‘India and Pakistan always forced their will on Kashmir’

Rising Kashmir
July 21, 2014
•    ‘I have never accepted accession to India. I’m a person from Kashmir, a free country’

Sheikh Nazir Ahmad, cousin of National Conference President Farooq Abdullah is the oldest stalwart of Abdullah family. A lawyer by profession, Nazir was until recently the General Secretary of NC and made important decisions of the party. He has remained very close to NC founder Late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and looked after the party affairs for many decades. While he has played an important role in making the NC governments in the state which obviously were formed under the Indian system, he himself always cursed New Delhi and its leaders. A firebrand leader, who chose to remain single, Nazir is not keeping good health of late. In his first-ever detailed interview to any newspaper in recent times he spoke to Rising Kashmir, about the betrayals and broken promises on Kashmir. Here is the first of the two-part interview:

Why did Sheikh Abdullah endorse 1975 accord after struggling for a long time?

Was Maharaja Hari Singh competent to sign accession to India? No. That is exactly what our autonomy report says. We have always said 1953 position of Kashmir be restored and settle the issue with Pakistan forever, be it ceasefire line, or the Line of Control. The situation in Pakistan had deteriorated after Dacca (Dhaka) fallout. One should read the 1975 accord against this background. Even government in Delhi wanted Kashmir issue be resolved amicably, once and for all. The accord is all about restoring pre-1953 status of Kashmir. An amicable solution to Kashmir issue is the bedrock of the accord. Kashmir Conspiracy Case had been registered against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and his cadres. New Delhi spent almost Rs 5 crore at that time but couldn’t prove the case against Sheikh Sahab. When they arrested Sheikh Sahab, he was kept in a PWD warehouse that was converted into a special jail. When (Jawaharlal) Nehru suffered a heart attack toward the end of his life, he realised that they had misunderstood Kashmiris. He freed and called Sheikh Sahab to Delhi were he apologized to him. Both were good friends since British Raj. Such was the equation between them that Sheikh used to call him Jawharlal. In Delhi, Nehru said to him that he wanted to settle Kashmir issue before his death and asked Sheikh to travel to Pakistan. When Sheikh visited Pakistan, he motivated President Ayub Khan to come to New Delhi for talks.  However, the sudden death of Nehru shattered everything.

What are your views on accession to India?

Maharaja Hari Singh did not accede to either of the dominions. It was only when Pakistan raiders attacked Kashmir that he signed a conditional accession to India. Accession with India was clearly on three points – defense, communication and foreign affairs. Hari Singh did not ask India for military help. First, he requested it from Maharaja of Patiala, then from Maharaja of Gawalior. Both were his close friends. Although Maharaja of Patiala did send some troops known as Patiala Tigers, who were known for their well built and height, Pakistani raiders killed them all. Hari Singh was in his palace when V P Menon came to meet him. Menon offered him military support on condition that he should first join the India dominion. He did that but the accession was conditional. Then on October 27, 1947, Indian Army landed in Kashmir.

So, do you believe in accession to India?

I have never accepted accession to India. I have never taken an oath anywhere. I have never accepted India’s supremacy. I’m a person from Kashmir, a free country. India and Pakistan have always forced their will on Kashmir. Had Pakistan not attacked Kashmir in 1947, we would have been an independent country.

Why have you never applied for a passport?

I have never accepted Indian passport. When Sheikh Sahib had to visit Iraq, he wanted to take me along but I told him that I don’t have a passport nor am I going to have one till I die. But yes, I’m a Kashmiri and my nationality is Kashmiri not an Indian. Yes, I am contributing in whichever manner I can. Babe-e-Quom (Sheikh Abdullah) always referred to Kashmir as nation, never as Riyasat (State) because we were a very strong independent country. We have been occupied since Mughal period, and the occupation is still continuing till date. We defeated Akbar almost 17 times before he made inroads into Kashmir. We were a great nation. We were a great people of an independent country called Kashmir. I believe we should be given a free hand for running our own affairs. We have always said it to Indians. As far as Pakistan is concerned, had it not invaded us, our condition would have been different altogether. We would have emerged as an independent country had Pakistan not mingled with our affairs in 1947. Our actual struggle is for what Nehru promised to Babe-e-Quom at Lal Chowk in front of lakhs of people and New Delhi should fulfill those promises.

Had there been no accession, what would have been the fate of Kashmir?

It was Maharaja Hari Singh who accessed to India. There is a wrong notion among people that Sheikh Sahab did. Who got Indian Army to Kashmir? Maharaja did. He had no authority either to go for accession or get the Indian Army to Kashmir. We had our own freedom movement in Kashmir. What was the need for Pakistan to invade our country?  Had Maharaja not acceded to India we would have our own separate independent country. After coming to Kashmir, these liberating forces became occupiers of our land. They have occupied us. So we are a colony of India. They do whatever they want to do with us.

On the one hand you talk of the rights of Kashmiris. On the other hand your government ruthlessly suppresses peaceful processions?

It is not us but the troops of Government of India like paramilitary forces, which is responsible for it.

Isn’t the State government also responsible?

Yes, it is. However, the maximum damage to the lives or property is done by paramilitary forces. Our police is a disciplined force. They do not do anything without the orders of magistrate. They do not fire at protesters directly on head and chest as paramilitary forces do. Paramilitary forces have every law at their disposal like the AFPSA and other draconian laws. (Second part of the interview will be carried in tomorrow’s edition)