Hari Singh

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Hari Singh
Hari Singh 1931.jpg
Hari Singh in 1931
Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
Reign23 September 1925 — 17 November 1952
Coronation29 March 1926[1]
PredecessorPratap Singh
SuccessorMonarchy abolished
RegentKaran Singh (1949–1952)
Born(1895-09-23)23 September 1895
Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, (present-day Jammu and Kashmir, India)
Died26 April 1961(1961-04-26) (aged 65)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India (present-day Mumbai)
Spouses
Sri Lal Kunverba Sahiba
(m. 1913; d. 1915)
Rani Sahiba Chamba
(m. 1915; d. 1920)
Dhanvant Kunveri Baiji
(m. 1923, d.)
Tara Devi
(m. 1928; sep. 1950)
IssueKaran Singh
HouseDogra
FatherAmar Singh
MotherBhotiali Chib
ReligionHinduism[2]

Maharaja Sir Hari Singh GCSI GCIE GCVO (23 September 1895 – 26 April 1961) was the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Hari Singh was the son of Amar Singh and Bhotiali Chib. In 1923, following his uncle's death, Singh became the new Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. After Indian Independence in 1947, Singh wanted Jammu and Kashmir to remain as an independent kingdom. He was required to accede to the Dominion of India to get the support of Indian troops against an invasion by tribal armed men and the Pakistan Army into his state.

Singh remained the titular Maharaja of the state until 1952, when the monarchy was abolished by the Indian government. After spending his final days in Bombay, he died on 26 April 1961.

Singh was also a controversial figure due to his involvement in a blackmail scandal by a prostitute in Paris in 1921, the agitation in Kashmir against his government in 1931, and the rebellion against him in Poonch in 1947.

Early life[edit]

Amar Mahal Palace, the birthplace of Hari Singh

Hari Singh was born on 23 September 1895 at the palace of Amar Mahal, Jammu. He was the only surviving son of Raja Amar Singh,[3] the brother of Maharaja Pratap Singh, then the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir in a Dogra Rajput family. Since the Maharaja had no issue, Hari Singh was heir to the throne of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1903, Hari Singh served as a page of honor to Lord Curzon at the grand Delhi Durbar. At the age of 13, he was sent to Mayo College in Ajmer. A year later, in 1909, his father died and the British took a keen interest in his education, appointing Major H. K. Brar as his guardian. After Mayo College, Hari Singh went to the British-run Imperial Cadet Corps at Dehradun for military training.[citation needed]

He was appointed the commander-in-chief of the State Forces in 1915 by Maharaja Pratap Singh.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Hari Singh in 1920

Black Prince Conspiracy Case In 1921, Singh paid £300,000 to a prostitute who blackmailed him in Paris. The issue resulted in a court case in London in 1924 during which the India Office tried to keep his name out of proceedings by arranging for him to be referred to as Mr. A.[4]

During first world war (1914-1918), Hari Singh seeked permission for his visit to Flanders and France so he can encourage morale of his troops, which was not obliged as his presence could have been misunderstood by native Indians who were fighting in harsher winters in trench warfare.[5]On his maiden visit to Britain in 1919, Hari Singh's heart was lonely. Hari Singh was raised by Francis Younghusband, British Resident of Kashmir (1906-1909) family and their daughter Eileen Younghusband had played with him in childhood. Hari Singh aged 24 met Mrs Maud (Maudie) aged 18 who resembled Eileen on the celebration of Armistice day Ball at Albert Hall on 4 November 1919 and instantaneously fell in love, it was like returning of old playfull days. He left for Paris where Mrs Maud (Maudie) joined to celebrate French Christmas. Little he realized that affair is going to end within a month and he will fall prey to the plans of 'Mayfair Mob': Monty Newton and Rodolphe Lemoine the two of the most notorious conmen in history.[6] The "youthful escapades" of Hari Singh, whilst crown prince included paying two cheques of £150,000, the second cheque was later stopped after suspicion for blackmailing by the fake ex-husband of Maudie Robinson of Knightsbridge, the affair 'Black Prince Conspiracy' came into the limelight of media in 1921.[7] That issue had resulted in a court case in London in 1924 during which the India Office tried to keep his name out of proceedings by arranging for him to be referred to as "Mr A."[4] However "the secret of the Kashmiri Prince and the beautiful blonde quickly became the subject of salacious gossip throughout London society."[7] Realizing many sensitive information involved around conman which included espionage, India Office in Britain decided to close the files for a hundred years rather than the usual thirty.[8]

