Is Article 370 basic to Kashmir’s Accession? – Part 1

 

Recently (May 27th, 2014) ToI reported as below:

Soon after, Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah strongly objected to the minister’s statement and tweeted, “So the new MOS PMO says process/discussions to revoke Art 370 have started. Wow, that was a quick beginning. Not sure who is talking.”

He went on to add, “Mark my words & save this tweet – long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won’t be part of India or Art 370 will still exist.”

“Art 370 is the ONLY constitutional link between J&K & rest of India. Talk of revocation of not just ill informed it’s irresponsible,” he added.

NDTV later quoted Jitendra Singh as saying, “the statement on Article 370 has been misquoted, the controversy is totally baseless,”

Not only Omar Abdullah but many others have made Article 370 the bed rock of relations between India (Note it is not rest of India) and Kashmir. Obviously Jammu & Ladakh does not count. But that is not my point. This is a long story too much has happened to be discussed in a single blog post. Just on Kashmir’s accession to India and a view on Sec 370. Even here it is nowhere near 360*. Just a minor perspective.

It was January 1957. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan had written a letter to the Security Council asking for an early resolution of the Kashmir Issue. India in general & Krishna Menon was hated by the West for their stand on Hungary & Suez issue. Pakistan on the other hand had joined the Western Alliance. So India was literally isolated in the World Stage.  The Kashmir Constituent Assembly had already resolved to “merge” with India, but at the stroke of midnight 1957, the Assembly was to be dissolved. India was keen that there were no negative resolutions from the Security Council. Pakistan and the Western World were keen to seize the propaganda moment.

Krishna Menon was physically in a bad shape but did his best to carry the day for India. Menon’s opening speech on Jan 23rd, was the longest speech in the history of UN till then. After four sessions  two each on Jan 23rd & Jan 24th, the debate was still incomplete.  But the crucial moment Jan 26th had passed uneventful. Menon again spoke on Feb 8th & Feb 15th. In fact the total speeches over nine sessions has been printed into book and runs to around 222 pages.  On 15th February, a new resolution was tabled by Britain, Australia, U.S. & Cuba suggesting the stationing of UN troops in Kashmir. This to India was equating the India with the aggressor.

Menon capped a rousing speech with the following words:

“There is this enormous political, civil, social consciousness in our country. We would not by any step we might take, however unpopular we may be at the time, however much we may appear not to be listening to the majority that speaks here, we will not throw our hand in on the side of violence and this procedure is promotion of violence. There is a duty laid upon you today, not for injunctions upon us, but injunctions upon them to withdraw from the territory, to stop this campaign of hatred, to rescind the provisions of their constitution, to restore local authorities, to place them under a United Nations commissioner in order to enable the Government of India to protect the frontiers of India and the track routes as are necessary. These are obligations that rest on the Security Council. This is my submission.”

T J S George in his biography of Krishna Menon says at this point Menon fell with a thud and medical help was sought. The next session was on 20th. Krishna Menon was running a temperature of 106 and his blood pressure was a low of 80. The Indian Government wanted him to continue. ON 20th he told this to the Council (Blogger’s Comment: Hope Omar Abdullah reads this):

My friend, the representative of the Philippines – who, in spite of all differences, is a good personal friend – is entirely in error in the reading of the facts in this matter and we would find no impartial, legal or juridical support for his position. If that position is taken there is no basis for talking at all. Besides, I want to submit to the Council another proposition. As a former Governor-General of India said: “What is Kashmir, a no-man’s land?” My colleague says, in his very laboured attempt to establish equality of the two sides, that neither Pakistan nor India has sovereignty in this place. If it is a no-man’s land that would be a very peculiar position. On the other hand, if neither of us has sovereignty, it will go back to -the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir whose son is the President of the Kashmir State at the present moment. There may be some advantage in that, but we are not prepared to take advantage of it.

The other half of the argument would be how Article 370 came about. We should explore that in a separate post.

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