Why is Nehru responsible for the Kashmir problem?

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India enjoys the spectacle of Kashmir

Many tears have been shed by the ruling BJP and the troll army for the Kashmiri Pandits. They point the finger at Farooq Abdullah, the Congress and Jawaharlal Nehru. However, three fingers point to the BJP.

Moreover, in general, Indians enjoy the drama unfolding in Kashmir so much that they seem to carefully avoid the truth, despite the truth staring them in the face.

Separatists claim Kashmiris have been deprived of their right to a plebiscite and independence.

The Kashmir problem is rightly blamed on terrorists across the border who enjoyed the support of the people of Kashmir. But what inspired these terrorists and their sympathizers? We get a simplistic answer that the 1987 elections were rigged, due to which Kashmiri Muslims became disillusioned and sided with Pakistan.

But what about the decades of rhetoric leading up to the 1987 election, even if the rigging charges were true? Over the decades we have heard of rigged elections all over India. But we don’t see ethnic cleansing anywhere else for this reason.

BJP and separatists read from same script

Separatists claim Kashmiris have been deprived of their right to a plebiscite and independence. Much to their delight, the BJP also perpetuates this same narrative that Nehru indeed made these promises. The BJP’s argument, which aims to mislead Hindus, is that Nehru sold out Indian interests to appease Muslims and their leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.

The liberals, in turn, take this BJP argument to its logical conclusion and demand that Kashmir be granted independence from India. They accuse Nehru of denying and breaking sacred promises.

In essence, the BJP and the separatists perpetuate the same narrative, but with different interpretations. Nehru is accused of both flattering and betraying Kashmiri Muslims on the same issues.

The myth of the uniqueness of membership in Kashmir

It has been said that Kashmir was never intended to integrate with India and membership was limited to Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications. It’s a half-truth. Every princely state received the same privilege – not just Kashmir.

Mountbatten, which began executing the instruments of accession in July 1947 in undivided India, had thus limited the reach of India and Pakistan in these states. However, after independence, the Indian government had gradually withdrawn this autonomy from all the princely states, including Kashmir.

The Pakistani government has taken similar measures on its territory. One can argue about the morality of breaking promises made to princely states. But the false claim that only Kashmiris were victims of this deception turned out to be a dangerous incitement.

Sikkim, which joined India in 1950, was a much more special case than Kashmir. Nehru’s government not only allowed the monarchy (Chogyal) to continue, but did not interfere with any matters beyond those agreed upon in the Instrument of Accession. The Jan Sangh, who campaigned for the full integration of Kashmir into India, never complained about Sikkim, which is Buddhist.

However, even Sikkim lost its autonomy in 1975.

The myth of Kashmir’s right to independence

Kashmir 1947 newspaper clipping
The possibility of Kashmir becoming an independent country never existed.

While independence was technically possible under India’s Independence Act of 1947, it was impractical and therefore not permitted by Mountbatten. Not even a single princely state out of more than 600 that existed in 1947, in Indian or Pakistani territory (including present-day Bangladesh), became an independent country.

Thus, the possibility of Kashmir becoming an independent country never existed. Many seem to think that there was a separate agreement for Kashmir in the 1947 law, which is wrong.

Many speak of Nehru’s promise of self-determination, which was a promise to all Indians, not just Kashmiris. He didn’t mean separate countries for everyone. Nehru meant a republic, free of feudal monarchs, which his government delivered in 1950 in the form of a Constitution, followed by elections in 1952.

The myth of Nehru internationalizing Kashmir

I have already debunked the BJP myth of Nehru supposedly declaring a premature ceasefire, handing over Kashmir to the UN and washing his hands. Finance Minister N Sitharaman, once again, had accused Nehru to “internationalize Kashmir”.

Why did his own government “internationalize” the Pulwama incident? Was India incapable of coping with it? If Kashmir was truly internationalized, how did its BJP government unilaterally branch off and downgrade it to union territory status in 2019 without UN permission?

nehru
The BJP’s agenda is to polarize Hindus in the rest of India against Nehru and thereby undermine the Congress.

The false and irresponsible arguments of the BJP leaders not only undermine the integrity of India, but endanger the Hindu minority in the valley. The BJP’s repeated vilifications that Nehru was “handing over Kashmir to the UN and thus nullifying membership” had reinforced the belief among Kashmiri Muslims that India was an “illegal occupier”, which then turned against those who were “pro-Indian”.

The BJP’s agenda is to polarize Hindus in the rest of India against Nehru and thereby undermine the Congress. Congress, for its part, has no idea and doesn’t even bother to debunk it. They then hold Chintan Shivir, ask why they lose the elections.

The myth of the plebiscite and the misdeeds of the BJP

In 1947, plebiscites were held by India in several places including Sylhet and Junagarh. People had the option of going to India or Pakistan. Becoming an independent country was never an option. So even if the plebiscite were held in 1948, as required by UNSC Resolution 47, an independent nation of Kashmir would not be an option.

Contrary to BJP claims that Nehru’s intention to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir was a big mistake, it was a great idea and in India’s best interest. If the plebiscite did take place in April 1948 as planned by Nehru, India would win hands down.

More importantly, according to UNSC Resolution 47, as a precondition for the plebiscite, Pakistan was to hand over PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan to India. Indians should actually be sad that the plebiscite could not be held in 1948. Knowing well that he would lose everything Pakistan had, Jinnah rejected it.

Liberals, separatists and Pakistan argue that the plebiscite should be held now, that too just in Indian-held territories. This is neither in line with UNSC Resolution 47 nor anything Nehru ever planned or promised.

The great patriot and one of India’s finest diplomats, VK Krishna Menon, had told the UN that “a plebiscite once offered and rejected cannot be an eternal offer”. Indians often remember that 8 o’clock speech at the UN by this South Indian with amusement and contempt but, sadly, never with appreciation.

Separatists and liberals should really blame Pakistan, not Nehru, for ignoring the UNSC resolution and depriving Kashmiris of their plebiscite. With the popularity of Gandhi, Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah on the one hand and the atrocities committed by Pakistani sponsored “raiders” on the other, Kashmir of 1948 would undoubtedly and overwhelmingly choose India over Pakistan.

The BJP and the liberal plot against Nehru

The BJP embraces the separatism narrative and misleads the Indian people regarding Nehru’s stance on the plebiscite, the United Nations and Article 370. This gives impetus to separatism and emboldens Pakistan while convincing the Kashmiri Muslims that they need their so-called long-promised plebiscite and independence.

The “historians” and the Congress Party are silent spectators for their own reasons of ignorance, appeasement and other agendas. On the other hand, the media promotes false narratives and promotes the bashing of Nehru. Kashmiri Hindus and innocent Muslims were collateral damage in this conspiracy against Nehru.

If all Indians in unison would speak the truth that Nehru did not make any unreasonable promises or break them, Kashmiri Muslims would not be under the illusion of deprivation nor under the influence of the separatists.

With the unequivocal affirmation of all Indians that Nehru’s promises to Kashmiris have already been fulfilled, similar to the communication made by Krishna Menon to the UN, a strong message could have been sent to Pakistan and the great tragedy of atrocities against the Pandits could have been avoided.

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