Kashmir’s jihadi cauldron: Gandhi, not Nehru lit the fire
This series which dismantles the edifice of Gandhi’s Mahatmahood was necessitated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unfortunate public exhortation to our armed forces fighting for their lives and the dignity of their uniforms to observe “restraint” in their operations in the Kashmir valley. Narendra Modi had just returned from his “pilgrimage” to South Africa and the atavistic connection between Kashmir and this Gandhi-bhakta was unmistakable considering Gandhi’s contempt for the army which too was detailed in Part 1.
The secessionist fire raging in Kashmir today was lit in 1946 by Gandhi who instigated Nehru to interfere in the affairs of the Hindu kingdom as if the Hindu nation were Gandhi’s patrimony and the kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet (Riyasat-e Jammu wa Kashmir wa Ladakh wa Tibet ha) were Nehru’s fiefdom. Gandhi also forced the Congress Working Committee to position itself against Maharaja Hari Singh while simultaneously legitimising the opportunist rise of jihadi Sheikh Abdullah in the kingdom’s polity during the turbulent period following the failure of the Cabinet Mission; the Cabinet Mission failed because after enthusiastically welcoming the proposals for transfer of power by the Cabinet Mission within three days of its arrival in Bharat, Gandhi proceeded to sabotage the Mission step by calibrated step. How Gandhi with the same cold calculating mind as Sheikh Abdullah sabotaged the Cabinet Mission is the theme of the next article in the series unravelling the Mahatma’s political game of dice as he gambled away the territory of the Hindu nation. From 1917, when Gandhi officially took charge of the party, the INC resembled the Kaurava Court as Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Nehru and JB Kripalani chose to look down and maintain silence while KM Munshi and Rajaji walked away from the court even as the freedom struggle culminated in Hindu genocide in 1946 quickly followed by vivisection of the Hindu nation in 1947. If Gandhi’s actions had consequences then the silence and inaction of Patel, Rajaji and Munshi had consequences too.
When we deconstruct Gandhi’s so-called freedom struggle and examine the milestones which defined the struggle, we know that every political decision that Gandhi made on behalf of the Congress vis a vis the Muslim League and on behalf of all Hindus of the country vis a vis the Muslims, and every political action and agitation that he launched ostensibly against the British government and against Hindus who defied his passive resistance benefitted only and only the Muslims and Imperial London; Hindus got nothing. If anything, Hindus suffered irretrievable losses to their homes, homeland, life, property and their nation’s territory; in 1947, with India’s independence, Hindus lost political power too in Nehru’s Bharat. Imperial London watched Gandhi in South Africa very closely and manoeuvred Gandhi’s towering political ambitions precisely in the wanted direction and when the time was right, they pinned the halo of Mahatma around his head and sent him back to Bharat in July 1914. The timing of Gandhi’s return to Bharat from South Africa says it all.
The British government’s farsighted move to paratroop Gandhi from South Africa to Bharat yielded spectacular results; the nation was vivisected and Mountbatten succeeded in leaving with Pakistan the critically vital territory of the kingdom’s northern areas which adjoined not only Afghanistan but also had a small but geopolitically important border with Central Asia.
Mountbatten knew that Pakistan would automatically move into the western orbit for American and British aid in the economic and military spheres to keep abreast of Bharat’s abundant natural resources and proven native genius and that was the West’s leverage to control the territory overlooking China, Afghanistan and Central Asia. And what remained with Bharat of the kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet, Mountbatten nudged Nehru to take it the United Nations.
If Imperial London removed Tilak, Savarkar and Aurobindo to make way for Gandhi, Subhash Bose, KM Munshi and Rajaji, who unlike Patel were outspoken critics of Gandhi’s politics, were removed by Gandhi to make way for Nehru.
Why did Gandhi leave South Africa in July 1914?
Without going into details which are not germane to the theme of this article, suffice it to say that the South African government passed the Indian Relief Act on June 26, 1914 allegedly in response to Gandhi’s last and protracted passive resistance campaign which he launched in November 1913. As I have shown in my book Eclipse of the Hindu Nation, the Indian Relief Act gave very little to Bharatiyas but just enough to project Gandhi’s passive resistance as a very successful and “spiritual” weapon of engagement with colonial governments.
Imperial London was well aware that Tilak was due to be released from Mandalay in June 1914 and there was every danger that the Indian National Congress, which was in a limbo after the British government removed Tilak and Aurobindo forcefully from the political arena in 1908-09 while simultaneously decimating the Nationalist faction of the INC which split in Surat in December 1907, would once again inevitably return to Tilak’s control. If Gandhi had to supplant Aurobindo and Tilak as leader of the INC with the same matchless moral authority and real power, then his stature would have to be muscularly and even artificially elevated to match the stature of Lokmanya Tilak. In January 1915 when Gandhi landed in Mumbai, his Mahatmahood rested only on the public announcement he made in March 1906 that he was giving up sexual relations with his wife, and the manipulated success of his last passive resistance campaign which was touted to have made the racist South African government responsive to a non-violent ‘coolie’. Just so would establishment historians in Bharat’s post-independence academe entrench the falsehood that the half-dhoti clad Mahatma brought the Empire down on its knees with his toothless smile and passive resistance.
