This write-up is in response to Mr. B.R.Singh’s article “Kashmir, Gurdaspur, Nehru”
which appeared in daily “Greater Kashmir” of 20th April 2014.The author has suggested that in the partition of 1947,Mountbattan & Nehru had no hand in awarding Gurdaspur district to India.
Much of the meaningful information on the subject is contained in two books- One-“Time only to look forward” written by Mountbatten himself and the other “Two Nations & Kashmir” by Lord Birdwood. The author is either not aware of these books or has wilfuly ignored them to promote a particular colored discourse. Therefore, a point by point response is necessary & given hereunder:
1.According to author, Out of four tehsils of Gurdaspur district, namely Shakargarh, Gurdaspur, Batala & Pathankot, only one tehsil Shakargarh was Muslim Majority area. He is factually wrong .Infact only one Tehsil , namely Pathankot was predominantly Hindu while the other three districts were predominantly Muslim. Overall Gurdaspur district was predominantly Muslim with a 51.14% Majority as against 50.6% stated by the author. The difference may not mean much-but such edgy figures have a psychological effect. A figure of 50.6% means more or less an even distribution while 51.14% means a clear majority.
2. The author has referred to the draft wavel plan of 1946 in which District Gurdaspur was proposed to be granted to India. True- but he has conveniently omitted to mention that the said proposal was rejected in London after protracted discussions & Gurdaspur bestowed to Pakistan and hence included in the award attached to the first Schedule of the Indian Independence Act 1947.This was a law to be followed meticulously by one & all but unfortunately was not.
3. Once Indian Independence Act 1947 & its schedule became known to Indian leaders, they realized the major constraint of absence of land access corridor to Kashmir. Accordingly V.P. Menon, acting as Constitutional advisor to Mountbatten, sent him a note which reads as “It (Kashmir) does not lie in the bosom of Pakistan and it can claim an exit to India, especially if a portion of Gurdaspur district goes to India”. (see Vol XII of ‘The Transfer of Power’ series of documents. 151-p 214).
4.At his press conference on 4th June , in answer to a question regarding provisional & final demarcations, Mountbatten, without any mandate or authority announced that the Boundary Commission would unlikely award the whole of Gurdaspur to Pakistan. (Time only to look forward- by Mountbatten –p.30). This was a clear hint/direction to Sir Cyril Redcliffe of what to do. In fact Ch. Muhammad Ali , one of the two joint secretaries on the Partition Council vehemently protested this highly improper interference in Commission’s work.
5. After the award of three districts of Gurdaspur to India in flagrant violation to agreed norms of partition & principles of fair play, the reason given for changing the original award attached to Indian Independence Act, was because of the location of headwaters of the Canals which irrigate the adjacent Amritsar District, in the Gurdaspur district .This was a specious argument because the head-works of the “Upper Bari Doab” canal which irrigated much of the Lahore district was also located in the same Gurdaspur district.
6. According to Indian Journalist & now a BJP Spokesperson M.J.Akbar, Nehru would continuously prod & persuade Mountbatten in private meetings to leave Gurdaspur in Indian hands . (Behind the Vale-Page 98). As official biographer of Nehru ( He wrote-Nehru-the making of India) Akbar is privy to much of the inside information. It is also an open secret that Nehru often exploited his romantic relations with Edwina Mountbatten to influence her husband Mountbatten to earn favors, otherwise not due. According to latest research based on Archival Material in London, one of the reasons for Mountbatten to advance the date of Partition from June 1948 to August 1947 was to wean away her spouse from Nehru’s influence. Imagine more than a million innocent souls would have been saved on both sides of the border, by proper planning & deployment of Army, had Nehru been more circumspect & discreet in his conduct & not compelled Mountbatten to fast forward the partition programme.
7. Last but not least, the author has referred to a meeting between Redcliffe & Kuldip Nayyar, in which the former is reported to have denied any kind of pressure from Mountbatten. And the same Redcliffe, when queried by Professor Zaidi of Pakistan four years earlier in 1967, says that he has destroyed all his papers pertaining to partition to keep validity of the award (Kashmir in conflict-by Victoria schofield –p 38).If redcliffe was so much concerned about the sanctity of the award, how come he reveals vital information to Nayyar?
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)