In pursuit of trifurcation

Print edition : April 14, 2001

The Sangh Parivar is back at the old game on Kashmir: its calculated moves here could spell disaster for the State and the nation.

THE Sangh Parivar is slave to its atavistic urges. Power will not mellow it, as some fondly believed. It will only ease expression of the hideous urges. Never before the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 1998 were Christians attacked so systematically. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) supremo M. S. Golwalkar had listed them as one of the three "Internal Threats" in Chapter 12 of his Bunch of Thoughts in 1966. The other two were Muslims and Communists.

Home Minister L.K. Advani. He set rolling the 'trifurcation' talk in June 2000.-S. ARNEJA

Likewise, never before 1998 was the "trifurcation" of Kashmir into three parts on communal lines - Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist - aired openly by a Union Minister and his mentors. The Times of India reported on September 4, 2000 that according to the RSS spokesmen, M. G. Vaidya, "the RSS was in favour of trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir." Why? The reason he gave is revealing - "as it would help contain violence in the Valley." Presumably, the Muslim-majority areas can then become one huge concentration camp with licence to the security forces to kill. He said: "Most of the problems will be solved by creating a new state of Jammu and giving Union Territory status to Ladakh. The development of Jammu and Ladakh will be accelerated and these two regions do not require special status by Article 370 of the Constitution." Only the Valley demanded special status, he added. The general body of the RSS adopted a resolution on March 18 formally supporting the demand.

This is a revival of a demand the RSS' political arm, the Jan Sangh - ancestor of the BJP - made at its very birth in 1951. The revival is best understood in the context of the origins. The ball was set rolling calculatedly by L. K. Advani on June 7, 2000 at Leh. He knew he was on charged territory. The Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) has for years threatened to use violence. A social boycott of Muslims was on for months. In 1999 even refugees from Kargil were cold-shouldered in Leh. Despite the enactment of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils Act, 1997, the LBA revived its demand for Union Territory status.

Earlier, on May 13, 1992, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, G. C. Saxena, ruled out categorically any move for trifurcation. In glaring contrast, Advani encouraged it. The ritual qualification "within the four corners of the Constitution" is less relevant than the fact that the Home Minister countenanced ("can discuss") trifurcation and did so in the context of the memo the LBA gave the Prime Minister that day containing this demand.

Constitutionally, the Centre has no right or power in this matter at all. Article 3 empowers Parliament "by law" to "diminish the area of any State". In relation to Kashmir, however, no such Bill can even "be introduced in Parliament without the consent of the Legislature of that State." The Centre has no business to offer to "consider" a demand whose acceptance is the sole prerogative of Kashmir.

Advani could not have been unmindful of the chain reaction his remarks would set off. Jammu's separation from the State will lead to a partition of the State on communal lines with incalculable consequences, at home and internationally. The LBA's memo said: "We believe a lasting solution lies in trifurcation of the State." The Times of India's correspondent summed up the reaction in a report from Jammu published on June 14: "Trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, an idea forwarded by organisations and individuals - either as a demand or suggestion in the public debate set in motion by the Centre - has been given new respectability by Union Home Minister Advani's remarks. His remarks came in Leh, in the context of the memorandum by the LBA to Prime Minister Vajpayee during the Sindhu Darshan festival demanding trifurcation of the State or Union Territory status for Leh." Not surprisingly, Syed Ali Shah Geelani gave a guarded approval to trifurcation but retracted it. Pro-Pakistan sentiment in the Valley will receive a boost by trifurcation.

Alarmed, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah warned in Srinagar on October 2 that in that event the districts of Doda, Poonch and Rajouri will not live with Jammu and that will trigger something worse than the Jammu massacres in 1947 (Kashmir Times, October 3, 2000).