The chimera of the success of Gandhi’s passive resistance
A clinical evaluation of Gandhi’s political activism in South Africa attests to clever manipulation of Gandhi’s ideas, actions and even the direction of Gandhi’s political activism by Imperial London (Lord Ampthill, William Wedderburn, Lord Hardinge and Lord Minto among others), sundry Christian missionaries and the INC’s Empire loyalists Gopalkrishna Gokhale, Surendranath Banerjee and Sir Mancherjee Bhownagree.
Gandhi therefore had to be nudged to return to Bharat with a halo around his head and the South African government readily gave Gandhi a cause to launch his last “successful” passive resistance campaign.
“Gandhi organized his satyagraha jointly against three laws: to protest the March 1913 ruling by Justice Searle in the Cape Supreme Court which de-recognized Hindu and Muslim marriages; the June 1913 Immigrants Regulation Amendment Act; and the notorious Three Pound Tax which came into effect in March 1911 and made it mandatory for every Bharatiya family who did not wish to continue their contracts as indentured labour and chose to stay on in South Africa as ‘free’ Bharatiyas, to pay a tax of three pounds per head to the South African state. In this way, an ex-indentured family paid as much as 15, 20 or even 25 pounds, depending on the size of the family. Children of ex-indentured Bharatiyas were not spared, and boys above 16 years and girls over 13 had to pay this crippling tax. Clearly the South African regime was determined to precipitate a crisis.
Gandhi’s last Satyagraha in South Africa thus brought to the streets indentured and ex-indentured Bharatiyas along with vast numbers of the Bharatiya community, making this his largest campaign in South Africa, and covering a large segment of Apartheid laws in force against the Bharatiya community. The coal miners from Newcastle in northern Natal were the first to down tools and join Gandhi in the strike, followed by workers across Natal. The satyagraha coincided with a general and paralyzing railway strike, and Gandhi was in a position to push the government into a corner, demanding immediate repeal of discriminatory laws in return for ending the non-cooperation movement. As a perfect prelude to what would become a pattern in Bharat, first in 1922, and then in 1931, even as many Bharatiyas were brutally beaten up, killed in police firing, and as more and more Bharatiyas, particularly women, joined the strike, choosing to die for Gandhi’s satyagraha, the leader himself was simply lodged in jail. As protests mounted over his ‘arrest’ and over police brutality, Gandhi called off the civil disobedience movement. In this instance, Gandhi called off the strike at a time when it had gained optimum momentum and reached its peak, because he allegedly did not want to add to the troubles of the South African government which had already been brought to its knees by the general railway strike. So as a loyal citizen of the Empire, having demonstrated his ability to inflame passions and get ordinary, gullible people killed by repressive State power, he withdrew the strike and rendered the sacrifice of ordinary Bharatiyas completely futile. Gandhi’s unique ability to arouse and deflate human passions somehow always benefited the colonial government and increased his own grip over the organizations he headed.” (Eclipse of the Hindu Nation, Chapter 3, Gandhi’s success in South Africa)
We must revisit Gandhi in South Africa to know exactly what he fought for, what were his weapons or tools of engagement with the South African government and whether he succeeded because of his moral worth and efficacy of his tools or because the South African government gave him a little of what he wanted so that they could pin a halo around his head and push him out of South Africa and into Bharat where Imperial London had already planned a very large role for him in the INC to neutralise Lokmanya Tilak. This questioning must be done because the INC became a Kaurava Court only because even tall leaders of the Congress did not dare to publicly take down “Mahatma” Gandhi for fear of weakening the INC vis a vis a united, well-focused Muslim League.
In November 1913, Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy of Bharat, in a speech in Madras expressed sympathy with the Bharatiya Passive Resistance struggle in South Africa, boosting Gandhi’s political and moral stature in Bharat, which had already been enhanced by Gokhale’s towering praise for him after Gokhale returned from South Africa: ‘Only those who have come into personal contact with Mr. Gandhi as he is now can realize the wonderful personality of the man. He is without doubt made of the stuff which heroes and martyrs are made; Nay, more. He has in him the marvelous spiritual power to turn ordinary men around him into heroes and martyrs’. Hardinge, let us recall, at exactly the same time that he was mouthing fulsome praise for Gandhji had just sentenced Savarkar to two sentences of ‘transportation for life’. Imperial London and Empire loyalists had already begun to prepare the ground for Gandhi’s triumphant return.
The Indian Relief Act abolished the £3 poll tax, recognized marriages contracted in terms of traditional Bharatiya (Muslim or Hindu) rites, and facilitated the entry into the Union of the wives of Bharatiyas already domiciled locally. However, Bharatiyas remained disenfranchised and were still not allowed to own property in the two former Boer Republics (Transvaal, Orange Free State), or to live in the Orange Free State. Further, restrictions on Bharatiya trading remained in force. In short, the South African government did only the minimum necessary to boost Gandhi’s image as the non-violent deliverer of the Bharatiya people. As Smuts himself stated in the Senate on March 11, 1914, Gandhi was allowed to function in South Africa as he did ‘because he never advocated methods of violence to overthrow the government’.
