Poona, 16/17th August, 1952
Dr. Rajendra Prasad,
President of India,
I am making a direct approach to you in the matter of the affairs of’ the State of Jammu and Kashmir and its Ruler as the situation has become acute owing to the rapid developments that are taking place and the further steps which are being taken in the next few days as these will vitally affect me personally apart from the repercussions they will have on the subjects of the State.
It is necessary to set out very briefly the events that have happened so far as the State of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned since my accession to the Gaddi.
I became the Ruler of the State in 1925. I then found that the British had strengthened their hold on the State by taking advantage of certain circumstances because, it being a border State of great strategic and political importance, they wanted it to be completely in their grip. The British created in the myth of paramountcy without any historical or political sanctions and exploited the State as a set off against the fast approaching political awakening and urge for freedom in what was then known as British India.
Realizing what was coming. I took it upon myself to shake off the British yoke by insisting that the relations of the State with the British should be governed by the Treaty and all other strings which had been attached to such relationship with a view to gain domination over the State should be removed.
I succeeded in my efforts to a large extent but incurred the wrath of the British who thenceforth became openly hostile to me. Simultaneously with this, I started taking measures to ameliorate the condition of my people and to organize my Government on progressively democratic lines.
I enacted laws to relieve rural indebtedness and to improve generally the lot of the agriculturist and the economic and social condition of my people. Some of these enactments were resented by my Hindu subjects who thought that their interests were being sacrificed in the cause of Muslim uplift. I established industries and made provisions for education and medical relief far in advance of any other State. Special provision was made for the educational advancement of Muslims who were then considered backward.
I was even more enthusiastic as regards the better organization of my Government. In this, I had the assistance of men of unquestionable integrity and ability from British India as my Prime Ministers and other Ministers and heads of Departments. It will not be out of place to name a few of them, such as, Raja Harikishen Kaul, Mirza Sir Zaffar Ali, Mr. V.N. Mehta, Mr. Vijahat Husein, Sir Burjor Dalai, Sir Abdus Samad Khan, Sir K.N. Haksar, Sir N.Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Sir B.N. Rau.
As a result, the administration of the State in the matter of efficiency and organization was better than even in some of the Provinces of British India. One further fact to which I wish to draw your attention in this connection is that I invariably acted on the advice of such Ministers and did not interfere or overrule their directions. It, therefore, follows that if any fault is now to be found with the administration of the State and/ or the policies then pursued, the blame cannot be laid at my door alone.
It is significant that for six years (1938-1943) Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar was the Prime Minister of the State and he will bear me out that I never interfered with his policies and decisions adopted and taken from time to time. Consequently, with my desire to give to the people of the State complete self government, I discussed in 1945 with my Prime Minister, Sir B.N. Rau, in the presence of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and Sir Kailash N. Haksar, the inauguration in the State of Full Responsible Government with Provincial Autonomy and a Central Government comprised of Representatives of the Provinces and a Board of Judicial Advisers with myself as the Constitutional Head. I was prepared to do this even with the knowledge that it would not be relished by the British. Sir B.N. Rau wanted this to be put into execution within the next fortnight.
I was of opinion that it should be done in about six months so as to enable us to complete the scheme. The news leaked out, there were intrigues, position became very difficult and Sir B.N. Rau left shortly thereafter.
The finances of the State were governed on modern principles. My expenditure was strictly limited and kept separate and distinct from the State finances and proper and well defined limits were laid down as between my personal and private matters and matters of the State. Thus, I had a well organized and efficient executive, a democratically elected Legislature, an independent judiciary, definite policies for expansion of education, medical relief and all other essential features of a progressive state. The eminent administrators and judges who worked for the State from time to time will bear testimony to this. All that I did aggravated the hostility of the British towards me as they were not sincerely inclined towards ameliorating the conditions of the people or for the freedom of the country.
In those days, the Rulers of the Indian States were judged by the condition and feelings of their subjects and I can say, without fear of contradiction, that the people of my State were content and had no cause for grievances against me or the administration of the State.
It is not unknown that trouble started in the State in 1931 and what has on occasions been described by so-called ‘national leaders’ of the State as ‘the Freedom Movement’ was engineered by elements outside the State under the instigation of the British. The movement in the beginning was a religious movement with slogans like ‘Down with Hindu Raj’ and ‘Islam in danger’. The leaders of the movement were men who now figure as Ministers and Administrators in Azad Kashmir under Pakistan such as Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas and Maulvi Yusuf Shah and some others, to gain sympathy and cooperation from those fighting for freedom from the British yoke in British India, the Muslims who were running this movement gave it the name of ‘National Conference’. The name was adopted also to fall into line with the movement carried on in other States in the name of the ‘States Peoples Conference’ and to take advantage of the declining prestige of the British. The movement thus gained the sympathy of the Indian National Congress. It became known in British India as the National Movement in the Jammu and Kashmir State.
