Kashmir: Myths of accession and aggression

The Nation

Amjed Jaaved

October 21, 2019

India’s view of disputed Kashmir is based on myths. Examples include ‘Pakistan’s aggression through Army regulars and tribal forces’, ‘Maharaja Hari Singh duly signed the treaty of accession with the Indian Dominion on October 26, 1947’, and so on. As for the ‘accession instrument’ argument, 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), a 10-volume documentary study of India-Pakistan Relations 1947-2007. It contains 3649 official documents, accessed from the archives of India’s external affairs ministry. ‘Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru’ is another useful resource book.

On the question of who the ‘aggressor’ was, the factual position is that India marched its troops into Kashmir without Maharajah’s permission – a blatant act of aggression. Historian Alastair Lamb, in his book, ‘Incomplete Partition (Chapter VI: The Accession Crisis) points out that Mountbatten wanted India to not intervene militarily without first getting the ‘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, ‘the timing of the alleged Instrument of Accession undoubtedly affected its legitimacy’. 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: ‘According to Wolpert, VP Menon returned to Delhi from Srinagar on the morning of October 26 with no signed Instrument of Accession. Only after the Indian troops had started landing at Srinagar airfield on the morning of October 27 did VP Menon and MC 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. 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. 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.

The UN outlawed the ‘accession’; the 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 the ‘Instrument of Accession’ is not registered with the 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 disowned the ‘accession’ as well. 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 discarded 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 said 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 November 3, 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 the 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 ultimately flow from the Security Council proceedings’. 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, ‘at a press conference on July 24, 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 assurance and we stand by it. Bhasin points out Nehru made a ‘tactical error’, one ‘of committing himself to the UN’. 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.

The only inference to draw from this is that legal rigmarole in India’s Supreme Court about special status being temporary or permanent is immaterial. UN charter and the right to self-determination are supreme. India’s repression and reign of terror in Kashmir is an effort to gag the voice of truth.