- The roots of the abrogation of Article 370 Cn be seen in the annexations at Partition
To understand why the Indian government at the time of Partition lured some princely states, which did not want to join India, to review their decisions and annexed the others through force which wanted to join Pakistan, and why the Modi government has ended special status of Kashmir, one has to seek guidance from history. As the freedom movement in India gained momentum the Hindu leadership made it abundantly clear that it stood for the integrity and unity of India and considered princely states an integral part of India. The Congress session of Haripura in 1938 propounded this concept in these words “The Congress stands for the same political, social and economic freedom in states as in the rest of India and considers the states as integral parts of India which cannot separated. The Purna Swaraj or complete independence, which is the objective of the Congress, is for the whole of India, inclusive of states, for the integrity and unity of India must be maintained in freedom as it has been maintained in subjection.”
However, the later political developments which led to the demand for a separate homeland under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah forced the British government to partition India into two dominions. The Indian Independence Act passed by the British Parliament also declared that princely states were free to join any of the two dominions or remain independent. It shattered the dream of the Indian leaders of integrity of India and states becoming integral parts of India automatically. The Act however did not specify the mode or mechanism for taking the desired decisions. It was therefore assumed that the rulers of the states would decide the future of their states on their own. However the last viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten, while speaking to the Chamber of Princes on 25 June 1947, said, “The Indian Independence Act releases the States from all their obligations to the Crown. The States will have complete freedom– technically and legally they become independent. They are free to join any of the dominion but while doing so must keep in mind the geographical proximity and the demographic features of the population.”
it will not be easy for India to get away with her hypocrisy so easily this time. Further, the freedom movements have their own momentum and cannot be suppressed through decrees, legislative measures and use of military muscle
Out of the 552 states, the rulers of 547 states decided to join India. But five states did not want to join India. Travancore, Jodhpur and Bhopal wanted to stay as independent states but they were lured to join the Indian Union through different tactics. The Muslim ruler of Hyderabad (a Hindu majority state) decided to accede to Pakistan. India sent its forces to the state and in an armed conflict which lasted for four days, India gained control over it. Similarly Junagadh, another Hindu majority state, was ruled by a Muslim who also decided to join Pakistan. India created a situation of anarchy in the state which led to a complete breakdown of the economy and consequently the Nawab fled to Karachi. Vallabhbhai Patel requested Pakistan to allow a plebiscite in Junagadh and eventually sent in troops to force annexation of three of its principalities. In the face of acute shortage of funds and forces, the Dewan was forced to accede to the Indian Union. Eventually, on 20 February 1948, a plebiscite was held in the state wherein 91 per cent of the voters chose to join India.
As is evident from the foregoing India used different yardsticks to effect annexation of the non-conforming states, that is, through accepting the accession announced by rulers; through force and in the case of Junagadh, a combination of military force and plebiscite. It was treachery and hypocrisy at its best.
Kashmir was a fit case for accession to Pakistan as urged by Lord Mountbatten in his address to the Chamber of Princes on 25 June 1947. It was a Muslim-majority state ruled by a non-Muslim. When its ruler signed a controversial instrument of accession, India by accepting it negated her own stance on Hyderabad and Junagadh when it had contended that those states could not accede to Pakistan because of the majority of their population being Hindus. However, Lord Mountbatten made it clear that the accession was accepted provisionally and the issue would be resolved through reference to the people.
In the backdrop of the revolt of the Kashmiris against the decision of their ruler and the consequent war between India and Pakistan, the former took the matter to the United Nations. The UN passed resolutions, after hearing the two sides, which pledged the settlement of the question of accession through a plebiscite under its auspices. India accepted the resolutions and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru repeatedly reiterated a commitment to implement them. But the Indian government, instead of creating conditions for holding of the plebiscite, made a hypocritical move by having the accession of Kashmir to India announced by the constituent assembly of Indian Held Kashmir and then started calling Kashmir as its integral part, notwithstanding the fact that the UN through its resolutions 91 and 122 repudiated the Indian action and reiterated that the question of accession of Kashmir could only be settled through a plebiscite held under the auspices of the UN. Indian hypocrisy was exposed again, when in the aftermath of 1971 war between the two countries, it accepted Kashmir as a disputed territory in the Simla Agreement; a proposition which also figured in the Lahore Declaration. But India never showed seriousness in resolving the issue. Kashmir, however, continued to have special status according to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which in a way was an acknowledgment of the reality that it was not part of the Indian Union.
Meanwhile the Kashmiris, having been frustrated by the Indian intransigence in fulfilling the pledge of a plebiscite, launched an armed struggle in 1989 which is still continuing and has attained more intensity in the backdrop of the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in 2016 in spite of the unparalleled atrocities committed by the Indian security forces. The Modi government by doing away with Article 370, and making Indian Held Kashmir part of the Indian Union, has actually displayed the same historical hypocrisy which was used by the Indian rulers at the time of Partition to annex the defiant princely states. It also reflects the Hindu mentality of integrity of the Indian Union and of the princely states being its integral part, as was announced in the Congress session of 1938. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on Indian Independence Day, boasted that he had achieved in 70 days what could not be done in 70 years adding that he had fulfilled Vallabhai Patel’s dream of a United India.
Nevertheless, the Modi government has committed a grave folly, and at a time when the war of freedom in IHK is raging with full intensity and the people of Kashmir have shown unprecedented steadfastness against the military might of India and the killing spree against them. Pakistan, which is a party to the dispute, has pledged unmitigated political and diplomatic support to the cause of the Kashmiris and also expressed its firm resolve to give a befitting reply to any Indian indiscretion militarily, though it has ruled out war as an option. As a result of the diplomatic offensive launched by Pakistan the issue came up for discussion in the UNSC after 50 years and the vibes emanating from the meeting indicate that the UNSC has supported Pakistani’s stance by reiterating that the solution of Kashmir dispute has to come through the UN Charter and the relevant resolutions. It is tantamount to rejection of Indian claims of Kashmir being its internal matter. So, it will not be easy for India to get away with her hypocrisy so easily this time. Further, the freedom movements have their own momentum and cannot be suppressed through decrees, legislative measures and use of military muscle.