Instrument of accession: a leaf from the history

By M.J. Aslam

India claims that ex-Monarch of JK the Maharaja Hari Singh signed Instrument of Accession (IOA) with India on 26-10-1947 that in turn justified India airlifting its troops at Srinagar airport on 27-10-1947 to defend the State against “tribal invasion”. However, this claim of India has been doubted & rejected by many reputed historians. Indian Troops entered Kashmir on 27th October 1947 but their Patiala troops were already days before stationed in Jammu. ( Kashmir Issue, , a historical perspective, by A M Mattoo). There are number of historical facts that assail the claim of IOA having ever been signed by MHS. In fact proforma copy of IOA was prepared by India , sent to different rulers of erstwhile India States for signatures . Most of these proforma agreements returned signed by the rulers but in the case of JK it was not signed at all . So, writes world reputed historian, Alaister Lamb, about it in these words: (1) the Maharaja was in the process of abandoning Srinagar and removing his Government to Jammu in the comparative safety of the other side of the Banihal Pass . He departed in a spectacular motor cavalcade at dawn on 26 October; and he could hardly be expected to reach Jammu before late that evening. The Maharaja certainly signed no papers. (2) It is curious that at the evening meeting of Defence Committee of India on 26 October , although it was decided that overt Indian intervention in Kashmir should go ahead while in fact there was at this point no signed Instrument. (3) This absence of a completed IOA that evening of 26 October was pointed to by Mountbatten himself when Ian Stephens of the Calcutta the Statesman newspaper came to dine with him and his wife. Stephens recorded the main points which were raised by his host about the storm then brewing in Kashmir. He writes : “the Maharajah’s formal accession to India was BEING finalized”. in other words that it was still an incomplete process. The Indian troops, however, were going in to Kashmir come what may. (4) Mountbatten delivered what to Stephens seemed an extraordinary anti-Pakistan diatribe. The real enemies in Kashmir were the Muslim League and its leader, M.A. Jinnah. They had planned the whole invasion, aided and abetted by certain British officials; and at this very moment, 26 October, Jinnah was waiting in Abbottabad ready to ride in triumph to Srinagar. Where Pakistan had plotted without scruple, India had acted with impeccable openness and honesty. Stephens was shocked at the way in which Mountbatten had become, it then seemed to him, more Hindu than the Hindus (others were to note this phenomenon over the next few days). (5) Mountbatten appeared to have accepted without question every rumour hostile to Pakistan. The story of Jinnah at Abbottabad, which was completely without foundation (he was then in Lahore), was a good example; and subsequently it has entered the mythology of the Kashmir dispute. It is clear from this account that Mountbatten had reached a state of mind where such niceties as the actual completion of the accession process had ceased to matter. What had to be done was to get the gallant Indian troops inside Kashmir. (Birth of a Tragedy-Kashmir-1947, pages 90, 95, 96). “One may well wonder why the GOI, had it indeed been in possession of a properly signed Instrument of Accession , did not publish it as such in the 1948 White-Paper, it would certainly have been the documentary jewel in India’s Kashmiri crown. A version of this profoma was eventually produced in 1971 .The best that can be said about the IOA is that it raises grave doubts as to its authenticity. Despite much search, there is good reason to believe that the original Maharaja’s copy of this, or any other, form of Instrument of Accession has failed to turn up in the Jammu & Kashmir State Archives. There are well informed people who deny that any such document ever existed.”(Ibid at pages 102-103).

The question is very simple: Nehru filed petition/complaint in UN himself against Pak following developments of October 1947. Any person with ABC knowledge of law knows that every petitioner/complainant/plaintiff while filing it before court attaches basic documents with it to sustain its claim before the court. Since alleged IOA formed basic document on which India could have based its claim over Kashmir, why wasn’t it attached with the petition lodged by India/Nehru? The answer is that it didn’t exist at all. The printed proforma sent for signatures of MHS was not signed at all. Further, why it took India 25 years till 1971 to “display” it publicly. Why BJP for this very reason of doubtful IOA is repeatedly saying that it was a big mistake on the part of Nehru to approach UN.

Not surprising that on return from Jammu, with the Instrument of Accession in his hands, VP Menon, is said to have waved it at Alexander Symons, the British High Commissioner to India, and told him jubilantly: ” “Here it is! We have Kashmir. The bastard (MHS) signed the Act of Accession. And now that we have got it, we will never let it go. (Justice M.Y. Saraf, Kashmir Fights for Freedom, vol. II, (1947-1978) p.922, published by Ferozsons, Lahore). So the whole drama about accession was in doubt from day one. The terms of reference were clear. That is why it is not being put into public domain.( see also Shabnam Qayoom’s book, instrument of accession, a farce claim(2015).

Note: The views are personal of the author based on mentioned sources and not of the organisation he works for.

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