Page 9 - seniors today August issue
P. 9

was given before the Maharaja of Jammu &              Maharaja. In Jammu the Maharaja gave a letter
        Kashmir had formally signed on the Instrument         to Mr Menon addressed to Governor General
        of Accession and acceded to the Union of India.       Lord Mountbatten asking for urgent armed
        The chiefs of the Indian Army (General R.M.M          assistance from the Indian Government. This
        Lockhart), Navy (Rear Adm J T S Hall) and Air         letter along with the Instrument of Accession
        Force (Air Marshall T W Elmhirst, all British         was brought back immediately to Delhi by Mr
        officers) were given directions “to examine and       Menon where it was presented to the Defence
        prepare plans for sending troops to Kashmir           Committee by Sardar Patel. On 27 October,
        by air and road in case it became necessary to        the actual airlift of the Indian troops began
        stop the incursion”. Around the same time V           for the defence of Kashmir. The decision of the
        P Menon of the State Ministry was flown to            Maharaja to accede to India and for New Delhi
        Srinagar to take an on-the-spot assessment,           to send in troops for the defence of Kashmir had
        meet the Prime Minster and the Maharaja of            the full support of Sheikh Abdullah, the leader
        the state, and return the same evening to New         of the largest political party of the state.
        Delhi to report on the situation. On Mr Menon’s
        advice the Maharaja and his family left Srinagar      No Plebiscite Condition
        for Jammu that same night – 25 October ’47. Mr        Pakistan and some others have been alleging
        Menon and Mr Mahajan flew to New Delhi at             that the Accession was conditional on
        dawn on 26 October ’47 and went straight to the       holding of a plebiscite. They also said that the
        Defence Committee meeting where he reported           Maharaja’s accession was a violation of the
        the critical ground situation.                        standstill agreement with Pakistan and that it
         Apparently, Mr Mahajan met the PM Mr                 was secured under force and by fraud. On 30
        Nehru and Sardar Patel immediately upon               October ’47 Pakistan issued a statement that
        arrival. Mr Mahajan requested immediate               the state’s accession was “based on fraud and
        assistance on any terms as the town of Srinagar       violence and as such cannot be recognised”. The
        had to be saved at any cost. Seeing Mr Nehru’s        facts are as follows:
        hesitation (ostensibly needing time to arrange         The standstill agreement (under the India
        for the army’s airlift) Mr Mahajan offered            Independence Act of 1947) was an interim
        to get the Instrument of Accession signed             arrangement which put no curbs on the legal
        immediately, however on condition that the            and constitutional rights of the Maharaja. Thus
        airlift of troops must begin that day itself. Upon    there was no question of barring the Maharaja
        instructions from the Maharaja himself it was         from signing the Instrument of Accession, as it
        conveyed to Mr Nehru that Mr Mahajan was              automatically revoked the standstill agreement.
        to decide on the spot depending on whether            In any case, Pakistan had failed to abide and
        Mr Nehru was willing or not to do the needful.        discharge her obligations of the standstill
        In case Mr Nehru refused, Mr Mahajan was              agreement and thus lost the moral authority.
        to go straight to Pakistan and to Mr Jinnah to        Thus, under the Government of India Act 1935,
        negotiate. Sardar Patel and Sheik Saheb (who          the Memorandum of the Cabinet Mission of
        was in the next room) prevailed and the die           12 May 1946 and the Indian Independence
        was seemingly cast. Sardar Baldev Singh, the          Act 1947, the Instrument of Accession once
        then Indian defence minister, informed Mr             signed by the competent authority (the ruler
        Mahajan that a decision had been taken to send        of the state), and accepted by the designated
        two companies of Indian troops to Srinagar            authority, completed the accession. Conditional
        immediately.                                          accession was not even envisaged anywhere.
         Later that evening Mr Menon and Mr Mahajan           The signing of the Instrument of Accession
        were asked to fly back to Jammu immediately           is neither revocable nor can it be annulled.
        to get the Instrument of Accession and some           There was nothing in the Instrument itself to
        supplementary documents signed from the               force the Indian Government to a plebiscite on

                                                                                   SENIORS TODAY | Volume 1 | Issue 2
   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14