Major General Mrinal Suman, AVSM, VSM, PhD
The definition of history continues to defy universal acceptance. Whereas some consider history to be an 'unproved or false collective belief', Elbert Hubbard calls it 'gossip well told'.
Voltaire refers to historians as 'gossips who tease the dead'. "Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice," aver Will and Ariel Durant. Mark Twain goes to the extent of declaring, "The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice".
When gossip, guesswork and prejudice combine together in a historical setting and backdrop, myths are born. Though bereft of any truth, these myths are intentionally perpetuated as facts by distorting true history to justify certain events and actions. When repeated continually, myths get accepted as historical realities. Three common myths of modern Indian history are discussed below to correct common misconceptions.
Myth 1: Grant of Special Status and Offer of Plebiscite to Kashmir were Historical Compulsions
Despite having signed the Standstill Agreement, Pakistan invaded the state of Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October 1947, catching both the vacillating Maharaja and the Government of India off guard. The attackers made rapid progress and were soon on the outskirts of Srinagar. The state witnessed destruction of life and property of unprecedented proportions.
In Sheikh Abdullah's words - "The invaders who came in the name of Pakistan to make us believe that they were true servants of Islam, scorched our land, ruined our homes, despoiled the honours of our women and devastated hundreds of our villages. These lovers of Pakistan dishonoured our mosques which they turned into brothels to satisfy their animal lust with abducted women".
Unable to stop the ruthless marauders, the Maharaja beseeched Indian help by highlighting his own inability to defend his state and said, "It has become difficult to stop the wanton destruction of life and property and looting. The number of women who have been kidnapped and raped makes my heart bleed. The wild forces thus let loose on the State are marching on with the aim of capturing Srinagar, the summer capital of my Government, as a first step to over running the whole State."
He offered to sign an Instrument of Accession to India vide his letter dated 26 October 1947 and sought its military assistance. Sensing gravity of the situation, the Government of India accepted the Instrument of Accession the very next day (27 October 2010) and commenced military assistance soon thereafter.
Image: File Photo of Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh
Also see: 7 blunders that will always haunt India