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Why did Nehru refer Kashmir issue to UN

A perplexing aspect persists in historical discourse—the invasion of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani tribals and its army in October 1947. Although the Indian army successfully repelled the attackers, a substantial portion of J&K remained under occupation. While the US and the Soviet Union aligned with India’s perspective, the UK, as the former colonial power, […]

A perplexing aspect persists in historical discourse—the invasion of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani tribals and its army in October 1947. Although the Indian army successfully repelled the attackers, a substantial portion of J&K remained under occupation. While the US and the Soviet Union aligned with India’s perspective, the UK, as the former colonial power, sided with Pakistan. Ironically, British pressure, conveyed by Governor General Mountbatten, prompted Nehru to bring the matter to the UN, anticipating support for India’s stance. The ongoing debate questions the wisdom of this decision, with critics contending that, given a free hand, the Indian army could have ousted the Pakistani invaders entirely. Conversely, an opposing view suggests that a ground-level stalemate between the two forces made the UN reference a judicious choice.

WHY DID HE TAKE KASHMIR ISSUE TO UN
Critics maintain scepticism about Nehru’s decision to bring the Kashmir issue to the UNSC, questioning why he took this step. Some who defend Nehru have argued that India’s move pre-empted a potential UN approach by Pakistan. However, this rationale is deemed implausible, considering Pakistan’s role as the aggressor. The primary purpose of the UN reference was to address and reverse the aggression. Nehru’s decision was not driven by the fear of Pakistan approaching the UN first; instead, it was influenced by British manoeuvres favouring Pakistan. Mountbatten persuaded Nehru that it was morally justifiable to involve the world body. Nehru later acknowledged his mistake, realizing the unnecessary nature of the UN reference. He was mindful of public discontent, explaining the circumstances of India’s UNSC approach in a press conference in New Delhi.

OCTOBER 22, 1947 INVASION
Pakistan, poised to invade Kashmir, covertly executed Operation Gulmarg, detailed in a book by retired Major-General Akbar Khan. On October 22, tribal invaders, actually Pakistan Army regulars, stormed Kashmir, seizing outposts en route to Srinagar. Hari Singh, lacking a sizable army, faced internal betrayal as Muslim soldiers joined Pakistani invaders in attacks on the King’s forces and civilians. Widespread atrocities ensued, documented in the resistance of Kashmiri hero Shahid Maqbool Sherwani. Sherwani, a National Conference member led by democracy advocate Sheikh Abdullah, tricked the raiders by redirecting them from the route to Srinagar airport, a key target in Pakistan’s Operation Gulmarg. The invasion’s brutality included looting, rape, and attacks on hospitals. Sherwani paid with his life for his deception.

HARI SINGH SOUGHT HELP FROM INDIA
Amidst the widespread devastation, Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, sought assistance from the Indian government in Delhi. Subsequently, he signed the Instrument of Accession, leading to the deployment of Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir on October 27. Initiating a counter-attack, Indian forces successfully reclaimed Srinagar, the princely state’s capital, by November 8. The military operations persisted with decreased intensity until mid-November when the scale of the conflict diminished. The war continued at a lower intensity until the conclusion of 1948, with an official ceasefire agreement signed in January 1949.

ON 30 DECEMBER 1947
In December 1947, Prime Minister Nehru sought UN intervention regarding the invasion of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan. He specifically asked the Security Council to demand Pakistan’s cessation of involvement, prevent its personnel from participating, and deny support to the invaders. Nehru emphasized the urgency to halt the fighting and clarified that the reference to the UN was limited to these issues. However, critics argue that Nehru’s decision played into British influence favoring Pakistan, and he later expressed disillusionment with the UN in 1948, stating that making the reference was an act of faith in a world order. Despite his idealism, Nehru felt betrayed as the UN’s actions did not align with its principles. Questions arose about Nehru’s judgment in rushing to the UN, with blame sometimes shifted to Mountbatten, though Nehru’s extensive experience should have made him aware of potential pitfalls in relying on the international body.

ACCESSION OF KASHMIR


In a Parliament speech on March 28, 1951, Nehru revisited a persistent concern, asserting that Kashmir’s accession to India was fully aligned with the Indian Independence Act and consistent with the integration of other princely states. He emphasized that India had not sought UN adjudication on the validity of Kashmir’s accession or sovereignty but had approached the UN to address Pakistan’s aggression, which was perceived as a threat to global peace. Nehru lamented that the UN, leveraging India’s complaint, expanded the scope of its inquiry. He highlighted that neither the UN Commission nor the Security Council had, up to that point, questioned the legitimacy of Kashmir’s accession.

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