Nehru to be blamed for PoK mess, says BJP

New Delhi: Asking the Congress to “apologise for its blunders” related to the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India made by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, including the enactment of Article 370, the BJP on Thursday claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi corrected these “blunders” by nullifying Article 370. The ruling party, which was marking the 75th anniversary of the region’s accession, said if Jammu and Kashmir was merged with the country like other princely states, then there would probably be no “jihadi terrorism”.

The BJP also targeted the Opposition party for the forced migration of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley following the outbreak of militancy. Hitting back, the Congress cited the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from south Kashmir’s Shopian district and demanded that the Modi government release a white paper on the plight of the minority community during its eight-year rule.

The Congress party also hit out at the BJP-led Central government over the targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir and said the government must apologise for it.

Alleging that the first Prime Minister committed five blunders, including delaying action on the accession proposal of the region’s king Hari Singh BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said Jammu and Kashmir and the country in general had to pay a price for it. The blunder allowed Pakistan to capture a part of the region (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir).

Quoting from Mr Nehru’s statement to assert that the king had first mooted the idea in July 1947, Mr Bhatia alleged that the then Prime Minister dithered and prioritised his and his friend’s interests (a reference to Sheikh Abdullah) while neglecting the country’s.

Mr Bhatia said: “If timely action was taken, then there would be no part of the state under Pakistan’s occupation. The Congress since then has spread lies and suppressed the truth about the issue.” He further added that Mr Nehru then took an “internal issue” to the United Nations, making Pakistan a party.

The BJP denounced Mr. Nehru for floating the idea of a plebiscite, claiming that there was no provision for it in the Independence Act, under which hundreds of princely states merged with India.

Mr. Bhatia claimed that then home minister Vallabhbhai Patel was against the measures pushed by Mr Nehru. He said if Jammu and Kashmir was merged with the country like other princely states, then there would probably be no “jihadi terrorism”.

Quoting Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s comments in Lok Sabha in 2019 during a debate on the resolution on Article 370 nullification to hit out at the Opposition party, Mr Bhatia said the Congress should apologise for the blunders it made. Mr Chowdhury had noted that the Kashmir issue was in the United Nations as he questioned the government’s stand that it was India’s internal issue.

Hitting back at the BJP, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera cited the targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir and said the government must apologise for it.

When asked about Union minister Kiren Rijiju’s article titled “75th Anniversary of Five Nehruvian Blunders on Kashmir”, Mr Khera said those leaders of the BJP who are students of “WhatsApp nursery” need to revisit their history classes.

“If all that they are saying is true, how is it that during the Manmohan Singh era, targeted killings stopped and 75 per cent of the people would participate in the democratic process of elections in the state? We would be happy to get the answer to that,” he said.

In July 1947, the Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja had approached the Congress to accede to India like other princely states but the then PM refused, saying “he wants more”, a requirement which did not exist in any instrument. In October the same year, Pakistani raiders invaded the Kashmir region but Mr Singh’s request was kept pending. In a speech made in Parliament in July 1952, Mr Nehru spoke about the issue.

In an article for a news website, Mr Rijiju wrote that on October 21, 1947 a day after the Pakistani invasion had started, Mr Nehru advised Jammu and Kashmir’s Prime Minister, M.C. Mahajan, through a letter that “it will probably be undesirable to make any declaration of adhesion to the Indian Union at this stage”.

“But what was it that Mr Nehru so desperately wanted that not even an invasion moved him? Finally, in the same letter to Mr Mahajan, Mr Nehru revealed his desire in writing and so we can count on Mr Nehru’s own words rather than hearsay. “I suggested to you the urgency of taking some steps, like the formation of a provisional government. Mr Abdullah, who is obviously the most popular person in Kashmir, might be asked to form such a government.”

On the Article 370 issue, the minister wrote that “the creation and perpetuation of Article 370 (Article 306A in the interim draft of the Constitution)” was another blunder. “In the first instance, there was no justification for such an article as the instrument of accession was the same as every other princely state signed. The only ‘special’ case that existed was in Mr Nehru’s mind… Mr Nehru had his way and Article 370 came into existence, thereby institutionalising the separatist mindset that hung like a noose around India’s neck,” the minister argued.  

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