For the most part of his life, Sheikh Abdullah juggled on the rhetoric designed to assure Kashmiri people of their culture identity, without asserting any real change in Kashmir’s destiny, says Naveed Qazi
One of the most duplicitous moments in the history of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference came when its president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah pleaded before then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf over Kashmir’s international resolution when he was on a visit to India.
It is an irony that the political party claims to represent the aspirations of suppressed subjects who have championed to gimmick the myriads of one of the most brutal political history in the world, which Kashmir has been a product of.
The party leaders have also forgotten the historic facts of Kashmir Accord where the party’s ideologue insincerely juggled between resolution and internal autonomy and upheld the tenets of plebiscite, which are hailed by the UN on humanitarian grounds.
In an interview with The Times, Sheikh Abdullah said: “There is no quarrel with the Government of India over accession; it is over structure of internal autonomy. One must not forget that it is we who brought Kashmir to India, otherwise Kashmir could have never become part of India.”
In 1971 the Plebiscite Front had been banned. The Indian Government associated the Front with the activities of the group, Al Fatah. “Over a million politically conscious people were conveniently removed from the field to clear the path for a walkover for the Congress. The doors of democratic processes were thus been banged against the real representatives of the people,” Victoria Schofield writes in her book, ‘Kashmir in the crossfire’.
When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto spoke for self-determination of Kashmiri people, JKNC and senior Abdullah spoke against any intervention of the Kashmiri state with the Dominion. In a series of negotiations, Indira Gandhi chose to capitalise on Abdullah’s more favourable stance towards India – which Kashmir and the world popularly know as Indira-Abdullah accord.
Kashmir’s international mediation suffered a blow. Pakistan lost war with India; the emergence of independent Bangladesh gave Kashmir little hope for the future. In fact, the tragedies, the psychological despair in regional politics has been a product of this development.
The six point Indira-Abdullah accord did retain Article 370, but the Indian State “was able to make laws relating to prevention of activities, directed towards disclaiming, questioning or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, or ceasing insult to Indian National Flag, the Indian national anthem and the Constitution.
“There was no return to pre-1953 status. The autocratic Maharaja’s accession was confirmed by Sheikh Abdullah after thirty years. From an Indian standpoint, the movement of freedom came to an end. But on moral grounds, it didn’t. There came violence where thousands of Kashmiri people were killed years after and it revitalised anarchy in cyclical phases.
Prem Nath Bazaz described JKNC, which was not directly holding the power at that time, as ‘the new baby’ born out of Plebiscite Front. He said, ‘as a party, its power was brought to existence through intimidation and terror.’
Indira Gandhi’s presence in Kashmir in October 1975 was a reminder to the people how civil liberties were curbed throughout India. During this period, the press was muzzled and her political opponents were arrested. But for JKNC and its fan base, it was a moment of cheer around the banks of Dal Lake.
Signing the accord was a futile exercise. Indira Gandhi’s two-year emergency rule ended almost two years after the Kashmir accord was signed. It also led to deterioration of JKNC at the State level. The party leaders now relied on taped speeches.
Abdullah also did not want to play the wild card of Pakistan to his advantage. For the most part of his life, he juggled on the rhetoric designed to assure Kashmiri people of their culture identity, without asserting any real change in Kashmir’s destiny.