Statement of Sheikh Mohammad
before the Sessions Court, Srinagar.
Legal Document No
I am not interested in a personal defence, and I would not have undertaken
it if I had not felt that my trial for 'sedition' is something far more
than a personal charge against me. It is, in effect, a trial of entire
population of Jammu and Kashmir, even though some of them, being content
with their transient personal interests or out of fear, may not be prepared
to recognise or openly declare this.
Oppressed by the extreme poverty and lack of freedom and opportunity
of the people of Jammu and Kashmir State, I and my colleagues of the Jammu
and Kashmir National Conference, many of whom are behind prison bars or
in exile today, have humbly sought to serve them during the past sixteen
years. We have endeavored to give faithful expression to the growing consciousness
among the people of their imprescriptable rights, aspirations and desire
for freedom. This has attracted the penal and preventive provisions of
law. Where law is not based on the will of the people, it can lend itself
to the suppression of their aspirations. Such law has no more validity
even though it may be enforced for a while. There is a law higher than
that, the law that represents the people's will and secures their well-being,
and their is the tribunal of human conscience, which judges the rulers
and the ruled alike by standards which do not change by the arbitrary will
of the most powerful. To that law I gladly submit and that tribunal I shall
face with confidence and without fear, leaving it to history and posterity
to pronounce their verdict on the claims I and my colleagues have made
not merely on behalf of the four million people of Jammu and Kashmir but
also of the ninety-tl1ree million people of all the States of India. That
claim has not been conned to the people of a particular race, or religion
or colour. It applies to all, for I hold that humanity as a whole is Divisible
by such barriers and human rights must always prevail. The fundamental
rights of all men and women to live and act as free beings, to make laws
and fashion their political, social and economic fabric, so that they may
advance the cause of human freedom and progress, are inherent and cam1ot
be denied though they may be suppressed for a while. I hold that sovereignty
resides in the people, all relationships political, social and economic,
derive authority from the collective will of the people..
It was clear that the old treaties with the States had to go. They represented
something that had no relation to the modern world or to the India of today.
They could not be reconciled with the inevitable changes in India and in
the Sates. If this was clear to begin with, it become an accepted fact
by the statement issued by Cabinet Delegation of 16th May last. That statement
declared that paramountcy would end when the new constitution of free India
came into being. It was an inevitable consequence that the old treaties
and sanads and other engagements would go the way of paramountcy and the
British Government being out of the picture, a new relationship would have
to be negotiated between what is now known as British India and the States.
The demand for the abrogation of the Amritsar Treaty was, in effect, disposed
of by this clear decision. The future constitutional set-up-in the State
of Jammu and Kashmir cannot derive authority from the old source of relationship,
which was expiring and was bound to end soon. That set-up could only rest
on the active will of the people of the State, conferring on the Head of
the State the title and authority drawn from the true and abiding source
of sovereignty, that is the people. The "Quit Kashmir" cry symbolised and
gave concrete shape to this demand for the termination of a system of Government:
which was in process of dissolution all over India. The cry had nothing
personal about it....
Some allegations have been made that "Quit Kashmir" and the demand for
the abrogation of the Treaty of Amritsar had communal or communist inspiration.
This is a travesty of fact and I deny and repudiate these allegations.
The National Conference is essentially a national organisation including
in its fold all people who agree with its objective, and co-operating with
the All-India States People's Conference, with which it is affiliated.
It stands in the All-India context for the independence and freedom of
India. It stands also for social and economic changes to end privilege
and to raise the masses.