Who has more freedom ?

The most repeated story about Kashmir joining India is that, the Maharajah of Kashmir was a Hindu and he joined India without taking into cosideration the wishes of the Muslim majority population. Aravind Lavakare rebuts this with the following sequence of events that happened after the accession deed was signed

Even after its accession to the Indian Dominion, J&K’s internal administration was governed, not by a diktat of New Delhi, but by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution Act, 1939. It was under this Act that Maharaja Hari Singh appointed his former adversary, Sheikh Abdullah, as the emergency administrator for the state. The appointment was a victory for the people who simply loved Abdullah. He began giving them a large share in the administration of the state’s affairs.

Soon enough, the people demanded that the ’emergency administration’ be changed into a ‘responsible government.’ Compelled by the public, Hari Singh issued a proclamation on March 5, 1948 announcing the formation of an interim government with Abdullah as the prime minister aided by such other ministers as he desired to constitute a cabinet. This arrangement, said the proclamation, was pending the framing of a fully democratic Constitution by a National Assembly based on adult suffrage.

In June 1949, Yuvraj Karan Singh, who had ascended the throne after his father’s abdication in that very month, nominated four representatives to the Indian Constituent Assembly for deliberating on the framing of the Constitution of India. These four were the choice, not of the Yuvraj, but of Abdullah’s council of ministers. These J&K representatives made it abundantly clear to the Indian Constituent Assembly that their state’s association with India would be based only on the terms of the Instrument of Association, that the state was not committed to the acceptance of the Indian Constitution and that it would like to have its own Constitution.

On May 1, 1951, Yuvraj Karan Singh issued a proclamation declaring the convening of a State Constituent Assembly, consisting of representatives of the people on the basis of adult franchise, for framing a Constitution for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. For the purpose of elections to the proposed Constituent Assembly, the state was to be divided into territorial constituencies each with a population of 40,000 or thereabouts.

Elections to the Constituent Assembly were completed by August that year with the idolised Abdullah’s National Conference Party simply sweeping the polls. Addressing its first meeting held on October 31 that year, Sheikh Abdullah declared that the assembly’s objectives and functions included, inter alia, a reasoned conclusion regarding accession and the future of the state. He enumerated three alternatives: accession to India, accession to Pakistan and complete independence.

The ‘Drafting Committee’ of the above assembly presented its report on February 12, 1954. Its report, adopted on February 15, 1954, embodied the ratification of the state’s accession to India, with 64 of the assembly’s strength of 75 voting unanimously while 11 members were absent.

The State Constituent Assembly enacted, on November 17, 1956, a Constitution that is, today, the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir. It has 158 Sections. Section 3 therein says, ‘The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.’ Section 147 in it prohibits any bill to amend Section 3 from being introduced or moved in either House of the State Legislature. [Catch up on history, Mr Aziz]

Even as early as 1951 elections were held in Kashmir and it was the elected Govt. that ratified the state’s accession to India. Abullah was a popular figure and genuinely had the support of the people and it was the people’s decision that they join the Indian Union.
One of the often raised slogans by Pakistanis regarding Kashmir is that they are living under occupation. This gives you an impression that they are living like slaves with no freedom for anything. Indian Kashmiris have the freedom to participate in elections and Patrix has a post which points out that Indian Kashmiris have more freedom that the entire population of Pakistan.

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