All you wanted to know about Jammu and Kashmir Accession to India

The State of J&K had an area of 2,22,236 sq. kms in 1947. Of this only 46% is in India’s possession today, the balance is under forceful occupation of Pakistan and China–see table 1 below.


Area ruled by Shriman Indar Mahander Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singh Ji Jammu and Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibet adi Deshadhipathi Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir (King’s title 1).




Sq Kms*

% of 4

% of 8

  1. Kashmir Valley




  1. Jammu Region




  1. Ladakh Region




  • State of Jammu and Kashmir




  1. Pakistan Occupied J&K (Mirzapur, Muzzfarabad  13,297sqkms, Gilgit Baltistan 64,817sqkms)  




  1. Ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963.




  1. Forceful occupation by China




  • Area covered by Instrument of Accession




*Source -


Prior to partition in 1947, British rule over India comprised two separate geographical regions. One comprised of various provinces administered by the Viceroy of India (constituted more than 60% of the land area of the Country referred to as British India). The other comprised provinces ruled by Maharajas, Princes, Nawabs etc. There were 562 Princely states of which 327 were petty states. All of these were collectively designated as "Indian States”. For these States the British looked after the areas of defence, foreign policy and communications whilst they were allowed governance in internal matters such as law and order, civil liberties, health, education and economic development. The State of J&K was one of them.  


On 20/2/1947, His Majesty's Government announced that British India would become independent. Facing the state’s rulers on 11/7/1947 Mountbatten said, ‘The Indian Independence Act releases the States on 15th August from all their obligations to the Crown. The States have complete freedom-technically and legally they are independent’. 4 pg 411 At a meeting held on 25/7/1947 Mountbatten advised the princes that they should accede to one of the two dominions, keeping in mind the ‘geographical contiguity of their States’, while surrendering power over three specified subjects, without any financial liability. 


By 14/8/1947, most states signed the IOA.


On 12/8/1947 the Maharaja proposed a Standstill Agreement with India/Pakistan on matters pending (existing arrangements to continue) his final decision regarding the future of the State. Pakistan accepted whilst India asked the Maharaja to send its representative for discussions. The Pakistan Government started putting pressure on the Maharaja on join Pakistan. It also started an economic blockade from Pakistan.


Whilst Government was pleading special reasons for inability to supply Kashmir with essential commodities, ‘Dawn, the Muslim League’s official organ, wrote on August 24, 1947, “The time has come to tell the Maharaja of Kashmir that he must make his choice and choose Pakistan”. Should Kashmir fail to join Pakistan, “the gravest possible trouble would inevitably ensure.”1 pg70 Pakistan had made its intent clear.


Q. Can Maharaja Hari Singh be accused of procrastinating on whether to join India or Pakistan?

A. The Maharaja is criticized for delay in taking a decision on accession but ‘few have cared to ponder on the implication of the very first advice given by Mountbatten to the Maharaja not to join any Constituent Assembly until Pakistan set up her own’. 7 pg 65


Hari Singh’s words at the London Round Table Conference of 1931 give an idea of where his affinities lied. ‘As Indians and loyal to the land where we derive our birth and infant nature, we stand as solidly as the rest of our countrymen for your land; enjoyment of a position of honor and equality in the British Commonwealth of nations’. 9 He also proclaimed in front of the British crown, “I am an Indian first and then a Maharaja”. Such statements did not endear him to the British.


According to this book, twice in September 1947 the Maharaja offered accession to India on the conditions that his reservations with respect to Sheikh Abdullah be respected. On both occasions Nehru insisted that Abdullah be released to head a popular government. As Hari Singh did not accept Abdullah the initiative proved abortive. 8 pg 91


Q. Why did Nehru dislike the Maharaja?

A. Briefly KS Bajwa wrote, ‘Abdullah launched the ‘Quit Kashmir Movement’ against Dogra rule. He was tried for treason and jailed for nine years on 20/5/1946. As a lawyer Nehru wanted to represent Abdullah but was stopped as he crossed into the state at Kohala. Nehru never forgave Maharaja Hari Singh for this action. On account of Nehru’s friendship with Abdullah the Maharaja did not trust Nehru’. 8 pg 90


Next in October 1947, Jinnah’s personal envoy, Maj Shah, came to meet PM of J&K M C Mahajan to negotiate accession. Mahajan asked for blockade to be lifted but Jinnah refused pending settlement of accession issue. Failing in his efforts Shah warned of dire consequences. At that point, the Maharaja seemed tentative on accession to India. Guruji Golwalkar, Sarsanghchalak of the RSS, met the Maharaja on October 17, 1947 and later apprised Sardar Patel of his favorable attitude.


