Each year, on 19 July the Kashmiris on both sides of Line of Control and across the world observe the Accession to Pakistan Day. On this day, they renew their pledge to continue the struggle for freedom from Indian occupation.
First Accession: On this day in 1947, All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference passed a resolution for Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan at the residence of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan in Aabi Guzar area of Srinagar.
The historic resolution recalled that the Kashmiri’s future was inextricably linked with Pakistan because of a geographical, cultural and economic relationship with Pakistan. The resolution epitomized the ethos of millions of Kashmiri Muslims whose hearts throbbed with people of Pakistan. This was the first unequivocal resolution by Kashmir aligning his future with Pakistan. It is enshrined in Azad Jammu and Kashmir Constitution also.
The Second Accession: The second accession is touted by India in a mythical instrument of accession signed by maharajah of Kashmir with India on October 26, 1947.
By scrapping of the disputed state’s special status, India itself has torn the instrument to shreds. The cartographic annexation of the state (August 5) not only violates the terms of accession in the so-called instrument but also violates United Nations resolutions and the Simla Accord.
The ‘Instrument of Accession’ was signed before Article 370 came into being. As such, it is the foundation of the state’s special status.
Critical voices in Kashmir and India
The former chief minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, called the revocation of the special status “a total betrayal of the trust that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had reposed in India when the State acceded to it in 1947”.
The removal of the special status without consulting the people of disputed state amounts to compromising the state’s autonomy that was fundamental to the accession.
Faizan Mustafa, vice-chancellor of National Academy of Legal Studies and Research, Hyderabad pointed out, `This is a unilateral withdrawal of a promise that was fundamental to Jammu and Kashmir’s relation to India’.
Around 1930s, Quit Kashmir Movement started against Maharaja Hari Singh. He faced a revolt from the Muslims of his kingdom. During this movement, Sheikh emerged as a charismatic popular leader of the Muslim population, though his authority was whittled down in later period by rival Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas.
The so-called instrument of accession empowered India to make laws as applicable to Jammu and Kashmir only under three subjects: defence, external affairs and communications.
In 1949, Hari Singh appointed Sheikh Abdullah as the prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, who in turn joined the Indian Constituent Assembly to negotiate a special status for the state. Negotiations led to Article 370. India was debarred from legislating about the disputed state except through via media of Article 370.
What is the status of the instrument of accession
Still, legally, the document remains the source of the disputed state’s integration with India. The Centre has not made any changes to this instrument. The thorny question is whether the modification of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, affects the Instrument of accession and thereby the position of the disputed state as an integral part of India.
Article 370 was more about autonomy than of integration. India applied principle jis ki lathi us ki bhains (might is right). This principle allows China to annex the whole of Ladakh, and even the disputed state.
The myth of `integral part’, Perfidious Nehru to Modi: Analysis: Kashmir is a simmering cauldron. For about seven decades, India has denied the Kashmiri right of self-determination. It claims that the occupied Kashmir’s constituent assembly had voted for accession of disputed Kashmir to India. As such, it is no longer necessary for her to let the promised plebiscite be held in Kashmir.
Is India’s argument tenable? Does history or documents corroborate India’s stand? Let us look a bit closely at India’s stance.
It is the Treaty of Amritsar (1846) which entitled Gulab Singh to rule Jammu and Kashmir State. This treaty stands lapsed under Article 7 of the Independence Act. The Act was passed by British Parliament on July 18, 1947 to assent to creation of independent states of India and Pakistan. The aforementioned Article 7 provides that, with lapse of His Majesty’s suzerainty over Indian states, all treaties, agreements, obligations, grants, usages and sufferance’s will lapse.
Mountbatten deliberately kept mum about this reality for considerations of political expediency. He was not ‘politically naive, much less a fool’ not to realise this truth. According to his biographer, Ziegler, Mountbatten had a ‘powerful, analytic mind of crystalline clarity’. Yet, he had ‘legendary capacity for self-deception’. He ‘was a man who preferred falsehood to truth’.
Even the ‘Instrument’ of Accession is void for several reasons. The Independence Act required the intention of accession to be absolute and crystal-clear. But, a stray glance at the ‘Instrument’ would make it clear that it is equivocal. The ‘Instrument’ expresses ‘intention to set up an interim government and to ask Sheikh Abdullah to carry the responsibilities’ with maharajah’s prime minister.
The last sentence in the ‘Instrument’ is ‘In haste and with kind regards’. Handwritten corrections on the text of the ‘Instrument’ speak volubly about the wavering state of the maharajah’s mind. The instrument, extracted under coercion and duress, is untenable under law.
UN’s admonition on the farcical accession
Subsequent accession resolution, passed by the occupied Kashmir’s ‘constituent assembly’ is also void. This resolution violates the Security Council’s resolutions forbidding India from going ahead with the accession farce.