This would be Gandhi’s signature tune in Bharat when under his leadership the freedom struggle led by Tilak and Aurobindo would turn retrograde and would eventually culminate not in independence but in the vivisection of the Hindu nation. Gandhi would also feed the jihadi monster in the shape of Sheikh Abdullah and thus light the jihadi fire which continues to burn unabated till today.
While Gandhi left the shores of South Africa on 18th July 1914 on SS Kinfauns Castle, he did not sail to Bharat; he sailed to England where he stayed for the next six months. This vital piece of information is uniformly kept out of all history-writing. What was Gandhi doing in England for six months, which government officials and ministers did he meet, and what did they talk about, before leaving finally for Bharat and landing in Mumbai’s Apollo Bundar in January 1915? One thing we do know. On 8th August, 1914, Gandhi was given a reception at Hotel Cecil, London by English and Bharatiya friends: Jinnah, Lala Lajpat Rai and Sarojini Naidu were among those present at the reception. Five days later, on 13th August, 1914, Gandhi signed a circular:
“We, the undersigned have, after mature deliberation, decided for the sake of the Motherland and the Empire to place our services unconditionally, during this crisis, at the disposal of the Authorities. We advisedly use the word ‘unconditionally’ as we believe that, at a moment like this, no service that can be assigned to us can be considered to be beneath our dignity or inconsistent with our self-respect”.
This secretive pledge of loyalty and unconditional support to the Empire was signed by Gandhi, Kasturba and Sarojini Naidu and fifty other Bharatiyas. But significantly, Lajpat Rai, to his eternal credit, did not sign the loyalty and support pledge.
Champaran, Khera and the secret back-room deal
Gandhi’s Mahatmahood in 1915 when he returned to Bharat, as shown, rested on weak foundations. Gandhi’s pledge of loyalty and support to the Empire must be understood in the light of the truth of Gandhi’s first major passive resistance movement in India after his return – in Champaran and Khera. To drive home the point to all Bharatiyas in general and to the INC in particular that passive resistance, humility and meekness alone were the only successful instruments of engagement with the colonial government, Gandhi and the British government in Bharat struck a back-room secret deal. The deal was – the British government would make Gandhi’s passive resistance campaign for the farmers of Champaran and Khera a significant “success” and Gandhi in turn would use the success to portray the British government as benevolent and generous and use the success to recruit ordinary gullible Bharatiyas enchanted with his Mahatmahood to fight for Britain in World War I – a war that had nothing to do with Bharat or Bharat’s Hindus.
“I hope to translate the spoken word into action (reference to the secret pledge of loyalty and support for WWI signed in London by Gandhi) as early as the Government can see its way to accept my offer, which I am submitting simultaneously herewith in a separate letter. I recognize that, in the hour of its danger, we must give, as we have decided to give – ungrudging and unequivocal support to the Empire, of which we aspire, in the near future, to be partners in the same sense as the Dominions overseas. I would make India offer all her able-bodied sons as a sacrifice to the Empire at its critical moment.
In Champaran, by resisting an age-long tyranny, I have shown the ultimate sovereignty of British justice. In Kaira, a population that was cursing the Government now feels that it, and not the Government, is the power when it is prepared to suffer for the truth it represents. It is, therefore, losing its bitterness and is saying to itself that the (British) Government must be a Government for the people, for it tolerates orderly and respectful disobedience where injustice is felt. Thus, Champaran and Kaira affairs are my direct, definite, and special contribution to the war.
I write this, because I love the English Nation, and I wish to evoke in every Indian the loyalty of the Englishman. I remain, Your Excellency’s faithful servant, M. K. Gandhi.” (Excerpts from Letter to Viceroy, Delhi, April 29, 1918, N.A.I: Home, War (Deposit); October 1918 No. 26, CWMG, Vol. 17, pp 7-10)
“Further I desire relief regarding the Kaira trouble. Relief will entirely disengage me from that preoccupation which I may not entirely set aside. It will also enable me to fall back for war purposes upon my co-workers in Kaira and it may enable me to get recruits from the district.
I suggest that action in this matter be taken as a war measure. This will obviate the fear of the relief being regarded as a precedent. Pray understand that my offer is not conditional upon relief in either case. I merely ask for relief in the two cases in furtherance of the common object.” (Excerpts from Letter to JL Maffey(Secretary to the Viceroy), Nadiad, April 30, 1918, CWMG, Vol. 17, pp 10-12)
The “common object” was to get Bharatiyas to fight and die for Britain in WWI.
