A first hand account on J&K
By Manju Gupta
Written by former Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir who subsequently became the Governor of Assam, this book through isolated but important events, presents an eyewitness account of the political history of the state during the last quarter of the 20th century. This is an autobiography of a man who played a pivotal role in bringing about a better understanding between the leaders of Kashmir and New Delhi.
D.D. Thakur describes his early life in Baro, then in Alanbas and Gugli Dhar where half a century later the author organises a medical camp in the memory of his mother, who had once walked over its sprawling meadows. He becomes nostalgic about his childhood and remarks sadly, ?In the ultimate analysis, nothing survives here, not even memories. Memories too, as everything else, cannot stand the ravages of time for long. They are as vulnerable to decimation as are the kings, their palaces and the havelis of nawabs. My children have already got rid of these memories. My grandchildren who never went there cannot have any idea what the place was like and who lived there. Everything, even the memories fade in due course in the unfathomable depths of time without leaving any trace behind.?
During an excursion to Salmeya, while swimming in River Tawi, the young author as a schoolboy gets nearly drowned in the swirling currents of the river, but somehow manages to hold on to a rock before help arrives. He is married off at an early age of 16 according to Sanatan Dharma rites. After completing his graduation, Thakur is appointed as headmaster in a government school. He then leaves for Lucknow to do law and on becoming a lawyer begins his practice in Jammu.
Thakur stands for elections to the state assembly but loses twice. In 1973, he becomes a judge of the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and two years later he becomes the Governor of the state. It is during the author'stenure that Sheikh Abdullah is appointed as Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This appointment is not to the liking of many Congressmen who do not expect any remarkable change in the political scenario after putting Sheikh Sahib at the helm of affairs. Smt. Gandhi'sdecision was a very bold one. If the Sheikh had died in prison or in exile, the movement for secession of Kashmir would have been perpetuated. Further, the conciliation between the two could have been deemed by the Kashmiris as an insult to Sheikh Sahib'smemory. But as things were not running smoothly in Jammu & Kashmir, a Coordination Committee with two members each from the Central Government and from the National Conference of the Sheikh is constituted.
An interesting incident is narrated by the author about a meeting Sheikh Abdullah has with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Sheikh talks to her while she listens to what he had to say without either agreeing or disagreeing with him. A deeply hurt Sheikh tells the author, ?I had not expected this type of an attitude towards the evening of my life from any Prime Minister, lest of all from a Prime Minister who was none other than Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru'sdaughter.? When the author as deputed to meet Indira Gandhi, he refers to the meeting that Sheikh Sahib described to the author as a monologue. ?She is forthright in admitting that it was so. However, she said, she thought it was no use reacting or arguing with him. Similar meetings held earlier had never made any difference,? quotes the author.
While acting as a messenger for Sheikh Abdullah to Smt. Indira Gandhi, the author is disappointed when she informs him of her intention to impose Emergency in the country. He says, ?I had tremendous regard for Smt. Gandhi. She was open to contradiction on every issue. Unfortunately, however, the people around her never presented a contrary viewpoint. In fact, none dared to present a view against the one which she might have shared with her advisers? He regrets that ?those who did not have any grasssroot following or political support also were included in the inner circle or the so-called kitchen cabinet. The future of such people without Smt. Gandhi was absolutely bleak. The only option they had was to either obey the orders, legal or illegal, good or bad, right or wrong or else lapse into political oblivion?All this ultimately resulted in the fall of Smt. Gandhi in 1977.?
The author then describes the deteriorating relations between Sheikh Abdullah'sson Farooq Abdullah and son-in-law G.M. Shah. He says that when Smt Indira Gandhi ?lost miserably? in the General Elections in 1977, ?it was at this stage that she had lost her decisive control over the Congress Party of the state and even if she retained some, it was much less than what was needed to bridle them and restrain them from throwing to the winds her historic accord with Sheikh Sahib…?