Jammu will split evenly. Three of its six districts have a Muslim majority - Doda (63.59 per cent); Poonch (88.87 per cent); and Rajouri (60.97 per cent). The latter two abut the Line of Control (LoC). The other three are Udhampur, Jammu and Kathua. A tehsil in Udhampur, Gool Gulab Garh and three in Rajouri will go to the Valley. Ladakh was split in 1979 into two districts - Muslim majority Kargil and Buddhist majority Leh. Having set the ball rolling himself and watched the RSS take it up on September 4, Advani mollified his ally Farooq Abdullah when he said in Srinagar on October 22, "we do not favour trifurcation". Unlike Advani, the Chief Minister was alive to the implications: "India will be left with two and a half districts while the so-called Greater Kashmir would go on a platter to Pakistan eventually". (Greater Kashmir; December 11, 2000). The Press Trust of India reported from Leh on December 17 that in the recently concluded polls to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council "votes were cast along communal lines." In the 1996 elections to the State Assembly, Gool Gulab Garh and Gool Arnas, another Muslim majority constituency in Udhampur, returned Muslim MLAs; so did Darhal and Rajouri in Rajouri district. Bar the BJP almost all put up Muslim candidates. Advani could not have been ignorant of this tragic communal polarisation.

Advani's disavowal could not arrest the play of the game he had calculatedly begun. On February 26, 2001, the Panun Kashmir, an organisation of Kashmiri Pandits, the LBA, and the Jammu and Kashmir Nationalist Front, to whom Vaidya has pledged the RSS' support, presented to the Prime Minister a memo demanding trifurcation as well as partition of the Valley to allot land for resettlement to Kashmiri Pandit refugees. Article 370 of the Constitution (on the State's special status) would not extend to this area, they explained. The next day, Pramod Mahajan, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, told the Lok Sabha: "There is no proposal under our consideration for the trifurcation of the State".

Kashmiris were not reassured. Quoting the memo at length, Ghulam Nabi Hagroo, a senior advocate and respected public figure, asked: "If the demands of the Hindu leaders of Jammu and Kashmir are conceded, why should the Muslim belt (a portion of Leh, Kargil, Kashmir, Kishtwar, Doda, Bhaderwah, Gool Gulab Garh, Rajouri and Poonch) be asked to have an independent Jammu and Kashmir or to continue with the present set up?" He spelt out the consequence - "joining their co-religionists on the other side" of the LoC. (Greater Kashmir; March 16, 1961).

THIS is precisely what Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had warned Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel half a century ago in a letter dated April 17, 1949. The Home Secretary, H.V.R. Iyengar, had sent him a copy of a report of one of the intelligence officers who had been sent to Kashmir. "In this report, among other things, a reference was made to a growing Hindu agitation in Jammu province for what is called a zonal plebiscite. This idea is based on the belief that a plebiscite for the whole of Kashmir is bound to be lost and, therefore, let us save Jammu at least. You will perhaps remember that some proposal of this kind was put forward by the Maharaja some months back. It seems to me that this kind of propaganda is very harmful, indeed, for us. Whatever may happen in the future, I do not think Jammu province is running away from us. If we want Jammu province by itself and are prepared to make a present of the rest of the State to Pakistan, I have no doubt we could clinch the issue in a few days. The prize we are fighting for is the valley of Kashmir.

"This propaganda for a zonal plebiscite is going on in Jammu, in Delhi and elsewhere. It is carried on by what is known as the Jammu Praja Parishad. Our intelligence Officer reported that this Praja Parishad is financed by the Maharaja. Further, that the large sums collected for the Dharmarth Fund, which are controlled by the Maharaja, are being spent in propaganda for him. All this is resulting in producing a most peculiar and unfortunate situation." (emphasis added, throughout. Sardar Patel's Correspondence 1945-50, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad; Vol. 1, p. 262)

Doubtless, it had not the slightest effect on Patel who had ranged himself for Maharaja Hari Singh and against Sheikh Abdullah, the State's Prime Minister from the outset. Only three months after Kashmir's accession to India, Hari Singh threatened its secession in a letter to Patel dated January 31, 1948; "Sometimes I feel that I should withdraw the accession that I have made to the Indian Union. The Union only provisionally accepted the accession ..." (ibid., p. 162).