“The other enclosure contains my offer. You will do with it what you like. I would like to do something which Lord Chelmsford would consider to be real war work. I have an idea that, if I became your recruiting agent-in-chief, I might rain men on you. Pardon me for the impertinence. The Viceroy looked pale yesterday. My whole heart went out to him as I watched him listening to the speeches. May God watch over and protect him and you, his faithful and devoted Secretary. I feel you are more than a secretary to him. Yours sincerely, M.K. Gandhi. PS. The Reverend Mr. Ireland of St. Stephen’s College has kindly offered to deliver this letter into your hands. M.K.G.” (Letter to JL Maffey, CWMG Vol. 17, pp 12, 13)
Gandhi’s INC was a social reform organization and explicitly anti-Hindu
Thus the Mahatma’s halo which was newly pinned around his head in South Africa in 1914, with the manipulated success of his passive resistance campaign in Champaran and Khera by 1918, had become a permanent aura around his head. Gandhi had become invincible because the Mahatmahood bestowed upon him was a formidable shield. And it was this Mahatmahood which allowed him unchallenged and unquestioned authority to first de-Hinduise the Congress and transform it from a powerful political vehicle which the Congress had become under Tilak and Aurobindo’s leadership, to an impotent social reform organization which possessed neither the strength nor the sagacity to stop the Muslim League’s march towards creation of Pakistan. It was but a small step from de-Hinduised Congress to anti-Hindu Congress.
It was also this Mahatmahood which enabled Gandhi to brew mischief, unrest and instability in several Hindu kingdoms in the name of civil liberties and temple entry at a time when he should have united all sections of Hindus to resist the Muslim League. Till the very end, it was Gandhi and Gandhi alone who drafted all resolutions of the CWC – the highest decision and policy-making body of the INC. It was Gandhi and Gandhi alone who made and executed all political decisions of the INC while the CWC was a mere puppet in the Mahatma’s hands.
“After the arrest of the principal Congressmen in August of 1942, the unguided masses took the reins in their own hands and acted almost spontaneously. If many acts of heroism and sacrifice are to their credit, there were acts done which could not be included in non-violence. It is therefore necessary for the Working Committee to affirm, for the guidance of all concerned, that the policy of non-violence adopted in 1920 by the Congress, continues unabated and that such non-violence does not include burning of public property, cutting of telegraph wires, derailing of trains and intimidation. The Working Committee is of opinion that the policy of non-violence as detailed in the Congress resolution of 1920, since expanded and explained from time to time, and action in accordance with it, has raised India to a height never attained before. The Working Committee is further of opinion that the constructive activities of the Congress, beginning with the spinning-wheel and khadi as the centre, are emblematic of the policy of non-violence and every other Congress activity including what is known as the parliamentary programme, is subservient to and designed to promote the constructive activities as explained by Mahatma Gandhi.” (Congress Working Committee resolution on or before December 11, 1945, The Hindu 12-12-1945. The resolution drafted by Gandhiji was passed by the Congress Working Committee on December 11 the concluding day of its five day session in Calcutta. CWMG, vol. 89, page 25)
Not political freedom, not resisting impending vivisection but spinning wheel, khadi, cleaning latrines and temple entry was the Congress Creed. In the Congress Creed scheme of things, only Gandhi had the right to do politics; the tall leaders in the CWC played Bhishma, Drona and Kripacharya.
“What we had to do was to prevent the Congress from turning into a Hindu communal organization. Anyone who had made India his home should be protected by the Congress. Hindus should never think that Hindustan belonged exclusively to them. The Parsis had come centuries ago, and the Syrian Christians were Christians ever since the time of St. Thomas. Every one of them had to be treated as an Indian enjoying the same rights as any other Indian.” (Interview to Deobhankar, My Days with Gandhi, pp. 102-4, CWMG, Vol. 93, page 124)
“But for me as a believer in non-violence out-and-out they (Sikh Gurus) cannot be my guides in life in so far as their faith in war is concerned.” (Guru Govind Singh, Sevagram, July 4, 1942 Harijan, 12-7-1942 – Vol. 93 pp 72 – 75)
“When I was in detention in the Aga Khan Palace, I once sat down to write a thesis on India as a protagonist of non-violence. But as I proceeded with my writing, I could not go on. I had to stop. There are two aspects of Hinduism. There is, on the one hand, the historical Hinduism with its untouchability, superstitious worship of sticks and stones, animal sacrifice and so on. On the other, we have the Hinduism of the Gita, the Upanishads and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra which is the acme of ahimsa and oneness of all creation, pure worship of one immanent, formless imperishable God.” (A Talk, Harijan 8-12-1946, CWMG, Vol.93, page 43)
“There were some who described the Congress as a Hindu organization. They only betrayed their ignorance of the political history of India. At one time the Hindu Mahasabha was in the hands of the Congress and so was the Muslim League and others. Congress was not a Hindu organization. It did not serve Hindu interests to the exclusion of the other communities. It was hinted that the Congress leaders had come to consult him with regard to the interests of the Hindus. Had they done so they would have lowered the stature of the Indian National Congress in the eyes of the world. They had come to consult him, as an expert on the Hindu-Muslim question, as to how best to serve the national cause in the present crisis.” (Speech at a prayer meeting, Srirampur, December 28, 1946, The Hindu, 2-1-1947; and Harijan, 26-1-1947, CWMG Vol 93, page 207)
In his Outside the Archives (pages 209-210, Sangam Books, 1984), YD Gundevia, Prime Minister Nehru’s last foreign secretary, recalls a Friday morning in December 1963, when Nehru held his customary free-for-all meeting with secretaries, joint secretaries, all deputy secretaries and some under secretaries. There being no specific agenda that particular day, Gundevia asked Nehru what would happen to the civil servant if, after being attuned only to Congress policies so long, the Communists were, tomorrow, elected to power in New Delhi. Nehru pondered long over the question and then said, “Why do you ever imagine the Communists will ever be voted into power at the Centre?” After a long pause, he said, spelling it out slowly and very deliberately, “The danger to India, mark you, is not Communism. It is Hindu right-wing communalism.” Towards the end of the meeting he repeated his thesis.
