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Sheikh Abdullah preferred secular India over theocratic Pakistan in 1947

Srinagar, October 22 is the blackest day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir as it was on this day that Pakistan imposed a war on Kashmiris by sending tribal hordes to illegally capture the state. The tribal invasion violated the Standstill Agreement between Pakistan and the Maharaja of J&K and resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people both Hindus and Muslims alike, laid the seeds for disrupting the secular harmony of the state and led to the division of J&K that continues till today.

It is necessary to explain the significance of the tribal invasion of October 22 which was a water-shed event with serious consequences that are continuing today. Pakistani rulers, stung by the Radcliffe award, attacked J&K to advance their agenda of the two-nation theory in Kashmir. Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan, who was in charge of the operation produced a plan that it should look like a revolt of the people of J&K against its non-Muslim rulers so that the civil unrest would provide the cover for military operations.

The fact is that Pakistan violated the Standstill Agreement of August 15, 1947 and stopped supply of essential goods like petrol, oil, food, salt, sugar etc. to J&K, effectively imposing a blockade to the state. The primary purpose of tribesmen, whom Pakistan had sent to Kashmir, was plunder and not anything else. They trampled J&K’s sovereignty, dishonoured Kashmiri women and looted Hindus and Muslims alike. Their attack had totally devastated Muzaffarabad, the homes of Hindus and Muslims were looted, shops were plundered, places of worships were not spared ; they tore down Mandirs and desecrated Masjids.

Baramulla fared no better. The town which used to be a bright and cheerful place looked as if an earthquake had shaken it, after tribal invasion. The planners and the perpetuators of the tribal invasion were the foremost enemies of Kashmiri nation. Unfortunately, all the crimes committed by them have been camouflaged under the name of ‘Jihad’ and ‘independence’ by successive Pakistan governments and their cronies in J&K.

National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who always opposed violence, supported Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India in October 1947, because of the country’s secular credentials. When he preferred India over Pakistan, he did so because he saw it following a system which was secular and democratic. For that reason, he rejected Pakistan, a theocratic state.

That Sheikh Abdullah was confined to jail for twelve years is a story of misunderstanding. On 8 August 1953, Sheikh was dismissed as the prime minister of Kashmir by the then Sadr-i-Riyasat (Constitutional Head of State) Dr Karan Singh, son of the erstwhile Maharaja Hari Singh, on the grounds that he had lost the support of the cabinet.

He was not given a chance to prove his majority. Instead, he, along with Mirza Afzal Beg and 22 others, were accused of conspiracy against the state for allegedly espousing the cause of an independent Kashmir and were arrested soon after for anti-national activities. The ‘Kashmir conspiracy case’ was framed in 1958 and the trial began in 1959. On 8 April 1964, the state government dropped all charges in this infamous ‘Kashmir conspiracy case’. Sheikh Abdullah was released and returned to Srinagar to an unprecedented welcome by the people of the Valley.

After the war with Pakistan in 1971, and the creation of Bangladesh, Sheikh realized that for the survival of this region there was an urgent need to stop confrontational politics and resolve issues by a process of reconciliation and dialogue. When Indira Gandhi, came to power, Sheikh started talks with her for normalizing the situation in the region, and came to an accord called the 1975 Indira–Sheikh accord.

After years of confrontational politics, Sheikh realised that India was better option for Kashmiris in all respects than Pakistan or so-called independent Kashmir. He held this view religiously till his death in 1982.

In the last 30 years, a lot of Kashmiri students have come out of the valley and settled all over the country. You will find plenty of Kashmiris in Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Kolkata. The Kashmiri has had enough of Pakistan. He knows India is going nowhere, Kashmir is going nowhere. India will never let go of Kashmir, so he wants to settle with India. Settle honourably with peace, dignity and justice.

Pakistan is ruled by the generals and they don’t want peace. Their prime minister is only a puppet. Kashmiris have realised it now and are happy to live with India.

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