These facts clearly showed that my people had no grievance against me, that the movement was started by disgruntled people with the British behind them and that those in charge of the movement gained the confidence and sympathy of the Indian National Congress by adopting the name of the ‘National Conference’.
I have been accused by the Prime Minister of not listening to the advice of the Congress leaders during the fateful period 1946-47.
I deny that charge. In 1946 when the leaders of the Indian National Congress formed the Viceroy’s Cabinet for the Interim Government, I had occasion to meet Mahatma Gandhi and Shri J.B. Kripalani, the then President of the Indian National Congress, when they both visited the State. Mahatma Gandhi suggested that I should have the backing of the people in whatever I did, Shri J.B. Kripalani suggested the immediate release of Sheikh Abdullah because the nominees of the National Conference who were in the Government had resigned. I pointed to them that I had already set up a Constitutional government which included two nominees of the National Conference and that it was not then possible to entrust the Government entirely in the hands of one group, viz, the National Conference. I said to them that I was willing to make such further changes as might be suggested towards making it a completely popular Government in consonance with the safety of the State and to keep the balance between the divergent views of different parts of the State. The matter rested there for the time being.
Then came the development of 1947 and the question of accession. The position of my State was very different, situated as it was in contiguity to India and Pakistan as also to Afghanistan, Tibet and Russia. The situation therefore required to be dealt with more tact and foresight than in the case of other states.
Mahatma Gandhi and the Prime Minister were anxious that I should not make a declaration of Independence and the Prime Minister was anxious to secure the release from prison of Sheikh Abdullah. Having regard to what my Government had done when the Prime Minister visited the State in 1946, Lord Mountbatten chose to visit the State in June 1947 and we had several talks. Lord Mountbatten then urged me and my Prime Minister, Kak, not to make any declaration of Independence but to find out in one way or another, the will of the people of Kashmir as soon as possible and to announce our intention by the 14th August to send representatives accordingly to one Constituent Assembly or the other.
Lord Mountbatten further told us that the newly created States Department was prepared to give an assurance that if Kashmir went to Pakistan, it would not be regarded as an unfriendly act by the Government of India. Lord Mountbatten stressed the dangerous situation in which Kashmir would find itself if it lacked the support of one of the two Dominions by the date of the transfer of power.
The impression which I gathered from my talks with Lord Mountbatten who explained the situation with plans and maps was that, in his opinion, it was advisable for me to accede to Pakistan. I thought that in the circumstances it was advisable to have Standstill Agreements with India and Pakistan and get breathing time to decide which accession would be in the interests of the State.
Pakistan very quickly and willingly agreed to a Standstill arrangement, perhaps with mental reservations, as appears from their subsequent conduct. On the other hand, the Government of India did not make up their mind and, if I may be permitted to say so, dealt with the situation in a half-hearted and desultory manner; thus giving an opportunity to Pakistan to do mischief, as they did. This gave rise to misunderstandings on both sides resulting in dissatisfaction and delay in coming to an understanding. The results have been detrimental to both the State and India. Pakistan became impatient and, having failed to force accession, started with blockading the supplies to the State and ended by invading the State. Lord Mountbatten realizing the uncertain and dangerously unstable position of the State, asked Lord Ismay to approach me and get me to decide on accession without further delay to whichever Dominion I and my people desired. This was at the end of August, 1947.
My difficulties were as follows:-
The People of the State were divided in several groups, each group having its own ideas about accession;
The Border Feudatory Territories such as Hunza, Nagar and Chitral and the District of Gilgit, where British influence was supreme were definitely for accession to Pakistan and were pressing me to accede to Pakistan without delay and threatening me with dire consequences if I did not act according to their suggestion;
The Muslim population of the State was also divided into groups with divergent views. Muslims from parts of Jammu such as, Mirpur, Poonch, Muzaffarabad, were for accession to Pakistan because of Pakistan propaganda inside the State.
Muslims of Kashmir and some Muslims of Jammu who were led by Sheikh Abdullah and the leaders of the National Conference did not want the question of accession to be decided at that stage but wanted me to part with power in their favour so that they could decide the question independently of me. They made no secret of their views and obstructed me in deciding the question of accession instead of helping me to accede to India;
Hindus of Jammu and all the people of Ladakh were for affiliation with or Accession of India; A portion of the population of Kashmir was also for accession to Pakistan.
