Nehru wanted Sheikh implicated in Kashmir Conspiracy Case, Begum Abdullah arrested; Mridula booked for funding

National Conference (NC) claims that for the first Prime Minister of India Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Kashmir was nothing but Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.

For Nehru, Kashmir meant Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah half truth

Syed Junaid Hashmi

JAMMU, Dec 31: National Conference (NC) claims that for the first Prime Minister of India Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Kashmir was nothing but Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. However, this is neither a blatant lie nor complete truth.

Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in its 42nd volume of the selected works of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru unveiled how resolute was the decision of Nehru to expel Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah from political arena. In the 42nd volume of the selected works of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru published by oxford university press, JNMF has given account of Nehru’s keenness in putting Sheikh behind the bars.

The volume has included letters written by Nehru to one Mr. Mohammed Magray and to the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed seeking imprisonment and speedy trial of Sheikh. Mohammed Magray, who was then an employee of the India House, London and a member of Kashmir Association of Europe, had written a letter to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, drawing his attention towards what he had described a communal, inhuman and undemocratic statements of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.

Magray had cautioned Nehru not to trust Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, who according to him was ‘worse than an illiterate’. In response, Nehru had accepted that Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was following a dangerous and wrong path. Making it clear that Sheikh will not be dealt with Kid gloves, Pandit Nehru had responded to Magray assuring that strict action would be taken.

Nehru wrote, “Strong language does not necessarily help. Other things have to be done to meet a difficult situation. The fact is that our people, whether in Kashmir or the rest of India, are easily misled. Sheikh Abdullah, as you have yourself observed, is now following a policy, which is narrow-minded, communal and very dangerous.”

Sheikh was booked under Kashmir Conspiracy Case in which Sheikh Abdullah and along with him 24 Others were implicated for organising a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The FIR in this case was filed on 9 October 1957 and the charge sheet was submitted in March 1958. Nehru was even concerned about the activities of Mridula Sarabhai who was then one of the staunch supporters of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.

Despite Mridula being close to Pandit Nehru, he wrote a letter to the then Director of Intelligence Bureau B.N. Mullik asking him to find out from Mridula, a freedom fighter, detailed account of the money she had been spending on Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and his colleagues who were then jailed. “She may be told that there are serious charges about this matter and, therefore, it is desirable that she should help us to find out the facts,” is what Nehru had written.

On April 16, 1958; Nehru wrote to Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed “I am much worried about one matter. Why is it that there is such delay in starting the Conspiracy Case” about which there has been so much talk for several months? This delay is having a bad effect on people who are beginning to say that we are in the habit of making vague charges without trying to establish them. If there is any further delay, I am afraid we shall suffer very much by it. As it is, the delay has not at all been to our advantage, and the psychological moment is rapidly passing.”

Sheikh Abdullah was included in the list of accused in what was known as the “Kashmir Conspiracy Case” in which the former Revenue Minister Mirza Afzal Beg and 23 others were facing trial for attempting to overthrow the Government by criminal force and for anti-State activities. According to the Intelligence Bureau, Abdullah’s inflammatory speeches, his call to raise Razakars, the Hazratbal rioting and murder, the Plebiscite Front manifesto and the receipt of large sums of money from Pakistan by Begum Akbar Jahan Abdullah while Sheikh Abdullah was present in the house further strengthened the case.

Initially Abdullah’s wife was implicated in the case but her name was not included later.Nehru has shown not only keenness and eagerness in Sheikh’s trial but also referred to how the people across the country had been observing the turn of events. Not only at the state level but also at the international level, whenever Nehru was questioned about Sheikh’s detention, he would reply in astute diplomatic manner.

Nehru wrote, “As for Sheikh Abdullah being involved in this case, I am inclined to agree with Commonwealth Secretary that it would probably be better to leave him out. If, later on, it is considered important to proceed against him also, presumably there will be no bar to it. As a matter of fact, to proceed against Begum Abdullah would itself be a great blow to Sheikh Abdullah.”

On being asked by then Commonwealth Secretary N.R. Pillai, Nehru sent him a note on April 19, 1958 stating that it is for lawyers to assess the value of this evidence. He further wrote “Prima facie, there appears to be a good ideal of documentary evidence to support the charge of conspiracy. There has been talk about launching this conspiracy case for many months and some public reference has also been made to it. I have long felt that the delay in launching this case was harmful to our interests.”

Nehru goes on to write “Some delay was perhaps inevitable in order to collect the evidence. But because of this delay an impression is now spreading that we have really no case and no substantial evidence. As for Sheikh Abdullah being involved in this case, I am inclined to agree with commonwealth secretary that it would probably be better to leave him out. If, later on, it is considered important to proceed against him also, presumably there will be no bar to it.”

Not only has this, India’s first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to the commonwealth secretary “As a matter of fact, to proceed against Begum Abdullah would itself be a great blow to Sheikh Abdullah.”  The volume has brought the ghost of sheikh’s detention back and reignited the entire issue. Though after this letter, the book affirms that Sheikh was released on January 8, 1958.