1975 Indira–Sheikh accord

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The 1975 Indira–Sheikh accord between Kashmiri politician Sheikh Abdullah and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allowed the former to become Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir again after 22 years.[1][2]

Context[edit]

The shift in power balance in the subcontinent in favour of India, following the Indian victory in the 1971 India-Pakistan War, led Sheikh Abdullah to the conclusion that he had little choice except to follow the terms India dictated.[3] The Indian victory in Bangladesh increased Indira Gandhi's status as premier in India and she dealt heavily with the Kashmiri demand for plebiscite. She also stated that it was inconceivable to accept Sheikh Abdullah's demand for the restoration of the pre-1953 relationship between Kashmir and India because "the clock could not be put pack in this manner".[4] In 1975, Sheikh Abdullah dropped his demand that the people of Kashmir be given the right to self-determination. Abdullah, whose popularity since 1953 arose from his opposition to India, would not have agreed to such terms even five years prior to the Accord.[5]

Accord[edit]

The agreement, whose terms are described as amounting to a "capitulation" to India, restated the conditions of Jammu and Kashmir's merger with India since 1953 with a "platently hypocritical clause" that the state's administration would be maintained under Article 370. Scholar Sumantra Bose points out that 23 constitutional orders had already been made by the mid-1970s to integrate the state into the Indian Union and 262 Union laws had also been already applied to the state.[6] Despite retaining Article 370, the state was called "a constituent unit" of the Indian Union. The Indian government was able to control "the areas which mattered most" by being able to make laws concerning activities aimed at rejecting Indian sovereignty.[7] The Accord only granted the state government the right to review those laws which were specifically from the Center and State's shared list of "concurrent powers" extended after 1953 to the State. Only these laws could be considered for amendment or repealment. The Accord also "patronizingly" recognised the State's right to legislate on matters such as welfare, social and cultural issues and Muslim personal law.[8]

Text of the Indira–Sheikh accord[edit]

  1. The State of Jammu and Kashmir which is a constituent unit of the Union of India, shall, in its relation with the Union, continue to be governed by Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
  2. The residuary powers of legislation shall remain with the State; however, Parliament will continue to have power to make laws relating to the prevention of activities directed towards disclaiming, questioning or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India or bringing about cession of a part of the territory of India or secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union or causing insult to the Indian National Flag, the Indian National Anthem and the Constitution.
  3. Where any provision of the Constitution of India had been applied to the State of Jammu and Kashmir with adaptation and modification, such adaptations and modifications can be altered or repealed by an order of the President under Article 370, each individual proposal in this behalf being considered on its merits ; but provisions of the Constitution of India already applied to the State of Jammu and Kashmir without adaptation or modification are unalterable.
  4. With a view to assuring freedom to the State of Jammu and Kashmir to have its own legislation on matters like welfare measures, cultural matters, social security, personal law and procedural laws, in a manner suited to the special conditions in the State, it is agreed that the State Government can review the laws made by Parliament or extended to the State after 1953 on any matter relatable to the Concurrent List and may decide which of them, in its opinion, needs amendment or repeal. Thereafter, appropriate steps may be taken under Article 254 of the Constitution of India. The grant of President's assent to such legislation would be sympathetically considered. The same approach would be adopted in regard to laws to be made by Parliament in future under the Proviso to clause 2 of the Article. The State Government shall be consulted regarding the application of any such law to the State and the views of the State Government shall receive the fullest consideration.
  5. As an arrangement reciprocal to what has been provided under Article 368, a suitable modification of that Article as applied to State should be made by Presidential order to the effect that no law made by the Legislature of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, seeking to make any change in or in the effect of any provision of Constitution of the State of Jammu and Kashmir relating to any of the under mentioned matters, shall take effect unless the Bill, having been reserved for the consideration of the President, receives his assent ; the matters are a) the appointment, powers, functions, duties, privileges and immunities of the Governor, and b) the following matters relating to Elections namely, the superintendence, direction and control of Elections by the Election Commission of India, eligibility for inclusion in the electoral rolls without discrimination, adult suffrage and composition of the Legislative Council, being matters specified in sections 138,139, 140 and 50 of the Constitution of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
  6. No agreement was possible on the question of nomenclature of the Governor and the Chief Minister and the matter is therefore remitted to the Principals.

Signatories[edit]

The accord was signed on behalf of Abdullah by Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg and on behalf of the Indian government (headed by Prime Minister Gandhi) by G. Parthasarathy on 24 February 1975 in New Delhi.[9]

Reactions and aftermath[edit]

Erstwhile commentators and India thought that the Kashmiri movement for self-determination came to an end with the Accord.[10] There were protests within the state to the Accord from Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq who saw this as an abandonment of the Kashmiri people's self-determination. Clashes occurred between the Awami Action Committee and the Plebiscite Front. There were also protests from Jammu where Jana Singh supporters called for abrogation of Article 370 and a complete merger with India.[11]

In an interview with Sumantra Bose, Abdul Qayyum Zargar, a veteran of the National Conference who had also been Mirza Afzal Beg's personal secretary, said that the terms of the Accord were "deeply unpopular" and "swallowed as a bitter pill" only because of Sheikh Abdullah's acceptance. However, not everyone acquiesced to the Accord. A young activist, Shabbir Shah, created the People's League to continue the pursuit of self-determination.[12] According to Nyla Ali Khan the critics of Sheikh Abdullah's "capitulation" to the Indian government forget the "pervasive power" of India's state in Kashmiri institutions.[13] Even after the Accord was concluded, Sheikh Abdullah felt that Kashmiri Muslims were "not secure in the secular India of Gandhi and Nehru".[14]

