Karan Singh on Accession of Kashmir to India

New Delhi
Karan Singh on Accession of Kashmir to India
The history of the Indian sub-continent would have been "different" if the then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah had come to an agreement on the state soon after accession, the former ruler's son Karan Singh said today.

Karan Singh, who had become Sadr-i-Riyasat (President) of Jammu and Kashmir after his father went to exile, said Hari Singh had maintained a "dignified silence" over the events that took place in late 1940s and his "one statement could have deeply embarrassed the Indian government".

He said Hari Singh had agreed to go to exile after signing the Instrument of Accession agreement with India and Sheikh Abdullah wrote a letter to him saying that despite all happenings "he would be a loyal subject" to him.

"Had Maharaja Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah been able to come to an agreement, the whole history of the sub-continent would have been different. Unfortunately, that did not happen. My father was exiled and Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed (as Prime Minister of J&K). I dismissed him. I have to admit," he said after releasing a book here.

Terming the events during that period as a "tragic history", he said "I followed Pandit Nehru and not my father. I followed him at the risk of angering my father, rightly or wrongly. I think rightly. I integrated myself into the national consensus."

Recounting his "difficult" days, Karan Singh said his father had faced a "very difficult situation" as he did not like all the four major forces -- British, Indian National Congress, Muslim League and Sheikh Abdullah -- that had existed then.

"He did not like any of them. How is he going to survive? I am asking you... It is a miracle that I am here speaking," he said releasing a book Maharaja Hari Singh: The Troubled Years written by Harbans Singh, whose first copy was received by Former Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee.

Karan Singh said the book has "re-assessed" his father's role during the accession, which was much criticised, 50 years after his death in 1961 and called it a "real attempt" to vindicate the Maharaja's position.

He said his father was an "intelligent" and "progressive man" full of idealism.

Karan Singh said once the "feudal structure" collapsed, his father was not able to understand that historical forces have been unleashed against him.

He said the book has pointed out the multiple nature of the state including the fuditaries and the valour of the forces of Jammu and Kashmir that created the state.

"Nobody can write the history of Jammu and Kashmir without reading my autobiography. I have been witness to history. None of them was there. One can disagree with me but not with facts," he said.

Karan Singh said his father opened temples to Dalits in 1929 and was a "very progressive man" who was "overtaken" by historical events so he could neither be Mohammad Ali Jinnah nor Mahatma Gandhi nor Pandit Nehru nor Sheikh Abdullah.

The senior Congress leader said the "major mistake" New Delhi has been making in the past few decades on Kashmir issue was approaching it as an issue of the Valley.

"There is no such state called Kashmir. The state is called Jammu and Kashmir. The major mistake was to approach it as Kashmir issue. They are realising it now," he said.

He said that after the Dogra rule was abolished the "glue that had held the state together "disappeared" and Sheikh Abdullah could never make peace with Dogras.

"That dynasty is still flourishing by God's grace. A young man from that dynasty is the Chief Minister now," he said.

Sorabjee said the author has made efforts to break the "myths" that have been written about the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and had "entangled" history from mythology.

"The book has been remarkably well-written written. It has dispelled the long-held impression. It portrays a man who was a victim of conspiracy and circumstances. He has tried to correct the impression," he said.

The former Attorney-General said the author has explained in detail the valour of the forces of Jammu and Kashmir who fell in defending the state.

"Myths have been demolished," he said.

Author Harbans Singh said the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Hari Singh and the Indian government was the only time when the emperor spoke up.
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