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Saga of Kashmir since 1932 and Article 370

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Kashmir has been a sore point for the country and still is today. Who is responsible for it and to what extent? Who did what in this regard and to what extent? Here\'s the saga of Kashmir since 1932 in brief...  

Sardar Patel was unhappy with an emotional Nehru:
The administration of Kashmir was right during the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh. Earlier due to officers selected by political department and later because of able Indian administrators like Gopal, Swami Ayangar, Maharj Singh and B,N. Rao. Although the Marahaja himself was an able and hardworking ruler, but he also had a streak of indecisiveness in his character. In the year 1932 administration of Kashmir was liberalised following a popular campaign launched by Shuekh Abdullah. Initially the said campaign was sort of a racist agitation, launched to fight for the interests of Muslim community. The communal nature of the campaign was done away with in the year 1939 and the organisation that had spearheaded the said campaign and which was known as Kashmir Musilm Confderence was renamed as National Conference. Later on it was merged with \'Desi Rajya Praja Parishad\'. Meanwhile, the National Conference continued with its campaign against Maharaja Hari Singh and in 1946 Shiekh Abdullah; taking cue from Quit India Movement of Congress, launched a \'Maharaja Quit Kashmir\' campaign. Shiekh was arrested and was sentenced for a jail tern of three years. Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, being a Kashmiri himself,, was highly sentimental towards Kashmir. In the year 1946 he wanted to encourage his jailed friends; especially Shiekh Abdullah. However, fearing a political backlash the state government banned Nehru\'s entry. Nehru defied the ban was arrested. The Congress Working Committee was not in favour of Nehru breaking the rule of the state and being arrested. Sardar Patel was extremely unhappy with Nehru\'s obsession with his friendship with Shiekh Abdullah. Patel\'s unhappiness in this connection is reflected in a letter that he wrote on July 11, 1946 to D.P. Mishra of Madhya Prant, which is now Madhya Pradesh. 

In the said letter Patel said, \"Recently he (Nehru) has shown immaturity on a number of occasions that have been a cause of concern for us.His actions in Kashmir, his interference in election of Sikhs in the Constituent Assembly and his \'Akhbari Parishad\' soon after the meeting of the Congress committee, have all been emotional and illogical actions. This has cause us a lot of stress in taking things in the right direction. However, despite this Jawaharlal has tremendous zeal and enthusiasm for independence.\"

Later, Nehru was allowed a small meeting with Shiekh Abdullah in Kashmir in his capacity as later\'s advocate. On that occasion he had informed Sardar through a letter written on July 20, 1946, that he would visit Kashmir on July 24, where he would confine his actions to the duties of a Barrister only.

Nehru had decided to face the state government and the Maharaja in an open political battle while Ramchandra Kauk was the prime minister of Kashmir.

The plan to divide the country was announced in June 1947. This led to a dramatic turn in the circumstances of state of Kashmir. Lord Mountbatten informed the Maharaja that he should decide to merge with either of the newly formed nations before the date fixed for handing of powers, i.e. August 15, 1947. According to Maharaja the Viceroy in fact wanted him to merge his state with Pakistan. The Viceroy assured the Maharaja that India would not pose any difficulties for him if he merged his state with Pakistan. On the other hand Sardar Patel had, through separate letters written on July 3, 1947, made it clear to the then Prime Minister of Kashmir Ramchandra Kauk and the Maharaja the interests of Kashmir will be best served if the state merged with India without any delay.

Jinnah believed Kashmir will drop in his bag like a ripe apple:
Kashmir was at crossroads. The Maharaja had to make a choice, but before that he had to weigh a number of issues. Aligning with Pakistan meant merging with a declared communal nation, which posed serious concerns for not only himself and his family but also for his subjects, especially those belonging to the minority communities; which included Kashmiri Pandits, Hindus of Kashmir valley and Buddhists of Ladakh. Besides, the Muslims of Kashmir valley, who were different from Muslims of Punjabi Muslims of Pakistan because of their caste and language. And if he chose to merge his state with India he had to consider altogether different types of issues. In the meanwhile, on the eve of the independence the Maharaja terminated Prime Minister of Kashmir Ramchandra Kauk.With the help of Sardar Patel the Maharaja received services of Meharchand Mahajan, who was a judge of the Punjab High Court at that time.

