Truth about a SIGNATURE

HISTORY

RUMMAGING THROUGH THE HAPPENING DAYS OF OCTOBER 1947, B.L. SARAF BRINGS OUT SOME PERTINENT THINGS RELATED TO KASHMIR’S POLITICAL HISTORY

 

For quite some time now, a motivated   debate has been going on in some sections of the  press  to demolish the  Instrument Of Accession; which established a  legal  relationship between J&K and India,  in 1947.  Some columnists have gone to the extent of denying the very existence of this document, while as others argue that Instrument was executed after the Indian army had landed in Srinagar. These statements are, purportedly, made to denounce India as an aggressor and illegal occupant of J&K. It is time to set right the record.
Ralph Shaw, a columnist writes that Hari Singh did not sign an Instrument of Accession with India before the Indian forces moved into Kashmir on  October 27, 1947 and it is highly doubtful that he ever signed one at all.   Victoria Schofield, allegedly,  relies on M.C Mahajan to ‘ contradict ’  the  execution  of the Instrument  on 26th October.  Schofield  says  “ … . Mahajan also recollects that ‘around  dinner time’ on the evening of  26 October, Nehru sent a message that the following day  ‘with Mr V.P. Menon , I  should fly to Jammu to inform the Maharaja’ of the decision  of the Cabinet meeting that military aid was to be given . …” (Kashmir in Conflict p. 57) She  writes  at page 52; “On   October 24 , Maharajah  Hari Singh made an  urgent appeal  for help to the Government of India  ……. The following day, 25th Oct, the Defence  Committee  of the Cabinet   met, chaired by   Lord Mountbatten …”  Maharaja, admittedly, was in Srinagar  on 25th  October and   spent  the intervening night of 25 / 26  October  there.  Vitoria Schofield says that he left Srinagar  in early  hours of 26th. Referring to  Mahajan’s  account, she gives  Maharaja’s departure  time as 2 A.M. So, he had enough time available on  26 October,  in Srinagar, to   sign the Instrument.  Time was too precious to be spent in sleeping.  Every moment counted that day.