Thus, there was a sharp division of opinion. The partition aggravated the situation and unhinged and unbalanced the minds of the people with the result that the people of the State were not in a position to give any considered opinion if I chose to consult them.
In September 1947, it was suggested to me that it would be a wise move on my part to appoint Shri Mehr Chand Mahajan as my Prime Minister as he would be able to handle the affairs of the State in the then critical period firmly and in a statesmanlike manner. Before Shri Mehr Chand Mahajan took up his appointment he discussed with Sardar Patel about immediate requirements of the State and Sardar Patel promised him full support and cooperation on behalf of the Government of India.
Sardar Patel also wrote to me stating this and adding that the Government of India fully realized how difficult the situation in the State was and assured me that the Government of India would do their best to help the State in the critical period. I then wrote to Sardar Patel that a little further elucidation of the points of view regarding the essential requirements of the movement would result in a satisfactory solution. Sardar Patel replied on October 2, 1947 that he had a further talk with Shri Mahajan and understood that Shri Mahajan was joining my service very shortly. As by that time I had proclaimed a general amnesty, Sardar Patel expressed his pleasure at the step I had taken and stated that this would rally round me the men who might otherwise have been a thorn in my side. He also stated that he was expediting as much as possible the linking up of the State with the Indian Dominion. Shri Mahajan then received Sardar Patel’s letter of the 21st October, 1947 in which he said that he had further discussion with Sheikh Abdullah, that Sheikh Abdullah seemed to him genuinely anxious to cooperate and sincerely desirous of assisting the State in dealing with the external dangers and the internal troubles with which the State was threatened.
He further said that at the same time Sheikh Abdullah, as was natural, felt that unless something was done and done immediately, to strengthen his hands, both in popular eyes and in dealing with the dangers, it would be impossible for him to do anything substantial. He said he felt that the position which Sheikh Abdullah took up was understandable and reasonable, that in the mounting demands for the introduction of a Responsible Government in the State, such as was witnessed in Travancore and Mysore, it was impossible for me to isolate myself, that the upsurge was bound to affect me sooner or later, that the Government of India on their part had pledged to give me the maximum support and would do so, but without some measure of popular backing, particularly from amongst the community which represented such an overwhelming majority in Kashmir, it would be difficult to make such support go to the farthest limit that was necessary if the disruptive forces which were being raised and organized, were to be crushed. He advised me in the circumstances to make a substantial gesture to win Sheikh Abdullah’s support. He said he had no desire to suggest that I should do so in a manner which would be completely revolutionary in character, that such a step might undermine the loyal and willing support which the State had commanded from strong elements of the body politic.
Shri Mahajan also received the Prime Minister’s letter dated October 20, 1947 in which he referred to the friendliest feelings the Government of India had towards Kashmir and its people and their desire to help to the best of their ability in providing Kashmir with the commodities it needed. He said the Government of India would like to do so for humanitarian reasons as well because of their deep interest in the future of the people of Jammu and Kashmir State. That the self interest of India also demanded that and that Government of India were strongly of the opinion that no coercion should be exercised on Kashmir and its people and that they should be allowed to function in their own way and to make such decision as they thought fit and proper and that in the furtherance of this policy the Government of India would direct their efforts.
The Prime Minister in his letter dated October 21,1947 to Shri Mahajan said that the future of Kashmir was of the most urgent importance to the Government of India and for him, it was both a personal and a public matter that it would be a tragedy so far as he was concerned, if Kashmir went to Pakistan. The Prime Minister referred to the urgent need of Pakistan to get Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan and that they were threatening every now and then to that end and that everything else that they did was an accessory to the same, that the top ranking leaders of Pakistan were continually approaching the Kashmir National Conference leaders, that they assured to them for their best behaviour and promised them something approaching Independence if only they would agree to Kashmir acceding to Pakistan. They were even prepared to give the right of secession. The Prime Minister then suggested the urgency of taking some step like the formation of a Provincial Government and that Sheikh Abdullah, who was obviously the most popular person in Kashmir, might be asked to form such a Government. The Prime Minister further added that in view of all the circumstances he felt that it would probably be undesirable to make any declaration of adhesion to the Indian Union at that stage that this should come later when a popular Interim Government was functioning.
