Nehru was indecisive on National issues!
Sam Manekshaw, the first Field Marshal in the Indian Army was a colonel who was chosen to accompany V.P. Menon to Kashmir to get the accession from the Maharaja and Mahajan. He was sent by the Air Force. Manekshaw was in the Directorate of Military Operations, and was responsible for current operations all over India,
The Maharaja’s forces were 50 per cent Muslim and 50 per cent Dogra. The Muslim elements had revolted and joined the Pakistani forces. The tribesmen were believed to be about 7 to 9 kilometers from Srinagar. Sardar Patel and V P Menon had been dealing with Mahajan and the Maharaja. The troops were already at the airport, ready to be flown in. Eventually the Maharaja signed the accession papers and VP Menon and Maneckshaw flew back.
On arriving at the cabinet meeting was presided over by Mountbatten. There was Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, and Sardar Baldev Singh, the minister for defence. Menon handed over the Instrument of Accession. Manekshaw what gave the military situation, and told that unless we flew in troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport and Srinagar, we couldn’t fly troops in. Everything was ready at the airport.
As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper.
Patel said, “Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away”.
Nehru said, “Of course, I want Kashmir”. Then Patel said, “Please give your orders”.
And before Nehru could say anything Sardar Patel turned to Maneckshaw and said, “You have got your orders”.
The Army started flying in troops.
The Indo-Pak war of 1947 was a war in which Jammu and Kashmir state had been invaded by tribesmen as well as Pakistani soldiers, all led by army officials. The Indo-Pak war of 1947-48 was unique in modern military history because it is the only war fought by two modern armies belonging to two different countries, which were both commanded by British generals. The Commander-in-chief (C-in-C) of the Indian Army was General Sir Roy Bucher, and his Pakistani counterpart was General Douglas Gracey. All three services in India and Pakistan were commanded by British officers.
But by 1948, Nehru had come around to the conclusion that this was not an immediately feasible proposition. The C-in-C on Indian side, General Bucher, advised Nehru that it was not possible to establish control over the entire territory of Jammu & Kashmir, with the British also supporting Pakistan.
Pakistan suspected the Maharaja wanted to accede to India and tried to pre-empt his decision by forcibly seizing the state.
A cabinet meeting was organized for September 12th to take a final decision. Among those who attended were Prime Minister Nehru, Home Minister Patel, Defence Minister Baldev Singh, Gopalaswamy Iyengar, General Bucher, Lt. Gen. K M Cariappa and Air Marshal Sir Thomas W. Elmhirst C-in-C, IAF.
Gen. Bucher stood up and said, “Gentlemen, you have taken a decision in a difficult matter. I must give you my warning. We are also committed in Kashmir. We cannot say how long it will take so we will end up having two operations on our hands. This is not advisable, so as your C-in-C I ask you not to start the operations.” He further offered his resignation if his advice was not heeded.
There was a silence while a distressed and worried Nehru looked around. Patel replied, “You may resign General Bucher, but the police action will start tomorrow.”
An angry General Bucher stormed out, and coincidentally the next few days saw a rise in the Kashmir operations.
General Sir Roy Bucher and Lady Bucher with Shri C. Rajagopalachari and Commander-in-Chief, General K.M. Cariappa at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The British clearly did not want the whole of Jammu & Kashmir to go to India.
Nehru wanted to refer the Hyderabad issue also to the U.N. Security Council and he had strongly disapproved of Sardar Patel’s decision to send the army into Hyderabad.
The cabinet meeting which occasioned a sharp exchange between Nehru and Patel on the Hyderabad issue took place shortly before the so-called ‘police action’ actually took place in 1948.
On April 30, 1948, Indian Army withdrew fully from Hyderabad. After that, Rizvi and the Razakars began to behave licentiously all over the state. Mountbatten had left and Rajaji was the Governor General. Nehru, Rajaji and Patel were all aware of the dangerous situation prevailing in Hyderabad. Patel believed that the army should be sent to put an end to the Nizam’s wantonness. At about that time, the Nizam had sent an emissary to Pakistan and transferred a large sum of money from his Government account in London to Pakistan. At a cabinet meeting, Patel had described these things and demanded that army be sent to end the terror-regime in Hyderabad. Nehru who usually spoke calmly, peacefully and with international etiquette, spoke losing his composure, “You are a total communalist. I will never accept your recommendation.”
Patel remained unperturbed but left the room with his papers.
The situation in Hyderabad worsened day by day. Rajaji wanted to find a solution to the basic issue and also conciliate between Nehru and Patel. He called V P Menon and talked to him. VP let Rajaji know that the army was being kept battle-ready and could be asked to attack at any time. Rajaji invited Nehru and Patel to come to Rashtrapati Bhavan, next day. The meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan began after Nehru and Patel arrived. Rajaji felt that, a decision should not be delayed any longer. Nehru was concerned about international repercussions.
Rajaji immediately told V P Menon to inform the Commander in-Chief to proceed according to the plan.
VP conveyed the order to General Busher. Nehru sat with his head in his hands. He drank tea and remained silent. Rajaji smiled and said: “If it is cancer, it has to be removed, even if it is painful.”
That is how Nehru dealt under critical circumstances and Patel saved the situation.
Chand K Sharma