Hari Singh was known as a lavish spender of money. The funeral of his uncle and former ruler, Pratap Singh, is believed to have expended much gold and jewelry in the funeral pyre.[9]

Marriages[edit]

Hari Singh with his fourth wife, Maharani Tara Devi, 1950

Singh married four times as his first three wives failed to give birth to his heirs. Each of them died within a few years of childlessness, allowing Singh to immediately take a new bride. With his last wife, Tara Devi Sahiba of Kangra, he had a son, Karan Singh.[9][10]

No. Name Date of marriage Fate of marriage Issue and fate
1 Rani Sri Lal Kunverba Sahiba 7 May 1913 Ended with her death Died during pregnancy in 1915. No issue.
2 Rani Sahiba Chamba 8 November 1915 Ended with her death Died 31 January 1920. No issue.
3 Maharani Dhanvant Kunveri Baiji Sahiba 30 April 1923 Ended with her death Died young. No issue.
4 Maharani Tara Devi Sahiba of Kangra 1928 Separated Separated in 1950. Died in 1967.
Mother of Karan Singh

Reign[edit]

A film of the coronation of Maharaja Hari Singh at Mubark Mandi palace in Jammu in 1926. In this film by Eastman Kodak it states, he is "wearing jewels valued at twenty million dollars" (approximately $292,400,000 in today's value).

Following the death of his uncle Pratap Singh in 1925, Singh ascended the throne of Jammu and Kashmir. He made primary education compulsory in the state, introduced laws prohibiting child marriage, and opened places of worship to the low castes.[11]

The Seal of Maharaja Hari Singh had a crown at the top. A katar, or ceremonial dagger, sat below the crown. Two soldiers held flags. An image of the sun was between them to symbolize his Rajput lineage from Lord Surya, the Hindu Sun God.

In 1930, Hari Singh attended the First Round Table Conference in London. He suggested that the Indian Princely states would join an “All India Federation” and pleaded for equal status for Indians in the British Commonwealth of Nations.[12] While replying to the inaugural address by King-Emperor George V, Hari Singh said:

"I must express our deep gratitude to His Most Gracious Majesty for the cordial welcome tendered to us and I pray that providence may grant us the vision and the will to realize the hopes expressed in the inspiring words uttered this morning by our beloved Emperor. This is the first occasion on which the Princes of India meet in person at a Conference Table along with the representatives of British India and His Majesty's Government to discuss the political future of India. ... I feel deeply gratified at the progress which has been made with the scheme of an All-India Federation as worked out in the Report of the Federal Structure Sub-Committee. But ever since the idea of a Federation was taken up in this Conference, some surprise has been expressed in various quarters in India and in England at the willingness of the Princes to join an All-India Federation. It is said that Princes have forced the pace and that in any case they should have opposed a Federation with British India. I have never disguised from my friends, my warm support of the idea of an All-India Federation".[12]

Partition and accession[edit]

The last Maharaja of Kashmir

In 1947, after India gained independence from British rule, Jammu and Kashmir could have joined India, joined Pakistan, or remained independent.[citation needed] Singh originally maneuvered to maintain his independence by playing off India and Pakistan. Pashtun tribe members from Pakistan then invaded Kashmir and defeated Singh's forces. Hari Singh appealed to India for help.[13] Although the Indian Prime Minister Nehru was ready to send troops, the Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, advised the Maharaja to accede to India before India could send its troops. Hence, considering the emergency, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947, joining the whole of his princely state (including Jammu, Kashmir, Northern Areas, Ladakh, Trans-Karakoram Tract, and Aksai Chin) to the Dominion of India.[14][15][16] These events triggered the first Indo-Pakistan War.

Pressure from Nehru and Sardar Patel eventually compelled Singh to appoint his son and heir, Yuvraj (Crown Prince) Karan Singh, as Prince Regent of Jammu and Kashmir in 1949, although he remained the titular Maharaja of the state until 1952 when the monarchy was abolished by Nehru's government. He was also forced to appoint the popular Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah as the prime minister of Kashmir. He had a contentious relationship with both Nehru and Abdullah.[17] Karan Singh was appointed 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' ('Head of State') in 1952 and Governor of the State in 1964.[17] Abdullah would later be dismissed from his position as prime minister of Kashmir and jailed by Karan Singh.[18]

Final years and death[edit]

Nehru and Abdullah conspired to banish Singh from Jammu and Kashmir and forced him to exile in Bombay. Singh spent his final days in Bombay. He died on 26 April 1961, after fourteen years of banishment. As per his will, his ashes were brought to Jammu and spread all over Jammu and Kashmir, and immersed in the Tawi River at Jammu.[19]