After the amnesty proclaimed by me, Sheikh Abdullah wrote to me on September 26, 1947, in which, after referring to his incarceration for about a year and a half, he said as follows:-
In spite of what has happened in the past I assure Your Highness that myself and my Party have never harboured any sentiment of disloyalty towards Your Highness’s person, throne or dynasty. The development of this beautiful country and the betterment of its people is our common aim and interest and I assure Your Highness the fullest and loyal support of myself and my organization.
He added: In order to achieve the common aim set forth above, mutual trust and confidence must be the main step. Without this it would not be possible to face successfully the great difficulties that upset our State , on all sides at present.
He concluded: Before I close this letter, I beg to assure Your Highness once again of my steadfast loyalty and pray that God may grant me opportunity enough to make this country attain under Your Highness’ aegis such an era of peace, prosperity and good Government that it may be second to none and be an ideal for others to copy.
I wrote to Lord Mountbatten on October 26, 1947 informing him of the situation in the State. I received his letter dated October 27, 1947 stating as follows:- In the special circumstances mentioned by Your Highness my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India.
It is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order has been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invaders the question of the State’s Accession should be settled by a reference to the people My Government and I note with satisfaction that Your Highness has decided to invite Sheikh Abdullah to form an interim Government to work as your Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister also wrote to me on October 26, 1947 stating as follows:- Shri V.P Menon returned from Jammu this morning and informed me of his talks there. He gave me the Instrument of Accession and the Standstill Agreement which you had signed and I saw also your letter to the Governor General of India. Allow me to congratulate you on the wise decision that you have taken. I earnestly hope that they will lead not only to the effective protection of Kashmir State in the present but also to the freedom and well-being of Kashmir and India as a whole. I then acceded to India.
The Prime Minister in his letter dated November 13, 1947 pointed out to me that the only person who could deliver the goods in Kashmir was Sheikh Abdullah, that he was obviously the leading and popular personality in Kashmir, that the way he had risen to grapple with the crisis had shown the nature of the man, that the Prime Minister had a high opinion of his integrity and his general balance of mind and that he was likely to be right in regard to major decisions.
Shri Gopalaswami, who was then a Minister without Portfolio, wrote to me on December 9, 1947 indicating for my consideration his views on the changes which in the critical situation of the State were immediately called for in the then existing constitutional and administrative set up in the State.
A draft of the Proclamation which I was intended to issue, was sent to me by the Government of India.
It was seen by Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah also saw the correspondence which had passed between Sardar Patel and myself. Shri Gopalaswami wrote to me on March 1, 1948 as follows:-
March 1, 1948 My dear Maharaja Sahib,
Messrs. V.P. Menon and Mahajan are going to Jammu this afternoon to discuss and finalize with you the draft of the Proclamation which Your Highness has to issue for appointing Abdullah as Prime Minister and others on his advice. The draft has been very carefully considered by myself, Pandit ji and Sardar ji, and we are of the opinion that the whole of it should be accepted by you. Anything less would not satisfy the requirements of the present situation.
As a friend of yours, I consider it most important that Your Highness must make a very big gesture in order to rally the maximum percentage of the population of the State behind you with the help of Abdullah. Things are moving very fast and we have yet to fight a great battle at Lake Success. I have already stated during the discussion at Lake Success that Your Highness had only been waiting for Sheikh Abdullah to return from America to convert the Emergency Administration into an Interim Council of Ministers with Abdullah as Prime Minister. I am leaving Delhi for Lake Success the day after tomorrow, and it would be a great strength to the cause I have to plead there on behalf of Kashmir if this Proclamation is issued before I leave. I have not the slightest doubt that the issue of this Proclamation at this juncture is, in the circumstances that confront us at present, in the best interests of yourself and your people.
It is further very important that everything that has happened in the past should be forgotten and forgiven and that Your Highness should take Sheikh Abdullah into your fullest confidence. In fact, I was almost going to suggest that you should give up your usual reserve, come out in the open and put yourself at the head of your people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, for the purpose of consolidating and strengthening the large volume of support for preserving the integrity of the State and maintaining its accession to India, which thanks to Sheikh Abdullah and the Indian Army, you have already behind you.
With kind regards,
Sheikh Abdullah in his letter dated March 24, 1948 stated as follows:-
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir State is, as you are well aware, a difficult one and requires the utmost careful handling. The emergency continues and has to be dealt with as such till normal conditions are restored. The burden of a Prime Minister in these circumstances will be a heavy one. He cannot function effectively without the fullest cooperation of his colleagues and the people as well as, of course, Your Highness.
I have consulted some of my colleagues, who were available, and have come to the conclusion that it is my duty in these circumstances to undertake this burden. I trust that in the heavy work ahead I shall have Your Highness’s full help and cooperation. I appreciate the spirit in which you have made the offer of the Prime Minister to me and on my part I assure Your Highness that I shall fully reciprocate it.
