I was reading the eye witness account of Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw of the 1947-48 war with Pakistan (and their surrogates, the tribesmen). Field Marshall Maneckshaw had accompanied VK Menon to get the military assessment on the ground.
He writes about how he saw the Maharaja jumping around all over the place and signing the Accession and what role the different players of Indian establishment played in that war. Nehru’s indecisive nonsensical nature comes out very clearly. And, for that I will leave it up to Field Marshall Maneckshaw to describe the Cabinet meeting where the decision to fight back the Pakistani forces was “taken” (yes, “taken” is the operative word here).
At the morning meeting he handed over the (Accession) thing. Mountbatten turned around and said, “Come on Manekji (He called me Manekji instead of Manekshaw), what is the military situation?” I gave him the military situation, and told him that unless we flew in troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport and Srinagar, we couldn’t fly troops in. Everything was ready at the airport.
As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God Almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said, “Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away? He (Nehru) said, Of course, I want Kashmir (emphasis in original). Then he (Patel) said, Please give your orders.” And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said, “You have got your orders.” I walked out, and we started flying in troops at about 11 o’clock or 12 o’clock. I think it was the Sikh Regiment under Ranjit Rai that was the first lot to be flown in. And then we continued flying troops in. That is all I know about what happened. Then all the fighting took place. I became a Brigadier, and became Director of Military Operations and also if you will see the first signal to be signed ordering the cease-fire on 01 January (1949) had been signed by Colonel Manekshaw on behalf of C-in-C India, General Sir Roy Bucher. That must be lying in the Military Operations Directorate.
So Kashmir’s accession to India would have never happened and India would have been ravaged by the Pakistani terrorists and forces, had Sardar Patel not stepped up and pushed the decision to enter Srinagar while Nehru dithered.
It is sad that Nehru could orchestrate the shenanigans with Sheikh Abdullah later on. Please read the series on “Definitive history of Kashmir” for more details.