Is Farooq now down with Dementia?

Has Farooq Abdullah gone bonkers? Having reportedly undergone a kidney transplant two years ago, does he now need a brain transplant as well? Or is the three-time chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) now down with dementia?

The doubts arise out of the two outrageous statements the 80-yer-old Abdullah made at a meeting in Srinagar, according to a PTI report published in the First Post website on November 11. One of them was his belief that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) belongs to Pakistan, and not to India. This is a lie, an obnoxious lie.

The whole world knows that a Tribal Invasion of Srinagar from the Pakistan side had occurred from the Pakistan side on October 20, 1947, and that Pakistan had occupied a territory which it called Azad Kashmir. But few know that Azad Kashmir is a nominally self-governing polity administered by Pakistan but is not represented in Pakistan’s Parliament.

Then, there’s Gilgit-Baltistan, which shares a border with Azad Kashmir. It was part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, and was illegally occupied by Pakistan after it invaded the region subsequent to India’s Partition. But few know that Gilgit-Baltistan does not participate in Pakistan’s constitutional affairs. In fact, the Pakistan government has officially rejected Gilgit-Baltistan calls for integration with Pakistan on the grounds that it would jeopardize its demands for the whole Kashmir issue if resolved internationally.

Considering the above, the territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are together referred to by the United Nations and other international organizations as “Pakistan-administered Kashmir”, and not as parts of Pakistan. But now, alas, the three-time chief minister of J&K believes otherwise, and that POK belongs to Pakistan, not to India! Perhaps only an Indian Penal Code case of sedition against him will make him smell the coffee.

One can allow an 80-year-old man to forget history, geography and the current international political stance. But how can one forgive him for forgetting a part of the very State Constitution under which his father, he himself and his son have ruled J&K for a combined period of 25 years?

Section 4 of the J&K State Constitution says “The territory of the State shall comprise all the territories which on the fifteenth day of August, 1947, were under the sovereignty or suzerainty of the Ruler of the State.”

Commenting on that Section, former Chief Justice of India, Adarsh Sen Anand, in his book “The Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir – Its Development & Contents”, writes that “Prior to the accession of the State to India…some parts of the State fell into the hands of the invaders, but the Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir applied to the whole area of the State, including the area now under enemy occupation.” Further, his book, based on a dissertation that won him a Ph.D. from the London Law University, cites scholar James Ferguson to support his view. Wrote Ferguson thus: “It was the whole State of Jammu and Kashmir that acceded to India, and although some regions had broken away, they had done so illegally, and their illegal action could not confer any right on Pakistan.” (Kashmir, an Historical Introduction, London, 1961, page 91)

This brings us to Farooq Abdullah’s outrage number two: J&K’s accession has been a betrayal by India of the present state of J&K. “They did not recognize the love with which we chose to join them, but India didn’t treat us well. India betrayed us. That is the reason behind the current situation in Kashmir,” Abdullah said according to the PTI. Both statements there in are lies.

History proves that the J&K Maharaja acceded to India not out of “love” but out of panic to save himself and his State when the Tribal Invasion from Pakistan territory began on October 20, 1947, and ran amok in his capital city, Srinagar. He literally fled to Jammu and met Sheikh Abdullah, the tallest leader then in J&K; the latter told him to promptly sign the IOA in favour of India and ask its quick military aid. That is why, in his letter of 25th October 1947 to Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India, he wrote, inter alia, “With the conditions obtaining in my State and the great emergency of the situation as it exists, I have no option but to ask for help from the Indian Dominion.(emphasis added)

Farooq Abdullah Dementia J&K Instrument of Accession 1Farooq Abdullah Dementia J&K Instrument of Accession 2a

Secondly, India strictly observed the conditions of the IOA. The Maharaja’s State was allowed to continue functioning under its prevailing Constitution Act, 1939. As required by Clause 7 of the IOA (see attached facsimile signed copy of the IOA), India did not use any pressure to commit the Maharaja to any future Indian Constitution (which came in 1950). Instead, it showed respect for the State’s desire to have a responsible Constitutional government of its own by officially permitting J&K to formulate its own new Constitution.(The only princely State our of some acceding 560 that got this boon.)