Then came the Proclamation dated 5th March, 1948 which was drafted by Shri Gopalaswami and approved by the Government of India and Sheikh Abdullah. It has been referred to in Article 370 of the Constitution of India and the State of Jammu and Kashmir has to far been governed under the constitutional set up for that Proclamation.
It is necessary to set out briefly what happened in the State and between the Government of India and Sheikh Abdullah in relation to the State after the Proclamation of March 5, 1948 and my leaving the State at the end of April 1949. Sheikh Abdullah and the men of his party took all power to themselves, ignored my existence and where they felt necessary, they got the consent of the Government of India to do what they liked in the State disregarding me and my wishes. This gradually led to a deterioration and to the outside world, the State and Sheikh Abdullah became convertible terms. The people of Kashmir were utterly ignored and everything that Sheikh Abdullah desired to do was done in the name of the State with the express or tacit consent of the Government of India. At this juncture on a suggestion from Sardar Patel, I and my wife began a tour of the State. This did not suit the books of Sheikh Abdullah. He approached the Government of India with the result that I was asked to stay out of the State for a few months. I accepted the advice of Sardar Patel and agreed to stay out. The Yuvraj was appointed Regent. It need hardly be pointed out that the Yuvraj became a figurehead and had to take orders from Sheikh Abdullah. In this connection it may also be pointed out that although my Proclamation of March 5, 1948 was based on the Mysore Constitution, which stipulated the appointment of a Dewan and reserved subjects, yet gradually Sheikh Abdullah succeeded in getting the approval of the Government of India to making changes in the Constitution of the State, so as to make it very different from what was expressly intended to be. The mischief began with Sheikh Abdullah going direct to the Government of India on certain points over my head and the Government of India countenancing him and giving the desired directions and then informing me of what they had done at the instance of Sheikh Abdullah. The correspondence on the subject and the events following on each change bear testimony to what Sheikh Abdullah was trying to achieve in breach of the solemn promises and assurances given by him and also by the Government of India on his behalf. After my leaving the State things went from bad to worse.
Sheikh Abdullah was not satisfied with what he had achieved and aspired to absolute control of the State. He became openly inimical and hostile to me. He even interfered with my private properties and personal belongings, issued order to humiliate me and even interfered with the administration of the Dharmarth Trust, a Trust created by my forefathers of which I am the Trustee and which is being administered from day to day by the President of the Dharmarth Council appointed by me. The charities and institutions maintained from the revenues of Trust are starved. Even the routine expenses of the Trust, such as, for Puja in temples and Devasthans cannot be met because it pleases Sheikh Abdullah to prevent the income of the Trust coming to my hands or to the hands of President of the Dharmarth Council. The Jammu branch of the Imperial Bank of India refused to pay even to me the amounts of the fixed deposits of the Trust and also the State and to my Proclamation of March 5, 1948 wherein the setting up of such an Assembly was foreshadowed and stated that it appeared to the States Ministry that the time had come to reduce the uncertainty in Kashmir by going ahead with this proposal. He sent a draft Proclamation to set up the Constituent Assembly, for my comments.
I took exception to the proposed manner and method of setting up the Constituent Assembly. I summarized my objection to it as follows:-
That the Proclamation with the object and spirit of which I wholeheartedly agree be issued by me as Ruler who is the properly constituted authority in law to promulgate it and not by my Regent.
The powers and functions of the body intended to be constituted should be express, well defined and accurately worded and should exclude from the purview of their enquiry and consideration matters not expressly entrusted to them. They should report to the authority that constitutes it, i.e. the Ruler who shall seek the advice of the Parliament of India in the matter.
I refer to the correspondence that took place, the interview which Mr. Menon had with me in Bombay in February 1951 under the instructions of the Prime Minister and the subsequent negotiations which ended with my giving consent to the Yuvraj for setting up the Constituent Assembly. I also refer to the assurance given to me by the Minister of States (Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar) in the course of the negotiations as to the position of myself and my dynasty and other important matters. I am constrained to refer to the relevant portions of his letter which, I quote below.
