh Abdullah. Kachroo in a detailed letter stated that Sheikh Abdullah informed him that National Conference has taken a decision for accession to India and it would be announced at the appropriate time. In his speech Sheikh Abdullah praised Congress for the so-called support to the Quit Kashmir Movement and condemned Muslim League for the statement of Qaid-i-Azadi who condemned Maharaja’s government for tyrannizing the people for the agitation launched by some gonads. The remark was not off the mark considering the role of National Conference government after 1947. Sheikh Abdullah has himself referred to the Peace Brigade, a group of gonads and world notorious interrogation centre (torture cell), in his autobiography “Aatish-i-Chinar.” He has, however, blamed Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad and condemned its operation to post August 9 Bakshi regime though it was set up soon after accession in Sheikh Abdullah’s government when it was meant to torture Pro-Pakistan elements.
A word about the cause and timing of the tribal attack
The facts narrated above leave no scope to doubt that the preparation for accession to India was complete and its announcement was expected any time. Besides Maharaja’s government in collaboration with the RSS planned anti-Muslim riots for which the army had provided arms and ammunition. On the other hand Muslims were required to deposit even licensed guns with police stations. The military launched reign of terror in Poonch and its neighbouring areas leading to armed revolt by Muslims in defence. Sheikh Abdullah confirmed it in his statement to the media at Delhi and in his speeches in Srinagar on return from Delhi and advised Muslims to retain the licensed arms for self-defense. (Refer also Aatish-i-Chinar second edition page 285). Huge stocks of arms were seized at Lal Chowk and Batwara octroi post from non-Muslims fleeing from the valley following the tribal attack. But for this attack the fate of Muslims of Kashmir would not have been different than that of Jammu Muslims, including those who deceptively were loaded in the vehicles to be taken to Pakistan but slaughtered at Sambha on the day following the day on which Sardar Patel and Maharaja Patiala visited Jammu to have parleys with Maharaja and most unfortunately when Sheikh Abdullah was heading the emergency administration. As a matter of fact National Conference got the power consequent to tribal attack forcing the Maharaja to flee from the capital in dead of night. It may not be out of place to mention that Mehar Chand Mahajan Prime Minister was offering two berths in his cabinet to him and Mirza Afzal Beg during the course of negotiations between Maharaja and Pt Lal Kilam on behalf of Sheikh Abdujlah but the negotiations came to an abrupt end on infiltration of tribals. This is contained in the Mulkh Raj Mahajan’s “My fifty years in Journalism”. National Conference workers standing on two sides of the road at Amira Kadal had welcomed the Maharaja on his way to Rajgarh to participate in Dussehera celebrations on the day preceding the night of his flight from the capital. Was it a demonstration of the National Conference loyalty to the royal family already assured him by Sheikh Sahib?
Despite the unambiguous mindset of Sheikh Abdullah, Pakistan government deputed a delegation including his friend Dr M.D Tasir, a former principal of S.P College and Khawja Abdul Rahim, Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi, both of Kashmiri descent, inviting him to visit Pakistan. Munshi sahib had gone to Rawalpindi in October to represent the case of his company to allow its operation which had been suspended by Ram Chand Kak during Quit Kashmir Movement. He witnessed war like preparations across Kohala Bridge. Poonch was burning and was a victim of loot and arson. People from Punjab were infiltrating in Poonch participating in the operation. Pakistan army with vehicles fitted with wireless sets were watching the operation across Jehlum river. An officer of Pakistan government holding camp office at Kohala Dak bungalow was watching the movement of people from and into Kashmir. He detained Munshi Sahib to enquire about the events in Kashmir and expressed anguish over Sheikh Abdullah’s Hazuri Bagh speech as reported in Khidmat. The transport authority at Rawalpindi also expressing resentment about Sheikh Abdullah’s speech assured Munshi sahib to allow movement of the vehicles of his company subject to some conditions requesting him to return to Srinagar to persuade Sheikh Abdullah to make a positive response to the Pakistani delegation which had left for Srinagar to meet Sheikh Abdullah. Munshi sahib was aware of the decision about the tribal attack on Kashmir through a friend who was president Rawalpindi district Muslim League. This decision had been taken one day earlier by a conference presided over by Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan and attended by the Chief Ministers of Punjab and NWFP besides Pir Manky Sharief and twenty tribal Sardars. Munshi Sahib who was well known for his association with National Conference was advised by some friends to return to Kashmir as there was a risk to his life. On his return he had to stay for the night at Kohala as the Kohala bridge had been closed for the night. In the mean time British Resident in Kashmir traveling from Srinagar and accompanied by three busses carrying European students of missionary schools in Kashmir during a brief respite at Dak bungalow told the said Pakastani officer in presence of Munshi Sahib about a catastrophe befalling in the Maharaja’s government soon. The said officer hosted Munshi Sahib as a guest for the night and showed a number of files containing religion wise particulars of the population from Kohala to Srinagar and other information and wanted to confirm their accuracy.
