History of Jammu and Kashmir

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PRINCELY J&K’s ACCESSION TO INDIA

From How & Why to War, the UN Stalemate & Constitutional Democracy

“J&K was the biggest among the 562 princely Indian States that comprised two-fifths of the India under colonial rule for well over a century. Unlike the remaining 60 per cent area constituting the British India Provinces, these States possessed sovereignty in various degrees depending on their individual treaties with His Majesty’s government; broadly speaking, they had a system of personal government while being under the overall suzerainty of the British Crown.

The British Parliament’s Indian Independence Act, 1947 (which received Royal Assent on 18th July that year) created two independent Dominions of India and Pakistan made up of the erstwhile British India Provinces. The Act freed the princely States from the Crown’s paramountcy but denied them dominion status while permitting them to accede to India or to Pakistan.

The terms of accession were determined by the then Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten. Considering their past status, it was agreed that each of these States would sign an Instrument of Accession whereby they would concede the subjects of “defence”, “external affairs” and “communications” to the appropriate Dominion, leaving themselves a fair degree of independence. However, the Viceroy made it clear to these States that there were certain geographical and practical factors which precluded their total independence. The Instrument of Accession document was prepared by the States Department under Sardar Patel and was got approved from the princely rulers by Mountbatten. J&K was, along with Hyderabad, one of the only two princely States that dilly dallied with their decision on accession.

In fairness to Maharaja Hari Singh, it was not easy for him to come to a decision. If he acceded to Pakistan, the non-Muslims of Jammu and Ladakh as well as considerable sections of Muslims led by the National Conference Party would definitely have resented such action. On the other hand, accession to India would have provoked adverse reactions in Gilgit and certain regions contiguous to Pakistan. Further, the road communications were with Pakistan and forest resources that constituted a considerable portion of the State’s revenue were being transported by rivers flowing into Pakistan. Besides, the Maharaja was toying with the notion of an Independent Jammu & Kashmir.

A cascading flow of events forced the hand of the Maharaja.
On 15th October 1947, J&K’s Prime Minister complained to the British Prime Minister that the Pakistan Government had discontinued supplies of essential articles, that the railway service from Sialkot to Jammu had been stopped without reason, and that the whole of the State border from Gurdaspur to Gilgit was threatened with invasion that had already begun in Poonch. No reply was received from the British Prime Minister.
On 18th October 1947, the J&K State sent a protest to Jinnah, Pakistan’s Governor-General, against the continuing raids and the stoppage of essential supplies. Jinnah replied on the 20th October taking offence at the language of the protest and attributing the disruption of supplies to alleged widespread disturbances in East Punjab.
An all-out invasion of J&K started on 22nd October 1947. The main raiders’ column consisted of an estimated five thousand tribesmen including soldiers of the Pakistan Army “on leave” and led by a few regular officers who knew Kashmir well. Garhi and Domel were quickly captured and the gates of Muzaffarabad were reached. On 24th October, Mahura Power House supplying electricity to Srinagar was taken over; the capital of the State was plunged in darkness.

J&K’s day of destiny had finally come. Its Maharaja sought India’s military help and signed the Instrument of Accession on 26th October 1947 to enable that help to be rendered. As Governor-General of the Dominion of India, Lord Mountbatten signed his acceptance of the Instrument deed on the next day.

In the early hours of 27th October 1947 began an operation the like of which had never before occurred in the history of warfare. With the wholehearted co-operation of the civilian air companies, over a hundred civilian aircraft and Royal Indian Air Force planes were mobilized to fly troops, equipment and supplies to Srinagar. Some of the pilots flew did several sorties in the course of the day; the ground crew rose to the occasion.

On 7th November, the 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.

With the Indian Army finding that the only way the raiders could be completely removed from Kashmir was by attacking their bases and sources of supply in Pakistan, India warned Pakistan on 22nd December 1947 that unless Pakistan denied her assistance and bases to the invaders, India would be compelled to take such action.

At that critical stage in J&K’s history, 53 years ago, Lord Mountbatten urged our 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.” And, on Mountbatten’s advice, Nehru decided to lodge a complaint to the United Nations Security Council. That was done on 31st December 31, 1947.

Invoking Article 35 of the UN Charter, India appealed to the Security Council to ask Pakistan to undertake several measures that would end Pakistan’s illegal act of aggression in J&K.

On 13th August 1948 the UN passed a resolution whereby the future of J&K would be determined by a democratic plebiscite under the UN’s auspices but after Pakistan first of all withdrew its troops from the State.