 Meharchand  Mhajan  writes; “We had decided by 25th evening to go to  India if we could get a plane or else go to Pakistan for surrender. Kabul was suggested by some as a neighbor who may possibly lend a helping hand. Luckily at this crucial moment Menon arrived in a plane. An Instrument of Accession was executed and signed by Maharaja. Menon advised Maharaja to shift to Jammu. Sheikh Abdullah had left by plane for Delhi on 25th. I was asked to accompany Mr Menon to Delhi for talks on question of accession and military aid. I accompanied him to India, where we reached on 26th morning. There I met Prime Minister of India and told him  give army take accession and give whatever  powers  you want to give to the  Popular party.”  (Accession of Kashmir to India-  The inside story,  pages  16 , 17). Sheikh Abdullah corroborates this account in his Aatish e Chinaar,  page 416  & 417  and records   that V.P. Menon returned to Delhi on 26th October  with signed  Instrument of Accession .
 So, by all accounts V.P.Menon and Mhajan were in Delhi on 26th October . Therefore there is no contradiction, as Schofield would like  to draw, in what Lapierre  and Collins ( referred by Schofield  at P 57 of her book )  have related in their book – Freedom at Midnight – that Symon and Menon  sat down for a drink in the evening of 26th Oct; in Delhi  where  “Menon had  ‘ enormous smile ‘spread across  his face  to declare after waving a piece of paper; “We have Kashmir  (in  unprintable word  referring to the Maharaja ) … . has signed the Act of Accession.”    Contrarily, it proves that accession document was signed  before 27th  Oct. Victoria Schofield admits that V.P Menon had gone to Jammu on 27th  Oct, by referring to the  letter  of 27th  of Symon to Carter. ( P 57  of her book) When we see this  with  what  she has said in opening lines of  P 57    about the recollections of Mahjan  the things become  clear  that the Instrument of Accession was signed before 27th Oct – the day Indian army landed in Srinagar .
 Mountbatten’s Press Secretary Alan Campbell – Johson   says on the matter;  “ Mountbatten attended the Defence Committee on Saturday 25th at which General Lockhart read out a telegram from the Headquarters of the Pakistan Army   stating that some five thousand tribesmen had attacked and captured Muzzafarabad and Domel  ……. Reports showed that they were already  little  more than thirty five miles from Srinagar. The Defence Committee considered the most immediate necessity to rush in arms and ammunition requested by the Kashmir Government ……. The problem of troops reinforcement was considered, and Mountbatten urged that it would be dangerous to send in any troops  unless Kashmir had first offered to accede  …….. No final decision was taken on these vital question on 25th, but it was agreed that  V.P should fly to Srinagar  at once to find out the true position there. The information which V.P brought back to the Deffence Committee  the next day  was certainly disturbing …….  . Maharaja also signed  a letter of accession  which V.P. was able  to present to the Deffence Committee …… In the light of this depressing data the Defence Committee decided that Maharaja’s accession should be accepted and that a battalion of infantry be flown in at dawn the next day.”  (Mission With Mountbatten   Jaico Publishing  House; ;Pages 188 -189).  Mountbatten insisted on formal accession of J&K with India before aid was rushed in. Campbell – Johnson writes that Mountbatten explained to him in more detail the reason of line he had taken on the accession at the Defence Committee.  “ He ( Mountbatten ) considered  it would be the height of  folly to send troops into a neutral State, where we had no right to send them, since Pakistan could do exactly the  same thing which could only result in clash of armed forces and in war. He, therefore , argued that if indeed they were determined to send the troops , the essential prerequisite was accession , ……” (Mission With Mountbatten ; Ps 189- 190). Sheikh Abdullah corroborates this  fact  in his autobiography at P 415. We have it from Sheikh Abdullah, M.C. Mahajan, and  Cambell–Johnson  (the dramatis personae)  that to Mountbatten  signing of  State’s accession  with Indian Union was  a condition precedent  for rushing  in military aid to Kashmir. How could then the  Governor General countenance  sending troops  to the State  without  having, first, the document  of Accession.  The letter of Symon  to Carter dated 27th Oct, –copy whereof Schofield has published  in her book  at  page 55,  mentions that Symon heard “persistent rumours” that Kashmir had acceded  to Indian Union.  He had received definite information that ten aircrafts loaded with troops had left Delhi “in this morning .” 
Ralph Shaw has a complaint that  only the  copies of such a document and not the original have been  produced by the Indians .  To whom should have India shown the original?  Pakistan or Hari Singh could demand so. Although India specifically alluded to  the accession of Kashmir to it in its complaint to the President of Security Council  against  Pakistani aggression – Refer  Paras 1&5 of  the letter  of 1st Jan; 1948 (S/628 )  written by the Indian Representative to the President of  S.C, yet  Pakistan never contested the existence of the Instrument of Accession.  It only challenged its legality. Victoria Schofield  states the Pakistani position  in her book at  page 71 thus;  “The Pakistani position was based on the contention that the accession of the state  of J&K  to India  was illegal and, therefore, there was no basis whatsoever  for India’s contention that legality of the accession was ‘in  fact and law beyond question.’ The state of J&K had executed a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan  on 15 August 1947 which debarred the state  from entering into any kind of negotiation or agreement  with any other country. Furthermore, Pakistan maintained that the Maharaja of J&K had no authority  left to execute Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 because the people had successfully revolted …” ( Mark the date 26th October ).   Maharaja   didn’t contest it. Victoria Schofield is conscious of this fact when she writes; “At the time, the belief that the State had acceded to India before Indian troops were sent prevailed. Whether or not the Instrument of Accession was signed before or after Indian troops landed, the Maharaja had agreed to accession in principle upon the terms outlined by Mountbatten. Unhappy as Hari Singh  sometimes  became with the state’s accession to India , he never suggested that he had not signed an Instrument of Accession before Indian  troops landed nor that he never signed one”.  Sheikh. Abdullah, too, never  raked up the controversy, though he has had  occasions to do so. He always maintained the execution of the Instrument of  Accession  on 26th October 1947. 
   Sheikh Abdullah  writes in  Aatish e Chinaar  at  p 417 that such was the disturbed  state of  Maharaja’s condition that on  reaching Jammu, on 26 Oct, before going  to  bed  he  instructed  his staff  to awaken him only when V.P returns from Delhi . Then it would mean that his request of accession  has been accepted . Otherwise he should be shot dead in his sleep . Schofield, too, mentions so in her book. Could a person who is imminently called upon to do something  very serious to save  the grim situation  fall asleep  leaving behind instructions not to be disturbed, or be shot dead during his sleep. On the contrary, it means that the person has done all that was required of him  and now waits for the  reaction at the other end. Hari Singh had  undoubtedly done his job on 26 October  before going to the bed,  in Jammu . Response from the other side was awaited ; which came the following day as desired

(Author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge. He can be reached at bushanlalsaraf @gmail. Com)