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How the Kashmir Problem was Created
Genesis of the Problem
On 15 August 1947, the British rule over India lapsed. As per the India Independence Act, 1946 passed by the Attlee government, the self-ruled states had a choice to either join India or the newly created Muslim state of Pakistan. There was no provision to declare independence.Kashmir's ruler Maharajah Hari Singh had grandiose plans of independence and refused to accede to either India or Pakistan. He signed a "standstill" agreement with both countries asking for time to decide. He hoped that he would be able to rally international support for his bid for independence. Accordingly he began to float the idea of an independent Kashmir. he argued that Kashmir had been a self governing state under the Raj and as such it was not necessary for him to accede to either India or Pakistan.
The Maharajah's dream was shattered by Mohamed Ali Jinnah the Governor General of Pakistan. Jinnah was keen to capture Kashmir and in September 1947, he disregarded the "standstill agreement" and with the help of tribals from the North West supported by regular troops of the Pak army, ordered the invasion of Kashmir. The Maharajah's forces were routed and the raiders closed in on the capital Srinagar. Hari Singh panicked and signed the instrument of accession to India.
This was the beginning of the Kashmir problem as Pakistan refused to recognize the accession of Kashmir to India, as the maharajah was a Hindu and the majority in the Kashmir was Muslim.
The Instrument of accession duly signed by Maharajah Hari was brought to Delhi by the then cabinet secretary VP Menon.Nehru wasted precious time in deciding on sending troops to the valley. News came that Srinagar airport was likely to fall into the hands of the Pak raiders. Nehru now acted and the first batch of Indian troops of the Sikh infantry led by Lt Col Rai flew into Srinagar on a DC-3. They set up defences and secured the airport for more Indian troops and armoured vehicles to land.
Subsequently, more troops were sent and the Indian army was able to mount a counterattack. The tribals and the Pak army suffered heavy casualties and retreated. The battle went on in 1948 as the Raiders lost ground.
The Pak raiders and Pak army were brutal and at Baramulla a thriving town about 20 miles from Srinagar, set the town ablaze and raped numerous Kashmiri girls and women. This necessitated a women's militia being formed to counter the Pak army. The tide now turned against the invaders and the army was confident that the entire Kashmir would be liberated in another three to four months.
The Mother of all Blunders
Nehru now panicked. Brought up as a man who abhorred violence under the tutelage of Gandhi, he had no stomach for a prolonged conflict. He had also no concept of strategic power play and role of the military in furthering a nation's interest.He went by the advice of Lord Mountbatten, the British Governor-general. This mans advise was suspect as he had an agenda to leave a perpetual problem in the sub-continent.
Nehru did the unthinkable and approached the Security Council. This was at a time when the Pak army and tribals were on the run. The Security Council ordered a cease-fire leaving one-third of Kashmir in the hands of Pakistan. It was a colossal blunder and Nehru later had no explanation for his actions. A problem was created and line of control came up. Nehru thus showed poor strategic sense and the army which was advancing was stunned.
Nehru thus sowed the seeds of a perpetual conflict and the two nations have already fought four wars over the disputed state. He also failed to integrate the Indian held Kashmir with India, amending the constitution by passing Article 370 which conferred a special status on Indian held Kashmir. Seven decades down the line this problem remains a major sore for India and one can see that Nehru's decision to approach the Security Council was a blunder.