With the independence the country was divided on August 15, 1947. Terrorism, which is still plaguing Kashmir till today, began with the birth of Pakistan. Tribals from across the border were incited to attack Kashmir. Pakistan government provided them with weapons and also helped them to infiltrate. Geographically Jammu and Kashmir was more cut off from India than Pakistan and the Maharaja and his military was pretty weak.Jinnah, probably, was convinced that the government of Kashmir will be overthrown without much difficulty and the state will fall into his lap like a ripe apple. That time Shiekh Abdullah showed diplomatic maturity. He wrote a letter to the Maharaja from jail on September 26, 1947 and promising unconditional loyalty towards him. The frightened Maharaja replied as Abdullah wished and declared immunity to all the political prisoners.A letter written by Sardar Patel to Maharaja on October 2, 1947, clarifies that Shiekh Abdullah and his supporters were released from jail a day earlier.

Meanwhile, the intensity of tribals\' attack on Kashmir had increased by October 1947. The Maharaja\'s military was completely incapable of stopping this tide as majority of his Muslim soldiers had deserted, leaving his army further weakened. A large portion of the state, which included the frontier area of Gilgit, had already been taken over by the enemy. This posed a grave danger to the capital and the Kashmir valley. The Maharaja, in order to ward off the unpleasant situation, proposed to merge with India and asked for military help. The Government of India accepted the [proposal and thus Kashmir became an integral part of the country. It was not the time, however, to be wasted in bothering about rules and regulations and so all that was postponed for a later date and planes and military help was immediately sent for Kashmir. A meeting was convened in Delhi, which was attended by Pt Nehru, Sardar Patel, Defence Minister Sardar Baldev Singh, Commander in-chief General Bucker, Chief of Army General Russle and supporter of Shiekh Abdullah- Bakshi Gulam Mohammad. The meeting was chaired by Lord Mountbatten. After the discussions the Commander in-chief appeared not sure about the victory. After a long silence they heard the heavy voice of Sardar Patel, \"Generals please note, resources not withstanding, the Government of India will do everything possible to help you in every way, but Kashmir should not be lost at any cost.\"

The Commander in-chief wanted to put across his objections, but Sardar Patel did not give him any time. He got up and before leaving told him that he will receive planes along with supplies by the morning. Eventually the Indian Army won the war and Pakistanis were driven away.

Kashmir issues goes to Nehru from Sardar\'s hands:
Following the failure of the then Pakistan\'s attack Lord Mountbatten proposed a formula to Jinnah. According to it, \"The fate of the state should be decided by a plebiscite whose ruler does not belong to the caste of the majority of his subjects and has decided to merge with a state whose population belongs to the other caste. The Government of India agreed to the proposal that the said plebiscite should be conducted under the observance of the United Nations. Jinnah, however, refused to abide by the proposal. This led to India having to withstand attacks by Pakistan a for long time. Eventually, on the request of Lord Mountbatten it was decided to take the matter for mediation by the UN and the same was done so formally on January 1, 1948. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel personally did not agree to it. His contention was that the UN will linger on the matter and if a complaint had to be made to UN, India should be defendant instead of respondent. However, the matter went to the Foreign Ministry, which was under Nehru. Gopal Swami Ayanger was his advisory. Sardar Patel, like always respecting Nehru, kept quiet. Later, Pakistan completely denied that it was directly involved in the attack on Kashmir. However, the UN Commission exposed Pakistan\'s stand in this connection and proposed for immediate withdrawal of remaining Pakistani soldiers from Kashmir. The Government of India, however, led by Pt Nehru bowed before proposal of ceasefire, ceasefire line and the proposal of January 5, 1949, which favoured Pakistan. This led to India and Pakistan having similar weight over the issue and it diluted the UN Commission proposal of August 13, 1948, which clearly exposed the criminality of Pakistan in the matter. The issue of Pakistan\'s direct attack on Kashmir was relegated to back burner and the issue of plebiscite was given more importance.

Prior to this there was an important decision taken by the Union of India that unless Pakistan agrees to the important treaties, the cash amount of Rs 55 crore due to it would not be paid. However, because of some interference the said amount was paid to Pakkistan in the year 1948 itself. Sardar Patel was of the view that Pakistan will use the money to increase it military strength and his fears came true.