5th April, 1951: Developments have, however, since taken place both in the State and at Lake Success which make it imperative that the issue of this proclamation is not delayed any longer. The Government of India are committed to the convening of a Constituent Assembly, the preparations for which are in active progress in the State. That Assembly will be held whether the formal Proclamation issues or not. In the view of the Government of India it must be convened, if both their commitments to the people of Kashmir and their stand at Lake Success are to be implemented in spirit and in the letter. From the beginning they have held that this Constituent Assembly should be called under the provisions of the Constitution of India and that this should be done from both a tactical and constitutional point of view, on the authority of Proclamation issued by the Head of the State. The draft of the Proclamation has been agreed between the Government of India and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. No purpose will, therefore, be served by any act of Your Highness which holds up the signing and issue of this Proclamation by Shri Yuvraj.
On neither of the two matters about which I can understand your entertaining apprehensions, namely, the continuance of the accession of the Jammu and Kashmir State or of part thereof to India and the connection of the Headship of the State with your dynasty, no final decision could be taken by the Constituent Assembly to be convened. They are essentially matters which could be decided only as a matter of agreement between the Government of India and Parliament on the one side and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the State Constituent Assembly or Legislature on the other. The Government of India will, no doubt, at the proper time take the decision on these matters, which, I need hardly assure you, will be essentially just from the standpoint both of your dynasty and the people of the State.
You have obviously to put your trust in the people of the State and the Government of India in respect of this matter. I hope, therefore, you will immediately lift the ban which you have placed on Shri Yuvraj affixing his signature to the agreed Proclamation and which naturally has placed him in great embarrassment. Apprehending what was coming and in order not to embarrass the Government of India and the Yuvraj, I have been prepared to abdicate provided that a satisfactory arrangement was to come with me by the States Ministry and provided also that the Yuvraj’s position as the Head of the State was assured. The negotiations in this behalf which were carried on with Shri Gopalaswami as the States Minister were left in an indecisive state because of Shri Gopalaswami having been succeeded as the States Minister by Dr. K.N. Katju. Having regard to the trend of events I wrote to Dr. Katju on June 29, 1952.1 waited for Dr. Katju’s reply as foreshadowed in the Prime Minister’s letter. I then received Dr. Katju’s reply dated July 30, 1952.
I replied to Dr. Katju by my letter dated August 8, 1952.
I enclose copies of these letters as they have an important bearing on the situation.
These letters speak for themselves Dr. Katju’s reply is not a reply at all. The legal position, it appears to me, has not been considered and it further appears that it is being taken for granted by the Prime Minister and Dr. Katju that the relevant Articles, particularly Article 370, of the Constitution of India can be altered and/or amended to suit the present attitude of Sheikh Abdullah.
It would not be out of place to point out that Article 370 refers specifically to my Proclamation of March 5, 1948. That is the law which governs the State of Jammu and Kashmir until a new Constitution is framed, approved and adopted not only by the Constituent Assembly of the State but also approved by me and then by you and yet, I learn that the Prime Minister has asked the Yuvraj (who is acting only as my Regent and represents me) to agree to be the elected Head of the State forthwith, that is to say, even before the Constitution of the State is framed much less approved and adopted thus throwing over not only me but also the dynasty. I do not know what reply Dr. Katju proposes to make to me but it appears that the Prime Minister is dealing with the matter (vide his letter dated July 5, 1952). I have, therefore to specifically deal with the charges made in the Prime Minister’s letter.
The Prime Minister in para 4 of his letter refers to the Constitution of India as having been based on and derived from the people of India and says with regard to the Jammu and Kashmir State that the Government of India felt that the people would prefer accession to India but the matter was delicate and not beyond dispute and, therefore, the Government of India did not press for the Accession of Jammu and Kashmir State but suggested that the matter should be considered at a later stage when the people’s wishes could be ascertained in some form or the other and the suggestion was that some kind of a Constituent Assembly might be set up in the State to decide the question of accession as well as other questions.
I grant all this but how can the Government of India take all these steps over my head on whose authority they entered the State and are continuing there and who was the Chief Author of the Proclamation on which is based the future construction of political set up in the country?
In para 5, the Prime Minister says that on the invasion of the State by tribal raiders and others in late October 1947 the crisis arose and at that time I left Srinagar at the dead of night for Jammu and many of my officers followed me and the State was left without leadership or means of defence in so far as official authority was concerned. This is in fact untrue, as pointed out above. I left Srinagar for Jammu on the advice of the Government of India conveyed to me through Mr. Menon. The Prime Minister says further that in the basic picture of the crisis of Kashmir I do not come in at all. That statement amounts to suppresio veri and suggestion falsi.
