The Non-Democratic Dispensation of Jammu and Kashmir until 1965

Among the 10 people selected/nominated by Sheikh Abdullah in 1952, there was nobody from Ladakh, neither a Buddhist from Leh nor a Shia from Kargil.
Keywords: Elections, Selection,, Article 370, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Sectarianism, Sheikh Abdullah
Listen to article
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

“Under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, our state has been granted a special position. It can shape its destiny through its own Constituent Assembly. Such a status for Kashmir is a matter of pride for us. This state will serve as a model for the whole of India,” Sheikh Abdullah, Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, said while addressing the Constituent Assembly of the state on March 25, 1952. It is no proverbial slip of the pen, or tongue, that the word Prime Minister appears here. Till 1965, the executive head of J&K government was indeed called PM and the head of the state was called Sadr e Riyasat (President of the State). 

The Sheikh made this speech when he selected 10 MPs, six for the Lok Sabha, and four for the Rajya Sabha, in a matter of hours, in a rather unusual manner. As we just indicated, there were two Prime Ministers at that time (till 1965), one for the country and the other in Jammu and Kashmir. It was only after the 6th Amendment in J&K’s Constitution on March 28, 1965, that these designations were changed to Chief Minister and Governor.  

This peculiar nomenclature had led to the coinage of the slogan “Ek Desh, Ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan, Ek Pradhan’’ by Praja Parishad leaders in Jammu who opposed it. The maintenance and eventual abrogation of Article 370 also led to some very peculiar or odd or extraordinary (call them what you will) things happening in J&K. In the following few paragraphs, those oddities or angularities have been explained in some detail. 

We are in the midst of 2024 Lok Sabha elections, spread over seven phases, with the first phase on April 19 and the last on June 1. The aspirants from diverse parties, owing allegiance to different ideologies, will file nominations and canvass support from door to door. Once the votes have been cast, they will have to wait until the counting day to know the results. The point being made here is that getting elected to the Lok Sabha is no easy task. One has to go through a long and hectic process. It is only after going through the whole rigmarole that a candidate can become MP.

It was not so in Jammu & Kashmir in 1952, in 1957 and then in 1962, when the Lok Sabha elections were held all over India. No Lok Sabha elections in that State were held till 1967. In 1952, just a nod, a wink and a selection from PM Sheikh Abdullah, who had unbridled powers, was enough to make someone an MP of the Lok Sabha, or the Rajya Sabha. It bears mention here that the first Lok Sabha elections in India were conducted over 68 phases.

In a short span of about three hours, from 10 am to 1 pm on March 25, 1952, Sheikh selected 10 people; six became Lok Sabha and four Rajya Sabha MPs. That was it! Such were the absolute powers which Sheikh Abdullah wielded at that time. His speech from the Constituent Assembly debates is quoted verbatim hereunder. 

Sheikh said: “This assembly proposes the names of the following persons for being chosen as representatives of the state of Jammu & Kashmir in the two Houses of the Parliament of India and authorises the Government of Jammu & Kashmir to make a recommendation to the President of the Indian Republic in accordance therewith:

Council of States (read Rajya Sabha)

  1. Sardar Budh Singh 2. Colonel Pir Mohammad Khan 3. Rai Bahadur Pandit Anant Ram 4. Aga Syed Mohammad Shah Jalali

House of the People (read Lok Sabha)

  1. Maulana Mohd Saeed Masoodi 2. Major Lachman Singh Charak 3. Sofi Mohd Akbar 4. Pandit Shiv Narain Fotedar 5. Ch. Mohd Shaffi 6. Khwaja Ghulam Qadir

Sheikh Abdullah said that the “delimitation of the constituencies was a difficult problem and in view of this difficulty, provision was made in the People’s Representation Act that elections for the Indian Parliament will be conducted in a different manner from the one to be observed in other states of India’’. 

No representation to SC, ST or any Ladakhi

Among the 10 people selected/nominated by Sheikh Abdullah in 1952, there was nobody from Ladakh, neither a Buddhist from Leh nor a Shia from Kargil. In this list of selected people, no representation was given to Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes were omitted too. Sheikh Abdullah said these 10 were the best people deserving to represent J&K in both Houses of Parliament. Incidentally, it bears mention that the National Conference (NC) of Sheikh had an absolute majority of 75 on 75 in the Constituent Assembly of J&K.

Mahasha Nahar Singh, a Scheduled Caste member of the Constituent Assembly from Bishnah near Jammu, famous for its fragrant basmati rice, raised a stink about leaving out SCs when he spoke about Sheikh’s selections. He said that even some persons who did not belong to NC had been accommodated in the list of 10 but no SC had been nominated. In his speech, he said: “I regret to say that except Harijans, every other community has been given representation though they have wholeheartedly supported the NC. This is one defect I can see in the resolution.’’

He also said that the SC community had been ignored because it was a backward community. Mahasha Nahar Singh added: “Had this community not aligned itself with the NC, I believe they too would have got separate representation. The whole thing would be flawless if only one Harijan had been included among the 10 people.’’

In his response, Sheikh Abdullah said he did not believe in taking caste considerations into account, nor did he go by the social standing of people he had nominated as MPs. Chiding Mahasha Nahar Singh, Sheikh Abdullah said: “Apart from religious and communal discord, the weakness of Indian society was its sectarianism. We must forget the past and not claim any share because of being Harijans. To say that we are Harijans and should get our share as such behoves slaves only.’’ 

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sant Kumar Sharma

Sant Kumar Sharma is a Jammu based journalist.

View all posts