The debate is historical
Accession—pre or post landing [the landing started at 9 A.M on October, the 27th 1947] might constitute an academic debate, some however are apt to view it as an event with attendant implications. Mehr Chand Mahajan—Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir State on the afternoon of 26th October, 1947 refused to leave Delhi until his aerodrome officer in Srinagar reported landing of Indian troops. On this Pundit Nehru is related to have said “You can fly to Jammu tomorrow morning” [Mahajan’s ‘Looking back’ published in London in 1963, on page 151-53]. Mahajan’s reference is noted by Allister Lamb in his treatise [Birth of a Tragedy—Roxford Publications, 1994, page: 92].

Nehru conveyed to Mahajan Defence Committees’ decision to provide assistance, a decision vetted by his cabinet. He asked him to leave for Jammu with Menon and obtain Maharaja’s signature on what Mahajan calls ‘certain supplementary documents about the accession’. This is to suggest that accession had been settled on 25th October, two days before landing of Indian troops, only some supplementary documents remained to be sorted out. Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw [colonel in 1947] accompanying V.P. Menon to Srinagar supports 25th contention. Owen Bennet Jones quotes Prem Shankar Jha’s account in his book [Pakistan-Eye of a Storm-Yale University press 2002/Penguin books 2005-page: 69] the quote relates to what V.P.Menon told Sam Manekshaw on his parleys in Srinagar, “Sam we have got it”. Sam Manekshaw took it to mean that accession is a done deal, however Menon mentions 26th as the date of accession in his memoirs. There are other documented evidences in Kashmir related chronicles by reputed authors that imply neither 25th nor 26th was the date of accession. It was a post landing event, the evidences provided by various chroniclers are detailed below:
(a) Nehru’s own correspondence–wrote to Maharaja in a letter dated 27th October, VP Menon ‘returned from Jammu this evening and informed of the talks there. He gave me Instrument of Accession and Standstill Agreement which you have signed and I also saw your letter to Governor General of India [Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol.4, 2nd edition, ed S. Gopal, New Delhi, 1986, page:278]…quoted by [Victoria Schofield-Kashmir in the Crossfire-page:149 and Glossary/Notes 313]
(b) Menon was informed at Delhi airport on 26th October [at 3.45 P.M] that it was a late for take off to an airport [Jammu] with no night landing facilities [3.45 in the afternoon might be considered early, we are however assessing it 66 years ahead with vastly improver air traffic facilities; late October-the sunset is rather early in northern India]
(c) Menon’s recorded meeting with Alexander Symon’s of UK High Commission–Symon’s diary graphically records the event [related by Victoria Schofield-Kashmir in the Crossfire-page: 149] at 3.30 P.M, records Symon, he was told at Wellington aerodrome that aeroplane was leaving from Palam, where he found Menon [with whom he was trying to establish contact in view of the importance of it] on the point of returning to Delhi [too late to leave] the two arranged to meet at 5 P.M–they did meet, with Menon informing him of his plans of leaving for Jammu next morning. On Symon’s query of aid [to Maharajas forces] being considered, Menon said nothing definite except Government of India were determined “at all costs” to prevent raiders from spreading East and South. Lapierre and Collins in their [Freedom at Midnight-page: 356] relate it differently-as Menon and Symon’s sat down to drink ‘an enormous smile spread across Menon’s face. Then he pulled a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and waived it gaily towards the Englishman, “Here it is” he said “We have Kashmir. The bastard signed the Act of Accession and now that we’ve got it, we’ll never let it go” This, relates Victoria Schofield [page: 149] tells a different story from Symon’s diary of events of 26 October, as reported in ‘top secret’ letter to Sir Archibald Carter at the Commonwealth Relations Office in London. In his covering letter to Carter, dictated at 4 P.M on 27th October, Symons says that he telephoned to V.P.Menon’s office, a few moments ago but was told he had not yet returned from Jammu [Alexander Symon’s to Sir Archibald Carter ‘Kashmir Internal situation’ (L/P&S/13, OIOC)-a classified document]…quoted by Victoria Schofield [Kashmir in the Crossfire-page: 149 and Glossary/Notes 313].
(d) Mountbatten’s meeting with Ian Stephen’s of Calcutta’s ‘The Statesman’ newspaper, on evening of 26th where Mountbatten informed him ‘Maharaja’s formal accession to India was being finalized’ [Lamb: Kashmir 1947—Birth of a Tragedy page 96/97 quoting Ian Stephen’s ‘Pakistan’ 1963-page: 203] Lamb takes it to mean that by evening of 26th accession was an incomplete process
(e) London Times report [28th October 1947] Mr. Mehr Chand Mahajan, the Prime Minister of Kashmir and Mr. VP Menon, the Secretary of States Department, left for Jammu, the capital, where the Kashmir court is now in residence, to obtain, it is learnt, formal confirmation of accession by the Maharaja [Lamb: page 97]. The 28th October report implies 27th being the date of their take-off.
Whatever the date 25th 26th or 27th pre or post landing, the ground fact remains that 66 years hence, Indian troops are entrenched in Kashmir—the saga however is unending, with scores disputing the done deal claim!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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