I have acted all throughout from September 1947 under the advice of the Government of India, Lord Mountbatten, the Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Shri Gopalaswami and, as pointed out herein above, Sheikh Abdullah himself made promises and gave assurances, which he is now backing out of. Even in the book called New Kashmir published by the Kashmir Information Bureau, New Delhi, in 1950 and which is the political Bible of Sheikh Abdullah, Sheikh Abdullah has based his case for a Responsible Government in the State under the aegis of the Maharaja and even gone to the length of setting out what functions the Maharaja was to perform. The Prime Minister in his letter says that the people of Kashmir must decide their own future. I may well ask whether Sheikh Abdullah is a synonymous term with the people of Kashmir. The people of Kashmir have not been consulted.
According to Sheikh Abdullah, the people of Kashmir have changed their mind to such an extent that they are determined to get rid of the idea of a hereditary ruler of the State. The Constituent Assembly has been packed with Sheikh Abdullah’s men and even that Assembly has not yet come to a decision nor has it framed any constitution providing for the functions of the Head of the State either hereditary or elected and what one would like to know is where is the reason for this frightful hurry to elect the Head of the State thus doing away with me and my dynasty before the Constitution is framed and before the fate of the State is determined in the fight that is raging before the UNO between India and Pakistan.
Are myself and my dynasty to be pawns in the game which Sheikh Abdullah is playing with the Government of India on the representation that he is actively helping India in the case before the UN Security Council?
The Prime Minister says that he has seen no evidence of any sympathy on my part for the people of Kashmir who have gone through fire and suffering during the past four and a half years. May I ask who is responsible for this state of affairs? Have the Government of India given any choice of action to me during the last four and a half years? Have they at any time pulled up Sheikh Abdullah knowing as they did, on what promises and assurances Sheikh Abdullah became the Prime Minister? May I again point out that even before I left the State under the advice of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, I and my wife had started on a tour of the State as Sardar Patel had told me that I should see more of my people and they should see more of me. Sheikh Abdullah did not like this tour and approached the Government of India with the result that I was called at Delhi and asked to desist from returning to the State and finally to leave it.
The Prime Minister says at the end of this letter that the only assurance he can give to me is that the first place will be given always to the rights of the people and to the wishes of the people and that if I fall in with those rights and wishes, the Government will endeavour to help me to the best of their ability.
I am prepared to take up the challenge. Let the people of Jammu and Kashmir freely decide between me and Sheikh Abdullah without interference from the Government of India. Let me point out what has been happening. The world has been given to understand that the march of events, the changed political values have brought about rapid and inevitable changes and we must accept them no matter what the obligation of the Government of India, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, the assurance of both the Governments to me and their duties under certain legal and constitutional arrangements may be. With all due deference to this opinion, I must say that I emphatically challenge the contention that whatever has happened is in accordance with the will of the people and that the sovereignty has effectively and really passed to the people as it should and that they are consciously exercising their will and ask for changes which are being brought about by an oligarchy backed by Government of India. 1 cannot conscientiously recognize the changes in the Proclamation of March 5, 1948 which governs the relations of the State with India. But if the Government of India and you, Sir, feel that in the present stage of negotiations with Dr. Graham it would be inconvenient for the Government of India to allow this matter to be raked up, then at least, the Government of India should not succumb entirely to the wishes of Sheikh Abdullah but hold the balance equally between him and me and at least preserve the status quo as regards the headship of the State until the field is clear for the necessary steps to be taken to determine the will of the people of Kashmir.
Copies of the following documents are attached for your ready reference :-
Note given to Prime Minister of Kashmir by Prime Minister of India on October 26, 1947;
Letter dated October 26,1947 from the Prime Minister of India to the Prime Minister of Kashmir;
Letter dated October 27, 1947 from Prime Minister of India to the Prime Minister of Kashmir;
Letter dated October 27, 1947 from Prime Minister of India to me; Letter dated October 26,1947 from me to Lord Mountbatten;
Letter dated October 27,1947 from Lord Mountbatten to me;
Letter dated December 24, 1947 from Shri N. Gopalaswami to me.
Secure in the knowledge that I was out of the picture and could not reply I was, by a series of false statements and speeches intended to humiliate and malign me, painted black and unpatriotic. The Government of India who had assured me that I would be protected against such onslaughts remained an unconcerned spectator. Not only that, it is most distressing to know and feel that whenever Sheikh Abdullah and his party talked of me in disparaging and spiteful terms, the highest authority in the Government of India immediately endorsed it. If Sheikh Abdullah said I could not return to the State, the Prime Minister with all the authority, prestige and might at his back, endorsed it. If Sheikh Abdullah said I had lost the confidence of the people, the Prime Minister referred to my alleged wrong-headed and mistaken policies, without saying exactly what they were and said the people had suffered on account of these. This no doubt had the effect of suppressing what is said to be the will of the people. Being placed as I was, I was absolutely unable to answer any of these accusations. I feel grievously wronged in that the Government of India whom I looked up to as the ultimate authority I could go to for redress, instead of stopping such malicious and false propaganda, not only went on countenancing it but endorsing it disregarding their solemn assurances.
