The Kashmir Conundrum is like Abhimanyu's Chakravyuh

First  Elections in J&K & Sheikh’s Arrest

On  1/5/1951, Yuvraj Karan Singh issued a proclamation calling for the  establishment of the State Constituent Assembly (objective was to  frame a Constitution for the State), consisting of representations of  the people, elected on the basis of adult franchise i.e. to say every  person who is a State Subject of any class, on the first day of  March, has  been a resident in the constituency for such period as may be  prescribed, shall be entitled to register in the electoral rolls of  that constituency. The State shall be divided into territorial  constituencies each containing a population of about 40,000.

Q.  Was any Census conducted in 1951 before deciding the Electoral  Districts?

A.  No. The jurisdiction of the Election Commission was extended to the  State only in 1962. 1 pg112

Q.  What was the basis for allocating seats between Jammu, Kashmir and  Ladakh regions?

A.  The basis has never been explained. According to the 1941 census  population of undivided J&K was 40.4 lakhs. It was split into  Jammu 20 lakhs, Kashmir 17.28 lakhs and Ladakh /Gilgit etc 3.12  lakhs. Since population size of each constituency was pre-determined  at 40,000 it can be inferred that number of seats was a simple  calculation of population divided by 40,000. Out of 100 assembly  seats 25 were set aside for areas occupied by Pakistan, 43 went to  Kashmir, 30 to Jammu and 2 to Ladakh regions.

Key  points:  The 1941 census did not take into account the shift in population due  to partition. (There was mass displacement in districts of Mirpur and  Muzaffrabad most of whom settled in Jammu). Since Jammu region had  higher population, why was the Valley given more seats?

By  virtue of being allotted the largest number of seats, Kashmir has  come to dominate J&K politics.

Note  that parameters for deciding number of constituencies like  geographical compactness, means of communication etc were not taken  into account in 1951 since these were laid down  in  1957. Further  change in the number of constituencies for each region cannot happen  till Census 2031 (more on this later).

Q.  What were the results of the 1951 Election?

A.  National Conference won all 75 seats.

In  case you wish to know how the elections of 1951 were conducted here  is an article titled ‘Fair elections or final solution’ in  by Chartered Accountant Abdul  Majid Zargar. ‘The  election history of J&K, right from day one, is replete with  malpractices, rigging & manipulations.  The  first elections, meant to constitute the Constituent Assembly, were  held in September 1951 and because of the electoral boycott, which  even included Jammu’s Praja Parishad (later days Jan Sangh), 73 out  of 75 members of this Assembly were elected unopposed.  In two  other seats - Habba Kadal and Baramullah – two independent  candidates, Shiv Narian Fotedar and Sardar Sant Singh Giyani  challenged the official candidates of the National Conference. Both  these non-Muslim candidates were dubbed as Pakistani agents and  mauled and hauled to such a degree by the NC cadres and state  machinery that they had to withdraw from the contest to save their  lives. Noted jurist A.G. Noorani, wrote in The Statesman, that Sheikh  Abdullah rigged the polls with merciless efficiency, drawing grateful  applause from Nehru. Even India's intelligence Chief, Mr. B.N.  Mullick said, "Nomination papers of most of those who could form  an opposition were rejected." To read more

Led  by Pt Prem Nath Dogra, the Praja Parishad launched the Praja Parishad  Movement against the gross manipulation of elections. But leaders in  Delhi ignored their protests.

Those  thus elected drafted the State’s Constitution.

Since  the 1920’s one of the demands of Kashmiris was protection from  migrants who came from more prosperous neighboring states. This was  one of the clauses of the 1952 Agreement referred to below.

