Democracy died a sad death in Kashmir in 1953

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

It was in August of 1953 that my grandfather wrote,

“In the early hours of the night of August 9, I and my cabinet were dismissed without a confidence motion of the Assembly by the legally and constitutionally questionable fiat of the Head of the State. I was put under arrest along with another Minister of my cabinet and am now under continued detention nearly for the last three years without trial and without even a charge.

Simultaneously with my arrest thousands of my followers and co-workers, including Deputy Ministers, high ranking Gazetted Officers, respectable businessmen, lawyers, Members of the Assembly and public men of high position in life were clapped into prison. All manner of repressive measures were let loose in order to crush the spontaneous uprising of the people throughout the valley. Indian Central Reserve Police and army as well as the militia, and the special police were given a free license to shoot at sight and commit all other possible atrocities on the defenseless people – thousands were beaten or starved in the jails in order to break them into submission – the number of those killed was officially reported to be 36 although the public version puts it very much higher. No judicial inquiry was held to investigate into these atrocities which include among their victims even pregnant women and children. More than a score of Assembly members was detained without charge and many others kept under house arrest.

It was under these bloodcurdling circumstances that a session of the Assembly was called to record its approval of the coup and a vote of confidence in the new government. From prison I sent telegraphic requests to the President of the Union of India, to its Prime Minister and to the Speaker of the Assembly to allow me to appear before the House and face a motion of no-confidence in a democratic manner but no heed was paid to it. Thus almost with a pistol on the necks of the Assembly Members and with massacre and terrorism all over the Valley, a vote of confidence for the Govt. pitchforked into office with the help of Indian bayonets was secured. No greater fraud on democracy can be conceived! What moral, legal or constitutional value this fraudulent act has need hardly be explained.

Thus India maneuvered to remove those elements from the Kashmir scene which she thought stood in the way of her anti-Kashmiri designs and subsequently sought ratification of accession through the Assembly.

To say the least, it is a fraud upon the people, betrayal of their right of self-determination and gross breach of international commitments and promises.”

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