Many misgivings and allegations are expressed by several people in India against Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the First Prime Minister of Independent India, for messing up the issue of complete acquisition of Kashmir despite the Treaty of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir State to India signed by the Maharajah of Kashmir with the last Governor General cum Viceroy for India. But, it remains an undeniable fact that it was Pandit Nehru who set the ball rolling to bring Kashmir under India, which has not been duly appreciated by Indians because of which his image is being tarnished by some people, to make him appear as a villain, instead of the Hero of Free India. Hence the true facts need to be emphasised.
For there was no love lost between Nehru and Raja Hari Singh who disliked as well as distrusted Nehru. Therefore the latter was strongly unwilling to accede Kashmir to India, and had decided to remain independent, as the British Sovereignty had given him the right to choose, after granting Kashmir independence at the same time as to India and Pakistan, rather than acceding his kingdom to either India or Pakistan. On the side of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel too was not in favour of acquisition of Jammu-Kashmir state in India, as it was a Muslim majority state and hence would be a slippery possession.
The Pakistani people were also displeased with this decision of Raja Hari Singh, as they too felt that as a Muslim majority state, Kashmir should be a part of Pakistan. As this was not forthcoming, the Pakistani tribals attacked Kashmir on 22nd October 1947, as also looted and plundered the valley alongwith violence on its men and women, whereupon Raja Hari Singh had no option but to rush to India for Army protection.
Pandit Nehru like a clever strategist, took immediate advantage of this opportunity arising in the face of opposition from all the three concerned parties viz. the Maharajah of Kashmir, Pakistan, and his Own Deputy PM who was also the Home Minister of India, and laid the condition before Maharajah Hari Singh that the help would be given, provided he agreed to sign the Treaty of Accession of J&K to India first, so that it would not be able to slip away afterwards. The Treaty was signed on 26 th Oct.1947, and the Indian Army landed in Srinagar of the Kashmir valley the very next day, on 27th Oct ’47 under Sardar Patel.
Most of the state was retrieved, but the Northern Areas, Gilgit and Baltistan which are now part of Pak Occupied Kashmir were left behind for they were not a part of Kashmiriyat, and were a rocky, mountainous and barren region, as Sheikh told Nehru. The part of POK that is now Azad Jammu Kashmir was not taken captive as “the situation there had become uncontrollable”! That may have been the reason why Nehru got the War stopped at that point by calling the UN for intervention, because Nehru was probably averse to allowing bloodshed for the sake of one part of the land, and most of the State with the Kashmir Valley was already taken back.
The Articles 370 and 35A, I read, had to be added because both Maharajah Hari Singh and his Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah wanted J&K to be granted a separate status, as their precondition to the Accession(The Sheikh pressing for it as his plan was to depose Raja Hari Singh by forcing him to form a Constituent Assembly and step down, so that the former could become the Prime Minister of Independent Kashmir after the imminent dissolution of the princely states). The Maharajah too is said to have threatened Pt.Nehru that he would withdraw his Accession Treaty if Art.370 was abolished. The other condition of ‘Plebiscite’ of the people of the state at a suitable time, was added by the Governor General, Lord Mountbatten who, it is believed, was also inclined towards Kashmir being joined with Pakistan.
However when Sheikh Abdullah started making movements alongwith his ‘All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference’ party(renamed as National Conference) to separate Kashmir from India for making it ‘Independent Kashmir ‘ after the dissolution of the Princely states in 1952, Nehru became alerted and put Sheikh Abdullah under preventive detention at once in 1953, wherein he stayed until his death.
Hence, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is also entitled to as much credit as Sardar Patel, if not more, for Kashmir being with India today!