Q.  What about the 1952 Agreement and Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest?

A.  Even as the work of the J&K Constituent Assembly was going on,  representatives of the Kashmir Government conferred with the  Government of India to arrive at an arrangement that was later known  as ‘Delhi Agreement, 1952’. Its key features were:
1. All powers other than those specified in the IOA stand vested in the    State of J&K.
2. Persons who have their domicile in J&K shall be regarded as citizens of India (not the reverse though), but the State Legislature was given power to make laws for conferring special rights and privileges on the ‘State Subjects’ in view of the notifications of 1927 and 1932: the State Legislature was also empowered to make laws for the ‘State Subjects’ who had gone to Pakistan on account of communal disturbances of 1947, in the event of return to Kashmir.
3. The President of India commands the same respect in the State as he does in the other Units of India.
4. In view of the peculiar position in which the State was placed, the whole chapter relating to ‘Fundamental Rights’ of the Indian Constitution could not be made applicable to the State;
5. It was accepted that for the time being, owing to the existence of the Board of Judicial Advisors in the State, which was the highest judicial authority in the State, the Supreme Court should have only appellate jurisdiction .
6. President was empowered to proclaim a general emergency in the State, in the event of external aggression but the State delegation was averse to the exercise of such powers in case of internal disturbance. Article 352 was accordingly amended by GOI.
7. It was agreed that the application of Article 356, dealing with suspension of State Constitution and 360, dealing with financial emergency, was not necessary.

Thus,  important issues conceded by GOI in the Delhi Agreement were  residuary powers of legislation vested in J&K State rather than  in the Centre unlike other States. The State Legislature was also  given power to confer special rights on persons who had domicile in  J&K.

Motion of  acceptance was moved in Parliament on 7/8/1952 in which Nehru used  brute majority to curb the voices of sharp opposition by eminent  personalities like Dr S P Mookerjee,  N C Chatterjee. Thereafter it was discussed in the J&K  Constituent Assembly and approved on 21/8/1952.

Not  before long Nehru wrote  to Sheikh in September 1953, "To me, it has been a major  surprise that the settlement arrived at between us should be  by-passed, repudiated”. 5 pg 97

Q.  Why was Sheikh Abdullah and 25 others arrested in 1953?

A. They  were  charged  with conspiracy to overthrow the duly Constituted Government of J&K,  and facilitating annexation of the State’s territory by Pakistan? In his opening speech on 31/10/1951 Abdullah stated that one of the  objectives of the Constitution Assembly was to discuss the future of  the State i.e. accession to India or Pakistan or complete  independence ( 1  pg 119) notwithstanding clause 5 of the IOA which implied that  accession of J&K to India was final.

Further  Brig Amar Cheema wrote in Indian  Defence Review (31/5/14),  ‘The  Sheikh was to shift from his stance taken on plebiscite due to  political expediency and in May, 1953, the National Conference set up  an internal committee to capitalise on the uncertainty over the  issue. In terms of reference given to the committee, the option of  independence was included for the first time and this was seen as  treason by the Indian government. The relationship had travelled a  full circle as despite espousing the finality of the Kashmiri  accession in the UN and the all-out support to the war effort, Sheikh  Abdullah did a volte-face. By 1953, the honeymoon was over and marked  a watershed in state’s relationship with the Centre and  (unnecessarily) placed the accession under a cloud. Rumor mills in  Delhi speculated on the motive of the Sheikh’s meetings with Mr.  Adlai Stevenson, the US Presidential candidate, in Srinagar and it  was rumored that he had sought US support for the independence of the  state, in return of promising military bases in the state. The  situation exacerbated after his meeting with Prime Minister  Chou-en-Lai at Algiers and the Sheikh was eventually arrested in  August 1953, on charges of ‘inciting communal disharmony; fostering  hostile feelings towards India and treasonable correspondence with  foreign powers.’ Source

Thus  one year after Nehru’s government granted huge concessions Sheikh  Abdullah was arrested on 9/8/1953.He  was released in January 1958, but rearrested in April 1958, for  allegedly making inflammatory speeches. TheKashmir  conspiracy case came to an abrupt end and the Sheikh was released in  1964. He became the Chief Minister of the state following the 1974  Indira-Sheikh Accord and remained so till his death on 8/9/1982.

Q.  What about the new Constitution and 1957 elections?

A.  The  new constitution of J&K became operational on 26/1/1957. It has  158 Sections, of which Section 3 says, ‘The State of J&K is and  shall be an integral part of the Union of India’. Section 5 says,  ‘The executive and legislative power of the State extends to all  matters except those with respect to which Parliament has power to  make laws for the State under the provisions of the Constitution of  India’.

Note  that elections in 1957 were won by National Conference led by Bakshi  Ghulam Mohammed. Distribution of constituencies to the three regions  was done in the same way as was done in 1951 even though J&K  Representation of Peoples Act 1957, dated 1/2/1957, was passed laying  down the procedures/parameters for single member segments in the  Legislature Assembly. Therefore, Kashmir Valley’s control over  State Government continued (more on this later). The Congress party  entered the electoral fray in 1967.

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