Sardar Patel’s opposition to accession

                                                                                                                               

Was Sardar Patel against the accession of Kashmir with India? The answer is in affirmative if one believes Kuldip Nayyar, the veteran journalist, prolific writer and former High Commissioner of India to Great Britain.
In his recently released autobiography “Beyond the lines”, Nayyar says that while it is true that Nehru was keen on Kashmir’s accession to India, Patel was opposed to it. Recalling his interview with Sheikh Abdullah on 21st Feberuary 1971, Nayyar states that Abdullah told him of Patel’s opposition of Kashmir’s accession to India on the basis of being a Muslim Majority State.

Even when New-Delhi is reported to have received Mahraja’s request for accession, Patel Said: “We should not get mixed up with Kashmir as we have already too much on the plate.

 

 

Was Sardar Patel against the accession of Kashmir with India? The answer is in affirmative if one believes Kuldip Nayyar, the veteran journalist, prolific writer and former High Commissioner of India to Great Britain.
In his recently released autobiography “Beyond the lines”, Nayyar says that while it is true that Nehru was keen on Kashmir’s accession to India, Patel was opposed to it. Recalling his interview with Sheikh Abdullah on 21st Feberuary 1971, Nayyar states that Abdullah told him of Patel’s opposition of Kashmir’s accession to India on the basis of being a Muslim Majority State.

Even when New-Delhi is reported to have received Mahraja’s request for accession, Patel Said: “We should not get mixed up with Kashmir as we have already too much on the plate.

While many authors including international writers have extensively written on the issue of accession and some have even disputed the authenticity of instrument or the timing of its execution with cogent reasons, it is for the first time that an Indian writer, having a credible record in journalism and an impeccable personal character has brought to fore such a controversial issue.

But as events leading to accession suggest, it is clear that Indian leaders had a clear & precise plan to keep Kashmir within the Indian fold. Cultivation of Sheikh Abdullah by Congress leaders since 1936, massacre of Muslims in Jammu in 1947 to engineer a demographic change which had blessings of Patel Gandhi’s visit to Srinagar in July 1947 to veer around Maharaja to this plan was part of the grand design. Gandhi’s visit was followed by military hardware help to Mahraja personally supervised by Patel, construction, repair & renovation of communication network, removal of Prime Minster Ram Chand Kak and appointment of Mehar Chand Mahajan in his place (Janak Singh was appointed for a brief period as a stop gap arrangement). Remember Mahajan was a member of Boundary Commission headed by Redcliffe and he had an inside knowledge of partition plan which was of immense help in bringing Kashmir to Indian fold. The question then arises: was all this possible with an important person like Sadar Patel, Deputy prime Minster of India and holding an all important Home portfolio opposed to accession?

Nayyar suggests that in the penultimate meeting held on 26th October 1947 which decided the fate of Kashmir, Sardar patel vociferously opposed the accession plan. Since his opposition at that stage does not bear any logic, we may have to look to the possible reasons thereof. One reason  could  be that with V.P.Menon bringing accession papers in the meeting (or claiming to bring one–whichever version you believe), Sardar  enacted  a drama of opposition  to present  before Mountbatten or for that matter before the whole world an accession accepted after  due deliberations in which one of the important members was opposed to the proposal. Another reason could be to trigger a discussion prompting Abdullah, sitting in an adjacent room, to send a written note conveying his approval. This way Nehru obtained a written consent from Abdullah so essential in his scheme of things. In other words, an accession accepted without any discussion or deliberations would neither have appeared credible nor   prompted Abdullah to send his consenting note.
Nayyar also dwells on Pakistan’s oft-repeated allegation of Maharaja’s secret agreement with India. The basis of this allegation is the confidential Papers carried by one of Hari Singh’s Cousins, Harnam Singh who while carrying these to Delhi by Air, had to force-land at Lahore due to an engine trouble in his plane and secret revealed.

Yet at another place Nayyar recalls how Nehru was opposed to a plebiscite but on different grounds. He is reported to have told Mountbatten that “with the troops of the Indian Dominion in Military occupation of Kashmir and with National Conference under Sheikh Abdullah in power, such propaganda & pressure would be bought to bear that average Muslim would never have the courage to vote for Pakistan.” This speaks volumes about Nehru touted as one of the world’s most democratic and secular leaders of the world.

The book contains many other revelations about Kashmir which makes it an interesting read. For instance Nayyar reveals that Jinnah did offer Mahraja Hari Singh a Sikkim like Status, if he acceded to Pakistan. Remember Sikkim at that time enjoyed a protectorate status with India and almost an independent entity. But Hari Singh, it is said, was in no mood to accede to that proposition.

The author is a practicing Chartered Accountant. She can be mailed at amzargar1@indiatimes.com