Updated October 27th, 2022 at 14:20 IST

October 27th - 75th Anniversary of Nehru's Blunders Bleeding India: Kiren Rijiju writes

27th October 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of Nehru’s grievous mistakes in integrating Kashmir in India, an error for which Indians paid in blood.

Kiren Rijiju
Jawaharlal Nehru
Image: PTI | Image:self

27th October 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of Nehru’s grievous mistakes in integrating Kashmir in India, an error for which India and Indians paid in blood for 75 years. 

  • July 1947: Maharaja Hari Singh approaches Congress to accede to India like other princely states. Nehru refuses, saying “he wants more”, a requirement which did not exist in any instrument.
  • 20th October 1947: Pakistani raiders invaded Kashmir region. Nehru still waffles and does not accept Kashmir’s request to accede to India.
  • 21st October: Nehru officially writes to PM of Maharaja Hari Singh, saying it is not desirable for Kashmir to accede to India at that time. This despite Pakistani forces rapidly advancing in Kashmir.
  • 26th October: Pakistani forces surround Srinagar. Maharaja Hari Singh again makes desperate appeal to join India. Nehru still negotiating and waffling with inordinate delay in responding
  • 27th October: Kashmir finally accepted into Indian union when Nehru’s demand met on Sheikh Abdullah

Details and Chronology

In 1947, Nehru decided to handle the integration of Jammu and Kashmir rather than leaving the matter to Sardar Patel, who managed the integration of all other Princely States. However, five historical blunders by Nehru during the crucial period – 1947 – 1949 not only prevented full integration of J&K but also created a foreground for security threats and anti-India activities that have plagued the region for many decades.

Nehru’s First Blunder: Nehru delayed and almost derailed J&K’s Accession

For 75 years, a historical lie has been propagated that Maharaja Hari Singh dithered on accession to India. However, Nehru’s speeches and letters indicate that his dismal handling of affairs delayed and nearly derailed J&K’s accession.

Historical Fact 01: Maharaja Hari Singh was willing to accede in July 1947, but Nehru dithered

In an address in the Lok Sabha on July 24, 1952, Nehru mentioned that Maharaja Hari Singh had approached India in July 1947 itself. However, rather than formalizing the accession, Nehru considered Kashmir a “special case” and sought “something much more”. Nehru deliberately made Kashmir a unique case where the ruler was willing to accede, but the union government hesitated to finalize the accession.

Nehru created “pre-conditions” for accession

Though Maharaja Hari Singh’s acceptance would have been adequate for accession as per the India Independence Act, Nehru wanted to seek “popular approval”. He consciously made Kashmir an exception and decided to negotiate simultaneously with Sheikh Abdullah. Nehru falsely believed that Abdullah represented the dominant popular voice of the state. Nehru wanted “popular approval” before proceeding with the accession in July 1947.

Despite the bloodshed and violence witnessed post-partition, Nehru remained adamant on creating pre-conditions for J&K’s accession. He wanted the Maharaja to establish an interim government before accession to India. Nehru was adamant that Sheikh Abdullah should head the interim government. This was clearly stated in a letter to MC Mahajan, J&K’s Prime Minister, on October 21, 1947.

Deliberate delay allowed Pakistan to consolidate its position

Raiders from Pakistan entered J&K on October 20, 1947, and swiftly captured state territory. However, rather than swiftly formalizing accession and sending military support to J&K, Nehru continued to delineate pre-conditions for accession. On October 21, a day after the infiltration had started, Nehru advised MC Mahajan that “it will probably be undesirable to make any declaration of adhesion to the Indian Union at this stage”. The reason for Nehru’s reluctance was his pre-condition of an interim government under Sheikh Abdullah’s leadership. Rather than learning from his mistake in July 1947, Nehru repeated the same blunder. 