In the meanwhile, after the failure of Pakistan\'s attack on Kashmir Shiekh Abdullah was appointed as head of the ad-hock administration following initiatives by Pt Nehru.Similarly, Nehru was also instrumental in Shiekh Abdullah being adjusted in the government; a fact which is reflected in the letter of Maharaja Hari Singh written to Lord Mountbatten asking for military help. 

By this time Shiekh Abdullah became the real head of the government of Kashmir. The Maharaja, his legal advisor and the head of the government Meharchand Mahajan were sidelined. It was decided that in Kashmir the arrangement will be on the lines of Maysore. Under this Shiekh Abdullah was to be the head of the government and Meharchand Mahajan would chair the cabinet meetings as the representative of the Maharaja. Till this time Shiekh Abdullah had given his complete assent to the said \'Maysore copy.\' In the meanwhile, the Government of India, on the request of Lord Mountbatten and Pt Nehru, declared that condition of merger of Kashmir into India will be decided later as per the wishes of the people of the state.

Shiekh Abdullah had turned a dictator soon after getting power:
So Shiekh Abdullah became the ruler of Kashmir. A letter of Meharchand Mahajan written to Sardar Patel on December 24, 1947, states how Shiekh Abdullah had become a virtual dictator soon after becoming head of the government. Soon after becoming the head of the state Shiekh Abdullah had refused to abide by the condition of the Maysore plan under which the representative of the Maharaja was to chair the cabinet meetings. Union minister and confidant of Pt Nehru Gopal Swami Ayangar was given the responsibility of finding a proposal acceptable to Shiekh Abdullah and the Maharaja both. However, Ayangar soon found that Shiekh Abdullah would not agree to any condition fo the Maharaja. So Ayangar began trying to get the Maharaja to accept conditions of Abdullah. Ayangar then proposed that a joint interim government headed by Shiekh Abdullah should be formed and its ministers should be decided by Shiekh and that such a government should be handed all the powers. Since, Shiekh was not ready to accept even this formula because the legal representative of the Maharaja was to be a member of the said goverrnment, Ayangar proposed to abolish the representation of the Maharaja. Naturally this proposal, which was contrary to the Maysore plan, was not acceptable to the Maharaja and he opposed it vehemently.. Ayangar, however, tried to make the Maharaja understand that the proposal was right and he (the Maharaja) should accept to be a formal head of the government and should work according to its advise.

Shiekh jailed hindu officials and promoted Muslims:
How communal was Shiekh? How under his patronage Hindus were targetted and Muslims were appeased. A letter of the Maharaja\'s legal adviser Meharchand Mahajan written to Sardar Patel throws ample light on this. Mahajan had pointed out several factors in his letter. Some of the points raised by Mahajan in his letter are:

1. The chairman of the \'Prajasabha was removed without any consultation with the Maharaja, whereas as per the a decision in this regard was sole prerogative of the Maharaja,
2. The High Court of the state was not functioning. The Maharaja and the Chief Justice are the only persons above the High Court, However, despite orders by the Maharaja, the High Court was not functioning in Jammu. Since a judge of the High Court was Muslim , who did not wish to come to Jammu, it has been more than two months, the High Court was not functioning in the state. 
Mahajan had mentioned several more such facts in his letter.

Maharaja had to leave Kashmir:
When Maharaja Hari Singh refused to abide the plan of Ayangar that only sided with Shiekh Abdullah as far as Kashmir was concerned and when Ayangar himself and Nehru could not get the Maharaja to agree to it, he came to Sardar Patel for help.Patel, unwillingly sent his personal secretary V. Shankar to Kashmir and got the Maharaja to agree to Ayangar\'s proposal. As a result, on March 5, 1948, Abdullah ministry was confirmed as authorised government of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the role of Maharaja\'s legal adviser Meharchand Mahajan was done away with.