Pakistan has not complied with that condition till date. Accordingly, it holds possession of about one-third of the original J&K that was Maharaja Gulab Singh’s at the end of 1846. And, accordingly, even after millions of words of debate stretching over years, the UN has not resolved the issue even as India has been left sucking the wounds of cross-border terrorism while also being the recipient of hectoring from several sources including Indian journalists who have never opened the pages of history documenting the issue.

The only but major saving grace of the events that occurred in the last 53 years in J&K has been the State’s emergence from hereditary rule to a democratic entity with a Constitution of its own framed by a Constituent Assembly elected in August 1951 on the basis of universal adult franchise, thereby fulfilling an old wish of the State’s people. Section 3 of that J&K Constitution, 1957, is a matter of pride for every genuine Indian. It says that “The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.” What is more, the State’s Constitution prohibits any amendment of that Section 3. So what’s this plebiscite the Pakis and, alas, several Indians, keep talking about?”

What was the American attitude towards Kashmir at the time of Independence?

Refer to article by Narendra Singh Sarila published on the edit page of “The Times of India”, Mumbai edition, dated 14th August 2000.

That article, based on US State Department’s secret archives, establishes the following:

In October 1948, General George Marshall, US Secretary of State, was convinced that J&K’s accession to India was valid and he therefore refused to toe the British Foreign Secretary’s line of recognizing Pakistan’s occupation of J&K’s northern territories including Gilgit.

Dean Rusk, Assistant to General Marshall, upheld the validity of J&K’s accession to another British delegation that visited him in 1948.

It was Britain that played the perfidious role of letting Pakistan continue to occupy J&K’s northern territories as a bulwark against the feared invasion by the Soviet Union, the argument being that Islam is incompatible with Communism.

The change in US policy towards India’s legally rightful claim to the entire J&K State came only after Nehru was persuaded by Mountbatten to agree to a cease-fire and to consider partitioning J&K leaving Gilgit in Pakistan.

Charges against Kashmir Valley Clique!

The charges against the Kashmiri clique are many. Writing in the May 2000 issue of “Voice of Jammu Kashmir” magazine, J.N.Bhat, retired judge of the J&K State High Court, alleged that:

Thousands of plots carved out in the suburbs of Jammu have been allotted to Kashmiris, all the beneficiaries belonging to one particular community.

In some localities of Jammu city, water is supplied after a gap of three to four days, and not even enough of it to quench the thirst of the people. Obviously, funds got for development get misused.

In the Jammu region, Hindu minorities of Doda and Poonch districts have been tortured and many of them have found, according to sources, conversion the only option, though they prefer death to forced conversion.

Another eminent person who has made –serious accusations is Hari Om, Professor of History in Jammu University, and a member of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). In a recent newspaper article, the Professor complains that -

1.Though Kashmiris constitute roughly 22 per cent of the State’s total population, the mechanism cleverly devised by Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference Party in 1951 enables it to capture nearly half of the total Assembly and Lok Sabha seats. The trick lies in 46 Assembly segments having been created in the small Valley as against 41 segments combined in Jammu and Ladakh regions that are far bigger and more populated than the Valley. This mechanism is apparently contrary to the rules framed under the Indian Parliament’s Representation of People’s Act and those under the relevant State Act of 1957.

2.Kashmiris hold over 2,30,000 positions out of a nearly 2,40,000 positions in government and semi-government organizations in the Valley. In addition, they corner nearly 25 per cent of the jobs in the regional services of Jammu and Ladakh.

3.All the professional and technical institutions, universities and all the big public sector industrial units like the HMT, television, telephone and cement factories located in the Valley are the sole preserve of the Kashmiris. Besides, they manipulate for themselves more than 50 per cent of the seats in Jammu’s ill-equipped and under-staffed medical and engineering college, and the Agricultural University in R.S.Pura. No such institution exists in Ladakh.

4. The Kashmiris control trade, commerce, transport and industry, and own big orchards as well as landed estates. None of them is without a house. Likewise, the per capita expenditure on woolen clothes in Kashmir is perhaps the highest in the world. Till date, none in Kashmir has, unlike in UP, Bihar and Orissa, died either of hunger or cold.

5. Interestingly, yet not surprisingly, a vast majority of the Kashmiris don't pay even a single penny to the State in the form of revenue due to it. It is Jammu and Ladakh that contribute over 90 per cent to the State exchequer, but a major part of this money is spent not in the extremely backward and underdeveloped Jammu and Ladakh but in the highly prosperous and developed Kashmir Valley.

As a result of the above, Prof. Hari Om says that “it is the Kashmiris and Kashmiris everywhere and all others in the State exist nowhere.”

The dismal scenario above has apparently prevailed so long that even editors of our national daily newspapers refer most casually to J&K merely as “Kashmir”, forgetting the fundamental fact that “J&K” is not Kashmir and that “Kashmir” is not J&K

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