From Gandhi to Nehru to Rahul Gandhi, the Congress has remained anti-Hindu
“The cable that has thrust Mr. Gandhi into a political storm refers to a conversation he had with U.S. Ambassador Timothy Roemer on July 20, 2009, at a luncheon party hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The passage in question says that while responding to the Ambassador’s query about Lashkar-e-Taiba’s activities in India, Mr. Gandhi said there was “evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim community.” The cable then went on to say, “However, (Rahul) Gandhi warned the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community. The risk of a “home-grown” extremist front, reacting to terror attacks coming from Pakistan or from Islamist groups in India, was a growing concern, and one that demanded constant attention.” (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rahul-told-us-of-threats-from-radical-hindu-groups/article958758.ece)
The cable also attributes (MK) Narayanan as saying ”India is also seeing the beginnings of Hindu extremist groups that use violence,” agreeing, the cable says, with the Director Mueller’s point that terrorists come from more than just Muslim backgrounds. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rahul-Gandhi-told-US-Hindu-extremists-are-a-bigger-threat-to-India/articleshow/7115703.cms)
The Muslims had Jinnah and the Muslim League; the Hindus had no one. First Gandhi, then Nehru and then Rahul Gandhi have spoken about Hindu political empowerment which they labelled ‘Hindu communalism’ as being worse than jihad. Modi and Amit Shah must know there can be no Congress-mukt Bharat without Gandhi-mukt Bharat.
Gandhi sets Kashmir on fire
The kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet was not a Muslim kingdom. The territories of the Hindus and the Buddhists in this kingdom dwarfed the Muslim population in the Kashmir valley. And yet, Gandhi and Nehru together encouraged the rise of Sheikh Abdullah in the Hindu kingdom. While the Muslim League towards the end of the 1930s decade had made it amply clear that their goal was Pakistan, Gandhi’s INC had lost sight of the political objective – political freedom from colonial rule and resisting the threatened vivisection of the nation. Gandhi had not only de-Hinduised the INC, he was explicitly anti-Hindu. Gandhi’s anti-Hindu prejudices extended to Hindu maharajas and kings and to Hindu scholars and sanyasis. Briefly, while the Muslim League absorbed into itself all Muslim formations and organizations and faithfully represented Muslim religious and political interests and objectives, while the Nizams and Nawabs with the Muslim League stood united in their common desire to return Muslim rule over Bharat after the British withdrew or at the very minimum create the Islamic State of Pakistan, Gandhi not only refused to address the genuine concerns of the Hindu princely states but went so far as to appoint Jawaharlal Nehru and the Nawab of Bhopal to oversee their affairs in the troubled times when the country was sitting on the tinderbox of imminent Muslim League violence.
Gandhi’s intense but barely cloaked animosity for nationalists like KM Munshi and NB Khare and for Hindu Maharajas was his subjective preference and yet he imposed his personal opinions, which were in some part unjustified and which for the greater part bordered on the fetish, on the CWC and on the INC. This anti-monarchy fetish was certainly the product of Gandhi’s English ‘liberal’ education in London and the pervasive presence of foreigners in his life which influenced his attitude towards Hindu kings and rulers. Western liberal education of the nineteenth and twentieth century was greatly influenced by the political trends in republicanism, charter of rights and democracy and the concurrent waning power of European monarchies and the power of the Church. It was fashionable in those times in Europe to be anti-monarchy and anti-orthodoxy and Gandhi subscribed to the fashion. The INC, instigated by Gandhi, triggered unrest in 1938 in Mysore, Rajkot, Jaipur, Cochin and Travancore; there was unrest in Talcher and Dhenkanal too. In all these small kingdoms Gandhi precipitated a crisis either in the name of civil liberties or temple entry for harijans. Needless to say the Congress meddled only in those states ruled by Hindu princes and kings; they did not dare to take similar liberties with Nawabs and Nizams. The Congress passed the Haripura resolution in 1938 with the clause of self-imposed restriction on direct interference in the Indian States; much like Pakistan’s ‘moral support’ for jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress limited itself to moral support for the people in Indian States aspiring for civil liberties.