Sumantra Bose describes the development, whereby Delhi framed Abdullah's return, as "clever evasion" of the Kashmir conflict instead of a "substantive solution". However, Bose holds that Abdullah's return ushered in the first "semblance of competitive politics" to the state.[15] Opposition to the Accord remained under Abdullah's rule.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ What's the mystery of the Indira-Abdullah accord?, Deccan Herald, 13 December 2012.
  2. ^ Indira-Sheikh accord a milestone event: Vohra, Business Standard, 27 October 2013.
  3. ^ Sumantra Bose (June 2009). Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-674-02855-5. He probably also calculated that after Pakistan's defeat and dismemberment in the December 1971 Bangladesh war, the regional balance of power had swung decisively in India's favor, leaving him with little alternative to accepting terms dictated by New Delhi.
  4. ^ N. Khan (25 June 2014). The Life of a Kashmiri Woman: Dialectic of Resistance and Accommodation. Springer. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-1-137-46329-6. The consummate victory of the Indian military bolstered Indira Gandhi's position as premier of India, and she dealt with the demand for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir with a heavy hand. She declared that the Sheikh's insistence on restoring the pre-1953 constitutional relationship between the state and the Indian Union, which would afford greater autonomy and freedoms to the state, was inconceivable because, 'the clock could not be put back in this manner'.
  5. ^ Sumantra Bose (June 2009). Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-674-02855-5. In 1975 Sheikh Abdullah finally abandoned his self-determination platform. This was not a settlement Abdullah would have accepted or even considered -twenty, ten or even five years earlier. His politics and popularity since 1953 had been based on defiance of New Delhi's authoritarianism.
  6. ^ Sumantra Bose (June 2009). Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-674-02855-5. TIn return for Abdullah's release and appointment as IJK's chief minister, his ever-faithful associate, Mirza Afzal Beg, signed another 'Delhi accord' with the government of India whose terms verged on capitulation to New Delhi and Indira Gandhi. The agreement reaffirmed, virtually without modification, the terms of IJK's incorporation into India since 1953. A patently hypocritical clause stated that 'Jammu and Kashmir, a constituent unit of the Union of India, shall continue to be governed under Article 370." In reality, between 1954 and the mid-1970s, 28 constitutional orders "integrating" IJK with India had been issued from Delhi, and 262 Union laws had been made applicable in IJK.
  7. ^ Victoria Schofield (30 May 2010). Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-0-85773-078-7. Although Kashmir's special status, enshrined in article 370 of the Indian Constitution was retained, the state was termed ' a constituent unit of the Union of India. The Indian government was able 'to make laws relating to the prevention of activities directed towards disclaiming, questioning or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India or bringing about cession of a part of the territory of India from the Union or causing insult to the Indian national flag, the Indian national anthem and the Constitution.' This effectively gave India control in the areas which mattered most. There was to be no return to the pre-1953 status.
  8. ^ Sumantra Bose (June 2009). Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-674-02855-5. The Delhi accord gave IJK's government the right to 'review' only those laws from the shared center-state 'concurrent list' of powers which had been extended to IJK after 1953, and to 'decide' which of them might 'need amendment or repeal'...This aside, the Delhi accord patronizingly confirmed IJK's right to legislate on 'welfare measures, cultural matters, social security, and [Muslim] personal law.'
  9. ^ Role played by ‘G.P.’ in Indira–Sheikh Accord lauded, The Hindu, 30 October 2013
  10. ^ Victoria Schofield (30 May 2010). Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-0-85773-078-7. Commentators at the time believed that the issue of plebiscite and self-determination could now be laid to rest...From an Indian standpoint, the movement for self-determination virtually came to an end with the 1975 accord.
  11. ^ Victoria Schofield (30 May 2010). Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-0-85773-078-7. Within the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq believed that Abdullah had relinquished the Kashmiris' right of self-determination. Throughout 1974 there had been clashes between his Awami Action Committee and the Plebiscite Front. The Jana Singh in Jammu and Delhi protested against this accord. As always opposed to the special treatment meted out to the valley in preference of Jammu, Jana Singh supporters wanted article 370 to be abrogated and the whole state included in the Indian Union, like all the other states.
  12. ^ Sumantra Bose (June 2009). Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0-674-02855-5. In 1995 I interviewed Abdul Qayyum Zargar, an NC veteran who had been Afzal Beg;s personal secretary...Recalling the 1975 accord, Zargar said that its terms were deeply unpopular among NC-PF's activists and mass following, and swallowed as a bitter pill only because Abdullah had accepted the accord....Not everyone agreed or acquiesced - a young Valley-based activist, Shabbir Ahmad Shah, formed an organization called the People's League in the mid-1970s to keep the quest for self-determination alive.
  13. ^ N. Khan (25 June 2014). The Life of a Kashmiri Woman: Dialectic of Resistance and Accommodation. Springer. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-1-137-46329-6. Critics of the Sheikh's seeming "capitulation" to the government of India in 1975 overlook the pervasive power of the Indian state, which had infiltrated into political, socioeconomic, cultural and educational institutions.
  14. ^ N. Khan (6 August 2012). The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity. Palgrave Macmillan US. pp. 27–. ISBN 978-1-137-02958-4. Even after the Indira-Abdullah Accord of 1975, he could feel that Kashmiri Muslims were not secure in the secular India of Gandhi and Nehru.
  15. ^ Sumantra Bose (June 2009). Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-674-02855-5. The Delhi-determined circumstances of an emasculated Abdullah's return to office amounted to a clever evasion of the Kashmir conflict rather than a substantive solution to it.
  16. ^ Victoria Schofield (30 May 2010). Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-0-85773-078-7. Opposition to the Kashmir accord continued and a new educated class was being drawn into the political arena.

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