Meanwhile some 5,000 Pathan tribesmen invaded the State, on the night of 21/22 October; looting, killing and raping along the way. The Maharaja wanted the Indian Army to drive out the invaders for which he needed to sign the IOA. This he did on 26/10/1947 which was accepted the very next day by India’s Governor General, Mountbatten. Subsequent to Accession, Lord Mountbatten wrote a personal letter to the Maharaja ‘it is my Government’s wish that, as soon as law and order is restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people’. However, Pakistan refused to recognize this accession.


Critics argue that this stipulation made the Accession conditional. ‘Justice A.S. Anand believes that this statement does not and cannot affect the legality of the accession which was sealed by India’s official acceptance. This statement is not a part of the IOA. Mr M.C. Mahajan, the former Chief Justice of India observed thus: The Indian Independence Act did not envisage conditional accession. The Dominion’s Governor-General had the power to accept the accession or reject the offer but had no power to keep the question open or attach conditions to it’.1 pg 76


In the early hours of 27/10/1947 began an operation that had never occurred in the history of warfare before. On 7th November Indian troops won the battle of Shaltang, thereby removing all threats to Srinagar. Three days later, Baramulla was recaptured. The process of retreat by the enemy on all fronts began.


The Maharaja issued an Order on 30/10/1947 appointing Sheikh Abdullah as the Head of the Emergency Administration. In November 1947 the Government advised the Maharaja to appoint Abdullah as Prime Minister on the basis of model adopted in Mysore. The Conference leaders rejected the model and wanted power to be transferred to them without any reservations.


On 2/12/1947, Nehru wrote to Maharaja Hari Singh asking Sheikh Abdullah to be appointed as the Prime Minister of J&K and who should be asked to form the government. With this letter, Nehru took over the shaping of India’s Kashmir policy so far played by Patel as Minister of States. On 5/3/1948 the Maharaja appointed an Interim Government with the Sheikh as Prime Minister.  


Indian Army soon realized that the only way to completely remove the raiders was by attacking their bases and sources of supply in Pakistan. On 22/12/1947, India warned Pakistan that unless Pakistan denied her assistance and bases to the invaders, India would be compelled to take such action.


At that critical stage, Lord Mountbatten urged PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, about “the overwhelming need for caution and restraint”. He stressed, “How embroilment in war with Pakistan would undermine the whole of Nehru’s independent foreign policy and progressive social aspirations.” 1pg 81 On Mountbatten’s advice, Nehru decided to lodge a complaint to the United Nations Security Council. That was done on 1/1/1948. 


On 5/1/1949 the U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan proposed a resolution whereby the future of J&K would be determined by a democratic method of a plebiscite conducted by India under the UN’s auspices but after Pakistan withdrew its troops from the State and disbanding of Azad Kashmir forces. India declared a ceasefire on 1/1/1949, occupied areas were not recovered.


Q. Why has India not held a plebiscite in J&K?

A. U.N. resolution provides that Pakistan was to withdraw its troops from the State (Mirpur, Muzzafarabad, Gilgit and Baltistan (POJK). Since Pakistan has not withdrawn its troops, India could not conduct a plebiscite. Note that the U.N. did not contest the accession of the princely state of J&K to India.