Just how accurate is the description of the CWC as resembling the Kaurava Court can be gauged from the by now familiar silence of Patel, Rajaji and Rajendra Prasad when Gandhi offered to hand over Hindu kingdoms to the Muslim League. Verily, the territory of the Hindu nation was Gandhi’s patrimony which is polite English for ‘baap-ka-maal’.
“With reference to your letter giving me the purport of your conversation today with the Quaid-e-Azam, I wish to say in as clear language as possible that when in a Harijan article I reproduced Maulana Azad’s published offer to the Muslim League I meant it to be a serious offer in every sense of the term. Let me explain it again for your edification. Provided the Muslim League co-operated fully with the Congress demand for immediate independence without the slightest reservation, subject, of course, to the proviso that independent India will permit the operations of the Allied armies in order to check Axis aggression and thus to help both China and Russia, the Congress will have no objection to the British Government transferring all the powers it today exercises to the Muslim League on behalf of the whole of India, including the so-called Indian India.” And the Congress will not only not obstruct any Government that the Muslim League may form on behalf of the people, but will even join the Government in running the machinery of the free State. This is meant in all seriousness and sincerity.” (Letter to a Muslim, August 8, 1942, CWMG Vol. 83, pp 186-87)
‘Indian India’ was the Hindu princely states and so outraged was Sir CP Ramaswamy Aiyar, the Dewan of Travancore who called Gandhi’s preposterous offer a “very astute and menacing move”. Aiyar resigned from the Viceroy’s Executive Council and declared his intention to take “his gloves off and definitely and publicly to arouse the States to a sense of impending danger.”
During the extremely turbulent years of 1946-47 when everything was in a state of flux and no one could predict accurately how and when transfer of power would happen if indeed it would happen at all, several Hindu rulers and Maharajas met Gandhi to probe his mind about what would be the fate of their kingdoms and provinces in the new dispensation. Among those who met Gandhi were the Deccan Princes and the Maharaja of Kapurthala. To them, like to all other princes and kings who met him, Gandhi had only one thing to say – become servants of your people. Etymologically the word may derive from ‘serve’ but the noun had acquired pejorative connotations and Gandhi, just as he had advised Morarji Desai to use the military to do only sanitation work, was now exhorting Kings to become servants. This was the same Gandhi who took great exception to white people in South Africa referring to all Bharatiyas as “coolies”. Even in South Africa, Gandhi who was infuriated at being called “coolie” however referred to native Africans derogatorily as “kaffirs”. Because Gandhi was not born white and because he took great pride in being the son of the Dewan of Porbundar who also had a privileged English education in London, Gandhi aspired to be dark white in social esteem and political status within the British Empire. Readers are invited to pay attention to Gandhi’s insulting views on Bharatiya “aborigines”, the Santhals.
“Every Indian, without exception, is a coolie in the estimation of the general body of the Europeans. Storekeepers are ‘coolie storekeepers’. Indian clerks and schoolmasters are ‘coolie clerks’ and ‘coolie schoolmasters’. Naturally, neither the traders nor the English-educated Indians are treated with any degree of respect. Wealth and abilities in an Indian count for naught in that country except to serve the interests of the European Colonists. We are the ‘Asian dirt to be heartily cursed’. We are ‘squalid coolies with truth-less tongues’. We are ‘the real canker that is eating into the very vitals of the community’. We are ‘parasites, semi-barbarous Asiatics’. We ‘live upon rice and we are chock-full of vice’. Statute-books describe the Indians as belonging to the ‘aboriginal or semi-barbarous races of Asia’, while, as a matter of fact, there is hardly one Indian in South Africa belonging to the aboriginal stock. The Santhals of Assam will be as useless in South Africa as the natives of that country. You can easily imagine how difficult it must be for a respectable Indian to exist in such a country. I am sure, gentlemen, that if our President went to South Africa, he would find it, to use a colloquial phrase, ‘mighty hard’ to secure accommodation in a hotel, and he would not feel very comfortable in a first-class railway carriage in Natal, and, after reaching Volksrust, he would be put out unceremoniously from his first-class compartment and accommodated in a tin compartment where Kaffirs are packed like sheep. Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness. The aim of the Christian Governments, so we read, is to raise people whom they come in contact with or whom they control. It is otherwise in South Africa. There, the deliberately expressed object is not to allow the Indian to rise higher in the scale of civilization but to lower him to the position of the Kaffir.” (Eclipse of the Hindu Nation, Gandhi’s “Success” in South Africa, Speech at a public meeting, Bombay, 27-9-1896, CWMG Vol. 1, pp 407-17)
If Gandhi’s towering arrogance looked at native Africans with contempt in 1896, the same towering arrogance diminished the status of Hindu kings whom he advised to become servants of their people. There is a vast difference between Gandhi posturing to the world and choosing to call himself a “bhangi” and Gandhi condescendingly imposing the name “harijan” on people belonging to the scheduled castes, asking the Bharatiya army to do sanitation work, advising soldiers of the INA who returned to Bharat after the death of Subhash Bose to do farming, and exhorting kings to become servants. Gandhi had no qualms about handing over Hindu kingdoms to the Muslim League and he had no qualms promoting Sheikh Abdullah against Maharaja Hari Singh.