The views of Karan Singh, Hari Singh's son, are no less revealing. Shortly before he was sworn in Governor of Jammu and Kashmir on February 26, 1981, B. K. Nehru met various people. "The only real briefing that I got was from Tiger (Karan Singh) who put the State of Jammu and Kashmir in correct perspective for me. He explained that the State was a wholly artificial creation, its five separate regions being joined together by the historical accident that Raja Gulab Singh had conquered all the territories over which his father Maharaja Hari Singh was ruling at the time of Independence and partition. Those five different entities had nothing in common with each other. The hill areas of Gilgit, Baltistan and Skardu and the Punjabi-speaking areas of Muzaffarabad etc. were already in the hands of Pakistan. In our part of the State, there were three clear divisions - Jammu, which was Hindu, Kashmir, which was Sunni Muslim and Ladakh, one part of which was Buddhist and the other Shia Muslim. Because of the lack of commonality between these three divisions, the sooner they were separated the better it would be for the future. My own knowledge of Kashmir was next to nil except for what I had been forced to learn about it during my ambassadorship in Washington." (Nice Guys Finish Second; Viking, 1997; p.589). Nehru's approval of the idea is evident. It is unlikely that he altered his high opinion of his interlocutor because of his actions, only seven months later. In September 1981, Karan Singh founded the Virat Hindu Samaj with himself as its President and colleagues no less illustrious - Hans Raj Gupta (RSS and VHP) and the BJP's O.P. Tyagi as vice-presidents; V. H. Dalmia (RSS and VHP) as treasurer; and Ashok Singhal of the VHP as general secretary.

AS a proposal, trifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir only reflects a certain intellectual outlook and emotional attachment to "one's own" as well as alienation from "the others" - the familiar divide between "them and us". It was expressed as a "fear" in the Sangh Parivar's utterances in the 1950s when plebiscite in Kashmir was official policy; at least for the record. The idea of plebiscite was formally buried in 1954. Trifurcation reared its head in 2000. But the outlook and emotion were never concealed, as Karan Singh's fervent plea ("the sooner the better") to an approving B.K. Nehru reveals. Neither of them could be oblivious to the impact of Jammu's separation on the minds of the people in the Valley, on the morale of Pakistan, or on international opinion.

When the veteran Hindu Mahasabha leader, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, resigned from the Nehru Cabinet, ostensibly in protest at the Nehru-Liaquat Pact of April 8, 1950, it was not to retire but to renew political activity in the new clime. He was privy to the Constituent Assembly's resolution of April 3, 1948 calling for a ban on communal parties. The Hindu Mahasabha refused to admit non-Hindus, even for the record. He set up on October 21, 1951 the Bharatiya Jan Sangh under a pact with Golwalkar. The RSS would provide the cadres and officials. Its grip, never loose, tightened over the years. At its very birth, Mookerjee searched for issues on which he could arouse people's passions. Kashmir came in handy for more than one reason. "The economic power of the Dogra landlords had been seriously undermined in 1951 by the Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, which had provided for the confiscation of large holdings without compensation and for the transfer of land to the tillers... the Jan Sangh did not have its own party units in Jammu and Kashmir but it was in sympathy with the Praja Parishad and its vigorous leader, Prem Nath Dogra, a Brahman, formerly a civil servant in the princely state, who had at one stage headed the RSS groups in Jammu city." (Bruce Graham, Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics; Cambridge University Press; 1990; p. 36). Sheikh Abdullah's government had a pronounced leftist approach.

NEHRU treated the Jan Sangh and the Parishad with withering scorn. Addressing a public meeting in Kolkata on New Year's Day 1952, he said: "There can be no greater vindication than this of our secular policies, our Constitution, that we have drawn the people of Kashmir towards us. But just imagine what would have happened in Kashmir if the Jan Sangh or any other communal party had been at the helm of affairs. The people of Kashmir say that they are fed up with this communalism. Why should they live in a country where the Jan Sangh and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are constantly beleaguering them? They will go elsewhere and they will not stay with us" (Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru; Second Series, Volume 17; p. 78).

