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Anniversary holiday for Maharaja
Th. K P Singh9/21/2018 10:42:31 PM
Time has come to grant a holiday on Maharaja Hari Singh's birthday on 23 September because loud voices are resonating in Jammu starting from Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan, Raj Parivar, Dogra Sadar Sabha, the Palaces, the public and far too many NGOs. Some of the employees would be happy on 5th December because of Sheikh Abdullah’s birthday holiday while others would be in utter despair if holiday is not given on Maharaja's birthday. Both are contemporary architect of J&K history. We have been fed a lot about Sheikh vis-a-vis Maharaja. Let us know little more about Sheikh Abdullah and see if his birthday should be celebrated really in Jammu.
Sheikh was born in Srinagar on 5th December 1905. He studied in Prince of Wales College Jammu and Islamia College Lahore before joining Aligarh Muslim University where he was spotted by religious bigots and radicalised. He is said to be a prominent figure in politics who fought for the political and democratic rights of Kashmiris and won a semi-autonomous status for J&K whereas Maharaja is said to be a great nationalist who advocated Indian freedom at the Round Table Conference London in 1931 besides being, progressive, democratic and fair having pronounced, "Justice is my Religion". Looking at the democratic prospects of his subjects, he acceded J&K to secular India when pressure on him was to accede to theocratic Pakistan.
Sheikh was very ambitious politician. A British protégé, he was nurtured by Pt Nehru and promoted against Maharaja. He formed a political party, 'J&K Muslim Conference' and started quit Kashmir movement against the Hindu Ruler. As a sole Kashmiri Muslim leader, he championed the cause of Kashmiri Muslims. Seven years later he renamed his party as 'National Conference' (NC) to be a Secularist from an Islamist but that didn't alter his bigotry. He continued anti-Dogra tirade relentlessly. He misguided & embarrassed Nehru, not once or twice, but at various occasions as a result of which J&K is in a mess. They couldn't nurture good working relationship for too long because of Sheikh's treachery. To save J&K from irreparable cracks and fractures, he was imprisoned in 1953. But by then the damage had been done.
During anti Maharaja agitations, Sheikh would incite people to destroy everything resembling his govt. In one of the clashes with agitators, in 1944, troops were compelled to open fire resulting in 6 deaths and 10 wounded. On Sheikh's lies and misinformation, Nehru alleged, "after the army action, Srinagar has become a city of dead. Dead bodies have been soaked in petrol and burnt. Injured were not sent to hospital but to jails. Mosques, including their inner shrines, have been occupied by military. Wall of Jama Masjid has been knocked down to allow passage for military lorries". All these allegations were promptly contradicted by top leaders of Muslim Conference, who were also anti-Maharaja and anti-army. Not caring for the embarrassment it would cause him, Nehru issued a fresh statement to express his regrets at having made false allegations against the Maharaja and apologised. Such (lies) was the character of Sheikh. Still both Nehru and Patel had placed all the Aces in his hands and hence were left with no option but to listen to him irrespective of right or wrong.
In 1948 Maharaja appointed Sheikh as prime minister on the insistence of Nehru. Besides various reforms after taking over, Sheikh enforced Ceasefire when the Indian Army was making satisfactory progress in evicting Pak invaders from J&K soil. Since Maharaja had turned down Mountbatten's suggestion to accede to Pakistan and was inclined to join India, British conspired to take J&K militarily. Willy-nilly Sheikh made sure that Pakistan got 1/3rd of J&K if not all. Sheikh wanted a majority of Kashmiris in Kashmir and hence let go Punjabi speaking areas (POJK) to Pakistan. Forcing Ceasefire before those areas were liberated was a plan. India calls POJK as own but Sheikh's son, Farooq Abdullah advocates converting LoC to IB giving away POJK to Pakistan to retain Kashmir majority (father's wish).
Sheikh sought Maharaja's ouster on the plea that nobody will listen to him if he was around. Maharaja was called to Delhi on 12 June 1949 for meeting Pt Nehru and Sardar Patel where he was urged to leave the state. On 20th June Yuvraj Karan Singh took a flight to Srinagar to be sworn in as Regent and Maharaja left for Bombay forever. The Maharaja was unceremoniously exiled. Though Sheikh accepted young Yuvraj to be the Regent but didn't allow Rajmata to stay with son who became Regent. Maharaja's belongings fetched up later after they had been scrutinized by Sheikh. Sheikh got them opened and re-checked at Pathankot Railways Platform to see that nothing extra was packed. Such act would be unprecedented. Was it really warranted?