Shiekh Abdullah was not satisfied with even this and he alleged that the Maharaja was encouraging murders of Muslims. An inquiry was instituted against the Maharaja in this regard, which, however, was scrapped on the recommendations of the Government of India. Shiekh, however, continued to oppose the Maharaja. Pt Nehru and Gopal Swami Ayangar were of the view that it would be alright if the Maharaja was to leave the state, but in the light of the Muslim population of the state, presence of Shiekh and his governance was necessary. This view of Nehru was completely unacceptable to Sardar Patel, despite this he was entrusted with the responsibility of getting the Maharaja to agree to leave the state. Patel again sent his personal secretary to Kashmir and got the Maharaja to agree to the proposal. The Maharaja got a mansion built in the then Bombay and agreed to appoint his son Karn Singh as his representative in the state.

Congress registered strong opposition to Article 370 in the Constituent Assembly:
After the Maharaja left Kashmir, Gopal Swami Ayangar in consultation with Shiekh ministry and with support of Nehru devised the plan of Article 370, which defined the relation of the state of Kashmir with union of India. According to interpretation of the said article by some experts, Kashmir will automatically will not be a part of India if the said article is done away with. That apart with the said article was put before the Constituent Assembly Nehru was in America. However, his consent on the draft of the formula had already been taken earlier. According to letters of Sardar Patel, he was not consulted at all in the matter.
Congress had vehemently opposed the said article in the Constituent Assembly, as the article accorded a special status to Kashmir. In principle the Congress was of the view that Kashmir should also abide to the constitution of India the same way as other states. Congress had especially strongly opposed the condition of the article that the basic principles of the constitution dealing with the fundamental rights will not be binding on the state of Kashmir.Gopal Swami Ayangar had either failed to make other members of the party in this regard, or had failed to make them aware about its background. As always, he again sought help of Sardar Patel to intervene in the matter. Patel was of the view that nothing should be done in absence of Nehru, which would make the latter uncomfortable. He, however, agreed to make the members of Congress to understand the Article 370. After his intervention the Constituent Assembly did not hold long discussion on the issue and neither was it opposed.

Patel had done this against his wishes. This is reflected in his letter to Gopal Swami Ayangar on October 16, 1949, when the later tried to make some amendments in the draft of the matter. Patel wrote, \"I find that some changes have been in the original draft. Especially with regard to fundamental rights and the policy directives of the state. You can understand the contradiction yourself that on the one hand Jammu and Kashmir becomes a part of India, while at the same time it refuses to accept any rules of the same. When out party has, in presence of Shiekh Abdullah has agreed to arrangement I do not like any changes in it. Whenever, Shiekh Abdullah wants to run  away from his responsibilities, he takes a stand against us in the name of his duties towards the people. Agreed that he does not have any responsibility towards India or the Government of India, or towards you or the prime minister; who has tried to go out of his way to make thin gs easier for Shiekh and is still doing so. In any case, under the present circumstances there is no question of my consent. If you think it id right, you can go ahead with it.\"

When Shiekh began dreaming of a free Kashmir:
By the end of 1948 Shiekh Abdullah had began dreaming of freedom of Kashmir. An independent Kashmir, free from any alignment with either India or Pakistan. Correspondent between Ayangar and Patel throws light on the fact they both had reprimanded Shiekh Abdullah for his meeting with a foreign representative in this connection.In that meeting Shiekh had advocated for an independent Kshmir, which would be politically free from India and Pakistan both, but which would be guaranteed by India, Pakistan, Britain, America and the UN and which would be financially supported by both India and Pakistan.

What is Article 370:
Article 370 has several temporary sub sections with regard to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. These have been the most controversial sub sections till date.The Article restricts the Indian parliament with regard to Kashmir to quite an extent.Barring some issues which had come into existence in the dominion of India during the merger, or which find mention in the merger documents, the Indian parliament can  not impose its orders or rules in the state. As per the March 5, 1948 declaration of the Maharaja, this is possible only after the head of the state agrees to the same following consultations between the head of the state and the President of India.Earlier, this consent was sought from Maharaja who worked on the advise of the cabinet of Kashmir, later it was sought from the \'Sadr-e Riyasat\'. Now it has been amended and Sadr-e-Riyasat has been replaced by the Governor. One provision of the Article has always been controversial which ensures that the majority Muslims will always be in majority in the state. As per the said provision no citizen from any part of India can settle permanently in Kashmir, neither can he/she buy any immovable property in the state and nor can he or she do any sort of permanent business in the state. Whereas there are no such restrictions in any part of the country barring, purchase of land in some parts. From time to time there have been suggestions that Muslims from Kashmir should be settled in other parts of the country and Hindus and people of other castes should be settled there; or the state should be made a Hindu majority state. This would take care of the problems created by Pakistan once and for all and the issue of plebiscite would be of no consequence. The BJP has always been supportive of the idea, but no one has been able to fiddle with the Article up to now, either because of Muslims votes of other states, or in the face of other political compulsions.

