Instrument of merger

‘Instrument of merger’ was not must for Kashmir

By J N Raina

April 2011

While epoch-making changes come about globally, an environment of negativity continues to prevail in Kashmir, denying its denizens a decent and unfettered life. Some diehard elements, feigning as well-wishers of Kashmir, behave iridescently and bring down the nation on its knees.

During my sojourn to Kashmir in early November, 2010, coinciding with U S President Barack Obama’s visit to India, I found people confused and caught between the devil and the deep sea. Their misfortunes have compounded because of wicked activities of some pigheaded people.

People remained squeezed in-between government curfew, and ‘civil curfew’, ordered by hard line separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani. His shut-down calls during four months of tourist season, brought misery to common people. But response to his prankishness was subdued.  The two factions of the Hurriyat Conference , one led by Geelani and the other by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, wanted to draw Obama’s attention towards the orchestration of heinous stone-pelting incidents, master-minded by ISI.

People were fed up because of continued sporadic violence, affecting trade and big business related to tourism industry. In spite of these obstacles, I found people doing their usual avocation. Vehicular traffic remained unaffected.  Anti-Geelani posters appeared on the city walls. Geelani was served an ultimatum to review his agitation programme, or else face the consequences. The posters, put up by an outfit, called ‘Islami Ittehad’, warned the Hurriyat that the situation will take an ugly turn, if Geelani failed to respond. Ultimately he had to bow and bend his neck, but not before Obama exited from India.

I perceived a civilizational change in the Elysian valley, in the absence of five lakh Kashmiri Hindus, who remain exiled for 20 years, following Islamic jehad, perpetrated by Pakistan. It was Diwali. The ritual was observed by non-Kashmiri Hindus and the skeleton Sikh community, just symbolically. There was sound of crackers without an echo.

The world-famous Dal Lake has shrunk in size considerably. Several hundred crores of rupees have been spent for de-weeding and anti-encroachment programme, but of no use. The bulk of funds have been sucked in by corrupt bureaucrats and others. I was accompanied by a Pune-based farmer, who wanted to study the cultivation of Kashmiri saag, rich in protein and fibre.  Mughal gardens on the periphery of the Lake, wore a deserted look in the absence of tourists. Our presence was conspicuously felt by gardeners.  There was hardly any pilgrim at the famous Khirbhawani temple, near Srinagar.

Maverick writer-activist Arundhati Roy, who was there somewhere in the valley, provoking anti-India activities, is loathe to speak about Kashmir’s decadent environment. Instead, the anarchist author of “The God of Small Things”, in league with Geelani, has been causing disaffection among Kashmiri against the Indian State. She has been indulging in secessionist activities. Her imagination has run riot.

Why to blame Delhi Police for its ‘failure’ to register an FIR against Geelani and Roy, besides six others, for indulging in seditious activities, at a seminar in New Delhi on October 21, when Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is non-serious about the committal of grave offence. To the nation’s chagrin, Chidambaram merely said no action was planned against the anti-national activists, because what he said ‘not taking action is also action’. It is mind-boggling.

Delhi Metropolitan Magistrate Navita Kumari Bagha, on a complaint filed by Sushil K Pandit, on October 28, was constrained to make some disparaging observations on the nature of the offence.  “After giving my thoughtful consideration on the submissions made and the material on record, I come to the conclusion that the complaint clearly disclosed commission of cognizable offence. But the police till date had failed to register an FIR”.

As if the disgrace for Roy was not sufficient, she took comfort from Jawaharlal Nehru’s out-of-context observations on Kashmir that “ ….if the people of Kashmir do not wish to remain with us, let them go by all means…..we will not keep them against their will, however painful it may be to us.” Flamboyant Roy expressed ‘sympathy’ for ‘azadi’ demand, which is just like vapour in the thin air. She has the gumption to compare herself to Nehru. In her reaction to the court’s direction to police, she said “ Perhaps they should posthumously file a charge against Nehru too”, for his unobtrusive remarks passed in 1952 that “ if by some decree or adverse fortune, it (Kashmir) ceases to be a part of India, it will be a wrench and a pain and torment for us….I want to stress that it is only the people of Kashmir who can decide the future of Kashmir”.

But Roy should have also taken note of Nehru’s observations that Article 370 of the Constitution, guaranteeing special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is temporary, and will remain only so far it is there.  Roy, Geelani and six others had participated in a seminar on “ Azadi the only way”. Allowing such a seminar was preposterous, where Roy is reported to have said “ Kashmir has never been an integral part of India”. It is intriguing.  But she seems to be oblivious of the fact that Nehru had already obtained the ‘consent’ of the then National Conference, led by popular leader Sheikh Abdullah.

According to Dr M K Teng, a constitutional expert and retired Head of the Department of Political Science of Kashmir University, “The accession of Jammu and Kashmir (with India) was unconditional and irrevocable”, as Maharaja Hari Singh, then ruler of the undivided state, had signed the same instrument of accession that other larger princely states had signed.  The “instrument of attachment”, he says, was not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, as it was a “post accession arrangement”, to consolidate smaller units in “administratively viable units”.  The facts have been kept ‘hidden’ which has led to ‘confusion’. Hari Singh was the sole authority to execute the accession on the terms specified by the dominion of India. When Sheikh was released from detention, on September 29, 1947, the NC, under his leadership, adopted a resolution and decided to support the state’s accession with India. The decision was conveyed to Nehru, but ‘interestingly’, says Mr Teng, in an article, appearing in the Kashmir Sentinel, official organ of Panun Kashmir, the NC kept the decision as a ‘closely-guarded secret’.  The princely states were not required to execute any ‘instrument of merger’.  This is why India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has said that Kashmir has acceded to India just like Mysore acceded to India.

To complete the process of integration of the small princely states, the State Department of India drew up an ‘Instrument of Attachment’, erroneously described as ‘Instrument of merger’. The major Indian states, including Jammu and Kashmir, were not required to sign the instrument of attachment. It was also mandatory for Pakistan to withdraw its invading forces from the occupied parts of Kashmir, as laid down by then Crown Prince and Governor General of India, Lord Mountbaten, Nehru and the Security Council, for any ‘reference to people’. Pakistan refused.

Roy has unabashedly interpreted ‘Indian nationalism’ as ‘aggressive’ and ‘Hinduised’. What has she to tell Jamiat Ulema-Hind, one of the largest Muslim organisation in India, for its affirmation that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.

*(The author is a senior journalist based at Pune)