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some in New Delhi. Abdullah then proceeded to lobby Pakistani officials for
support, claiming an independent Kashmir would naturally be closer to Pakistan,
firstly because of a common religion and secondly because Lahore is near and
Delhi is far off .60
By 1949, he was saying the same things publicly. In an interview with the
journalist Michael Davidson, he asserted that
accession to either side cannot bring peace. We want to live in friendship
with both the Dominions [India and Pakistan]. Perhaps a middle path
between them with economic cooperation with each will be the only
way of doing it. However, an independent Kashmir must be guaranteed
not only by India and Pakistan, but also by Great Britain.61
A perceptive contemporary media report noted that the object of Abdullah turning
towards independence was to strengthen his personal support, which now seems
to be falling off .62
From 1949, matters began to come to a head. One key line of confrontation was
with the Hindu right-wing in Jammu, representing both Dogra feudal privilege
and ultra-nationalist opposition to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Politically, these forces coalesced into the Praja Parishad, set up with the bac
of the Hindu-nationalist leader Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. Abdullah sought to
suppress the movement by incarcerating Mookerjee, who died while in custody.
This provoked further fury
and further repression. In elections to the Jammu
and Kashmir Constituent Assembly, held in 1951, 45 out of 49 Praja Parishad
candidates were disqualified on flimsy technical grounds.63 Sheikh Abdullah s
National Conference won 75 seats in the state, 73 of them uncontested.
Questionable political practices of wholesale rejection of the opposition
candidates nomination papers and unopposed seats set an unhealthy
precedent in the state, a precedent which would remain firmly established
for a long time.64
Abdullah had got what he wanted
and again switched sides. Speaking at the
inauguration of the Constituent Assembly, Abdullah made a powerful argument
for accession. India s Constitution, he said, had set before the country the goal
of a secular democracy, based upon justice, freedom and modern democracy . By
contrast, Pakistan was a feudal state in which a clique is trying to maintain its
in power . Abdullah firmly ruled out independence. From August 15 to October
22, 1947 , he pointed out, our State was independent and the result was that our
weakness was exploited by the neighbour with invasion [sic] .65 In July 1952,
Abdullah finally arrived at a concord
what is now called the Delhi Agreement
with New Delhi on the content of Jammu and Kashmir s special status.
By this time, however, chauvinist movements in Jammu and in Ladakh, where
land reforms had stripped the Buddhist clergy of their estates
were gathering
momentum. These movements generated counter-pressures in the Kashmir valley,