Legacy and memorials[edit]

Tributes and memorials[edit]

  • In 2007, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad inaugurated the 'Hari Singh Janana Park' for women. It is landscaped by the Gardens and Floriculture Department at New Secretariat.
  • On 1 April 2012, the occasion of Ram Navami, Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and MP Karan Singh unveiled a statue of Hari Singh near the Tawi bridge in Jammu.[20]
  • Jammu Municipal Corporation erected a statue of Maharaja Hari Singh in standing posture near Bagh-e-Bahu Police Station adjoining junction crossings linking Gujjar Nagar Tawi Bridge, University, Bagh-e-Bahu, Narwal[21]
  • On 16 May 2018, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti inaugurated 'Maharaja Hari Singh Park' and a statue of Hari Singh in sitting posture.[22]
  • On 23 September 2019, the Amar Kshatriya Rajput Sabha (AKRS) installed a life-sized statue of Hari Singh on his 119th birthday at Samba district, near Veer Bhoomi Park.[23]
  • On 23 September 2020, an audio-video song album in Dogri was released highlighting social reforms introduced by Hari Singh from 1930 onwards.[24]

Titles and honours[edit]

Title and style[edit]

Titles of Maharaja Hari Singh and Yuvraj Karan Singh on the first page of his Civil List of 1945

As Maharaja, Hari Singh's full style was:

Lieutenant-General His Highness Raj Rajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Shri Hari Singhji Bahadur Indar Mahindar, Sipar-i-Saltanat-i-Inglishia, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, LLD

Honours[edit]

Honorary degrees[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Coronation of Sir Hari Singh as the Maharajah of Kashmir . 29 March 1926
  2. ^ Mridu Rai, Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects 2004.
  3. ^ General Sir Raja Amar Singh Jamwal : 14 January 1865 – 26 March 1909
  4. ^ a b c Snedden, Christopher (2015). Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris. Oxford University Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-84904-342-7.
  5. ^ "Letter from Lt. Col. Bannermann to J.B Wood 17 November 1917". The British Library:BL IOR R 1/1/917.
  6. ^ Kwarteng, Kwasai (28 May 2012). Ghosts of Empire. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781408829004.
  7. ^ a b "Hari Singh's blackmailing and love in London". The Kashmir Walla. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  8. ^ Jeffrey, Barbara (2019). Chancers. Amberley. ISBN 9781445689784.
  9. ^ a b Kashmir’s Last Maharaja, Kashmir Life, 2 May 2011.
  10. ^ Mufti, Kashmir in Sickness and in Health 2013, p. 157.
  11. ^ Anand, Ragubhir Lal (1 February 2014). IS God DEAD?????. Partridge Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-48281-823-9.
  12. ^ a b "Remember Maharaja Hari Singh". Daily Excellsior. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Maharaja Hari Singh's Letter to Mountbatten". www.jammu-kashmir.com. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  14. ^ Ramachandra., Guha (1 January 2008). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0060958589. OCLC 474262656.
  15. ^ Justice A. S. Anand, The Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir (5th edition, 2006), page 67
  16. ^ Kashmir, Research Paper 04/28 by Paul Bowers, House of Commons Library, United Kingdom. Archived 28 July 2004 at the Wayback Machine, page 46, 30 March 2004
  17. ^ a b Ramachandra., Guha (1 January 2008). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. p. 92. ISBN 978-0060958589. OCLC 474262656.
  18. ^ Ramachandra., Guha (1 January 2008). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. p. 262. ISBN 978-0060958589. OCLC 474262656.
  19. ^ Dynasty clash in Kashmir: Hari Singh's grandson Ajatshatru challenges Abdullahs, The Economic Times, 14 March 2013.
  20. ^ "Maharaja's Statue unveiled". The Tribune. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  21. ^ "City's statues in a sorry state". Daily Excelsior. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  22. ^ "JDA sold Maharaja Hari Singh Park!". Dainik Jagran. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Maharaja Hari Singh's statue unveiled on his 119th Birthday anniversary". Early Times. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  24. ^ "Album on Maharaja Hari Singh released". Tribune. Retrieved 24 September 2020.

Bibliography[edit]


External links[edit]

Hari Singh
Born: 23 September 1895 Died: 26 April 1961
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Pratap Singh
(as Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir)
Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
1925–1952
Succeeded by
Republic of India
Karan Singh as titular Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir