Jammu & Kashmir: From a State with autonomy to two Union Territories

Idea of dividing Kashmir has a chequered history

Sheikh Abdullah, Jawaharlal Nehru and others at the open session of the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference in Srinagar on September 24, 1949.

Sheikh Abdullah, Jawaharlal Nehru and others at the open session of the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference in Srinagar on September 24, 1949.   | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

It goes back to the Dixon Plan of 1950, which was not accepted by India

The idea of dividing Jammu and Kashmir into two or more parts has a chequered history, tracing its origin to the Dixon Plan of 1950.

Owen Dixon, an Australian jurist chosen by the United Nations to mediate between India and Pakistan on the J&K issue, in his report of September 1950, suggested a package, which did not find acceptance from India.

According to columnist A.G. Noorani in his article in Frontline of October 2002, the Plan had assigned Ladakh to India and northern areas and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir to Pakistan, besides splitting Jammu between the two. It had proposed a plebiscite in the Kashmir valley.

A year later, B.R. Ambedkar, after quitting as Law Minister from the Jawaharlal Nehru Ministry, had suggested the formation of three zones: the area held by Pakistan, the Valley and Jammu-Ladakh. He had also favoured a plebiscite only in the Valley. In September 1952, when the demand for separating Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir was made in certain quarters, Sheikh Abdullah, who was then Premier of the State, had opposed it.

Karan Singh, now a senior leader of the Congress and then J&K Governor, in an interview to a foreign newspaper in August 1966, had mooted the idea of separating Jammu from Kashmir and merging it with Himachal Pradesh, which was then a Union Territory. Dr. Singh later said he “disliked” the observation.

The then Home Minister G. L. Nanda told the Rajya Sabha then that the government had “no intention” of separating Jammu from Kashmir.

In 1983, former President R.Venkataraman, who was Defence Minister in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet, floated the concept of trifurcating J&K – Ladakh as a Union Territory; Jammu as a State and the Valley as a “separate entity.” He had recorded this suggestion in his book, My Presidential Years (1994).

In August 1996, veteran leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Indrajit Gupta, as Home Minister in the United Front government, was reported to have told BBC that he was in favour of trifurcation of J&K — the Valley, Jammu and Ladakh. When this sparked a row, Gupta clarified that he had been misunderstood.

A few years later, when a report of the State Autonomy Committee, formed by the J&K government, had triggered a nationwide debate, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had renewed the idea of trifurcation. In October 2000, after attending an official meeting in Srinagar, the then Home Minister in the Vajpayee Ministry at the Centre, L.K. Advani rejected the RSS demand.

With Parliament adopting a Bill to make Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories with carving out Ladakh from the rest on Tuesday, the proposal of dividing the State has fructified.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 3:15:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/idea-of-dividing-kashmir-has-a-chequered-history/article28839008.ece

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