“Only a few years ago the Princes felt that they could not be safe except under the Paramountcy of the British Crown. It seemed to have dawned on most of them that that was not the correct attitude. This was but natural, for they were after all sons of the soil. He had said openly on another occasion that the people of the States were slaves of slaves which the Princes were.
If they became servants of their own people, if they took that attitude, they needed no terms with the Congress or with any other organization. The immediate need was an understanding with their own people. He made bold to take up that attitude, though his might be a lonely voice. In his opinion, the Princes, as servants and trustees of their people, were worthy of their hire.” (Speech at Meeting of Deccan Princes, Poona, July 28, 1946, Harijan, 4-8-1946, and The Hindu, 1-8-1946, CWMG Vol. 91, pp 369-70; Extracted from Pyarelal’s “Deccan Chiefs in Conference”)
The meeting was held in the Servants of India Society’s Library Hall. Among those present were the Rajas of Aundh, Phaltan, Bhor, Miraj (Senior), Jamkhandi and Kurundwad (Senior), Appasaheb Pant and Satawalekar from Aundh, Kore, Sathe andThomre from Sangli, the Dewan of Bhor and representatives from Budhgaon and Ramdrug. N. C. Kelkar and Shankerrao Deo were also present on the occasion by special invitation
Gandhi insulted the leaders of the Hindu princely states and sent them away dejected and uncertain about their fate. To add more insult to their already injured self-esteem and high status, Gandhi told them that unless they heeded Gandhi’s advice, their fate may well become worse in Nehru’s Bharat.
“I have eaten the Princes’ salt and I would not be false to it. As a faithful servant, it is my duty to warn the Princes that if they will act while I am still alive, the Princes may come to occupy an honourable place in free India. In Jawaharlal’s scheme of free India, no privileges or the privileged classes have a place. Jawaharlal considers all property to be State-owned. He wants planned economy. He wants to reconstruct India according to plan. He likes to fly; I do not. I have kept a place for the Princes and the zamindars in India that I envisage.”
There was no longer even a polite pretence that the Congress was a democratic organization. It was either Gandhi or Nehru who unilaterally decided all policies. Gandhi may have used the phrases “While I am still alive”, “In Jawaharlal’s scheme of free India”, “Jawaharlal considers” very naturally but it was an ominous portent of more dangerous things to come. During his negotiations with the Cabinet Mission, Gandhi stipulated that election of the 93 delegates from among Bharatiya rulers of the princely states to the Constituent Assembly will be determined by the Nawab of Bhopal and Nehru. If the princely states, a majority of whom were Hindus, failed to come to an agreeable solution there will be no delegates to represent them and their issue must be transferred to the Advisory Committee referred to in Clause 20 of the State Paper. Gandhi usurped to himself the right to decide not only who would be the delegates to the Constituent Assembly on behalf of the princely states but also arrogated to himself the right to deny them agency to decide their future.
Even in that moment of acute anxiety for Hindu princely states, Gandhi did not have the vision to see an opportunity to reach out to them in solidarity and support; he saw in the meeting only a great opportunity to deliver what he considered was a well-deserved homily. It is striking that while he referred them to Nehru, he did not think he had to consult Rajaji or Patel who were more qualified intellectually to deal with this extremely complex and sensitive issue, or that instead of the Muslim Nawab of Bhopal he could have requested a Hindu ruler to undertake the task. It must mean something that Gandhi had to be assassinated to give Patel the freedom and the space to integrate all princely states into the Union of Bharat; with the exception of Jammu and Kashmir which Gandhi handed over to Nehru as reward for filial obedience.
Gandhi and Nehru sow the seeds of separatism in Kashmir
Gandhi’s penchant for entrusting Nehru with all major political responsibilities had less to do with Nehru’s political ability and more to do with Nehru’s sagacity in staying on the right side of Gandhi. It was Gandhi’s ‘moha’ for Nehru which drove a stake into the heart of the Hindu nation in 1946, when Gandhi subordinated the nation’s interest to Nehru’s personal whim in Jammu and Kashmir. Even as the INC was in the midst of the make or break negotiations with the Cabinet Delegation, trouble erupted in Jammu and Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah, a commoner from the Valley saw a great opportunity in the generally troubled times, to realize his own towering Muslim ambitions in the turbulent years preceding 1947. Playing out the drama for civil liberties and ‘freedom’ that the INC had staged in Rajkot, Jaipur and other Hindu kingdoms, Sheikh Abdullah launched in May 1946, the ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign. Abdullah was promptly arrested and incarcerated.
