Jagmohan's letter to Rajiv Gandhi on Kashmir: Potatoes one day, the Pope the next

This is the first of three part series based on a ‘Letter to Mr Rajiv Gandhi’, (former Prime Minister) written by Jagmohan, twice Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, on April 20, 1990.

Published: 17th August 2019 10:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th August 2019 12:03 PM   |  A+A-

Former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Jagmohan and Ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. (Photo| EPS/PTI)

By Express News Service

This is the first of three-part series based on a ‘Letter to Mr Rajiv Gandhi’, (former Prime Minister) written by Jagmohan, twice Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, on April 20, 1990. The letter, in retrospect, seems to have accurately predicted the Kashmir situation of now while warning against complacency, which, the author says, was ‘wholly ignored’ by the Congress government of the day. Excerpts..

Dear Shri Rajiv Gandhi

You have virtually forced me to write this open letter to you. For, all along I have persistently tried to keep myself away from party politics and to use whatever little talent and energy I might have to do some creative and constructive work, as was done recently in regard to the management and improvement of Mata Vaishno Devi shrine complex and to help in bringing about a sort of cultural renaissance without which our fast decaying institutions cannot be nursed back to health. At the moment, the nobler purposes of these institutions, be they in the sphere of executive, legislature or judiciary etc. have been sapped and the soul of justice and truth sucked out of them by the politics of expediency.

You and your friends like Dr. Farooq Abdullah are, however, bent upon painting a false picture before the nation with regard to Kashmir. Your senior party men like Shiv Shankar and N.K.P. Salve have, apparently at your behest, been using the forum of Parliament for building an atmosphere of prejudice against me. The former raked up a fourteen-year old incident of Turkman Gate and the latter a press interview, an interview that I never gave, to hurl a barrage of accusations of communalism against my person. 

PART 2 of  Jagmohan's letter: ‘Congress displayed total mental surrender’

Mani Shankar Iyer, too, has been dipping his poisonous darts in the columns of some magazines. I, however, chose to suffer in silence all the slings and arrows of this outrageous armoury of disinformation. Only rarely did I try to correct gross distortions by sending letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines. My intention was to remain content with a book, an academic and historic venture which, I believed, I owed to the nation and to history.

But the other day some friends showed to me press clippings of your comments in the election meetings in Rajasthan. That, I thought, was the limit. I realised that unless I checked your intentional distortions, you would spread false impression about me throughout the country during the course of your election campaign.

Need I remind you that from the beginning of 1988, I had started sending “Warning Signals” to you about the gathering storm in Kashmir? But you and the power wielders around you had neither the time, nor the inclination, nor the vision, to see these signals. They were so clear, so pointed, that to ignore them was to commit sins of true historical proportions.

To recapitulate and to serve as illustrations, I would refer to a few of these signals. In August 1988, after analysing the current and undercurrents, I had summed up the position thus: “The drum-beaters of parochialism and fundamentalism are working overtime. Subversion is on the increase. The shadows of events from across the border are lengthening. Lethal weapons have come in. More may be on the way”. 

PART 3 of  Jagmohan's letter: 'Article 370 skins the poor, helps parasites

In April 1989 I had desperately pleaded for immediate action. I said: “The situation is fast deteriorating. It has almost reached a point of no return. For the last five days there has been large-scale violence, arson, firing, hartals, casualties and what not. Things have truly fallen apart. Talking of the Irish crisis, British Prime Minister Disraeli had said: “It is potatoes one day and Pope the next.” Similar is the present position in Kashmir. Yesterday, it was Maqbool Butt; today it is Satanic Verses; Tomorrow it will be repression day and the day after it will be something else. The Chief Minister stands isolated. He has already fallen-politically as well as administratively; perhaps, only constitutional rites remain to be performed. His clutches are too soiled and rickety to support him. Personal aberrations have also eroded his public standing. The situation calls for effective intervention. Today may be timely, tomorrow may be too late”.


Again, in May, I expressed my growing anxiety: ‘What is still more worrying is that every victory of subversionists is swelling their ranks, and the animosity is being diverted against the central authorities.” But you chose not to do anything. Your inaction was mystifying. Equally mystifying was your reaction to my appointment for the second term. How could I suddenly become communal, anti-Muslim and what not?

When I resigned in July 1989 there was no rancour. You wanted me to fight as your party candidate for the South Delhi Lok Sabha seat. Since I had general revulsion for the type of politics which our country had, by and large, come to breed, I declined the offer. If you had any serious reservation about my accepting the offer of J&K Governorship for the second term, you could have adopted the straightforward course and apprised me of your views. I would have thought twice before going into a situation which had virtually reached a point of no return. There would have been no need for you to resort to false accusations.

May be you do not consider truth and consistency as virtues. May be you believe that the words inscribed on our national emblem — SatyamevaJayate — are mere words without meaning and significance for motivating the nation to proceed in the right direction and build a true and just India by true and just means.  Perhaps power is all that matters to you — power by whichever means and at whatever cost.

(To be continued)

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