Aware of India’s intention to get the ‘Instrument of Accession’ rubber-stamped by the puppet assembly, the Security Council passed two resolutions to forestall the `foreseeable accession’ by the puppet assembly. Security Council’s Resolution No 9 of March 30, 1951 and affirmative Resolution No 122 of March 24, 1957 outlaws accession or any other action to change status of the Jammu and Kashmir state.
Renowned journalist Alastair Lamb also regards the Instrument of Accession, ‘signed’ by the maharajah of Kashmir on October 26, 1947, as fraudulent (Kashmir – A disputed legacy 1846-1990). She argues that the maharajah was travelling by road to Jammu (a distance of over 350 km). How could he sign the instrument while being on the run for safety of his life? There is no evidence of any contact between him and the Indian emissaries on October 26, 1947.
Actually, it was on October 27, 1947 that the maharajah was informed by M.C.Mahajan and V.P.Menon (who had flown into Srinagar) that an Instrument of Accession is being fabricated in New Delhi. Obviously, the maharajah could not have signed the instrument earlier than October 27, 1947.
The instrument remains null and void, even if the maharajah had actually signed it. The reason, as pointed out by Alastair is that the `signatures’ were obtained under coercion. He points out Indian troops had already arrived at and secured Srinagar airfield during the middle of October 1947.
On October 26, 1947, a further airlift of thousands of Indian troops to Kashmir took place. He questions: “Would the maharajah have signed the Instrument of Accession, had the Indian troops not been on Kashmiri soil?” It is eerie to note that India never showed the original `Instrument’ at any international forum. If he was truthful, it should have the temerity to present the document to Pakistan or to the UN.
Isn’t it funny that, in the summer of 1995, the Indian authorities reported the original document as lost or stolen? This fact further beclouds the authenticity of the document.
India took Kashmir issue to the UN in 1948 under article 35 of Chapter VI (Pacific Settlement of Disputes) which outlines the means for a peaceful settlement of disputes. India avoided presenting the Kashmir case under the UN Chapter VII which relates to acts of aggression. Obviously, it did so because it knew that Kashmir was a disputed state. And, issue of its integration with India or Pakistan remained to be resolved.
India’s politics of maps
By amending its maps, India has included not only Azad Kashmir but also Gilgit Baltistan within Indian Territory. Pakistan parliament should enact maps to re-stress disputed contours of the Jammu and Kashmir State. These maps should be widely available and distributed. Recently two Pak TV employees were sacked for displaying an Indian version of the map.
Kashmir watch published a map showing Aksai Chin as `territory ceded by Pakistan to India’. Following objection, it replaced the map with a BBC map which shows the territory as `China-controlled’. A. G. Noorani points out, `In truth, China … got no territory. Instead, it was Pakistan which secured from China 750 square miles of administered territory (A. G. Noorani, Facing the truth, June 5, 2020, Frontline, Print edition: October 06, 2006).
India’s aggression to include disputed territories within Indian Union is puerile. AG Noorani rightly points out; Maps are not documents of title. They are of evidentiary value, depending on the circumstances. Published over time as a matter of course and with consistency, they provide good evidence. If they conflict with the state’s claims, they can constitute an admission. Published to create evidence, they are worthless.
You cannot claim Mexico by showing it as Indian territory on our maps. The value of foreign maps depends on their provenance, whether in a work of learning or otherwise. Maps in periodicals or books published after a dispute have arisen do not affect either side’s case; only the mental balance of some Indian officials, which is precarious even at the best of times. It is puerile to stamp warnings on issues of foreign magazines. Readers abroad do not enjoy the benefit of the warning, anyway, sadly’.
How Perfidious Pandit Jawahar Lal Kaul (assumed surname Nehru) backstabbed naïve Sheikh Abdullah: Abrogation of Article 370 about special status and Article 35-A (hereditary rights) was not Narendra Modi’s overnight exploit. It is rooted in India’s perfidious lip-service to plebiscite promise.
Barkha Dutt recalls (This Unquiet Land, p. 154) `In a 1948 speech to the United Nations, Sheikh Abdullah, the most formidable political leader the state of Jammu and Kashmir had ever seen, made a blistering defence of the accession to India. Sher-e-Kashmir (Lion of Kashmir) roared, :I had thought all along that the world had got rid of Hitlers…but what is happening in my poor country I am convinced that they have transmigrated their souls into Pakistan…I refuse to accept Pakistan as a party in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir’.
Dutt says, “Sheikh Abdullah [later] began to talk about possibility of independent Kashmir….Soon after he changed his stance he was jailed and dismissed from office and was not able to lead the state for another twenty years’.
Dutt analyses that even azadi (freedom) slogan was a ruse to push back `Jammu ko alag karo’ (separate the Jammu) slogan raised by Balraj Madhok’s Bharatiya Jana Singh (precursor to BJP). `The Sheikh’s clash was not just with Nehru, but closer home, with the praja parishad [local political party] of Jammu’.
