February 4, 2023 2:17 pm

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The Quandary Over Kashmir: Explaining Nehru’s Over-optimistic Approach

While addressing a rally in Gujarat on Tuesday, 11 October, 2022, PM Modi made a scathing attack on JL Nehru vis-a-vis Kashmir

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The K word has always been a subject of concern in Indian politics. After 75 years of independence and 18 prime ministers later, the Kashmir issue is still one of the most debatable issues in Indian politics.

On 5 August 2019, the Modi-led BJP government took a historic decision. It abrogated Article 370, which worked as the biggest stumbling block between the actual integration of Kashmir with the Indian state.

While addressing a rally in Gujarat on Tuesday, 11 October, 2022, PM Modi made a scathing attack on JL Nehru vis-a-vis Kashmir. “Sardar Patel persuaded all the princely states to merge with India. But another person handled the issue of Kashmir,” PM Modi said without naming Nehru and in other way referring to his Kashmir blunders.

The controversy around the Kashmir issue includes a very infamous chapter of Nehru’s blunders. When Pakistan launched tribal militia attacks with the help of the Pakistan Army in October 1947 to annex Kashmir after partition, the Indian Army repulsed the attack forcing the enemy to move back. But still, a large part of Kashmir’s territory remained under Pakistan’s occupation. It was because of Nehru’s over-optimistic approach and his utter belief in idealism. The internationalist inside Nehru compelled him to take the issue to the United Nations, ignoring all the advice on Kashmir. On 30 December 1947, a formal reference was made to the Security Council through the representative of the Indian government with the United Nations.

According to an article published in The Print, a news portal, the Government of India then requested the Security Council, therefore, to ask the Government of Pakistan; to prevent Pakistan Government personnel, military and civil, from participating in or assisting in the invasion of J&K State. It said – 1. To call upon other Pakistan nationals to desist from taking any part in the fighting in the J&K State; 2. Deny to the invaders: (a) Access to and use of its territory for operations against Kashmir, (b) Military and other supplies (c) All other kinds of aid that might tend to prolong the present struggle.

Nehru, on the advice of Mountbatten, took the matter to the UNSC for the sake of moral grounds and internationalism. In a statement on 5 March 1948 in the constituent assembly, Nehru said, “Our making of a reference on this issue to the UN Security Council was an act of faith because we believe in the progressive realisation of a world order and a world government. Despite many shocks, we have adhered to the ideals represented by the UN and its charter. But those ideals also teach us certain duties and responsibilities to our own people and those who trust us. To betray these people would be to betray the basic ideals for which the UN stands or should stand”.

The above statement clearly shows Nehru’s disillusionment with the nascent United Nations of the 1940s and 1950s. Nehru soon realised that taking the Kashmir issue to the United Nations was a big blunder on his part. On 28 March 1951, Nehru, while addressing the Indian parliament, said “ The accession of Kashmir to India is entirely in conformity with the Indian Independence Act. It is also fully in accord with all that has happened in the case of other princely States which acceded to India. We did not ask the UN to adjudicate the validity of Kashmir’s accession or determine where the sovereignty lay. We did not seek arbitration but we went to them to complain about aggression by Pakistan which we thought might jeopardise world peace. The UN took advantage of our initiative in our referring the matter to them and thus enlarged the scope of their enquiry. Until now, neither the UN Commission nor the Security Council has suggested that the accession was open to question”.

Nehru’s blunder on the Kashmir issue was a big diplomatic and strategic setback for India. It proved very costly to the coming generations of Kashmiris. Several generations of Kashmiris grew up and died in the shadow of fear and terrorism. The land, which is referred to as heaven on earth, named after Rishi Kashyap, turned into a bloody battleground for years. It was until 5 August 2019, the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir merged with the Indian Union in an absolute sense. Thus, Nehru’s mistakes in Kashmir not only played havoc with the lives of Kashmiris but also did imbue a large chunk of Kashmir’s Muslim majority with anti-India feelings.

Governments in power in India since independence have tried to solve the quandary over the Kashmir issue, but they always lacked in political willpower and determination to address the issue. The abrogation of Article 370 led to a new dawn in Kashmir, along with the announcement of development policies worth thousand of crores for Kashmiri youth and Kashmiri people. The central government’s efforts will certainly shape the future of the present and coming generations of Kashmiris.

After long violence and bloodshed, Kashmir finally seems to regain its lost glory and the world, too is looking keenly towards Rishi Kashyap’s Kashmir to rise again.

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TIA Fellow
TIA Fellow
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