(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s such a humbug from the 14th Dalai Lama to suggest that the 1947 Partition could’ve been avoided had Pt Jawaharlal Nehru accepted Mahatama Gandhi’s offer to Make Mohammad Ali Jinnah as Prime Minister, the offer which was made to Viceroy Lord Mountbatten on April 1, 1947.
Gandhi’s offer to Jinnah was a non-starter from the word go. Gandhi had made such proposals previously too—and it had been rejected by the Muslim League and Jinnah himself. There is no reason to believe Jinnah would’ve accepted so on this occasion. Nehru only saved him the trouble.
Why Jinnah would’ve brushed aside the offer? Because the Central Legislative Assembly would’ve still been dominated by Congress members who would’ve rendered his Prime Ministership impossible. Besides, how would’ve Jinnah looked to his supporters and Muslim League after harping “Pakistan-and-nothing-else,” all these years?
Look at the issue from the Congress’ perspective. It still, by far, was the largest nationalist party, representing majority of Indians, including Muslims. Forget Hindus, how Congress would’ve appeared to millions of nationalist Muslisms still on their side? What was the guarantee that Jinnah would’ve stopped at his original demand of six states only? (Punjab, Bengal, Sylhet, Sind, Balochistan and NWFP). And what about one-third of India which was still run “independently” by hundreds of princes and their fiefdoms?
Above everything else, nobody believed Gandhi was serious on his offer. This is what Lord Mountbatten has written in his memoirs on the offer:
“I (Mountbatten) need not say that this solution coming at this time staggered me. I asked: “What would Mr Jinnah say to such a proposal”? The reply was, “if you tell him I am the author, he will reply “Wily Gandhi.”
Still, Lord Mountbatten did put Gandhi’s proposal to Pt. Nehru. The latter pointed out that Gandhi had made a similar proposal during the Cabinet Mission of 1946. The proposal was all the less realistic a year hence now because of the policy of Direct Action by the Muslim League which has caused bloodshed and bitterness. Nehru also wondered if Sikhs and Hindus in districts of Punjab where they dominated, would accept the proposal.
As per VP Menon, the Constitutional Advisor to the Viceroy (know more about him, he is the one who actually solved the knotty Partition issue), “the assurance of cooperation by the Congress (to Gandhi’s proposal on Jinnah) is more a wishful thinking…this is perhaps not un-intended by Gandhi.
“According to Gandhi’s proposal, Jinnah is at liberty to plan for Pakistan and even to put his plans into effect provided he is successful in appealing to reason and does not use force. This is asking for the impossible.
“If Jinnah could persuade the Sikhs and Hindus of the Punjab and Hindus of Bengal to join Pakistan, he would automatically get his Pakistan without joining the Interim Government on dubious terms. On the other hand, if Jinnah still persists in his scheme of separation, he will be giving his case away by entering the Central Government.
“It is Gandhi’s habit to make propositions, leaving many of their implications unsaid…for example, there is no reference here to the Muslim League participation in the Constituent Assembly. If Jinnah were to accept his proposal, Gandhi probably takes it for granted that the Muslim League would enter the Constituent Assembly.”
So, His Holiness, please spare us the false history. As it is we have many historians of dubious claims and agendas who manipulate the truth. Yours’ might be an innocent one but no less grievous.
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (the title of Pandit is a little incongruous for a sworn secularist) passed away on this day (May 27), 54 years ago in 1964. His larger than life image though has only lately begun to be put in perspective. A lot of it has to do with social media for it loosened the grip of mainstream media and academics in controlling the narrative, hiding the ugly and sprucing up the good.
This revisit on Nehru’s early years, his rise in Congress echelon, manipulation at the time of independence to PM’s seat, his shaping of Hindu Civil Code etc are now being fiercely ripped out in open. I would presently concentrate on two of his actions which have put India’s eastern and western borders in permanent strife. I am of course referring to Pt. Nehru’s conduct during the incursion of Pakistani raiders in Kashmir in 1947; and the disastrous China War of 1962.
Pak Raiders in Kashmir in 1947
Within a month of India’s independence, Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir offered his state’s accession to India in September 1947. Nehru refused for his “blood brother” Sheikh Abdullah was in jail. It was thus a deadlock. By next month, Pakistan’s raiders from North West Frontier Province had penetrated up till the outskirts of Srinagar, looting, pillaging, killing and raping along the way. On October 26, Hari Singh had agreed to sign the Instrument of Accession to Indian Union.
