Mountbatten took Patel’s offer to Lahore the day Indian troops landed in Srinagar. Liaquat Ali, ‘who understood neither history nor geography’ said no, Soz tells Shekhar Gupta.
New Delhi: Saifuddin Soz, former Congress minister and a prominent Kashmiri politician, has made a startling claim that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was happy to let Kashmir go to Pakistan in exchange for Hyderabad and it was Nehru’s insistence that kept it with India.
Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, took Patel’s offer to Pakistan on the exact day the Indian Army landed in Srinagar to push back intruders from Pakistan in October 1947, Soz told ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s Walk The Talk show.
“From the very first day Sardar Patel was adamant that Kashmir should go to Pakistan. In the partition council, he tried his level best to convince Liaquat Ali to take Kashmir and leave Hyderabad-Deccan,” Soz said.
“There was a fight, Sardar Mohammed Ali and our Reddy were there. Sardar Patel told Liaquat Ali, don’t even talk about Hyderabad-Deccan. It isn’t even connected with Pakistan. You leave Hyderabad to us, and take Kashmir.
“I will tell you a very fascinating story,” Soz said. “When our army landed in Srinagar, the same afternoon Mountbatten went to Lahore. There was a dinner with Governor of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, and four Pakistan ministers. Mountbatten said, I have brought a message from the strongman of India, Sardar Patel. Take Kashmir and forget Hyderabad-Deccan, it’s not even connected with you.”
“But as Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan writes in his book,” Soz said, “Liaquat Ali neither understood history, nor geography.” So, he did not accept the offer.
Patel could not prevail, Soz said, because Nehru was very strong. His connection with Kashmir was very strong. He believed Kashmir should come to secular India, it will be safe here. He was very close to the National Conference. He had even come to address the Sopore session of the National Conference in 1945. He knew Kashmir’s history completely, he said.
Sheikh Abdullah had rejected the two-nation theory. He told his constituent assembly that Kashmir was independent from 15 August to 22 October, 1947. But once Pakistani raiders came it was clear that independence wasn’t possible.
He said the five countries around us, India, Pakistan, Russia, China and Afghanistan will never accept Kashmir’s independence. So that isn’t possible. Sheikh Abdullah writes this in his book, Soz said.
Sheikh Abdullah had no intention of going away from India, Soz added. He wanted to remain here “as long as India was secular, pluralistic and sympathetic to Kashmir. That’s how the Delhi agreement came.”
Unfortunately, Nehru was later voted out within his own cabinet, he said. He was forced to dismiss Sheikh Abdullah’s government and put him under detention. “He repented this and became a very lonely man. Sheikh Abdullah writes in his book that Dr Karan Singh, then Sadr-e-Riyasat, was one of the conspirators (against him) in 1953. The Constituent Assembly of Kashmir should have been allowed to continue. You ask Ram Jethmalani. Even he believes that. “
Soz said the Kashmir situation was ruined “mainly because small minds (like) Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Ajit Prasad Jain around Nehru poisoned the environment. Then, political work was given over to even smaller minds in intelligence agencies. That continues even now.”
Soz said even now the only possible solution in the near-term is to talk to Hurriyat leaders. Young Kashmiris are angry, he said, you can’t talk to them. Force will not work, he said, “in a mood when two sons of a family have already died and the third has gone to join militancy”.