Abdullah’s shifts of moods: Nehru was worried that Sheikh Abdullah had a mercurial nature. In his delirium tremens he may even announce to accede to Pakistan, or declare independence. Nehru feared Abdullah’s statements may harm ongoing debate at the United Nations about Kashmir.
Let me quote from Avtar Singh Bhasin’s book India and Pakistan: Neighbours at Odds (page 69). `On 2 April 1950, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, India’s ambassador to United States had reported from Washington that the ‘domestic and foreign policy continue to deteriorate and public opinion as well the State Department seem for the moment to have made up their minds to all out in support of Pakistan. Nehru refused to wilt under the pressure of official or public opinion in the US’.
Bhasin says on page 72, “On 9 July, Maulana Azad warned Sheikh Abdullah if “the independence of the Valley was recognised, Kashmir would inevitably fall into Pakistan’s hands” and “the only one way of safeguarding well-being of the people of Kashmir was for Sheikh Abdullah to hold steadfastly to the existing relationship with India’. `Soon things almost came to a head. In July, Bakshi and Mirza Afal Beg came to Delhi. The latter conveyed Sheikh Abdullah’s `final views about the desirability of declaring Kashmir’s independence’.
`The 15 July 1953 letter by Sheikh Abdullah to Nehru sounded like an ultimatum. Irked by the constant reminder to implement the Delhi Agreement and incorporate it provisions in the Constitution under preparation, Sheikh Abdullah told Nehru: `While recognizing the responsibilities and obligations that devolve on us by virtue of the Delhi Agreement, I would urge the corresponding commitments in regard to ascertaining the wishes of the people of the State may be fulfilled without any delay’. `He ended the letter with the remarks that endless discussions would serve no useful purpose’.
Bhasin says on page 73, `On 7 August a day before his arrest, BBC reported a significant passage from his speech on the Martyrs’ Day in the previous month, which had been blacked out in the Indian press: `If I felt that by remaining independent, Kashmir would be well off, I would not hesitate to raise my voice in favour of complete freedom for Kashmir. If I felt that Kashmir’s betterment lay in it accession to Pakistan, no power in the world could silence my voice’.
How Nehru hoodwinked Abdullah
Nehru made many assurances to tab Sheikh Abdullah’s over-ebullience. Bhasin tells on page 63 on basis of Nehruvian diaries, Nehru addressed a lengthy letter to him [Sheikh Abdullah] on 25 August 1952 from Sonamarg, where he was then camping. After narrating the events since the accession of the State in October 1947, he went on to assure him of his commitment to the people of the State that the future would be decided by them alone, and if they wanted India to be put out of Kashmir, there would be no hesitation.
He wrote, if the people of Kashmir clearly and definitely wish to Part Company from India, there the matter ends, however, we may dislike it or however disadvantageous it may to India. But…I see no change or whatever of any proper plebiscite determining this question because the plebiscite itself raises highly controversial issues in regard to the conditions governing it and all that.
So ruling out the plebiscite we have to accept the present leadership of Kashmir and the Constituent Assembly there as representing the will of the people of Kashmir. If the Constituent Assembly told India to get out of Kashmir, we would get out, because under no circumstances can we remain here against the expressed will of the people. As far as I know, the constituent Assembly will not do such a thing and therefore, the question does not arise for me’. Kashmir would have been freed if Abdullah had been less gullible.
The Kashmiri’s indomitable fighting spirit. It looks paradoxical that India has abolished Martyrs Day (July 31) and Sheikh Abdullah’s anniversaries from Kashmir 2020 calendar. And instead introduced Accession to India (July 26).
India invaded the Valley: `Accession’ was a myth, kept alive through Indian propaganda. The factual position is that India marched its troops into Kashmir without Maharajah’s permission _ an act of aggression. Historian Alastair Lamb, in his book Incomplete Partition (Chapter VI: The Accession Crisis, pp. 149-151) points out that Mountbatten wanted India not to intervene militarily without first getting `instrument of accession’ from maharajah [prince] Hari Singh. Not doing so would amount to `intervening in the internal affairs of what was to all intents and purposes an independent State in the throes of civil conflict’. But, India did not heed his advice.
Lamb says `timing of the alleged instrument of Accession undoubtedly affected its legitimacy'(p.172, ibid.). He adds `If in fact, it took place after the Indian intervention, then it could well be argued that it was either done under Indian duress or to regularise an Indian fait accompli’.
Inference: From the foregoing, it is evident that the Instrument of Accession does not exist. The `accession’ of the disputed state, through a resolution of the puppet assembly, is null and void. This `resolution’ violates the Security Council’s directive, forbidding India from taking any unilateral action. Pakistan should amend its history text-books to incorporate the Muslim Conference resolution.
Mr. Amjed Jaaved is the editor of the monthly magazine, The Consul. He is the author of eight e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.