On the same day, Lord Mountbatten, the governor general, called an urgent meeting in Delhi. Nehru was his typical ambivalent self. Sardar Patel, the home minister, lost his cool. Sam Manekshaw, then an army colonel, was to later recall: “As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God Almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said `Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir or do you want to give it away?’.” Nehru was thus pinned into taking an action and thanks to Sardar Patel, troops were flown to Srinagar and the airport, the only link with New Delhi, was saved.
In just a few weeks, in December 1947, Nehru had committed his grave blunder for which successive generations of India are still paying the price. He referred the matter to United Nations—there was no need for Kashmir was literally India’s “internal matter” since Maharaja Hari Singh had already acceded the state to Indian Union.
Why did Nehru go to United Nations? There are two explanations forwarded: one, he wanted Sardar Patel out of Kashmir for the latter fed up by Nehru’s antics had offered to resign just a few days before in December 1947; two, Nehru walked into a trap laid by Mountbatten who wanted UN to mediate.
(The truth is, India didn’t need Mountbatten as its Governor General. Pakistan never considered a similar option for itself. Mountbatten then maneuvered himself as head of India’s defence council).
Nehru then approached United Nations for arbitration. In the first few months of 1948, the folly had begun to hit Nehru in the face. The British stance in front of UN was completely opposite to what Mountbatten had led Nehru to believe. The Indian complaint was ignored; instead UN Security Council began adopting anti-India resolutions.
The cat was out of the bag. Despite India’s protestations, Pakistan was firmly in control of “Azad Kashmir.” India had to lose Gilgit-Baltistan region. UN and its plans for a plebiscite went kaput. India’s next generations had been condemned with the festering wound of Kashmir. Terrorism and internal security, if not secession, are everyday issues emanating from the Valley.
India’s China War of 1962
This refers to India’s political and military humiliation at the hands of China during the 1962 War. The impression successfully perpetuated all these years is that it was all China’s aggression which didn’t respond to Nehru’s brotherly overtures. The truth is more nuanced.
Britain didn’t leave India with any boundaries. India were left to settle matters with Pakistan, Nepal and China. While the first two nations didn’t cause any problem, China was a different matter altogether. They were not prepared to let Nehru get away with his “forward policy” of aggression.
India inherited the McMahon line on its eastern border with China which British had created in mid-1930s by seizing the Tibetan territory, renaming it NEFA. The Chinese government’s plea for renegotiation was turned down by Nehru who latched on to London’s fake claim of Simla Conference (1945), legitimatizing the McMahon Line. Nehru topped it with his fake claim on Aksai Chin—a claim which even the British hadn’t made on a territory China had termed its own for over a hundred years.
Then on its Western (Ladakh) border, Nehru’s “forward policy” in September 1962 tried to force the Chinese out of territory it claimed as its own. Nehru announced on October 11 that the army had been ordered to “free our territory.” That’s how the war began with China reacting to the situation.
China fought the 1962 war while in the throes of economic hardship. It’s forces were hardly elite, mostly comprising regiments of local military. Their equipment and logistics were poor. Yet they overpowered the Indians. In that short war of two weeks—China called for a unilateral ceasefire as quickly as it had gained ground—India lost 1383 of its soldiers; 1047 were wounded, 1696 were missing.
Our only clue to 1962 China War is a book by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell: India’s China War. He could pen it down by accessing the Henderson (Brooks)—(Premindra Singh) Bhagat report which had been commissioned in the wake of 1962 War disaster. Even Maxwell could copy only a part of the report which the Indian government had classified as “top secret.”
It’s been over a half century yet the Henderson-Bhagat report as well as various correspondences of Nehru are out of reach—being treated as “private property’ of Nehru Library, a private trust. The papers of India’s first prime minister belongs to his family and not to the state!!! The classified secret clause of “30 years” is long over yet the report isn’t being made public.
That’s how truth in this country is treated. Everyone tries to muzzle changes in school text books and academia in light of new findings so that their narrative remains perpetuated. Doesn’t the history of this country deserve a revision when important annals of this country are being kept locked in the form of documents inside safety vaults?