Nehru Was Not Reluctant To Send Troops To Kashmir As Alleged By Advani: Jha

Nehru Was Not Reluctant To Send Troops To Kashmir As Alleged By Advani: Jha

8 November 2013
Hindu Business Line


New Delhi: After L K Advani’s salvo at Jawaharlal Nehru over his alleged reluctance to send troops to Kashmir in 1948, Senior journalist Prem Shankar Jha today said the “real disagreement” between him and Sardar Vallabhai Patel was not over whether to send the army in but when and under what circumstances. Jha said this while seeking to set the record straight, a day after the BJP stalwart alleged that Nehru, the country’s first prime minister, was reluctant to send army to Kashmir in 1947 even as Pakistani troops approached, but Patel, the then Home Minister, prevailed over him. The comments by Advani in his latest blog quoting Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw from the interview given to Jha for his book stoked a potential controversy, days after the BJP leader claimed that Nehru had called Patel a “total communalist” for insisting on police action against the Nizam in 1948. Citing the interview given in December 1993, Advani concluded that ‘even on sending the army into J and K following the attack on J and K by tribesmen and Pakistan in 1947, Nehru had similar reservations (as on Hyderabad six months later)’. “Since my book has provided the ammunition for his salvo, I would like to set the record straight,” Jha said in a statement. Jha, however, noted that Advani has reproduced Manekshaw’s interview with complete “fidelity” and that his conclusion that Nehru had differences with Patel over sending the army into Kashmir is also true. “But it is not the whole truth. The real disagreement between them was not over whether to send the army in but when, and under what circumstances,” he added. Quoting from an interview of Manekshaw (then a Colonel) by Jha, Advani said in the blog that as the tribesmen - supported by Pakistani forces - moved closer to Srinagar, a decision had to be taken on moving Indian forces there. However, Nehru appeared reluctant and felt the issue should be taken to the UN. Referring to Manekshaw’s claim in the interview, Advani said Lord Mountbatten called a Cabinet meeting soon after Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession. This was attended by Nehru, Patel and defence minister Baldev Singh. Manekshaw presented the “military situation” in the meeting and suggested the Indian forces be moved there. “As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said, ‘Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away’ He (Nehru) said, 'Of course, I want Kashmir.' Then he (Patel) said ‘Please give your orders’. “And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said, ‘You have got your orders’,” Advani said, quoting Manekshaw from the interview to Jha. The Indian forces were then flown to Srinagar to fight the Pakistani forces and the Muslim soldiers of Maharaja Hari Singh who had defected to Pakistan. “This report, involving Manekshaw and Prem Shankar Jha, provides a clinching confirmation of the difference between Nehru and Patel over the Hyderabad action,” Advani said. Nehru stated at the meeting of the Defence Committee of the Union Cabinet on October 24, 1948 that he saw no reason not to send the army because Kashmir was a sovereign state facing an invasion and had the right to ask India for help, Jha said. However, Mountbatten severely discouraged Nehru from doing so without first getting Kashmir’s accession to India. In its absence, Mountbatten warned, the arrival of Indian troops would trigger an invasion by the Pakistan regular army through Murree and Abbotabad. Since the Maharaja had already offered his accession to Nehru three weeks earlier through his premier Mehr Chand Mahajan, the former prime minister readily agreed but insisted that the Maharaja must attach a commitment to put Sheikh Abdullah in charge of the government to the instrument of accession. On Nehru and Mountbatten’s insistence, the Cabinet therefore decided to send VP Menon to get the Maharaja’s written agreement, but on Patel’s instructions he also carried a copy of the Instrument for him to sign. In Srinagar, Menon found that the raiders were only a few kilometres away from the airport and the Maharaja was in imminent peril of capture. So instead of making him wait for hours while the attachment was being prepared, corrected and retyped, he got him to sign the Instrument and leave for Jammu immediately, promising to bring him the attachments to sign in Jammu the next day. Nehru’s reasons for insisting upon Hari Singh’s virtual hand over of power to Sheikh Abdullah was his worry over the repercussions of Kashmir’s accession to India, upon Hyderabad. By accepting Hari Singh’s accession without caveats Nehru feared that he would set a precedent that the Nizam of Hyderabad could cite, to accede to Pakistan. The only way this could be avoided was if, despite being Muslim, a sizeable part of the population of Kashmir chose to belong to India. The support of the National Conference in Kashmir was therefore essential to clear the way for the annexation, if it became necessary, of Hyderabad. Sardar Patel rendered invaluable service to India by sending the Instrument up with Menon, quite possibly without Nehru’s knowledge. This was the document that Manekshaw saw Menon handing over to Mountbatten before the Defence committee’s meeting on October 25. But it was Nehru who cleared the way for the legitimate takeover of Hyderabad. On November 5, Advani had written a blog where he quoted from the memoirs of M K K Nair, a 1947 batch IAS officer, to say that Nehru had called Patel a “total communalist” when the latter said at a Cabinet meeting that “police action” will have to be taken against Hyderabad as it was trying to join Pakistan.