Thursday, 26 November, 2009

Removal and Detention of Sheikh Abdullah

Removal and Detention of Sheikh Abdullah Meanwhile, the expectation that Kashmir as an integral part of India would work out its destiny with the rest of the country in consonance with the ideals of secularism and democracy were belied with Sheikh Abdullah trying to change his stand after 1952 and beginning to think in terms of an Independent Kashmir. Consequently, the 'Sadar-e-Riyasat' removed Sheikh Abdullah from the Prime Ministership on 9 August 1953 and put him under detention. He was succeeded by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad as Prime Minister. This event had been preceded by efforts of the Government of India to make Sheikh Abdullah to abide by the earlier commitments in the form of an agreement reached between him and the Government of India on 24 July 1952. This agreement, interalia, conceded elected Sadar-e-Riyasat, limited jurisdiction of Supreme Court and extension of Emergency provision of the Indian Constitution at the request of the State Government. Formation of the Plebescite Front Following the overthrow of Sheikh Abdullah, his lieutenant Mirza Afzal Beg formed the Plebiscite Front on 9 August 1955 to fight for the plebiscite demand and the unconditional release of Sheikh Abdullah who had been arrested after his removal. The activities of the Plebiscite Front eventually led to the institution of the Kashmir Conspiracy Case in 1958 and two other cases. The release of Sheikh Abdullah following the withdrawal of the Kashmir Conspiracy Case in 1964 gave a new impetus to the party and Sheikh Abdullah and Mirza Afzal Beg launched an offensive approach by instigating the people against India. They also carried out anti- India propaganda abroad which led to their fresh detention in May 1965. This led to the decline in the activities of the Plebiscite Front. However, with the release of Sheikh Abdullah in January 1968, the Plebiscite Front revived its activities and began to spread its influence throughout the valley with Sheikh Abdullah reverting to open attacks against India, besides challenging the finality of the accession. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad relinquished his office in October 1963 under the Kamraj Plan and was succeeded by Shamshudin as the prime minister of the state (the nomenclature of PM was changed to Chief Minister in 1964). The theft of the holy relic from Hazratbal shrine in December 1963 led to a widespread mass upsurge and riots for a month till the holy relic was recovered and identified. By leading these widespread agitations, Mir Waiz Maulvi Farooq launched his career in Kashmir politics although he was only 19 years old. After the holy relic episode, G.M. Sadiq became the chief minister of the State. Indo-Pak War of 1965 The Pakistani invasion of India in 1965, similar to that of 1947, was a well thought out diabolical plan consistent with Pakistan's anti-India and annex-Kashmir policies pursued since its formation. The objectives and modus operandi were the same. Pakistan-trained infiltrators supported by its regular army soldiers were pushed into Indian territory with the same purpose of sabotage, disruption and distribution of arms among the locals to start a guerrilla uprising. The prevailing conditions which encouraged Pakistan to undertake the misadventure were in fact, construed as ideal by Pakistan. The death in May 1964 of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the coming to power of the late Lal Bahadur Shastri as Nehru's successor were treated by Pakistan as an encouragement to complete its unfinished war of 1947. Shastri was considered as a weakling and India was perceived as being deeply pre-occupied with its internal crises. Therefore, Pakistan assumed that India would not be able to react effectively to the situation. Simultaneously, article 356 and 357 of the Indian constitution which provided for governor's rule were extended to J&K under the process of integration. This was considered by Sheikh Abdullah as an encroachment on Kashmir's status as the article, in fact, provided for the governor's rule without the consent of the state legislature. The resentments expressed by Sheikh Abdullah were also construed as a probable Kashmiri support to Pakistan in the eventuality of a war with India. The invasion into J&K in the form of an armed infiltration in small numbers started from August 1965. The Pak incursions in J&K continued for about a month till the ceasefire was effected under the aegis of the UN Security Council on 23 September 1965. The invaders were repulsed by the Indian army and Pakistan's 'Operation Gibraltar' resulted in a total failure. The Kashmiris' support, in fact, was miscalculated by the Pakistani authorities and the invaders. Both the countries later signed the Tashkent Declaration on 10 January 1966 which provided for a temporary truce.During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the efforts of Pakistan to win over the Kashmiri population did not get any appreciable response and the Pakistani infiltrators were beaten back. Meanwhile, the anti-India and pro-Pakistan activities of the Plebiscite Front (PF) led to its ban in January 1971 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Sheikh Abdullah, M.A. Beg and G.M. Shah were ordered to leave the State. The activities of the PF received considerable setback after the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and the consequent creation of Bangladesh. The reality of the situation had a sobering impact on Sheikh Abdullah and his supporters and they started thinking in terms of evolving a solution of the Kashmir problem within the frame work of the Indian Constitution and therefore, started laying more emphasis on autonomy. This change in the attitude of the Plebiscite Front leaders resulted in prolonged negotiations leading to the Kashmir Accord of February 1975. Under this accord, Sheikh Abdullah was allowed to form the government in J&K. The Congress (I) government in the State led by Mir Qasim allowed Sheikh Abdullah to revive the National Conference (NC) only after he accepted the finality of the Accession and the dissolution of the PF. Fresh elections were held in June 1977 and the NC under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah returned to power with majority.

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