Having eliminated me in a manner which had neither the sanction of law nor political morality, it was the duty of the Government of India to protect me. But that was not done and the matter did not end there. My properties and privileges etc., were attempted to be interfered with. I protested and asked for redress but never got it.
As I have said above, I was eliminated by a process which was neither fair nor honourable. It was not and it has never been due to the will of the people. It was due entirely to the machinations of Sheikh Abdullah and his party. They got themselves appointed on the definite assurance and later, with the connivance of the Government of India, systematically ignored all their legal and moral obligations and ultimately without rhyme or reason but to suit the books of Sheikh Abdullah successfully got me out of the State. Taking advantage of my absence and helplessness, started a campaign of vilification and harassment and thus created conditions wherein they could tell an unknowing world that they were doing what the people desired. I have taken the responsibility of making these statements and I earnestly request you, Sir, to ascertain the views of your Government about them and then come to an independent opinion as to whether
I have not been seriously wronged and to redress the wrong.
I may be permitted to summarize the position:-
The Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was more advanced and enlightened than that of any other Indian State in the pre-partition days;
I employed men of undoubted ability and standing to be my Ministers from time to time;
In August 1947 Lord Mountbatten gave me the impression that I should accede to Pakistan, Government of India was undecided about the matter, wanted every step by me endorsed by Sheikh Abdullah, the people of Jammu and Kashmir were divided in their opinion and I decided to enter into Standstill Agreements with both India and Pakistan in order to have time for things to settle down;
Pakistan did not act up to the Standstill Agreements, blocked supplies to the State and aided and abetted the raiders;
I released Sheikh Abdullah as advised by Sardar Patel and relied on the assurance given by Sheikh Abdullah backed up by assurances given by the Government of India; I took Sheikh Abdullah in my Government; I issued the Proclamation of March 5, 1948; Sheikh Abdullah with the connivance of the Government of India started tinkering with the Constitution of 5th March, 1948; Sheikh Abdullah persuaded the Government of India to drive me out of the State; I left the State and appointed the Yuvraj, my Regent; My rights of personal property and the affairs of Dharmarth Trust were interfered with by Sheikh Abdullah; Sheikh Abdullah by maligning me created an impression that the people of Kashmir were against me; The Constituent Assembly was set up; The will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is now judged by the whims and caprices of Sheikh Abdullah; Sheikh Abdullah having made up his mind to get rid of the Ruler and his dynasty, persuaded the Government of India to see eye to eye with him and to lay down that this could be done even before the new Constitution was framed much less approved by you on behalf of India;
I get no redress and am told that I am in the wrong, the will of the people is all that counts and I must abide by such will;
The Press carries reports from day to day creating feelings against me. False reports are not contradicted; The Prime Minister got angry as evidenced by his letter dated 5 July 1952 because I stated facts; The States Minister avoids giving a proper reply to me and yet the Press says I have been asked and have not replied;
The Yuvraj is being coerced by the Prime Minister and Sheikh Abdullah to accede to their suggestions.
Finally, I have to say that I had my range of controversy with Sheikh Abdullah and the Prime Minister and I am bitter about the fact that the Government of India have been unable to afford me protection and safeguard my rights in spite of the fact that throughout these four and a half years, I have given full cooperation and the fact that my pre-1947 conduct did not compare unfavourably with that of the other Rulers who at present enjoy Government of India’s protection and favour. During the last three years of my enforced absence from the State I have given them no cause for grievance and at the most, I have been charged with delay in permitting the Yuvraj to take action which having regard to the consideration involved and my bitter experience, was natural and understandable. Even in this matter ultimately I did fall in line with the Government of India. If the result of all this in the 3nal stage has again to be a betrayal by the Government of India of their assurances and promises etc. and is to result not only in my 3nal removal from the State but also of the sacrifice of the Yuvraj whom I had entrusted to the Government of India’s protection,I can only say that it would be an ill return for the faith which I and the Yuvraj placed in the Government and the help and cooperation to the extent of self effacement that we rendered to it. Only history and posterity will be able to do justice to our respective points of view.
In these circumstances, I appeal to you to consider the matter impartially in all its aspects with your sagacity and wisdom and guide me as to what would be in the best interests of the State.