Sir, this very simple motion of my honourable colleague has led some members of refer to almost all connected matters, not with this motion, but in regard to Kashmir, and so we have been led to think of this vast and intricate and difficult problem of Kashmir. It is a little difficult in this context to confine oneself to the simple proposition that has been placed before the House. Nevertheless, I do not intend to go beyond that proposition; not do I think need this House to beyond it although several members may be tempted to do so.
The proposition before the House is a very simple one. Now, I say that I have a vast admiration for the erudition and learning of Professor Shah. Nevertheless, I have followed with some surprise not only what he has said today, but what he has and done in regard to Kashmir for a number of years. I have been also connected with Kashmir in many ways and, in a sense, I belong to Kashmir more particularly than to any part of India. I have been connected with the fight for freedom in Kashmir and I know about the various groups, various people, various individuals from the Maharaja down to number folk there. And so, if I venture to say anything in this House, I do so with far greater authority than Prof. Shah can presume to have on the subject. I speak not as the Prime Minister, but as a Kashmiri and an Indian who has been connected with these matter. It amazed me to hear Prof. Shah propose that the so-called Praja Sabha of Kashmir should send representatives to this House. If Prof. Shah knows anything about Kashmir, he should know that there is nothing more bogus than the Praja Sabha in Kashmir. He ought to know that the whole circumstances under which the last elections were held were fantastic and farcical. He ought to know that it was boycotted by all decent people in Kashmir. It was held in the depth of winter, to avoid people going to the polling booths. And winter in Kashmir is something of which probably Members in this House have no conception of. An honourable Member asked me about winter, and whether it was snowing. But when it snows in a cold country, it is called warm weather. In winter it is 20 to 30 degrees below snowing weather. The election was held when the roads ware impassable, when the passes could not be crossed; in fact, it was just not possible for the voters to go. But apart from that, when the National Conference of Kashmir, in spite of difficulties, difficulties including that of their leaders being in prison, including Sheikh Abdullah and other, in spite of all that, when they decided to contest these elections, then their candidates were arrested, many of them, and all kinds of obstacles ware put in; and it was quite clear that they would not be allowed to stand. So they decided to boycott it and they did boycott it, with the result that the whole national movement of Kashmir boycotted those elections, just as the national movement in 1920 boycotted elections in India. And it was and amazingly successful boycott. Of course people got in. By boycotting you cannot keep another man out; but the percentage of voting was so very small–I forget the exact fraction–it was almost negligible; and the type of people who got in were the type who had opposed the freedom movement throughout, who had done every injury possible to the idea of the freedom of Kashmir till then. And subsequently some of them, when Kashmir adopted this new status and became much freer than it ever was, they subsequently sought refuge in Pakistan. Now that is the kind of body referred to; it is a bogus body; it is really no body at all. It is a disembodied spirit. It does not meet. It does not do anything and many of its members are not just traceable. And now Prof. Shah calmly, tells that the Praja Sabha can elect Members to this honourable House; it is a monstrous proposition.
I admit that it is not desirable for any Members of this House to come by nomination or be selected by some narrow process; but unfortunately many of us here, from the States I means, have not come exactly as we should have liked them to come. They have been sent, partly by nomination, partly by election, by election again, by bodies which are not often properly constituted; but we had to take things as they were, and we wanted them here to help us in this work of constitution-making. So though the process suggested for Kashmir is not ideal, yet I do think that it is a process than has been adopted in regard to many States in India. It is a process where you get a popular government with the representative of the popular party at the head of it, recommending to the Ruler that certain names should go. Even from the point of view of democracy, that is not an incorrect process. It is not 100 per cent. correct; but the House should see what better method you can suggest. I can understand Maulana Hasrat Mohani, and I am inclined to agree with him that it would have been–if I heard hem correctly–it would have been better and more graceful for us to have had the representatives of Kashmir here much earlier. But we did not do it. It was our fault, may be it was other people’s fault; but whatever the reason, we did not do it. It was our fault, may is that a reason why we should continue the error in the future? During the next two or three months, or however long this House meets, when we are going to finalise this Constitution, it is desirable for us to give every opportunity to the representatives of the Kashmir State and of any other State, to come here and participate, even though they have not done so up to this stage. So I submit that the motion moved by Mr. Ayyangar is the only way out of this difficulty.
I would suggest to him and beg of him to accept a small change in the wording of the motion. What he has put down is perfectly correct, he has put down “Kashmir”, as it occurs in the various Acts, etc. He has taken it naturally from these enactments. But because there is a slight confusion in people’s minds, it would be better to describe it a little more fully as “Kashmir State” and then putting within brackets, the words “otherwise known as the State of Kashmir and Jammu”. No doubt, so far as the proposition that people should be entitled to come from Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, I think it is up to us to give them every opportunity to do so. And secondly, so far as the method is concerned, I can think if no other, and no fairer method than what has been proposed in this motion.