Mani Shankar Aiyar On Wrong Foot

By Abdul Majid Zargar

This write-up is in response to the interview of veteran congressman, Mani Shankar Aiyar, published in daily  Rising Kashmir of 24th May 2017.

Let me say at the outset that I hold Aiyar in highest esteem for his unwavering commitment to secularism. Sticking to  secular views against heavy odds  and  even after his party and its mandarins adopted ‘soft Hindutva’ policy for electoral dividends, is by no means a small  achievement  .His insistence on  ‘uninterrupted & uninterruptible’  Indo-Pak dialogue  to resolve Kashmir issue is a  highly laudable effort which has endeared him to many hearts in Kashmir.

The meat & potatoes of Aiyar’s  interview  is that BJP is responsible  for the current situation  in Kashmir. In arriving at this conclusion, I am afraid he  has  betrayed intellectual dishonesty and  distorted facts about the accession & Indo-Kashmir political relations.  Even my highest personal reverence  for him doesn’t entitle him to be let free without being confronted with facts.

Let me explain.

In reply to first question from Rising Kashmir  correspondent (RKC) that ‘Do you think it was wise on part of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel to keep Kashmir with India?’- Aiyar replies in affirmative and gives a graphic detail of  events leading to accession of Kashmir by the Maharaja according to his own perception. In the same breath, he cites the  event of converting  Muslim conference into ‘National Conference’  in 1938-39 to buttress his argument of overwhelming choice of Muslims to Join secular India even before the idea of Pakistan was born. Obviously Mr. Aiyar is  well informed & conversant with the subject.

  • Now RKC puts him the second  question which goes like this ‘  Why Nehru arrested Sheikh Abdullah in 1953?’ and Aiyar’s reply is  ‘I also put this same question to one of my close friends. How this episode unfolded, I really don’t know? However, what is clear is that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was member of the Indian delegation of United Nation which in January 1948 insisted that the act of accession had been completed. Then in 1952 Sheikh Abdullah came to Delhi and signed the Delhi Agreement and under that Delhi Agreement there was no doubt about the accession of Maharaja being ratified by the people of Kashmir. Finally, Article 1 of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution says that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. So, if anyone wants to re-open these issues today; the one thing that is not re-openable is the accession of Jammu and Kashmir ‘

Now Mr. Aiyar- Whom are you kidding  here? You know every detail of 1947 when Maharaja acceded to India-You also know the events of 1938-39 leading  to conversion of  ‘Muslim Conference ‘ into ‘National conference’ to make Abdullah(and by extended logic  people of Kashmir)  ideologically  congruent & compatible  to  India. But surprisingly you don’t know the details of events occurring six year later when Nehru  in an unprecedented action  dethroned Prime Minster Abdullah & put him behind bars like an ordinary criminal  in 1953.– This is a worst instance of your intellectual dishonesty to  keep under wraps the obnoxious political game  played  by  top Congress leaders and help you  to arrive at your desired conclusion.  

The fact of the matter is that when Abdullah refused to yield more & more powers to Delhi, Nehru decided to remove him from scene & install Bhakshi on throne, whom  he had been grooming much earlier than Delhi agreement was executed. Being a fan & follower of Nehru, you must be knowing that instructions to sack him were recorded by Nehru’s  secretary Mathai   on July 31st  which means Nehru had decided  the game much earlier.In this nefarious game, he even  sought  assistance from Spymaster  B.N.Mullick (My Years With Nehru, 1971, pages 41-45) and  another  confidant, Brig. B.M. Kaul ( Untold Story, 1968). Even  Corps Commander at Udhampur, Lt.-Gen. Atal, was alerted in advance to deal with any eventuality. Nehru falsely denied that he had any role in the matter – to the President on August 9; Parliament on August 10; the State Chief Ministers  on August 22 and even to his daughter Indira Gandhi, who was opposed to the action on August 9.And  to quote veteran political analyst Mohammad Syed Malik ‘ This event stands out as the defining fault line in the turbulent politics of the perennially troubled – and troubling  border state’.

Going further, Mr. Aiyar says that   ratification of   Maharaja’s accession by people of Kashmir was a foregone conclusion when Abdullah travelled  to  Delhi in 1952  to put his seal on what is known as ‘Delhi agreement.’ Nothing can be further from truth than this statement. The fact is that Mahraja’s limited accession with India on three subjects was further  subject to ratification by the will of people( plebescite) which was also mandated by UN in its various resolutions passed & reiterated  over  a period of  nearly 10 years starting from 1948, when India took the matter to it. However to circumvent these promises & resolutions, a constituent Assembly of J&K was got constituted through farcical elections in which 73 out of 75 members were elected unopposed (Remaining two non-muslim members were dubbed as Pakistani agents & forced to withdraw)  and when Abdullah refused to surrender more powers to Delhi at her persistent insistence, he was dethroned & put behind bars. It is this constituent assembly, devoid of any  representative character  and further marred by Abdullah’s arrest in 1953 which ratified the accession. All this happened under the direction, superintendence & control  of Pandith Nehru.

Responding to dismissal of Farooq Abdullah Govt. in 1984, Mr. Aiyar has again been economical with truth. According to him  Rajiv immediately after coming to power reached out to Farooq that extinguished whatever anger there was between National Conference and Congress vis-à-vis the action taken by her mother. Well Mr. Aiyar- Rajiv assumed power in 1984 & restored Farooq’s chair in 1986.The interregnum of  little less than two years  is by no means ‘immediate’  and this period was in-fact utilized to make farooq realize that nothing in Kashmir  works except with the will & ‘Ashirward’ of  Delhi resulting in so-called ‘Rajiv-Farooq ‘ accord. This accord  culminated in massively rigged elections of 1987, which eroded the trust in vote & compelled our  boys to pick guns for enforcement of their rights. Your assertion that these elections were not rigged is only worth a loud laugh- LOL as it is  called   in social media lexicon.

This column does not permit me to detail each & every incident like perpetual rigging of elections, installing puppet Chief Minsters  & appointing stupid and impolitic governors to facilitate erosion of article 370 ,playing inter-regional communal card, propping extra-constitutional coteries   and above all Congressmen’s urge  to thrust  their party on the state, which congress indulged in to play a havoc with the body politic of J&K State.  We have no doubt that Congress is fully responsible for the political hara-kiri in Kashmir resulting in the mess in which we find ourselves entrapped today. BJP is only continuing Congress policies   with the  only addition of  Cow to its agenda.  

(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E-mail: abdulmajidzargar@gmail.com)

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