Dream deferred; dream denied?

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Dream deferred; dream denied?

Sunday, 10 March 2019 | Kumar Chellappan

Dream deferred; dream denied?

Jammu & Kashmir: Dilemma of Accession

Author : Radha Rajan

Publisher : Voice of India, Rs 345

In her unique, no-nonsense style of writing, Radha Rajan offers a version of history behind the Kashmir conflict, writes Kumar Chellappan

The nation is yet to recover from the shock inflicted on the Central Reserve Police Force battalion at Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir by the suicide bombers of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists on February 14, which saw 44 jawans lose their lives. What makes it all the more difficult to recover from this tragedy is the sad fact that Indian soldiers and jawans of the para-military forces falling to the bullets of the “other” has become almost a routine affair.

It is at this juncture that noted columnist and author Radha Rajan’s recently published book becomes relevant. Jammu and Kashmir: Dilemma of Accession is backed by impressive research on the events and situations that led to the “accession” of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union. It also discusses the reasons and events behind the occupation of more than 13,300 sq km of Kashmir by Pakistan. The book also studies various factors that have often allowed for extremism to emerge and thrive in the area. Radha has always been known for her unique and no-nonsense approach to issues. In the book, she studies the words and approach of Pandit Ram Chandra Kak, who the Prime Minister of Kashmir in the tumultuous period of 1946 to 1947.

She explains the various arguments about why the possibility of peaceful transfer of power was sabotaged and Sheikh Abdullah was provided with the cover to seize control of Jammu and Kashmir. She quotes from Ram Chandra Kak’s memoirs. Some details in this study reveal that whoever refused to accept the leadership of Abdullah was terrorised. Stones were thrown and filthy abuses were shouted against them, even if they were women. “These activities were one of the main causes which necessitated drastic action against the National Conference bosses in that year,” Radha quotes Pandit Kak.    

Pandit Ram Chandra Kak was the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir between June 30, 1945 and August 11, 1947. Interestingly, his name does not figure prominently anywhere when the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is discussed and heated debates about its past are carried out. VP Menon, the Constitutional Advisor to the Governor General, in his widely acclaimed memoir Integration of Indian States (Orient Longman, 1956), however, has talked about Pandit Kak being opposed to the idea of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India.    

Why Pandit Kak as well as Maharaja Hari Singh were opposed to Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India forms the crux of  Radha’s book. Her verdict is based on the personal letter drafted by Pandit Kak, the original of which is available in the India Office Library and Records, London. The sudden dismissal of Pandit Ramachandra Kak from the post of Prime Minister has not been discussed in history books widely. The declaration by Sheikh Abdullah endorsing the Direct Action declared by Mohammed Ali Jinnah in 1946 and the resultant pogrom of Hindus in Punjab and Bengal had its effect in Kashmir too.

This was the background when Mahatma Gandhi, his protégé Jawaharlal Nehru and Mountbatten felt the pressing need to make some changes. The events led to the removal of Pandit Kak from the post of the Prime Minister of Kashmir. Major General Janak Singh was appointed as his successor. Radha argues against the versions of Indian history which portray Ram Chandra Kak and Maharaja Hari Singh in poor light. The intellectual prowess of Pandit Kak and the administrative capabilities of the Maharaja have often been questioned and portrayed in poor light.

Another argument made regarding the current state of affairs has to do with the role of the British administration. This book discusses that aspect too. It is often theorised that the British colonial masters had an intention to break India into three and it was for this reason that they had appointed Lord Mountbatten as the last viceroy of their India. Mountbatten, who was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces for South East Asia during the World War II, was privy to the intelligence dispatches of the MI with which he made the “titans of the freedom movement” eating from his hands. The decision to vivisect India was a ploy by the British administrators to keep the subcontinent as an eternal cauldron.

Had India been not vivisected and had the Pakistani forces not annexed a part of Kashmir, India would have got direct access to Afghanistan, Iran and other such natural resources. Someone somewhere never wanted that to happen because had it been like that, India would have emerged as a global power long back.

With this book, Radha offers readers a fresh mirror to reanalyse the position of the superstars of the Indian freedom struggle. She also brings to light some paper tigers and reasserts the contribution made by some who died unsung  and unrecognised. It offers a fresh version of the history of the Indian freedom struggle which is intertwined with the current state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir. Her versions often challenge the accepted version of history. At some instances, the information provided by her also adds value to our understanding of India as a nation.

Coming back to the contemporary socio-political situation in India, this book becomes all the more important. It reminds readers that they should never take a stand on the basis of one version of what’s going on in the country. In the times of social media outrage, this book makes an important point of getting your facts right before arriving at a conclusion. Most importantly, it studies in detail the hows and whys of the deferment in the dream of a peaceful Kashmir. But it also refuses the accept that the dream has been denied yet.