Very next thing he initiated after ousting Maharaja was to disband J&K State Force. In August 1949 he stopped their pay. Maharaja strongly protested and pledged to pay from his privy purse. Finally their pay was restored and disbandment stopped. Yet three Battalions were disbanded. Sheikh is responsible for the annihilation of Sate Forces Battalion at Gilgit-Skardu for not allowing reinforcements sent during its siege. No relief was sent to the beleaguered Dogra soldiers. All were martyred except few survivors. When frustrated by lack of concern for the men at Gilgit-Skardu and unwillingness of the State govt and Indian army to send them help, Maharaja wrote a very strong letter to Sardar Patel expressing his concern. In response Patel did nothing but cautioned His Highness against the despair. Patel, while admitting that injustice was being done to Maharaja, the State Forces and the Dogras, would feel sorry and regret on lack of options because Sheikh was Nehru's man-Friday.
Next treachery against Dogras was to convince Nehru to shift State Forces Training Centre Satwari and Badami Bagh telling him that if any state force stays in J&K, they will kill him. This is how Sheikh treated the valiant State Force which faced initial Pak attacks and saved Kashmir for him to rule. He humiliated Dogras beyond redemption, the legacy continued by his successors.
Under Nehru's patronage, Sheikh systematically destroyed Maharaja's reputation by tarnishing his secular credentials as well as spreading falsehood about his commitment to the wellbeing of his troops and people. Sheikh did not only continue his canards at the Maharaja but didn't spare benevolent Maharani by contending that She was communal and can't live in J&K. It was indeed a cruel and unjust act against Maharani. It may be good to understand how & why Maharaja & Maharani were vilified. How; I have stated, why; the history tells. Time has come to seek justice for the agony Sheikh has inflicted on Raj Parivar.
By taking the issue of Pak invasion to UN, Nehru added external dimension to the Accession. Sheikh was sent to the Security Council to plead India's case. Sheikh, instead spoke of Kashmir's independence. Had Nehru sent Yuvraj or Maharaja, the outcome would have been different. In a working committee meeting of NC on 18 May 1953, Sheikh put forward a proposal for 'an independent valley' which was vehemently opposed by GM Sadiq and Girdhari Lal Dogra. During Jammu agitation, once while returning from Jammu, after crossing Jawahar Tunnel Sheikh stopped, came out of his car and said, "By Bye Jammu". Is there any doubt that he had no love-lost for Jammu.
He ruthlessly suppressed 1952 Jammu agitation, misled Nehru and branded Praja Parshid communal. He is said to be responsible for the death of Shyama Prasad Mukerjee who was strongly opposed to Article 370, termed the provision as Balkanisation of India and three nation theory of Sheikh. Opposing 'ek Desh mein do Vidhan, do Pradhan aur do Nishan', alongwith Praja Parshid, he launched a massive Satyagrah and came to Kashmir where he was arrested. He died in detention on 23 June 1953 under mysterious circumstances for which Sheikh is said to be responsible. As a result of vindictive policies of Sheikh, a generation of Dogra youth was lost to the agitation launched by Praja Parshid. This generation was left behind in life because of disrupted studies. They were denied avenues of employment. The hatred and anger, suspicion and antagonism which Sheikh bred since 30s ruined Jammu psyche.
Despite Nehru's patronage, many Indian leaders believed that Sheikh's ultimate aim was Independent Kashmir. For his antinational activities, he was dismissed in August 1953 and imprisoned when on the verge of declaring J&K independent. During the next 11 years he refused to pledge his loyalty to India and spent most of the time under detention. In 1964, he was released. He undertook a foreign tour to help work out a possible solution to Kashmir problem. 'Old habits die hard'. His foreign visit got exposed as seditious for which he was again arrested. During this time, his support in Kashmir eroded but luck favoured him. Indira Gandhi brought him back as Chief Minister in 1975 after which the woes of J&K intensified.
Sheikh turned out to be dubious at the crucial time of history when J&K needed a great patriot and nationalist like the exiled Ruler, Pt Prem Nath Dogra and Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. Not only the Dogras, Paharis and Ladakhi's but the entire nation pays the price for Sheikh's (mis) doings. Should we celebrate Sheikh for the treachery he inflicted on Jammu psyche and alienating Duggerdesh?
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