By June-July 1947 Maharaja Hari Singh of J&K had begun to take steps towards final accession with India, including replacement of his pro-Pak PM Ram Chandra Kak with Mehr Chand Mahajan, a lawyer, and a Congress nominee on the Boundary Commission, who later became the Chief Justice of India. Looking to all this, Nehru should have created a conducive atmosphere, and taken Hari Singh into confidence, so that Maharaja’s decision to accede to India could be expedited, and all the subsequent troubles on account of his late accession would have been avoided. Instead, Nehru acted adversarial with the Maharaja.

“There have been suggestions that the Maharaja had decided in August 1947, or certainly by mid-September, that he had no option but to join India, and that he was just waiting for the best moment and the most advantageous terms,” wrote Andrew Whitehead in ‘A Mission in Kashmir’.

When in August–September 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh indeed offered Kashmir’s accession to India; most unbelievably, it was refused by Nehru, who first wanted Sheikh Abdullah to be freed and installed as the prime minister of the State—something not acceptable to the Maharaja. Was it not queer? The nation being favoured with accession laying down conditions, rather than the state agreeing to merge! Nehru’s ways, driven by his hubris, were indeed bizarre and alarming!! (In sharp contrast you had Jinnah offering a signed blank sheet along with his own fountain pen to Maharajas of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner to put down their conditions for accession to Pakistan, saying: “You can fill in all your conditions.” Had the accession been accepted, the Indian army could have been deployed in Kashmir well in advance of the Oct-47 invasion by the Pakistani-raiders, preventing both the creation of the PoK, and the terrible tragedy of loot, killings and rapes.

States Sarila in ‘The Shadow of the Great Game’:                                                                      “Mountbatten added: ‘He [Sardar Patel] has also attacked Nehru for the first time saying “I regret our leader has followed the lofty ideas into the skies and has no contact left with earth or reality”’…This outburst probably reflected Patel’s frustration with Nehru at the time, for refusing to accept the Maharaja of Kashmir’s accession to India unless and until a government under Sheikh Abdullah was installed.”

It was undemocratic and irresponsible of Nehru, and an illegal act, not to have obtained the concurrence of the cabinet before taking such a major decision of not accepting J&K accession. It is quite likely that Mountbatten had dissuaded him from accepting accession, as the British wanted J&K to accede to Pakistan.

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