If it were not for Jawaharlal Nehru siding with Sheikh Abdullah, the accession could perhaps have happened in August 1947 itself. And not on October 26 after Pakistan had sent in its soldiers and officers, along with tribal lashkars, to attack the state. This attack led to Pakistan grabbing large parts of the state, including the entire Gilgit-Baltistan.
It was Nehru’s encouragement and backing of Sheikh that led to the inclusion of Article 370 in the Constitution of India. In fact, Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was not debated at all in the Constituent Assembly until late 1949. This had happened as its draft did not exist and it was nobody’s case to get it included in the Constitution. At the last moment, it was moved in the Constituent Assembly as Article 306-A by Gopalasamy Ayyangar at Nehru’s behest to keep Sheikh in good humour.
It is another matter that after inclusion of Article 370 in the Indian Constitution, Sheikh started singing a different tune than he had been doing till then. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee of Bharatiya Jan Sangh (precursor of today’s BJP) opposed this article, which fostered a separate flag and a separate constitution for J&K. So much so that Mookherjee sacrificed his life in his struggle for the removal of this pernicious article from the Constitution.
Mookherjee lost his life on June 23, 1953, and less than two months later, Nehru was forced to dismiss his friend of all seasons, Sheikh Abdullah, on August 9, 1953, due to his anti-India activities. By that time, so much damage had been done, and it was only on August 5, 2019, almost 66 years later that Sheikh’s signature article, Article 370, was removed from the Constitution of India.
Talking of three generations of Abdullahs, it is significant that Sheikh’s son Farooq Abdullah thrived after his father’s death in September 1982 due to Article 370 only. Farooq’s son Omar Abdullah, too, pursued the same politics of “special status of Jammu & Kashmir’’ all during his political career spanning over two decades now. Even on Monday, after the Supreme Court judgement on Article 370, Omar said that he was “disappointed but not disheartened’’.
What does it mean to be disheartened? Does it mean that his party, the National Conference, continues to talk about Article 370 among people? That can effectively mean flogging a dead horse but if this continues to happen, it will be very unfortunate. Is this article, done and dusted after the apex court judgment, the only agenda point the NC is capable of mobilising the masses on? Three generations of people of Jammu & Kashmir were misled, misguided, and misread the mood of the Indian nation about Article 370.
It should now be firmly consigned to the dustbin of history and a new beginning made in J&K. It is about time the issues that form the matrix of politics in other states and Union Territories (UTs) of India become the talking points here too. Development, education, prosperity, top-quality infrastructure, tourism, and integration should be the buzzwords in any and all future J&K elections. Not Article 370, something that remained in coma from August 5, 2019, to December 11, 2023, the golden letter day the Supreme Court declared it dead and fit to be buried forever.