In July 1952, Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah concluded the Delhi Agreement, in pursuance of which monarchy was replaced by an elected head of state. By then Mookerjee had nailed his colours on the trifurcation mast in the Lok Sabha on June 26, 1952. If Kashmir did not "come within India except in respect of three subjects (Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications), then at any rate let us devise a scheme by which the people of Jammu may have the full liberty to decide whether they will integrate fully with India." On November 14, 1952, Kashmir's Assembly elected Karan Singh as Sadar-e-Riyasat (head of state). Prem Nath Dogra immediately launched an agitation and was arrested along with his colleagues on November 26.

On December 6, 1952, Nehru wrote a revealing note to the Home Ministry:

"It has become more and more obvious that the Jammu Praja Parishad movement is not only closely allied with the Jan Sangh, the RSS, the Hindu Mahasabha, etc., but to some extent directed from Delhi and Punjab. It has as its objective something much more than some petty change in Jammu.

"I have received some information about this, which is significant. The leaders of this movement are thinking of spreading out from Jammu into the Punjab first of all and then Delhi. They refer to it as a major movement against our Government to establish Hindu Rashtra all over India. The three allied topics are said to be Kashmir, of course, and the refugees of East Bengal especially and cow protection. My information is that Prem Nath Dogra has been in contact with Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee... It is stated that a considerable quantity of arms and ammunitions have been stocked by the Praja Parishad... At present it is reported that the Praja Parishad delegation is in Delhi to see Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee and the Jan Sangh Guru Golwalkar to discuss further plans... I have also received a report that Maharaja Hari Singh has contributed some money to the Praja Parishad. (SWJN, Vol. 20, pp. 367-8).

IN December 1952 the Jan Sangh held its first annual session at Kanpur. Walter K. Anderson and Shridhar D. Damle record what transpired there in their excellent work The Brotherhood in Saffron (Vistaar; 1987; p. 159) as follows:

"Mookerjee directed the delegates' attention to two issues: the special relationship of Kashmir with the Indian Union, and the condition of the Hindu minority in East Bengal. On the Kashmir question the delegates decided to involve the Jan Sangh directly in an agitation whose objective was the total integration of the Muslim majority Kashmir into India. This agitation, launched by the Praja Parishad, a Hindu political party in Kashmir supported by the RSS, also had the enthusiastic backing of the RSS.

"Mookerjee organised a committee to mobilise national support for the Kashmir agitation. As part of his effort to focus national attention on Kashmir, he entered Kashmir on May 11, 1953."

He was arrested and detained. His death from a heart attack on June 23 exacerbated feelings. A tragic chapter ended, only to reopen another as tragic but vastly more consequential.

The Kanpur session issued an ultimatum for Kashmir's integration before launching a satyagraha in March 1953. Mookerjee initiated correspondence with Nehru and the Sheikh in January-February 1953, pursuant to the Kanpur decision. It reveals a lot, though it was purely for record, not conciliation. (Integrate Kashmir: Mookerjee-Nehru & Abdullah, correspondence; BJS; Delhi, 1953. General Secretary Deendayal Upadhyaya's note records that the correspondence was begun "in pursuance of the resolution on the Kashmir situation and Jammu Satyagraha passed at the Kanpur session."

Mookerjee's first letter to Nehru on January 9, 1953 gave the game away. He wanted the State's Assembly to pass a resolution ratifying its accession to India, knowing well that it would, in the clime that prevailed in 1953, antagonise the U.N. Security Council and that the Assembly itself had come into being through a rigged poll in October 1951. All the 75 seats had been won by the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah, as many as 73 of its candidates were returned unopposed when nominations closed on August 30. In two others, the N. C. defeated Independents. The Praja Parishad alleged that nomination papers of its candidates were rejected "on the flimsiest grounds and under pressure from the government." Fifteen months later Mookerjee wanted this body to ratify the accession, adding with charming delicacy: "even though doubts have been expressed regarding the validity of some of the elections, especially from Jammu."

