That can solve many a problem for us
‘I stumbled when I saw’. On seeing leaders committing faux pas of far- reaching implications, I often remember this quote from Shakespeare’s drama King Lear. The past sixty-seven years history of Kashmir is replete with instances, when our leaders like Gloucester, one of the characters in King Lear despite eyes ‘walked blindly into trouble.’ History threw many an opportunity for us for ending the political uncertainties but leadership stumbled to see them. And even if they saw these opportunities, they looked at them through opportunistic lens. I see indiscreet decisions taken by our leadership at important junctures of history as an important cause for what Alastair Lamb called as ‘birth of a tragedy.’
A week earlier, this quote once again resonated in my mind. When one of o the leaders either out of share naivety or ‘under influence’ provided grist to the BJP propaganda mill by reviving a forgotten cliché, – “within the ambit of Insanyat”. This intelligently coined phrase used by former Prime Minister, Vajpayee in a particular context some fifteen years back, was reinvented not by the BJP spin-doctors but by one of the leaders. In last Monday column, I wrote about genesis of this word, which has now become an electoral ‘mantra’ for some Kashmir leaders. The NDA government, if it comes to power by all stretch of imagination is going to use the phrase to cover up the violations – as word ‘zero tolerance’ was used by Manmohan Singh or ‘human touch’ was use for beclouding the recognized Kashmir narrative at the international level.
Most amazing is wherefrom leaders picked up the hope that BJP prime ministerial candidate would depart from the established Hindutva policy towards Kashmir. If the conglomerate saw its statement as a stroke to win favors with the believed- to- be future dispensation in New Delhi, it is on a slippery wicket. In his December 1, 2013 speech in Jammu Modi by lauding Dogra Maharajas rule and stating that if Hari Singh had been in power the state would have been better, provide insight into his ideas about Kashmir. In this column, it may not be possible to explain the statement in detail. Nevertheless, Mirdu Rai in her book ‘Hindu Rule Muslim Subjects’ has ably explained that Kashmir was a ‘Hindu State during the Dogra rule.’ While deviously, promoting sectarianism amongst Muslim by talking about dual policy towards Shias, Gujjars and Bakarwals he very subtly suggested trifurcation of the state by asking people of Jammu and Ladakh to raise their voices against “injustice”.
Picking up leads provided by couple of leaders across the ideological divide in the state Modi reiterating the clichés ‘Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat attributed to Vajpayee, in his public rally at Hiranagar on 26 March 2014 said that former NDA prime minister had created ‘a hope amongst the people of Jammu and Kashmir’. ‘And Kashmiris during his rule had got a sigh of relief.’ He was emboldened to make these false assertions that crumble under their own weight because of political naivety of some of our leaders. In the same meeting by resurrecting Shyama Prasad Mookerjee’s ideology, he very subtly explained his Kashmir policy. He also talked by Sardar Patel’s ideology of Kashmir which he believes was different from that of Jawaharlal Nehru. For understanding Mookerjee’s or Patel’s ideas on Kashmir, that BJP leaders wants to follow one needs to revisit Kashmir history.
More than a year before India got independence, according Colonel Web Nehru had framed a policy of making Kashmir into anti-Pakistan zone under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah, whatever shape Pakistan might eventually assume. In 1946, Maharaja arrested Sheikh Abdullah and his party men for starting an agitation against him. ‘Nehru never lost an opportunity after appointment of Mountbatten as Viceroy to expose him to arguments of an Indian Jammu and Kashmir- the eventual incorporation of Jammu and Kashmir became an underlying objective of Mountbatten and Nehru. This was not true about Patel. “Nehru always wanted Kashmir to be part of India,” writes historian Ramachandra Guha, “Patel was at one time inclined to allow the state to join Pakistan. His mind changed on 13 September, the day Pakistan government accepted the accession of Junagadh.” The developments in Jungadah might have influenced Patel but primarily it was Nehru explaining him geo-strategic importance of Kashmir for planting that made him change his view. “Patel had a cold geopolitical approach to the future of Jammu and Kashmir writes Alastair Lamb, “Kashmir in India’s hands would severely curtail the future freedom of international action in Pakistan. More immediately, possession of Kashmir province would give India a direct access to the Pathan world and NWFP… he also saw possibility of using Kashmir for destruction of Pakistan” (Incomplete Partition page 129). He also saw Kashmir “as a lethal weapon against Pakistan.”
Mountbatten during his visit to Kashmir failed to persuade Maharaja to join India. His visit was followed by Mahatma Gandhi visit. In the meantime, Nehru told Patel about enlisting support of Abdullah for state joining India. ‘On 27 September, Nehru wrote a long letter to Patel explaining ‘need for making friends with National Conference so that there might be popular support against Pakistan. Releasing Abdullah and enlisting support of his followers would also bring about accession of Kashmir with Indian Union.” (India After Gandhi page63). This largely refers to Patel’s ideology about Kashmir that Modi referred to in Jammu.
These developments were followed by landing of troops in Srinagar and “signing of the instrument of accession” by Maharaja. And Sheikh Abdullah coming to power. The accession was limited to three things foreign affairs, defence and communications subject to ratification by will of the people. This arrangement was not acceptable to Hindutva leadership and it wanted total merger of the State with India like any other state. Jawaharlal Nehru had no extraordinary love for the autonomous character of the state. It were international compulsions that made Nehru to publicly to oppose Mookerjee for demanding full integration of the state. “He also wrote to him, “What happens in J&K is not a local matter. It has the largest implications on Kashmir issue, on future of the state, on Pakistan, on the UN, etc.”
Nehru-Mookerjee- Correspondence of the period makes it amply clear what Mookerjee’s ideology about Kashmir was to which Modi alluded to in his Jammu speech. This ideology in fact leaves no scope for expecting the new government taking a departure from the known policy of the Hindutva. This was clearly reiterated by BJP leader Jaitley.
The way a section of Kashmir leaders responded to the rising tide of Modi speaks about their befuddled understanding of the contemporary situation and dilemmas they have been suffering after 2007, when the four-point formula met its waterloo. In fact, there is need for collective introspection for understanding the causes for failures of Kashmir political movement and ending political uncertainties in the state.