Dr Shyamaprasad Mukerjee had launched an agitation against the unfair provisions of the Article 370. he had raised the slogan that two heads of state, two constitution and two symbols in one country are not acceptable. Earlier, residents of other parts of the country needed a permit to visit Kashmir. It was Dr Mukerjee who had got the said permit system scrapped. After the demise of Dr Mukerjee the BJP has been launching campaigns demanding removal of Article 370 from Kashmir from time to time. In fact the up till now the BJP had not been able to do anything in this connection despite being in power.
It is important to mention here that there are some other states of India where power of the parliament are restricted to ensure that the tribal nature and their indigenous practices are kept intact. 
The provision of Article 370 (A) say that unless the state assembly of Nagaland passes a resolution on following issues, no rule or law of the parliament will be binding on Nagaland,

The issues are:
1. Religious or social traditions of Nagas.
2. Lagas\' law and procedure.
3. Civil and criminal law administration, where the judgement is taken as per the Nagas\' traditional law.
4. Ownership of land, its resources and their transfer.

In this connection the Governor of the state has been entrusted with the special responsibilities under Article 371 (B) with regard to law and rulings. There is provision that the administration of Tunsang district of the state will be looked after by the Governor. Similarly, an MLA representing Tunsang district will be made the minister responsible for the said district.
Similarly, Afrrticle 371 and its various sub sections deal with issues relating to Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal, Goa, Himachal and Jharkhand. These provisions ensure that aspirations of the locals are taken care of and the interests of the indigenous population are safeguarded.

Nehru believed Bakshi’s lie:
Sheikh Abdullah and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad used to keep Nehruji in dark and Nehruji used to believe them blindly. Nehruji never saw any fault in them. Just see an instance...In fact, both Sheikh and Bakshi hated Meharchand Mahajan (Maharajah’s adviser) because he was an Arya Samaji. Nehruji almost agreed with their views. See an instance- Nehruji wrote a letter to Patel on December 30 1947 in which it was said (in his own words)- “I have heard very disconcerting news over phone from Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. This news is about the weapons that we had sent for Bakshi but they were intercepted and distributed among RSS. When the danger reached near Jammu a very big consignment of weapons was stopped and the volunteers of Bakshi are dying while fighting as they don’t have weapons. I have received many reports. I have learnt that Bakshi’s homeguards are harmed and support and weapons are provided to RSS. An open publicity campaign is ongoing against Sheikh Abdullah through posters and other media. In some remote areas of the state, where there are no aggressors, RSS is sending its agents to foment trouble. I believe Mahajan is sympathetic towards such elements and perhaps also helps them. Besides, Maharajah himself is somewhat short-sighted and it is one of his method of doing the wrong work. He endured many hardships on account of this, but still, he is persisting.”

Whether the information given by Bakshi and  Nehruji\'s letter was true or not was later revealed through a probe. The probe confirmed that all these allegations were not true. Then Patel wrote a letter to  Nehruji in this regard.

Sardar\'s letter sent on January 8, 1948- \"I left for Assam. Earlier you had written to me complaining about Bakshi that homeguards do not get the weapons sent by us and these weapons are given to the RSS. The letter had hinted that and Mahajan and Maharajah were responsible for this.\"

Sardar wrote further: \"I interrogated Mahajan in this regard and got an impartial inquiry conducted in this regard and it was revealed that neither Majan not Maharajah or any of his military adviser were informed about these weapons. They don\'t know who got these arms and among whom were they distributed. An unbiased inquiry revealed that these arms were sent to Major general Kulwant Singh and he has been giving arms to Bakshi. Indeed, Kulwant Singh did not accept Bakshi\'s request to provide light machine guns and mortar guns to homeguards as none of them knew how to use these weapons. It has also been revealed that Bakshi had ordered weapons for the homeguards without consulting Maharajah or Mahajan. As far as arming the RSS volunteers is concerned, no arms were provided to them. The real situation is that there were not sufficient weapons to give to state armies. Some men of RSS had joined the civil army raised by the state and they took part in certain battles on the borders of the state. All these arrangements were in the hands of Sheikh Abdullah. Mahajan had no connection with this process. All the apprehensions and complaints in tour letter are baseless and Bakshi\'s allegations are a white lie.