Nehru, in a significant political statement that Jammu and Kashmir was his fiefdom, attempted to enter Kashmir and was speedily detained by Ram Chandra Kak, the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Gandhi jumped into the fray and in a passionate letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, pleaded with Nehru to return to Delhi with the promise that the Congress would make Nehru’s cause in Kashmir, its own cause and Nehru’s honour, its honour. The CWC draft resolution, as usual authored by Gandhi contained the ill-concealed threat to the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir that Nehru would return to “retrieve his honour”, a threat which does not find mention in the official Congress Resolution. True to his promise to Nehru, Gandhi drafted the Congress resolution on Kashmir in the name of Maulana Azad, the President of the INC. Readers must read the resolution attentively to understand why Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Manohar Parikkar and Amit Shah can do nothing different in Jammu and Kashmir and why they can do nothing to Pakistan.
“Recent events in Kashmir have been repeatedly considered by the Working Committee and the Committee have been greatly affected by them. They refrained, however, from expressing any opinion as they hoped that the situation could be handled satisfactorily by friendly mediation. Their approaches, however, to the State authorities had an unfriendly response, and the situation has progressively deteriorated, involving repression of, and suffering for, the people. Recently, the popular leader of the people and the President of the Kashmir National Conference, Sheikh Abdullah was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. This has added to the gravity of the situation and distressed and angered large numbers of people within and outside the State. When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru went to Kashmir and was arrested there, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the then President of the Congress, asked him to come back in order to continue the valuable work he was doing for the Congress in connection with the negotiations with the Cabinet Mission. Maulana Azad had assured him then, with the consent of the Working Committee, that the Congress would make his cause in Kashmir their own. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru willingly returned, though not without misgivings. The Working Committee regret to find that his misgivings were justified. From all accounts received by the Committee, repression of an open as well as a subtle type is continuing, and the people connected with the Kashmir [National] Conference are being harassed in many ways. It is reported that while elections have been announced for the State Assembly, large numbers of names are being struck off the electoral rolls, and many prospective candidates for the election have been disqualified. No attempt is being made to liberalize the Constitution and to make it more democratic and responsible. In view of these reports, the Working Committee feel it necessary to send a deputation, consisting of persons of unquestioned ability and impartiality, to inquire into the reports of repression and suppression of civil liberties. The Committee, therefore, earnestly recommend to Kashmir State that they should invite such a deputation. Recent events in Kashmir have a large significance affecting the rulers and peoples of all the States in India and Committee trust that the States will welcome the step that they are taking in regard to Kashmir. While noting with deep regret the sentence passed on Sheikh Abdullah, the Committee would consider his incarceration as a worthy sacrifice if it results in the achievement of the freedom for which he was labouring. The Committee express their sympathy for all those who have suffered or are suffering for the cause of freedom in Kashmir.”
Gandhi’s insistence that the territory of this bhumi belonged in equal measure (in diminishing order of equality) to Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Jews and Hindus, in that order, was taken seriously by post-independence Nehruvian secular Bharat; Secular Bharat stood by and watched Sheikh Abdullah’s son Farooq Abdullah implement his father’s Quit Kashmir slogan faithfully in letter and spirit from 1989 onwards. His son Omar Abdullah by declaring that he will not allow Kashmiri Pandits to be re-settled in a well-protected Pandit region of the Kashmir Valley and nor will he allow Sainik colonies to be set up in Srinagar has only stated his intention to keep it that way.
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah must put some steel in the spine of the government and work towards altering the arithmetic of religious demography which is influencing electoral politics in the jihadi state. The Kashmir Valley’s quota in Lok Sabha constituencies and state assembly constituencies is unnaturally weighted in favour of Kashmiri jihadis.
The J&K state has six Lok Sabha seats – three from Kashmir valley, two from Jammu and one from Ladakh. The Legislative Assembly was initially composed of 100 members, later increased to 111 by the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (Twentieth Amendment) Act of 1988. Of these, 24 seats are designated for the territorial constituencies of the state that were occupied by Pakistan in 1947. These seats remain officially vacant as per section 48 of the state constitution. These seats are not taken into account for reckoning the total membership of the Assembly, especially for deciding quorum and voting majorities for legislation and government formation. Hence the total contestable and filled seats of the assembly are presently 87. The Kashmir valley has 46 seats, the Jammu region has 37 seats and Ladakh has 4 seats. Two women may be nominated as members by the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir if he is of the opinion that women are not adequately represented.
Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah must do the following:
- Alter the religious demography of the state in a manner which will loosen the Muslim stranglehold on the polity.
- Set up Sainik colonies in the valley with determination and resolve.
- Carve out a portion of the valley for Kashmiri Pandits and set up the Sainik colonies along the borders of Pandit habitations.
- Bring the tenure of the J&K state assembly in line with the rest of Bharat; reduce the tenure from the current six years to five years as it prevails in other states of the country.
And as this government moves in this direction, Hindus must know and pass the word around that it was Gandhi and not Nehru who lit the jihadi fire in the Hindu kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir, Laddakh and Tibet.
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