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Kashmir, 1947 (Rival Versions of History)

Item Code: NAL441
Author: Prem Shankar Jha
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2015
ISBN: 9780195648584
Pages: 166
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 180 gm
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Book Description


This book seeks to examine the accession of Kashmir to India in 1947, on the basis of the wealth of material that become available in recent years after crucial documents and correspondence of that period were made available to the public. Kashmir has been a bone of contention between Pakistan and India since 1947, and the cause of two out of the three wars that the two countries have fought since achieving independence. If their relations continue to deteriorate as they have been doing over the past three years, it could become the cause of a third.

When an issue generates so much bitterness and frustration, some of this feeling is bound to percolate to those attempting to study it. It is not therefore, surprising that over the years, two completely different versions of Kashmir’s accession to India have come into being, not only in peoples’ perceptions-that is only to be expected- but in the academic literature on the subject. These versions have then been fed into the popular perception through the media. Thus by degrees the distinction between scholarship and polemic has been eroded, to the detriment of the former.

This book examines both versions in the light of contemporary accounts, documents, and correspondence, which are exhaustively discussed in the footnotes. No attempt has been made to exhaustively study all the voluminous literature that exists on the Kashmir dispute. The method followed here has been to try and build up a clear, week by week, day by day, and finally hour by hour account of events and actions in 1946 and 1947, as these emerge from the sources enumerated above. The information contained in the declassified documents and correspondence files has to sift the statements made by the principal in their autobiographies and accounts of events, to determine what can and cannot be believed. On many occasions the correspondence has highlighted the significance of statements in the autobiographies that would otherwise have escaped my notice. The interpretations of other scholars have been tested against the account emerging from the above reconstruction.

I can no more claim to be unmoved by the events that are described in this book, than can the dozens of people who have written on the subject to Kashmir before me. Rather than make claims to objectivity, I consider it fairer readers to spell out the framework of values within which I have studied this subject. Pakistanis believe, almost without exception, that Kashmir should in the natural course have been part of Pakistan, and that they were tricked, or coerced, out of it by a clever and deeply laid Congress plot. This belief is based on the fact that 77 per cent of the population of the original princely state was Muslim, and Pakistan was created on the basis of the theory that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations. If one has an implicit faith in this theory, the rest is its natural corollary.

This implicit belief has permeated a great deal of the literature on the subject, particularly the writings of non-Indians. The way it has biased academic investigation, by predetermining what the writer believes was natural or morally right, is reflected in the two basic premises with which the British scholar Alastair Lamb begins his most recent book on Kashmir:

First did those of British India with viable Muslim majorities have the right to look forward to an independent future free from Hindu domination? [Emphasis added]... [and second] Had Jammu and Kashmir been an integral part of British India, there can be no doubt that it would automatically have been embraced within the Muslim side, Pakistan by the operations of the process of Partition.

The moral imperative in these two observations could not be more explicit: A ‘right’ is invoked, its denial is portrayed as the denial of freedom, and its extension to areas not covered by the original covenant is deemed to be morally desirable, if not an outright duty. The strong overload of morality inhibits Lamb, as it has inhibited other scholars, from addressing a number of additional of additional questions certainly deserving answers, such as: ‘did all Muslims want this “freedom”?’ Did “Muslim” constitute a homogeneous community with all the attributes of suppressed nationhood or were they a heterogeneous community with internal divisions?’ Were there no other loyalties that conflicted with their loyalty to their co-religionists?’ ‘In particular, did no class differences exist that might create a schism? For that matter, did “Hindu” themselves constitute a single homogeneous community?’ Did fully-fledged Hindu nationalism exist in 1947 or was it only incipient then? Did the term “Hindu” have any political, indeed any, significance at all?’

Assuming that Muslim interests, and the position of Muslims in Indian society did need safeguards, at least for psychological reasons, was Partition the only way of providing them? Considering that one-third of the Muslim population of the subcontinent was left behind in India, that their position deteriorated sharply after Partition and the communal holocaust that it engendered, and that their leaders migrated to Pakistan, can it even be claimed that Partition achieved its primary objective of freeing Muslims from Hindu dominance, or did it free some at the expense of the rest? Were no other political arrangements possible that would have safeguarded the position of all the Muslims of the subcontinent? Since British Indian had already introduced the elements of federal democracy with the passage of the Government of India Act of 1935, would a federal, or confederal, arrangement not have provided a better solution than Partition afforded?

Rather than attempt to answer these questions, I will leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions from the subsequent history of the India subcontinent. I will confine myself here to stating that I do not believe in the two-nation theory. Were I to do so, I would have to believe that 120 million Muslims have no rightful place in my India. I would find myself, ideologically, in the same bed as most rabid Hindu chauvinists. This does not mean that India and Pakistan should be reunited, much less forcibly. Nor does it imply that Pakistan has no reason to exist. While religion may nor have proved to be the most permanent basis for nationhood, Pakistan has now existed for almost half a century and is in the process of building other raisons d’ etre.



Two Versions of History



Uprising or Invasion?



Accession Under Duress?



Signing the Instrument of Accession



The Gurdaspur Award



A Grand Design?



Britain and the Kashmir Question



Myths Exploded, an Enigma Unravelled


Appendix I: Statement by Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw


Appendix II: Letter from General Iskander Mirza to Sir Olaf Caroe


Appendix III: The Truth of the Partition of the Punjab in August 1947





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