Mookerjee posed a revealing question to Nehru: "If the ultimate accession of the State to India continues to be undecided and if the decision will have to be based on a general plebiscite of the people, what will be the fate of Jammu in case the majority of the people, consisting of Moslems, vote against India? Pray do not brush aside this point as fantastic."

Mookerjee was a member of the Nehru Cabinet from August 15, 1947 to April 1, 1950. While in office, he was privy to the ceasefire in Kashmir on New Year's Day 1949; the Karachi agreement defining the ceasefire line on July 27, 1949; the adoption of Article 370 in the Constitution and to the U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan's resolutions on a plebiscite in Kashmir dated August 13, 1949 and January 5, 1949. Evidently none of these offended him as did the 1950 pact on refugee influx from East Pakistan into West Bengal, his constituency.

That he was out only to embarrass Nehru in the worst demagogic manner becomes clear from his demand for "the recovery of one-third territory of J & K which is now in occupation of Pakistan". Since Mookerjee knew that that spelt war, he was being simply unscrupulous and irresponsible.

He argued that Article 370 was "a temporary provision" and Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, who had sponsored it in the Constituent Assembly on October 17, 1949, had said as much. The record belies this now familiar BJP plea. Article 370, in fact, represented an accord between Nehru and Abdullah as a result of parleys since May 1949 to which Vallabhbhai Patel was also party. Ayyangar recalled the history and said: "We are entangled with the United Nations in regard to Jammu and Kashmir and it is not possible to say when we shall be free from this entanglement. That can take place only when the Kashmir problem is satisfactorily settled" (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. X, p. 424. vide the author's article ''Article 370: Law and Politics'', Frontline; September 29, 2000).

Mookerjee proceeded to argue that "the people of Jammu" had "the inherent right to demand that they should be governed by the same Constitution as has been made applicable to the rest of India. If the people of Kashmir Valley think otherwise, must Jammu also suffer because of such unwillingness to merge completely with India?" To leave no room for doubt as to what lay at the back of his mind, Mookerjee added on explicitly: "None knows better than you the peculiar characteristics of different parts of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh represent different types of people; their languages, their outlook, their environments, their habits and modes of life, their occupation differ from one another in many vital respects. Historically and politically they came to be united into one homogeneous unit which we naturally should not like to disrupt or destroy."

The ritual reference to "natural bonds of unity" that followed could not conceal his design to partition Kashmir on communal lines.

Nehru's reply (January 10, 1953) warned that "the Jammu agitation, if it succeeded, would ruin our entire case relating to the State... What effect do you think has the Praja Parishad agitation on such (pro-Pakistan) persons in the Valley or elsewhere?"

Mookerjee's demands were politically as well as constitutionally impossible - the break-up of Jammu and Kashmir; the deletion of Article 370 of the Constitution; and "action" for the recovery of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. Nehru's replies, written in pain, were less pointed than Abdullah's. Mookerjee had sent him a copy of his letter to Nehru.

On February 4, the Sheikh replied in a documented and sharp letter which bore the impress of his colleague, the brilliant lawyer, Mirza Mohammed Afzal Beg: "There is conclusive evidence to show that the Praja Parishad is determined to force a solution of the entire Kashmir issue on communal lines. Its leaders have expressed their views publicly to this effect and I give below a few extracts from their speeches: 'Our way is not with Kashmir. Sheikh is not acceptable to us. We cannot tolerate Jammu and Ladakh going to the winds. We want the people to have blind faith in Praja Parishad and get ready by putting (on) shrouds to attain our goal." (Madan Lal, Secy., City Praja Parishad, at Samba on 20-10-52)... 'We would put an end to Sh. Abdullah and other workers of the National Conference. We will suck their blood. We will root out this Government and send them to Kashmir. We do not like this Raj'. (Reshi Kumar Kaushal, Member, Praja Parishad Working Committee, at Reasi on 23-11-52)."

