Is Art 370 basic to Kashmir’s Accession – Part 4

Josef Korbel was the Czech representative on the United Nations Commission for India & Pakistan (UNCIP).  He wrote a book on Kashmir based on his personal experience (Danger in Kashmir, Published in 1954). Josef Korbel was no ordinary man. He shifted to US where he taught International Politics at the University of Denver. Condoleezza Rice, the first woman NSA was his student. She later become the Secretary of State. Madeline Albright, the first woman Secretary of State was his daughter. Find below an excerpt from Pages 218 – 222 of his book. I have added the foot notes at the relevant places to show that he did quote from unimpeachable sources.


Drifting from India

Simultaneously with these political and economic trends, Kashmir has also undergone radical development in her constitutional position. Principally through the shrewd maneuvering (sic) of Sheikh Abdullah and his associates, she has succeeded in securing privileged rights within the Republic of India which no other Indian state enjoys.

It will be remembered that according to the promise given by Lord Mountbatten as Viceroy of India and by Nehru’s government, the Princely States were assured of retaining all powers and asked to hand over to the central government only foreign affairs, defense, and communications. These provisions were stipulated in detail in the instruments of accession signed by the Maharaja. But aImost inevitably the Princely States soon found themselves stripped of all powers and their states amalgamated within individual provinces of the Indian Union.

Kashmir, however, did not fuse with the Indian Union, but retained rights of autonomy. The Maharaja of Kashmir in one sense followed the fate of his princely colleagues, but he was deprived of his powers, not by the government of India, but rather by his own Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah. The Maharaja, partly because he was unable to exercise his prerogatives from exile and partly as a protest against Sheikh Abdullah’s policy, issued on June 20, 1949 a proclamation through which he turned over to his son, the Yuvaraj Shri Karansinghji Bahadur, all his princely rights. From that time until the summer of 1953 it was Sheikh Abdullah’s systematic policy, using this son as a figurehead, to keep and maintain Kashmir autonomy against any infringement by the Indian government.

In September 1949 the National Conference met in Srinagar. Celebrations were held, meetings organized, and resolutions passed. The Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was present. “During the entire celebration when Srinagar wore a festive appearance with flags . . . the Indian National Flag was conspicuous by its absence. The State Flag of the ruling dynasty has practically disappeared. . . . The flag of the National Conference which has been adopted as the State flag is perhaps rightly flown all over the place,” wrote an Indian newspaper. (The Hindu. Sept 29. 1949) The meeting passed a resolution reaffirming the National Conference decision not to accept any limitation on Kashmir autonomy.

It expressed faith in the New Kashmir program and appealed “to the freedom loving peoples of the whole world, to the indivisible fraternity of all true democrats in all lands to lend their moral and material support to our cause.” Significantly enough, it also stated that “nobody will . . .deny that ugly communal elements kept raising heads in India…..”. (The Hindu, Sept 24, 1949)

Many politicians in New Delhi expressed dissatisfaction with these manifestations of Sheikh Abdullah’s independent mindedness and pointed to the fact that it was Indian money which was footing the bills for this Kashmir government, which now,  with the assistance of these same grants, was drifting away from its Indian protector. The Indian government attempted several times, but with no success, to convince Sheikh Abdullah to fall in line with other Princely States and merge with India.

On October 17, 1949, the Constituent Assembly in Delhi passed a new article of the Constitution, according to which constitutional provisions concerning the Princely States do not apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir and stating further that certain specified matters can be legislated by the Indian Parliament only in concurrence with the state’s government. (Art 238,370 of the Constitution of India). The spokesman of the Indian government., G. Ayyangar, who defended the amendment in the face of opposition from several quarters, expressed the hope “that in due course Jammu and Kashmir will become ripe for the same sort of integration as has taken place in the case of other States.” (From G. Ayyangar speech in the Parliament, October 17, 1949). If Mr. Ayyangar had expected to woo the Kashmiris with such generosity of spirit, he was sadly disappointed. Sheikh Abdullah, now even more firmly entrenched in power, only reaffirmed his position and his policy of autonomy from India.

The young Maharaja-Regent on occasion attempted to slow down the policy of radical reforms. But Sheikh Abdullah always moved with vigor. On one occasion particularly he warned the Maharaja that not only would he never be allowed to return to Kashmir but also that if his son persisted “in seeking the advice of reactionaries and communalists, I can only tell him . . . that his future will not be far different from that of his father.” (The Hindu, April 8, 1951)

By eliminating the Maharaja from any voice in Kashmir affairs, Sheikh Abdullah’s government followed the policy of giving to its own position an appearance of legality and democratic procedure. In October 1950 the General Council  of the National Conference passed a resolution asking for elections for a Constituent Assembly which would determine “the future shape and affiliations of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.” As could have been expected, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Sir Zafrulla Khan, raised a protest with the Security Council against this policy, which in his view prejudiced the final determination of whether Kashmir would join India or Pakistan. (S/1942 of December 14, 1950) The Security Council affirmed in its resolution of March 30, 1951 that the convening of a Constituent Assembly and any action concerning the future of the state would not be in accordance with the previous agreement on plebiscite. (S/2017/Rev. 1 of March 30, 1951.) The Indian government, though insisting that the Constituent Assembly could not be physically prevented from expressing its opinion about the future of Kashmir, declared that it would not be bound by this opinion.

The government of Sheikh Abdullah was not discouraged by the Security Council resolution. In May 1951 the Yuvaraj issued a proclamation convoking a Constituent Assembly on the basis of free elections by all citizens of the state over 21 years of age by means of a direct and secret ballot. The elections were prepared in the summer of 1951 and were held in September and October on three consecutive dates. People were to elect 75 deputies, 45 of whom were to represent Kashmir and Ladakh, and 30 Jammu. In Kashmir and Ladakh the elections, if they can be so called, were fairly simple. Forty-three candidates were elected unopposed one week before the election date, and two independent candidates withdrew under pressure later. There was actually no balloting. In Jammu the authorities rejected the nomination papers of the Praja Parishad, the opposition party, in 13 constituencies on the pretext that they were not properly presented or, as the leaders of the party put it, “on the flimsiest grounds and under pressure from the government.” (The Times of India, Sept 27, 1951) Thus before the election date Sheikh Abdullah ,vas assured of 58 friendly members in the Constituent Assembly. Three days before the elections in Jammu, on October 12, the Praja Parishad announced a boycott of the elections and accused the government of “illegal practices and official interference, wholesale rejections of Parishad nomination papers.” (The Times (London), Oct 13, 1951). This gave to the National Conference another 1 5 seats. The last two contestants dropped out at the last moment. Before the polling began, therefore, Sheikh Abdullah’s followers were sure of the full 75 seats. No dictator could do better. Nehru stated that he was “sure that the way people had voted showed clearly that they were with the National Conference and with India.” (The Hindu, Oct 19, 1951)


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