Also Lt Gen N S Malik wrote, ‘Similarly the so called “Two Nation Theory”, under whose umbrella Pakistan was formed, applied only to British ruled India and not the princely states, and hence a state being Muslim majority did not disqualify it from joining Indian Union. (Note that Kapurthala in Punjab was a Muslim Majority State). In the same context, referendum in J&K is illegal as it was not agreed by Muslim League to hold referendum in princely states but left to their rulers to accede to India or Pakistan, contiguity being a criteria for the same.’ 10

Note that Nehru's promise of plebiscite was made in his All India Radio broadcast of 23/12/1949. However, according to former CJI M C Mahajan the IOA and the Indian Independence Act 1947, of the British Parliament gave no legal or constitutional authority to Nehru or Mountbatten, the then governor general, to make that promise. Justice A S Anand presented a series of arguments to conclude, ‘This position brings one to the conclusion that to hold a plebiscite would be repugnant to the Constitution of India and J&K’. 1 pg 85


By the Simla Agreement of 1972 India and Pakistan decided to settle all differences by peaceful means through bilateral talks, the ceasefire line in J&K would become the line of control.


Externally, India has not used law, international institutions and inherent strength to make Pakistan vacate POJK and failed to shut out Pakistan’s evil eye on J&K. Internally, the Government has failed to do plain speaking with separatist leaders and politicians of the Valley. Consistency in approach and firm attitude are missing. 


Q. Did the British provide tacit support to Pakistan in POJK and Gilgit/Baltisthan?

A. In order to secure their strategic interests post Second World War, Britain initially, wanted that J&K to go to Pakistan. But, Maharaja Hari Singh thwarted their intent by signing the IOA. Since then the British tried to create doubts over J&K’s Accession. Brig Cheema wrote in Indian Defence Review (31/5/14), Apropos the tribal invasion by Qabalis (tribals) in October 1947, Pakistan was quick to prop up an ‘Azad Kashmir’ government in Muzzafarabad on 25 October, i.e. even before the Indians had militarily intervened in Kashmir (27 October). Around the same time, the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region of North Kashmir had also been taken over through a clinical coup engineered by English officers favoring Pakistan’.


Q. But why was J&K important to Pakistan?

A. Lt Gen N S Malik wrote, ‘J&K forms the head of the Indian sub continent, and has been the traditional trade route of Central and South Asia to the East and Tibet, generally called the ‘Silk Route’. It is bounded by more countries than any other state of India; in the North East with Tibet, and further North with Xinjiang province of China, in the North West with the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan, in the West with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and further South with Punjab of Pakistan. This geographic layout is strategically so important that no power of the world wants to remain away from the area, as it gives them access to the sensitive areas of the neighbouring countries’.10


Q. What is the importance of Aksai Chin (part of undivided J&K) to China?

A. The Sinkiang and Tibet plateaus constituted a wedge into the Himalayas and were considered by China to be a bulwark against communist influence in Asia. They wanted to grab those areas that allowed it to establish roads between Sinkiang and Tibet. With the undetermined border between Soviet Turkestan and Sinkiang a source of friction and the tension with Russia, China needed an effective line of communication with Sinkiang through Akshai Chin.


Lt Gen N S Malik wrote, ‘China is spending huge sums to build infrastructure through highways connecting Tibet to Xinjiang through the Chinese occupied Akshai Chin plateau, and Xinjiang to Pakistan via the Karakorum highway through the Kunzreb pass. This highway then connects Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, giving warm water port and access to the Indian Ocean to China. Its importance can be visualized in that China trade can avoid the bottleneck of Malacca straits as also cuts down turn round to the interior provinces of China.’10 See map.

Map Courtesy is University of Texas

Q. Can the Accession of J&K to India be reversed?

A. No. Clause 5 of the IOA reads, ‘The terms of this instrument of accession shall not be varied by any amendment of the Act or of the Indian Amendment Act, 1947 unless such amendment is accepted by me by an Instrument supplementary to this Instrument’.  Further Section 3 of the State Constitution that came into effect from 26/1/1957 says, ‘The State of J&K is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India’. Section 147 of State Constitution says that this Section is not amenable.


The above is chapter one from an E book first published by


To read the full E book and get details of references above


Col Ajay Raina provides a different reasoning to justify accession of J&K to India 

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