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“Nehru taking Kashmir issue to international forum a ‘monumental blunder’”

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Srinagar: Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday targeted Jawaharlal Nehru over Kashmir, saying the decision of the country’s first prime minister to take the issue to a multilateral forum was a “monumental blunder”.

“Why was the (Kashmir) issue taken to international or multinational fora. My information has been that then Maharaja Hari Singh was happy to sign the instrument of accession. That’s what I have read as a student of history.

“But the political leadership in Delhi was saying they wanted it (accession) to be more broad-based and therefore they wanted a plebiscite. So they wanted to take it to a multilateral forum. You cannot have a higher folly than that. I am using word folly very mildly,” Puri told reporters here.

The Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas was responding when asked if he agreed with the views of his cabinet colleague Kiren Rijiju on Nehru’s handling of Kashmir that the Union law minister had expressed in an article.

“Was it an error of judgment? You can say the man made a mistake but you cannot justify it. The historical facts are staring you in the face that making the reference (to a multinational forum) and calling for a plebiscite is not a folly, I think it is a monumental blunder. So I agree with my dear friend and colleague Kiren Rijiju entirely,” Puri said.

The minister said it was because of the mistake made by Nehru that Pakistan was able to foment trouble in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Because you made that mistake, other people took advantage of it. One country has been using terror as an instrument of state policy. I have said it 20 years ago. On ‘BBC Hard Talk’, I said this is a problem created from across the border but they could create this problem because someone on our side allowed them to do it,” he said.

The minister said he was pleased that today when he is in Kashmir, “we are talking about development. Some years ago, what we were dealing with was an entire cadre of professional stone-pelters.”

The minister, who is on a two-day visit to J&K, listed some of the development initiatives taken by the government in the Union territory after abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.

Earlier, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju mounted a fresh attack on the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, on the Kashmir issue on Monday, claiming that he moved the United Nations under the wrong Article after Pakistan’s invasion, thereby making it a party to the dispute instead of an aggressor.

Rijiju also said Nehru let the “myth” of a UN-mandated plebiscite perpetuate and created the “divisive” Article 370 of the Constitution.

“Nehru rejected Maharaja Hari Singh’s plea to accede to India not just once but thrice,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Lok Sabha member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Arunachal Pradesh also hit out at Hari Singh’s son Karan Singh, saying he presented a “sanitised history, resorted to poor wordplay, and, that too, in a roundabout way to somehow extricate Nehru” on the then prime minister delaying the accession of Kashmir.

The law minister made these remarks in an opinion piece for the News 18 portal, which he shared on his Twitter handle.

The fresh attack on the Congress stalwart came on his birth anniversary.

“Nehru was aware even in June 1947 that all that Hari Singh wanted was to join the Indian dominion. Nehru stated as much in his note to Mountbatten (the last viceroy of India),” Rijiju wrote.

He said it was time for the citizens of the country to rebuff attempts to falsify history and stand true to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

“The people of this region, along with the rest of India, deserve to know the truth of what actually happened during those tumultuous months and years,” the minister wrote.


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