Kashmir: Myths of `accession’ and `aggression’

India’s view of disputed Kashmir is based on myths. They include `Pakistan’s aggression through Army regulars and tribal forces’, `Maharaja Hari Singh duly signed the treaty of accession with the Indian Dominion on 26 October 1947’, and so on. As for `accession instrument’, curious readers may refer to Alastair Lamb’s Incomplete Partition, Kashmir – A disputed legacy 1846-1990, and Birth of a Tragedy; besides, Bhasin’s India and Pakistan: Neighbours at Odds ( Bloomsbury, New Delhi, 2018), 10-volume documentary study of India-Pakistan Relations 1947-2007. It contains 3649 official documents, accessed from archives of India’s external-affairs ministry. Also, Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Department of Culture, Government of India.

Who was the `aggressor’: The factual position is that India marched its troops into Kashmir without Maharajah’s permission _ an act of aggression. Historian Alastair Lamb, in his book Incomplete Partition (Chapter VI: The Accession Crisis, pp. 149-151) points out that Mountbatten wanted India not to intervene militarily without first getting `instrument of accession’ from maharajah [prince] Hari Singh. Not doing so would amount to `intervening in the internal affairs of what was to all intents and purposes an independent State in the throes of civil conflict’. But, India did not heed his advice. Lamb says `timing of the alleged Instrument of Accession undoubtedly affected its legitimacy'(p.172, ibid..). He adds `If in fact it took place after the Indian intervention, then it could well be argued that it was either done under Indian duress or to regularise an Indian fait accompli’.

Lamb concludes (p. 191, ibid.):`According to Wolpert, V. P. Menon returned to Delhi from Srinagar on the morning of 26 October with no signed Instrument of Accession. Only after the Indian troops had started landing at Srinagar airfield on the morning of 27 October did V. P. Menon and M. C. Mahajan set out from Delhi from Jammu. The Instrument of Accession, according to Wolpert, was only signed by Maharajah Sir Hari Singh [if signed at all] after Indian troops had assumed control of the Jammu and Kashmir State’s summer capital, Srinagar.

Lamb regards the so-called Instrument of Accession, ‘signed’ by the maharajah of Kashmir on October 26, 1947, as fraudulent (Kashmir – A disputed legacy 1846-1990). He argues that the maharajah was travelling by road to Jammu (a distance of over 350 km). How could he sign the instrument while being on the run for safety of his life? There is no evidence of any contact between him and the Indian emissaries on October 26, 1947. Actually, it was on October 27, 1947 that the maharajah was informed by MC Mahajan and VP Menon (who had flown into Srinagar) that an Instrument of Accession is being fabricated in New Delhi. Obviously, the maharajah could not have signed the instrument earlier than October 27, 1947. Lamb points out Indian troops had already arrived at and secured Srinagar airfield during the middle of October 1947. On October 26, 1947, a further airlift of thousands of Indian troops to Kashmir took place.

He questions: “Would the Maharajah have signed the Instrument of Accession, had the Indian troops not been on Kashmiri soil?” Actually, it was on October 27, 1947 that the maharajah was informed by MC Mahajan and VP Menon (who had flown into Srinagar) that an Instrument of Accession is being fabricated in New Delhi. Obviously, the maharajah could not have signed the instrument earlier than October 27, 1947. The instrument remains null and void, even if the maharajah had actually signed it. In his later work, Birth of a Tragedy, Lamb claimed that Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir never signed the Instrument of Accession at all.

No allegiance to Indian constitution in `instrument’: The ‘Instrument’ expresses ‘intention to set up an interim government and to ask Sheikh Abdullah to carry the responsibilities’ with maharajah’s prime minister. By Balkanising the disputed state, India tore the Instrument of Accession, even otherwise doubtful, to shreds. Para 7 of the Instrument of Accession, `signed’ by Maharaja Hari Singh ostensibly on October 26, 1947 stated, “nothing in this Instrument shall be deemed to commit me in any way to acceptance of any future Constitution of India or to fetter accession resolution, passed by the occupied Kashmir’s ‘constituent assembly’.

UN outlaws `accession’: Accession resolution, passed by the occupied Kashmir’s ‘constituent assembly’ is void. Aware of India’s intention to get the ‘Instrument of Accession’ rubber-stamped by the puppet assembly, the Security Council passed two resolutions, Security Council’s Resolution No 9 of March 30, 1951 and confirmatory Resolution No 122 of March 24, 1957, to forestall the `foreseeable accession’.

It is eerie to note that `Instrument of Accession’ is not registered with United Nations India took the Kashmir issue to the UN in 1948 under article 35 of Chapter VI which outlines the means for a peaceful settlement of disputes on Jammu and Kashmir state, not under Chapter VII dubbing Pakistan as `aggressor’. India knew at heart that she herself was an aggressor.

Nehru disowns `accession’: At heart, Nehru did not care a fig for the disputed state’s constituent assembly, Indian parliament or the United Nations. Bhasin documents Nehru’s perfidy on Kashmir in Chapter 5 titled Kashmir, India’s Constitution and Nehru’s Vacillation (pages 51-64). Let us look at a few of Nehru’s somersaults

Nehru discards Maharajah’s and Kashmir assembly’s `accession’ In a letter dated October 31, 1947, addressed to the disputed state’s prime minister, he shrugged off `accession’. He says in the letter `after consideration of the problem, we are inclined to think that it [plebiscite] should be held under United Nations’ auspices (p. 28 ibid..). He reiterated in New Delhi on November3, 1951 that `we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar] as we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council, or the United Nations’(SWJ: Volume 4: page 292, Bhasin p.228). Again, at a press conference on June 11, 1951, he was asked `if the proposed constituent assembly of Kashmir “decides in favour of acceding to Pakistan, what will be the position?”’ he reiterated, `We have made it perfectly clear that the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir was not meant to decide finally any such question , and it is not in the way of any decision which may ultimate flow from the Security Council proceedings’ (SWJ: Volume 15:, Part II, page 394. Bhasin page 56). He re-emphasised his view once again at a press conference in New Delhi On November 3, 1951. He said `we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar as] we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council or the United Nations’. Bhasin points out (page 57 op. cit.), `at press conference on 24 July, 1952 when asked what the necessity of plebiscite was now that he had got [accession by] the Constituent Assembly, he replied “Maybe theoretically you may be right. But we have given them an assurance and we stand by it (SWJ: Volume 19, pp. 240-241. Bhasin, p. 57).

Pakistan never labeled `aggressor’ at UN: He told parliament on March 1, 1954 `that …United States have thus far not condemned it [aggression] and we are asked not to press this point in the interest of peace (Bhasin pp. 55-56).

Nehru himself invokes UN’s intervention: Bhasin points out Nehru made `tactical error’. One `of committing himself to the UN’ (p. 28. op. cit.). (SWJ: Volume 8: pages335-340). Accession documents are un-registered with the UN.

Post-Nehru equivocal rhetoric: The Kashmir Question is intact on General Assembly’s agenda, with United Nations’ Military Observers’ Military Group on duty. It is eerie that the whole architecture of India’s stand on Kashmir is erected on the mythical `instrument of accession’ and its endorsement by the disputed state’s assembly.

Inference: Legal rigmarole at India’s Supreme Court about special status being temporary or permanent is immaterial. UN charter and right to self- determination are supreme. India’s repression and reign of terror in Kashmir is an effort to gag voice of truth.

Bio-page

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944).