Nor was their leader Mookerjee neglected: "At a press conference recently you are reported to have said 'If the people of the Kashmir Valley think otherwise there can be specific provision for this zone for the time being. We would readily agree to treat the Valley with Sheikh Abdullah as its head in any special manner and for such time as he would like but Jammu and Ladakh must be fully integrated with India according to the wishes of the people. Let me repeat that I do not want Jammu and Kashmir to be partitioned. But if Sheikh Abdullah is adamant, Jammu and Ladakh must not be sacrificed but the Valley may be a separate State within the Indian Union, receiving all necessary subventions and being treated constitutionally in a manner as Sheikh Abdullah and his advisers desire'."

BUT Sheikh Abdullah asserted that if a fair plebiscite was held "the decision is bound to be in our favour. You are not perhaps unaware of the attempts that are being made by Pakistan and other interested quarters to force a decision by disrupting the unity of the State... You cannot be unaware of the possible repercussions in Kashmir as a result of this agitation which is led by a militant Hindu leadership and which in the past has made its attitude towards the Muslims amply clear. If the agitation grows, unforeseen forces may be released which would seriously threaten the foundations of the State... This arrangement (Article 370) has not been arrived at now but as early as 1949 when you happened to be a part of the Government."

Sheikh Abdullah pointed out that Jammu was but part of the Jan Sangh's wider national agenda: "Many of the parties who are at present supporting the Praja Parishad are not satisfied with the present pattern of the Indian Constitution. Some of them have demanded openly that it should conform to Hindu ideals. Others have been equally enthusiastic about their respective party flags. One such spokesman has recently said that his party would strive for replacement of the present national flag by a Bhagwa flag... We voluntarily offered to associate ourselves with India and without compromise of basic principles we like this association to be abiding. But unfortunately, the Praja Parishad wants a decision for the Hindus of Jammu in mid-stream... I do not know if the charge of separatism is deserved by us at the hands of those who would themselves like to partition the State on communal basis. The Praja Parishad leaders have made it clear that they will not rest till they have rid Jammu Hindus of what they call the haunting fear of Muslim domination of Kashmiris. To such an attitude, what answer can I offer?...

"To entertain the doubts that the Muslims of Kashmir would now give up their secular ideals would be uncharitable, although the statements and the pronouncements made by the leaders of communal parties in India from time to time and inspiration and guidance they are providing at the moment to the Praja Parishad leadership in Jammu, is no doubt giving them a rude shock. But let me assure you and the people of India that the Muslims in Kashmir will not falter from their ideals even if they are left alone in this great battle for secularism and human brotherhood."

Six months later, on August 8, 1953, the man who wrote thus was put in prison, on Nehru's orders, and branded a secessionist. Mookerjee's agitation and his death fouled the atmosphere in New Delhi and Nehru's colleagues sensed a threat to his survival in office.

Mookerjee was on the warpath. "You have concluded your letter with many abuses," he complained to Nehru, incredibly enough. To the Sheikh he wrote: "I have been unable to understand your abhorrence of the Bhagwa flag. The Bhagwa colour has no communal meaning. It stands for purity, sacrifice and service. For so many thousands of years this was the colour of the flag in free India. There is no possibility of this colour being accepted in India immediately. But it is amazing that you should think that it represents aggressive Hinduism. Does secularism mean that India must cut herself off from her past history and traditions? The colour of your flag is wholly red, with special design on it. If any of your uncharitable critics says that it is a camouflage for using the communist flag, surely it will be unfair and you will resent it."

The charade of the correspondence ended in February 1953. But Mookerjee inscribed on the record for all to read the motivations and objectives of the Sangh Parivar's Kashmir policy. In a statement in the Lok Sabha on March 25 on the situation in Jammu, Nehru said: "It has been proposed. 'Well, if not Kashmir, let Jammu become completely inter-related with India.' That obviously means that the Jammu and Kashmir state is disrupted. And we support this famous process of integration by disruption and by throwing away inevitably the rest of the State into somebody's lap." (SWJM, Vol. 21; p. 222).

Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. He expressed the fear that any trifurcation would trigger something worse than the Jammu massacres in 1947.-SHAJU JOHN

THE effect which Mookerjee's singularly unscrupulous politics had on the Valley were accurately described by Nehru in a letter to his confidant, B.C. Roy, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, dated June 29, 1953. It bears quotation in extenso for two reasons. First, for the record; and, next, for its contemporary relevance. The Sangh Parivar did not gain by its criminal folly. It won only 5 of the 30 seats from Jammu in the 1957 Assembly elections and 3 in 1962. But it had alienated the Valley.

Nehru wrote: "It is difficult to speak openly about the injurious results of this movement. It has made the Kashmir problem far more difficult than it ever was. Before this movement was started, I had little doubt in my mind that the final decision about Kashmir would be in our favour, however long it might take. But this movement has upset all my calculations and weakened our position in Kashmir terribly. I am for the moment talking about the Kashmir Valley only. As you know, the people in the Valley are over ninety per cent Muslim. The reaction of the Jammu Praja Parishad movement on them has been very great. They have become frightened of the communal elements in Jammu and in India and their previous wish to be attached to India has weakened. Indeed, at the moment, all the hostile forces against us are dominant in Kashmir... The whole difficulty has been about the Valley of Kashmir and we are on the point of losing it because of the Praja Parishad movement.

"Psychologically we have lost it and it would be difficult to get back to the older position. You will appreciate how it has distressed me to see the hard work of several years washed away by this movement. In the ultimate analysis, we gain Kashmir if we gain the goodwill of the people there... It is true that if the Kashmir Government had implemented the rest of the provisions of our agreement with them, this would have helped considerably. But they were not given much of a chance, immediately followed by this agitation in Jammu and later outside... All this because of this continuing Praja Parishad agitation, which had a cumulative effect on the people of the Kashmir Valley and which helped Pakistan greatly in its general propaganda... it was no easy matter to get a grip of the psychological changes that it was reducing. During the past few months, I have had no greater trouble or burden than this feeling of our losing grip in Kashmir" (SWJN; Volume 22; pp. 203-205).

Sheikh Abdullah, himself driven into a corner, bared his predicament in a historic but little noticed letter to Maulana Azad on July 16, 1953, shortly before his dismissal from office and arrest on August 8: "I am very happy to hear from you that the Government of India is willing to declare that the special position given to Kashmir will be made permanent and that the Government of India will be bound by it without any conditions. If such a declaration had been made at an appropriate time, it would undoubtedly have strengthened our hands and unified various organisations and public opinion in the State and even if the masses had been asked about accession, a majority of them would have come out in favour of India... Although such a declaration would be welcome, it remains to be seen if it would draw the support of different sections of people in India and parties in Kashmir. You would appreciate that without such support, this declaration would not suffice to dispel the fears that have arisen in the minds of the people of Kashmir."

THIS offer to Sheikh Abdullah, incidentally, confirms his charge that attempts had been made by New Delhi to renege on promises on the retention of Article 370.

If Article 370, by itself, had ceased to serve a solution in 1953, it cannot now, either; something more is required - without affecting the State's membership of the Union. Even if Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee shows resolve and skill for such diplomatic creativity, one doubts whether Advani and the RSS will let him make the concessions that alone can bring about a Kashmir settlement. Meanwhile the situation deteriorates by the day in the State. The ceasefire cannot endure unless it is backed by political initiative.

From Srinagar The Indian Express correspondent wrote (March 27, 2001) that it was "for the first time in the city that pro-Lashkar slogans were made when militants of this group launched an attack... This shift hasn't happened overnight." It is an outcome of "the Centre's failure to translate the ceasefire initiative into a proper peace process." The consequences of failure are too terrible to contemplate.

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