Trifurcation Of Kashmir

Trifurcation Of Kashmir

18 August 2013
Deccan Chronicle
AG Noorani

Mumbai: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All-Parties Hurriyat Con­ference (Mirwaiz), did well to denounce earlier in the month the moves of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to trifurcate (Indian) Kashmir and separate Jammu and Ladakh from the Valley. These moves have a long history behind them. The immediate inspiration came from the decision of the Congress Working Committee, on July 30, to separate the Telangana areas from the state of Andhra Pradesh with the city of Hyderabad as its capital. In 1956, when provincial boundaries were redrawn on the basis of language, the erstwhile state of Hyderabad was split into three parts on a linguistic basis. The demand for splitting up Jammu & Kashmir is not based on language or culture, but on the refusal of the RSS and its front bodies to live under Muslim rule once Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah became Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir. Two forces began to work in tandem. One was Maharaja Hari Singh, the former ruler, and his son Karan Singh. The other was the Jana Sangh set up in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mookerjee, an acolyte of the Hindu Mahasabha leader V.D. Savarkar. To whip up Hindu opinion for his Jana Sangh, Mookerjee hit upon the removal of Article 370 of the Constitution, containing special provisions for Jammu & Kashmir, and the separation of Jammu and Ladakh from the rest of the area. Hari Singh and Co. had already launched their own moves in that direction. As far back as on April 17, 1949, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to his deputy Vallabhbhai Patel about a disturbing report he had received “from one of our intelligence officers who had been sent to Kashmir”. It bears quotation in extenso in view of its relevance now 64 years later. “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 (Kashmir) to Pakistan, I have no doubt we could clinch the issue in a few days. The price we are fighting for is the Valley of Kashmir.” “This propaganda for a zonal plebiscite 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 is controlled by the Maharaja, are being spent in propaganda for him… In the intelligence report mention was made of the Yuvraj getting mixed up in this business.” That Yuvraj, the crown prince, was Karan Singh. The Jammu fixation was also shared in some high circles. On October 11, 1951, Dr B.R. Am­bedkar said, in a statement after his resignation from Nehru’s Cabinet: “The right solution for the Kashmir issue was to partition (Jammu & Kashmir). Give the Hindu and Buddhist parts to India and the Muslim part to Pakistan as we did in the case of India,” adding later in the month in a speech at Jalandhar, “If we cannot save the whole of Kashmir, at least let us save our kith and kin.” The President of India, Rajendra Prasad, an ardent supporter of Patel, shared this communal outlook. He wrote to Nehru on July 14, 1953, “My misgivings are that if there is an overall plebiscite we may lose the whole of… Jammu & Kashmir and have to face the problem of the exodus and rehabilitation of practically the whole of the Hindu population.” By then Syama Prasad Mookerjee had whipped up communal feelings in Jammu. His outlook and calculations were exposed in his protracted correspondence with Nehru and Abdullah. The demand for trifurcation was revived when the BJP came to power in New Delhi 45 years later in 1998. No sooner had it consolidated its hold on power than it began to talk of splitting up Jammu & Kashmir. The then Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, warned in October 2000 that, in the event of a split, three of the six districts of Jammu which have a Muslim majority, would refuse to remain part of Jammu; namely, Doda, Poonch and Rajouri. Of the other three - Udhampur, Jammu and Kathua - a tehsil in Udhampur, Gool Gulab Garh and three in Rajouri will go to the Valley. Advocates of a separate “Jammu state”, he added, were welcome to their two-and-a-half districts. In 1979, Ladakh was split into a Muslim majority Kargil and Buddhist majority Leh. It is accepted by all hands that the Muslims of Jammu share the aspirations of the Muslims of the Valley. L.K. Advani, then home minister, voiced his support for trifurcation at Leh in June 2000 but retracted it in the face of criticism and the warning delivered by Farooq Abdullah in December 2000: “India will be left with two-and-a-half districts while the so-called Greater Kashmir will go on a platter to Pakistan eventually.” Not for the first time in history the so-called “nationalists” promote a programme which will only cause harm. The best course is to vigorously urge for a speedy settlement of the Kashmir dispute.