Munshi Sahib on reaching Srinagar directly went to Soura to call on Sheikh Abdullah who along with Sadiq Sahib was confabulating with Pakastani delegation which assured him of autonomous status for Kashmir and invited him to Pakistan for final settlement. Sheikh Sahib’s response was lukewarm. He however agreed to visit Pakistan after his prior visit to Delhi and in the meanwhile would send Sadiq Sahib to Pakistan. Munshi sahib talked to Sheikh Sahib in seclusion and apprised him of the explosive situation beyond Kohala and advised him to make a positive response to the delegation. Here is Sheikh Sahib’s reaction which exposes his mindset as recorded in his memoirs.
“What can I do? I had requested the Maharaja to allow me to form the government even if he would hand over law and order portfolio to his own man Thakur Baldev Singh. We could take steps to defend the border. He depends on the advice of his sangees.” Disappointed Munshi Sahib left for home.
Sheikh Abdullah went to Delhi to meet his friend Pt. Nehru and Sadiq sahib went to Lahore to talk to Pakistani leaders. Sadiq Sahib, who as a member of all India Communist Party, towed their line of action to India and played a dubious role. After having talks with Pakistani leaders including Liaqat Ali Khan at Lahore he did not return to Srinagar as wrongly recorded in Aatish-i-Chinar but flew to Delhi and met Sheikh Abdullah at the official residence of his host, Pt. Nehru. Sadiq Sahib talked to Sheikh Abdullah in Nehru’s presence conveying to him that Pakistani government assured to take over only defense, foreign affairs and communication and to give autonomy to the state in addition to representation in central government and foreign services, while also consulting the state government in foreign policy. The letter of invitation to Sheikh Abdullah to meet Qaid-i-Azam in Pakistan at a place convenient to him was passed on by Sheikh Abdullah to Nehru who in the words of Sadiq Sahib in his interview to an eminent journalist-cum-historian Rashid Tasir in the year 1967 stated that “I am sure that Pandit Ji on reading this letter of invitation took much more interest in Kashmir” (For Sadiq Sahibs interview refer to Tahrik-i-Huryat-i-Kashmir 1946-1949 vol.3 by Rashid Tasir page 274-275). Sadiq Sahib and other leaders were tight lipped about the contents of negotiations at Lahore. On the other hand it was propagated that Sadiq Sahib was conveyed a massage of Mr. Jinnah “that he would not be given audience unless he become a Muslim” Sadiq sahib denied it in the said interview.
From the series of historic events narrated above tribal attack was launched only when Pakistan was satisfied that accession to India would be a fait-accompli, having no opportunity to claim it later. Thanks to the Mujahdeen of Poonch who led the armed freedom struggle and one of the stalwarts of the freedom struggle, Khawja Ghulam Nabi Gilkar who with his assumed name of “Tariq” founded Azad Kashmir government. This region has been the launching base of our freedom struggle and has accommodated more than a million refugees forced to migrate since 1947. More revelations would follow Inshallah.