Jammu & Kashmir

‘May affect foreign relations’: India to prevent declassification of ‘sensitive’ 1947 documents linked to Kashmir, says report

The first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru at joint parade of national militia, peace brigade, rolice and the women defence corps at Polo ground in Srinagar, Kashmir in 1948. [Photo: Wikimedia]

India may impede the declassification of documents from 1947 linked to Kashmir, as it worries that the “sensitive” letters could have an impact on international relations, The Guardian reported quoting internal government documents.

The letters, also known as the Bucher papers, are believed to include political and military justifications for why Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, requested a cease-fire with Pakistan and grant the state of Jammu and Kashmir special status.

With the exception of foreign policy and defence, the territory in the foothills of the Himalayas had a separate constitution, flag, and autonomy for decades.

The Kashmiris considered the actions essential for defending their rights in the Muslim-majority state.

However, in 2019, the government of India abrogated article 370 of the Indian constitution and divided the state into two union territories- JK and Ladakh.

On August 5, Kashmir was locked down with virtually no contact with the outside world, Home Minister of India Amit Shah announced the reading of Article 370.

He also stripped Kashmir of its statehood. The days that followed saw Kashmir seethe with anger. As a continuing mark of protest, all schools, business establishments and trade remained virtually shut across the Valley.

Even normal economical activity became a bone of contention.

The Bucher papers refer to communications between Gen Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, who served as second commander-in-chief of the Indian army between 1948 and 1949, and government officials, including Nehru, the report said.

According to a recent foreign ministry document seen by The Guardian, the papers’ contents should not yet be made public.

According to the statement, “military operational matters in Kashmir and correspondences amongst senior government leaders on sensitive political matters on Kashmir”.

The documents have been stored at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, a separate organisation under India’s ministry of culture, the report said.

The report quoting a source with knowledge of the issue, said that the papers show that Nehru was aware of the military developments in Kashmir, including Pakistan’s attempts to deploy outside military support to intensify the situation.

“Roy Bucher suggested a political approach to solve the escalating situation given military fatigue faced by Indian troops due to 13 months of military deployment, including taking the matter before the United Nations,” the source told The Guardian.

The report said Bucher papers were handed over by India’s external affairs ministry to the Nehru museum and library in New Delhi in 1970, with a note saying they should be kept “classified”.

They have remained in the library’s closed collection since then, the report said quoting the foreign ministry document.

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