| SRINAGAR, OCT 26: 67 years after the momentous event, the dynastic successors of legendary Sher-e-Kashmir have found it convenient to disfigure their patriarch’s historic legacy by unconvincingly delinking him from the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian Union and consequent landing of Indian troops in Srinagar to fend off tribal invasion from Pakistan. Retrospectively good, bad or indifferent, Sheikh’s decisive historic role in these epoch making events stands out in bold relief.
Sheikh Nazir Ahmed and Dr Mustafa Kamal in their statements published in today’s newspapers have sought to falsify history and deny that the Sheikh had any role whatsoever in these two events of monumental significance in good sense as well bad. The only plausible reason for indulging in such gross distortion of facts could be the incompetence of his successors in defending his legacy against inevitable odds of time and history. Twisting truth and facts, however, is always a counterproductive game.
Public memory may be notoriously short, but not as short as Nazir and Mustafa appear to believe. Sheikh Abdullah contested and swept the only genuineelection of his over half a century long political life in 1977 and, for valid reason, he hailed his grand victory as being the ‘authentic ratification of the accession we had brought about in 1947’. All through his life, he never disowned his role and involvement in the ‘fact’ of accession even as he launched a popular movement disputing its ‘quantum’.
There are three different but interlinked aspects of the issue of accession: (1) Legal or technical, involving the accredited ruler of the state and the government of India, Sheikh had no direct role in this formal sphere; (2) Political, in which Sheikh was the kingpin in pushing the deal from behind the scene and (3) Moral aspect, with Sheikh inducing Mahatma Gandhi to give his consent for rushing Indian troops to Srinagar.
Purpose may be better served by going direct to the version recorded by the dramatis personae, as it were:
Two authentic biographical versions throw enough light on the issue to trash the one sought to be floated by Nazir and Mustafa. Syed Mir Qasim, in his biography, Dastan-e-Hayat, says (page 91- 92) ‘a special meeting of the National Conference working committee was held in Srinagar to chart our course. The WC authorised Sheikh Saheb to convey to Government of India that the people of Kashmir fully endorse Maharaja’s request for accession as well as for urgent despatch of Indian troops to defend the state. Only Bakshi Saheb had somepertaining to the ‘incompatibility’ of a Muslim-majority state opting for India and not Pakistan. He, however, went with the majority opinion once the collective decision was sealed.’
‘Sheikh Saheb carried a copy of the resolution with him as he flew to Delhi and stayed as JL Nehru’s personal guest at the latter’s (then) York Road residence. A special meeting of the unionwas on there as Sheikh arrived. Gandhiji and Nehru had reservations over acceptance of the Maharaja’s request (for accession and troops). But when Sheikh Saheb showed them the copy of the NC working committee resolution they both relented and the issue was clinched then and there’.
And now from the horse’s mouth, as they say. Sheikh’s autobiography, Aatish-e-Chinar, substantially confirms Mir Qasim version and goes on to add (pages 416-419) ‘As I arrived in Delhi I was told that Gandhiji had put his foot down and refused to support acceptance of Maharaja’s request (for accession and Indian troops) without the endorsement of Kashmir’s popular leadership’.
‘I rushed to Gandhiji’s place and persuaded him to accept Maharaja’s request without delay. I convinced him that war in Kashmir was not territorial but involved fundamental ideals and values for which both of us had sacrificed so much. It would be great injustice to deny active support to the distressed people of Kashmir. Out of affection (shafaqat) Gandhiji accepted my plea and way was cleared for formal accession of the state as well as immediate despatch of Indian troops to Kashmir’.
Sheikh records with unconcealed sense of achievement (page 419) that on October 27, 1947 I got a letter from Nehru saying “we both have together undertaken an arduous task but I am confident that we will make it. Today when I gotthat our forces had successfully landed in Kashmir my heart was relieved of a huge burden. Now it is going to be a test of our future’.
If after all this Sheikh Nazir and Mustafa Kamal remain convinced of their imaginary history they are welcome to it. One can only hope that after their next visit to the Hazratbal tomb of their legendary ancestor they come back with a tiny bit of his political wisdom.