Page 7 - seniors today August issue
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One such state was Jammu & Kashmir which             representative to be deputed to visit New Delhi
        failed to take a decision as Maharaja Hari Singh      and finalise this agreement. Very strangely no
        could not make up his mind. In June 1947 it was       one was deputed from Srinagar to go to Delhi.
        Lord Mountbatten who travelled to Srinagar            However the Pakistan Government agreed
        and attempted to persuade the Maharaja to             telegraphically to the standstill agreement with
        decide between one of the two dominions before        the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian
        15 Aug 1947. Mahatma Gandhi too travelled to          government continued all services and supplies
        Srinagar two weeks before that date in another        to the state even when there was no standstill
        attempt to enable the Maharaja to make up             agreement signed or accepted; however, the
        his mind. I have been told that the Viceroy           Pakistan Government which had accepted
        had conveyed to the Maharaja that the Indian          the agreement, started to restrict the supply
        Government would not mind if it acceded to            of essential commodities and in some cases to
        Pakistan but felt that the only trouble that          stop it completely in a bid to “strangulate the
        could have been raised was by non – accession         state”, creating untold hardships for the people.
        and this was the very course followed by the          It must be remembered that the main road to
        Maharaja. Barrister Mohammad Ali Jinnah,              the Kashmir valley was through what is now
        President of the Muslim League, subsequently          Pakistan. By starving the state for essential
        the creator of Pakistan and later its Governor        supplies, Pakistan had hoped to be able to coerce
        General, had clearly accepted the absolute right      the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan. Along with
        of the ruler of a state to decide on choosing one     this strangulation they started to make armed
        of the two dominions. In June, 1947 he had said       incursions all along the Jammu border. New
        “Constitutionally and legally, the states will be     Delhi and particularly Mr Nehru feared that
        independent sovereign states on the termination       the strategy of Pakistan was to inflict sporadic
        of paramountcy and they will be free to decide        incursions till winters when a big attack would
        for themselves to adopt any course they like.         take place. This prophecy proved correct as
        It is open to them to join the Hindustan or           by making small but determined forays into
        Pakistan Constituent Assembly or to remain            the J&K state territory, Pakistan managed
        independent. I am clearly of the opinion that the     to disperse the limited state forces to penny
        Cabinet Mission’s memorandum of 12 May ’46            packets so that at no one place would they be
        does not in any way limit them in this choice.”       able to hold back a full frontal attack. The state
        In August ’47 he spoke at a Muslim League             was mostly starved of petrol which was most
        meeting about the rulers of the Indian states,        essential for transportation.
        saying, “They are free to join either of the two
        dominions or remain independent. The Muslim           Pakistan’s Persuasion
        League recognises the right of each state to its      Pakistan deftly moved on two counts,
        own destiny.”                                         governmental and political, to “persuade”
                                                              the Maharaja to accede to it. Apart from the
        The Standstill Agreement                              Maharaja the other obstacle in their paths was
        The Indian Independence Act 1947 had                  Sheikh Abdullah. In early October, the Muslim
        provided that a state could conclude a “standstill    League sent two emissaries to meet Sheikh
        agreement” with either of the dominions or            Saheb and persuade him to align with Pakistan.
        both. Taking advantage of that, the Prime             The two were Sheikh Sadiq Hassan (President
        Minister of Jammu & Kashmir at that time,             of the Punjab Provincial Muslim League) and
        M.C Mahajan, sent on 12 August ’47 two                an intellectual, Dr Mohammad Din Taseer (who
        telegrams, one to Karachi and another to New          was the Principal of my alma mater, the Sri
        Delhi, requesting for continuance of existing         Pratap College in Srinagar, and so well known
        arrangements under this agreement. In reply           in Kashmir circles). There was a long meeting
        the Indian Government desired an authorised           where they hoped to win over Sheikh Saheb

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