This delay proved costly for India, allowing Pakistani forces to consolidate their position and make further inroads. Providing military support sooner would have allowed forces to prevent further expansion and territorial capture by Pakistani forces. Even a few days later, on October 26-27, when Pakistani forces had reached barely a few kilometres away from Srinagar, Nehru wasn’t convinced about accepting accession.

Historical Fact 02: Nehru’s Second Blunder: Considering accession to be “provisional”

Nehru created the myth that J&K’s accession was conditional and provisional. He deliberately chose to make the accession a “special case”.

Cabinet Committee on Defence’s decision on Accession

The Cabinet Committee on Defence under Nehru met to consider Maharaja’s request for help after the Pakistani forces invaded. It was decided that the Maharaja would accede to India. Subsequently, the union government will “accept this accession provisionally”. Nehru also decided that the accession would be “finalized in accordance with the will of the people”.Even at this stage, Nehru was less concerned with integrating Kashmir in India and more with installing his ‘friend’ Sheikh Abdullah as PM of Kashmir. 

Extract from a note sent to MC Mahajan by Nehru on October 26, 1947:

Historical Fact 03: Maharaja Hari Singh signed the same Instrument of Accession as other princely states

The Instrument of Accession (IoA) signed by J&K was identical to the document signed by rulers of all other Princely States. The powers transferred to the Union – Defence, External Affairs, and Communication were also like the other Princely States. There is no legal ground for J&K’s accession to be special or provisional.

Nehru’s Third Blunder: Internationalization of issues in Jammu and Kashmir

On January 1, 1948, Nehru decided to approach UNSC on Kashmir under Art. 35 of the UN Charter. The UN decided to intervene and formed the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). UN resolutions on J&K over the past decades have weakened India’s position and restrained legitimate response to Pakistani actions. But, importantly, Nehru’s decision to approach the UN has been used by Pakistan to justify its claim that J&K was a disputed territory.

This is because Nehru decided to move under Art 35, which deals with disputed land, rather than Art. 51, which would have highlighted Pakistan’s illegal occupation of Indian territory. Moreover, if Nehru had trusted Indian forces and allowed the military response to continue, India would have managed to further push back Pakistani troops and prevented the creation of PoJK.

Nehru’s Fourth Blunder: Nehru’s insistence on plebiscite

Contrary to a popular myth, the UNCIP’s suggestion on conducting a plebiscite isn’t binding on India. The UNCIP itself has accepted this. On August 13, 1948, the UNCIP passed a resolution with three parts which were supposed to be completed sequentially.

Part 1: Ceasefire

Part 2: Truce agreement and withdrawal of Pakistani troops

Part 3: Plebiscite

A ceasefire between India and Pakistan was undertaken on January 1, 1949. However, Pakistan failed to withdraw its troops appropriately, which meant that Part II was never fulfilled. The UNCIP concurred with India’s aide memoir dated December 23, 1948, which mentioned that India’s acceptance of the resolution would not be binding if Pakistan failed to implement Parts I and II. The aide memoir mentions that PM Nehru had himself enquired about this in the meeting.

Further, this view was endorsed by UNCIP in a subsequent resolution adopted on January 5, 1949.

Despite the UNCIP’s clear position on this matter that plebiscite resolution is infructuous, a historical myth has been propagated that India has been bound to conduct a plebiscite. The question of plebiscite should never have arisen as Pakistan refused to comply with the UNCIP resolutions and did not withdraw its troops. 

Nehru’s Fifth Blunder: Birth of Art. 370

The provisional integration and promise of concessions led to Art. 306A (which later became Art. 370). Various drafts of Art. 306A (Art. 370) were prepared after multiple rounds of exchange between N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar and Sheikh Abdullah. The eventual draft was a concession and acceptance of various demands made by Sheikh Abdullah. In a discussion on Art. 370 in the Constituent Assembly, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, a Muslim representative from United Provinces, questioned the extension of special concessions to J&K and termed it discriminatory.



Published October 27th, 2022 at 13:31 IST

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