An exhibition on J&K, which opened at the National Archives, seeks to highlight just how the founding president of Jan Sangh, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, warned former PM Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah about the far reaching consequences of the signing of Kashmir’s Instrument of Accession. This will be a month-long exhibition.
Drawing from documents and videos obtained from the ministry of defence, the films division and the British Pathe, the exhibition includes rare documents like The Treaty of Lahore of March, 1846, The Treaty of Amritsar, and the Instrument of Accession signed in October 1947. The exhibition also contains a section titled ‘Syama Prasad Mookerjee on J&K issue and on the agitation which sought full integration of the state with India’.
Four letters written by Mookherjee, two each to Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah, are also on display. In one such letter to Nehru on January 9, 1953, Mookerjee wrote, “It is high time that both you and Sheikh Abdullah should realise that this movement will not be suppressed by force or repression…The problem of J&K should not be treated as a party issue. It is a national problem and every effort should be made to present a united front.”
Warning against the dangers of a “general plebiscite on a highly controversial issue”, Mookerjee also predicted the rise of communal passions in J&K. His letter to Abdullah also exposes the schism between the Jan Sangh and the National Conference over the rule of J&K shifting hands from the ‘Hindu Dogras’ to the ‘Kashmiri Muslims’. In a letter dated February 13, 1953, Mookerjee refers to Abdullah’s opposition to Praja Parishad, a political outfit with close ties with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and which campaigned for the integration of Jammu & Kashmir with India, and opposed the special status granted to the state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
By- Nikita Goel, Convenor, Student Reporter Committee, INBA