Mountbatten wanted to give  Kashmir to Pakistan:
It is clear from the overseas telegrams and letters sent by Pandit Nehru to Patel that the cabinet (British) of the Labour Party, particularly Commonwealth Affairs Minister Philip Noel, definitely sympathised with Pakistan. On many occasions, Maharajah Harisingh said that  Mountbatten pressurised and even threatened him to merge with Pakistan. Mountbatten accepted that he had a keen desire that Kashmir should merge with Pakistan but this desire was not inspired by any selfish interest or feeling of revenge. On the other hand, there were justified reasons such as geographical situation, social structure, etc. Not only Mountbatten, but the thinking of most of the Britishers were biased towards Pakistan on account of the religious structure of the population, geographical connection, and the ease to enter Pakistan. These Englishmen were indeed prejudiced in favour of Pakistan\'s viewpoint. It is due to this reason that they never accepted the reality that India never forced Kashmir to merge with it but in fact, Pakistan had compelled it for this. During talks with Pakistan\'s senior officers on the question of Jammu-Kashmir, V Shankar (Patel\'s secretary) had said on more than one occasion that had Pakistan not given stress on this issue the way it did then it is quite possible that that the people of Jammu-Kashmir would have decided the fate of the state without the interference of either India or Pakistan.

Mountbatten had cordial relations with leaders of the conservative party and he had a personal friendship with Winston Churchill. The presence of Isme (later Lord) in Mountbatten\'s staff, considered very close to Churchill, was helpful in this. Churchill strongly opposed India and granting freedom to India. He only cursed India and the Indian people while sitting in London. Condemning Churchill, Sardar Patel had sent a letter to Isme on December 19, 1947. It is clear from the details in Campbell Johnson\'s book \'Mission with Mountbatten\' that Mountbatten was not in favour of accepting Kashmir\'s request for help and sending the Indian army there (perhaps his stance shows the effect Churchill had on him). In spite of all this, Mountbatten was able to adopt a policy in which he did not cause harm to too many people. And wherever this happened, the affected parties endured the suffering caused by him. But this was the greatness of Indian leaders and not of Mountbatten.

Proposals which were not placed before Nehru - Patel were placed before Jinnah:
At the time when Mountbatten was unnecessarily running between Delhi and Lahore in pursuit of Jinnah then his stand in conducting affairs in India was conciliating. He avoided saying anything harsh to Jinnah and on the other hand took undue advantage of the generosity of Indian leaders. The original proposals (see original proposals) placed by him before Pakistan Government said that as soon as the attackers leave Kashmir, India should immediately withdraw its army from the state and a referendum should be held in Kashmir under the auspices of United Nations. Surprisingly these things were conveyed to the Nawabzada Liyakat Ali Khan (Pak Prime Minister) and Jinnah om November 1, 1947, even before the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (Nehruji and Patel) were informed. He did not mention before Sardar and Nehruji that Junagarh would also be included in the proposal. This shows to what extent Mountbatten was ready to go get credit for engineering an accord. The Mountbatten\'s letter to Nehruji dated November 2, 1947, shows that he had prepared these proposals even without telling Nehru and Sardar. The letter also reveals that he was confident that he would be successful in convincing Indian leaders for the accord. But V Shankar said with confidence that had Nehruji and Sardar been consulted earlier then they would never have accepted these proposals. Because Mountbatten had adopted a very different policy about Kashmir and Junagarh. 

After Mountbatten returned from Lahore Conference on November 1, 1947, Campbell Johnson met him. The details of the meeting reveal that Mountbatten was very optimistic despite being a clear speaker. He has shown the similar over-optimism on Hyderabad issue which was unjustified. He wanted to take credit for many such accords during his short tenure and so he always overlooked India\'s stance and interests.