Supremely significant is that when the J&K State Constituent Assembly, popularly elected on adult franchise across the whole State, began its first Constitutional proceedings on October 31st October, 31, 1951, Sheikh Abdullah, the Shere-e-Kashmir, in his inaugural speech said that one of the main functions of the Assembly was to determine its reasoned conclusions regarding accession to India in which there were three alternatives: accession to India, accession to Pakistan or complete independence.” (Dr Anand’s cited book, 3rd edition, pg 119). And the Assembly finally opted for accession to India! It was, in fact, a democratically conducted plebiscite.

In sum, like what its Maharaja had done, J&K State had finally decided to accept the semi autonomous State wherein only matters related to Defence, External Affairs and Communications were the subjects on which the Parliament of India could make laws for the State.

However, instead of dedicating itself to that mandate of the IOA, the political leadership of J&K came up with what was an attempt to “eat the cake and have it too.” It began forming its own Constitution and also insisted on Article 370 to be included in the Indian Constitution, with blessings of India’s Prime Minister. And it simultaneously thought nothing of going to New Delhi for doles and what have you for the State’s overall development.

The State used Article 370’s provisions to get special Constitution provisions for the State such as Article 35 A for creating a huge divide of rights between the State residents and those in the rest of India, and also among the former category itself. It also used Article 370 to get exempted from (i) implementing several provisions of the Indian Constitution (such as implementation of Fundamental Rights and the State being designated as “Secular”) and (ii) application of certain Union laws to the State (such as the one on the CBI). Again, for over a decade after J&K signed the IOA, the Indian Union’s Election laws were felt unsuitable for it. Further, the Indian Parliament was given no power to audit the State’s accounts. Again, before 1954, the J&K High Court had no writ jurisdiction. Also, the advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court came in January 1954, and the right to appeal by special leave under Article 136 came into effect only after January 1960.

All the above, and several more, were altered later to conform to the Union after the consent or concurrence of the State Government required by Article 370. They came about because, for a change, at least some or the ruling dispensations in J&K showed statesmanship and wisdom rather than arrogance and autocracy.

For the rest of the time, it’s not easy to recall what all the J&K governments have done for the overall development of their State, what with the Union bearing the cost of the State’s hydraulic power projects. The latest example of this Union’s love for the Kashmir Valley residents is the country’s longest (9 kms.) road tunnel that links Srinagar with Jammu, built at a cost of Rs. 2.500K crores. For most of the times the State’s rulers remained busy driving out some three to four lakh Kashmiri Pandits and covertly pampering the notorious “separatists” to keep supporting terrorist activity from Pakistan. And, for all that, the State received Rs.1.14 lakh crore (sic) in grants from the Union over the 2000-2016 period alone, despite having only one per cent of the country’s population.

So, Farooq sahab, who betrayed India for so long?

But that of victimhood will apparently never go. He and his ilk are now thirsting for their own Supreme Court, their own Election Commission and for so many elements of what they club as “pre-1953 autonomy”.

Of course, there’s “one betrayal” of “the conditions of accession” Farooq sahib may, like Yusuf Malik and Syed Shah Gilani, have in his muddled mind.

It must be that wish (emphasis provided) which Lord Mountbatten, India’s then Governor General, expressed in his letter to the Maharaja accepting the signed IOA. He had stated therein that “In consistence with their policy that in case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute… it is my Government’s wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.”

But let me remind the 80-year three-time chief minister of the legal issues on that wish which was not carried out but he still wants: a plebiscite promised by Mountbatten and by Nehru later in an All India Radio address to the country.

Dr Anand’s earlier-cited book states that Mountbatten had expressed only his “wish” but had no authority to give that binding pledge. Dr Anand also quoted from a book of a former Chief Justice of India, M.C.Mahajan, to the effect that “the moral grounds …cannot overcome the constitutional and statutory provisions. Even the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution confer no such authority… such promises cannot bind India” [Accession of Kaashmir to India (The Inside Story)] To this, Dr Anand adds his own bit that “If there is a moral obligation to ascertain the wishes of the people of Kashmir, the Indian Constitution has no provision for such a step in the process.”

Yes, instead of making another Pappu of himself, the three-time chief minister must take time out to read Dr Anand’s book from page to page. And think in mission about abrogating Article 370; that mission’s success will wash away all the past betrayals of the princely J&K State against the Union of India.

Featured Image: NDTV, Rediff

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Arvind Lavakare

Arvind Lavakere has been a freelance writer since 1957. He has written and spoken on sports on radio and TV. He currently writes on political issues regularly. His writings include a book on Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.