Jawaharlal Nehru,Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, Lord Mountbatten & Raja Hari Singh

However, New Delhi’s extension of several laws to Kashmir without the state assembly’s support has led to the increased alienation felt by Kashmiris. At the time of accession to India, Kashmir had given the centre only three subjects—defence, foreign affairs and communications—nothing more. All other subjects would be in the state’s domain

Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar firmly believed that Kashmir's up and down history meant that only intense dialogue could throw up the right solutions

I do not claim to know Sheikh Sahib (Sheikh Abdullah) better than his son. But I can vouch for the Sheikh’s opposition to violence. He was conscious of the fact that the state had more guns than an individual or a political party could muster and it would be foolhardy to confront the government with weapons.

I feel sometimes that Farooq Abdullah has not yet fully understood the nub of the Kashmir problem. It is Kashmiriat, a secular approach against the communal one. The Sheikh supported Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India in October 1947, because of the country’s secular credentials. The Kashmiriat, the Sheikh would often say, was akin to Sufism, pluralistic in concept and content. When he preferred India he did so because he saw it following a system which was secular and democratic. For that reason, he rejected Pakistan, a theocratic state.

Before India was partitioned, he sent his close associate, Sadiq Sahib, who subsequently became the state chief minister, to Islamabad to get the feel of Pakistan. On returning, Sadiq reported to the Sheikh that Pakistan wanted to be an Islamic state. The Sheikh straightaway made up his mind and refused to accept any proposal which did not meet with his ethos of secularism. In 1932, Sheikh Abdullah along with Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, had founded the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, which was renamed the National Conference in 1939, in order to represent all the people of the state. The National Conference supported the accession of Kashmir to India. But in 1941, Ghulam Abbas broke away from the party and revived the old Muslim Conference, which supported the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan, and led the movement for Azad Kashmir.

That Sheikh Abdullah was confined to Kodaikanal in the south for twelve years is a story of misunderstanding. On 8 August 1953, Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed as the prime minister of Kashmir by the then Sadr-i-Riyasat (Constitutional Head of State) Dr Karan Singh, son of the erstwhile Maharaja Hari Singh, on the grounds that he had lost the support of the cabinet. He was not given a chance to prove his majority. Instead, he, along with Mirza Afzal Beg and twenty-two others, were accused of conspiracy against the state for allegedly espousing the cause of an independent Kashmir and were arrested soon after for anti-national activities. The ‘Kashmir conspiracy case’ was framed in 1958 and the trial began in 1959.

After two months’ internment in Ooty, Sheikh Abdullah was taken to the Kohinoor bungalow, a few miles outside Kodaikanal, and remained under house arrest for more than a decade.

Even Sheikh Abdullah’s personal friend, Jawaharlal Nehru, came to doubt him. The Sheikh’s stand was that at the time of accession to India, Kashmir had given the centre only three subjects—defence, foreign affairs and communications—nothing more. All other subjects would be in the state’s domain. Under the rules framed in 1947, in a federation like India the centre has sway over the subjects transferred by the states. It cannot unilaterally extend its authority to other subjects.

But in Kashmir, the central government wanted to usurp all the powers. This is what New Delhi has done and this has led to the Valley’s alienation and hostility. Bodies like the Jan Sangh, the earlier incarnation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and leaders like the late Shyama Prasad Mukerji, who died in a Jammu jail, used to insist that Kashmir must accede to India fully and become like any other state without any special status.