Nehru was not reluctant to send troops to Kashmir as alleged by Advani: Jha
Senior Journalist Prem Shankar Jha threw light on Patel-Nehru issue
New Delhi: After L K Advani’s salvo at Jawaharlal Nehru over his alleged reluctance to send troops to Kashmir in 1948, Senior journalist Prem Shankar Jha today said the “real disagreement” between him and Sardar Vallabhai Patel was not over whether to send the army in but when and under what circumstances.
Jha said this while seeking to set the record straight, a day after the BJP stalwart alleged that Nehru, the country’s first prime minister, was reluctant to send army to Kashmir in 1947 even as Pakistani troops approached, but Patel, the then Home Minister, prevailed over him.
The comments by Advani in his latest blog quoting Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw from the interview given to Jha for his book stoked a potential controversy, days after the BJP leader claimed that Nehru had called Patel a “total communalist” for insisting on police action against the Nizam in 1948.
Citing the interview given in December 1993, Advani concluded that ‘even on sending the army into J and K following the attack on J and K by tribesmen and Pakistan in 1947, Nehru had similar reservations(as on Hyderabad six months later)’
“Since my book has provided the ammunition for his salvo, I would like to set the record straight,” Jha said in a statement.
Jha, however, noted that Advani has reproduced Manekshaw’s interview with complete “fidelity” and that his conclusion that Nehru had differences with Patel over sending the army into Kashmir is also true.
“But it is not the whole truth. The real disagreement between them was not over whether to send the army in but when, and under what circumstances,” he added.
Quoting from an interview of Manekshaw (then a Colonel) by Jha, Advani said in the blog that as the tribesmen– supported by Pakistani forces–moved closer to Srinagar, a decision had to be taken on moving Indian forces there.
However, Nehru appeared reluctant and felt the issue should be taken to the UN. Referring to Manekshaw’s claim in the interview, Advani said Lord Mountbatten called a Cabinet meeting soon after Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession. This was attended by Nehru, Patel and defence minister Baldev Singh.
Manekshaw presented the “military situation” in the meeting and suggested the Indian forces be moved there. “As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said, ‘Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away’. He (Nehru) said,’ Of course, I want Kashmir. Then he (Patel) said ‘Please give your orders’.
“And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said, ‘You have got your orders’,” Advani said, quoting Manekshaw from the interview to Jha.
The Indian forces were then flown to Srinagar to fight the Pakistani forces and the Muslim soldiers of Maharaja Hari Singh who had defected to Pakistan.
“This report, involving Manekshaw and Prem Shankar Jha, provides a clinching confirmation of the difference between Nehru and Patel over the Hyderabad action,” Advani said.
Nehru stated at the meeting of the Defence Committee of the Union Cabinet on October 24, 1948 that he saw no reason not to send the army because Kashmir was a sovereign state facing an invasion and had the right to ask India for help, Jha said.
However, Mountbatten severely discouraged Nehru from doing so without first getting Kashmir’s accession to India. In its absence, Mountbatten warned, the arrival of Indian troops would trigger an invasion by the Pakistan regular army through Murree and Abbotabad.
Since the Maharaja had already offered his accession to Nehru three weeks earlier through his premier Mehr Chand Mahajan, the former prime minister readily agreed but insisted that the Maharaja must attach a commitment to put Sheikh Abdullah in charge of the government to the instrument of accession.