User:Kautilya3/sandbox/Accession of Jammu and Kashmir

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The Accession of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947 to India, along with the accession of breakaway sections of the state to Pakistan, is an important event of modern South Asian history that gave rise to the enduring Kashmir conflict.


The British rule in India (1858-1947) was exercised partly through direct rule and partly through Paramountcy over the states of native Maharajas (princes). At the time of India's independence, there were about 560 princely states. Jammu and Kashmir was one of the largest. Other large states were the state of Hyderabad and the Mysore state.

With the impending independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the British announced that the Paramountcy over the princely states would come to an end. The rulers of the princely states were given the option to join one of the new dominions, India and Pakistan, through the execution of an Instrument of Accession. They also had the option not accede to either dominion, in which case they would become independent. However, the Viceroy Lord Mountbatten emphasized that this was only a theoretical possibility.[1] The rulers could not run away from their neighbouring dominions any more than they could run away from their own people.[2] The rulers were also advised to consult their people in making their decision.

The Indian Independence Act 1947 was passed on 18 July 1947, setting down the rules of the process. The Indian princes had only two months to make their decision before the independence of the dominions on 15 August. The vast majority of the princes did make their choice by the appointed date. The rulers of Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad were the two major exceptions. Jammu and Kashmir, straddling the two dominions of India and Pakistan, was to become a serious bone of contention.

Jammu and Kashmir[edit]

The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir came into being in 1846 after the First Anglo-Sikh War. Prior to that, Jammu was a tributary of the Sikh empire based in Lahore. Gulab Singh, formerly a footman in the Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army who distinguished himself in various campaigns, was appointed as the Raja of Jammu in 1822. The Valley of Kashmir was also a part of the Sikh empire, ruled through a separate governor. Raja Gulab Singh successively fought and captured Rajouri (1821), Kishtwar (1821), and through his general Zorawar Singh, Suru valley and Kargill (1835), Ladakh (1834-1840), and Baltistan (1840). He became a wealthy and influential noble in the Sikh court.[3]

During the First Anglo-Sikh war in 1845-1846, Gulab Singh sided with the British, leading to a Sikh defeat. In the ensuing Treaty of Lahore, the Sikhs were made to cede Kashmir and Hazara to the British, in lieu of their indemnity, and to recognize Gulab Singh as an independent Mahraja. A week later, in the Treaty of Amritsar, Gulab Singh paid the British the indemnity that was due from the Sikhs, and acquired Kashmir in return.[3] Thus Gulab Singh became the Maharaja of the state of `Jammu and Kashmir', founding a new Dogra Dynasty. The Treaty of Amritsar continues widely regarded by the Kashmiris as the "sale" of Kashmir to the Dogra rulers.

In 1856, Gulab Singh abdicated in favour of his son Ranbir Singh, who became the Maharaja. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857, Ranbir Singh again came to the aid of the British and was duly rewarded. During Ranbir Singh's rule, Kashmir faced oppressive despotism, as recognized by British observers. In 1860, Ranbir Singh annexed Gilgit. Hunza and Nagar became tributaries soon afterwards.[4] Ranbir Singh was succeeded by Pratap Singh (1885-1925) and Hari Singh (1925-1952), the latter being the ruler at the time of Indian independence.

In 1877, the British reached an understanding with Pratap Singh and stationed an Officer on Special Duty in Gilgit, in order to keep a watch on the frontier with Russia. In due course, this office became the Gilgit Agency and acquired Hunza-Nagar. In 1913, a force of `Gilgit Scouts' was formed by the Agency for securing the region. In 1935, the Gilgit Agency leased the northern half of the Jammu and Kashmir state from Maharaja Hari Singh for a period of 60 years.[5] Shortly before Indian independence in 1947, the British returned these areas to the Maharaja.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 was extremely diverse. The Valley of Kashmir, the most populous region, was a historically powerful kingdom, having stood up to the Arabs and the Afghan-Turk invaders, and remaining independent until the time of Akbar. It was 97% Muslim, with 3% religious minorities, mostly the Hindu community of Kashmiri Pandits. The Jammu division's eastern districts had a Hindu majority population culturally aligned to the Hill states of Himachal Pradesh. Its western districts like Poonch, Kotli and Mirpur had a Muslim majority culturally aligned to the West Punjab plains. Ladakh, a large mountainous region, had a mostly Buddhist population culturally aligned to Tibet. The northern areas of Gilgit and Baltistan were almost entirely Muslim, with Buddhist minorities, culturally aligned to Pakhtun and Central Asian regions.

Key players in the accession[edit]

Maharaja Hari Singh[edit]

With the lapse of British Paramountcy, the Maharaja lost his British guarantors, with whose help he was previously able to suppress unrest in his populations. He also lost the check the British exercises on the politicians and populations of the districts surrounding his kingdom. He came under increasing pressure from the new leaders of India and Pakistan over the accession issue, the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the release of the local leaders held in prison.[6]

National Conference and Sheikh Abdullah[edit]

Sheikh Abdullah, born in 1905, studied in the Aligarh Muslim University obtaining a Master's degree in science. Returning to Kashmir, he was only able to get the job of a schoolteacher under the Dogra regime. In 1932, he founded a party called the `Muslim Conference' to fight for rights and opportunities for Muslims. Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, from Jammu, joined as its General Secretary. Six years later, Abdullah renamed the party the `National Conference' in order to make it representative of Kashmiris of all religious faiths.[7] This move to make the movement secular did not find favour with some of the Muslims in the original group, and they moved away.[8] However, the move brought him closer to Jawaharlal Nehru, the rising leader of the Congress party.[9]

In May 1940, Nehru visited Kashmir as a guest of the National Conference. The bonds between Abdullah and Nehru were cemented during the visit.[10] Nehru found that the `enlightened and progressive ideas' of National Conference largely coincided with those of the Congress.[11] In contrast, the idea of `Pakistan', just declared by the Muslim League in March 1940, had no appeal for Abdullah and his colleagues. It was regarded as merely an "emotional Muslim reaction to Hindu communalism." They also assessed that Pakistan would be dominated by feudal elements, a society in which the Kashmiris and their reform agenda would have little power.[11] However, an affinity to the Indian National Congress did not necessarily imply that Abdullah wanted to join India. He thought it would be ideal if India and Pakistan could to recognize the state as "an independent unit like Switzerland."[12]

In 1946, Sheikh Abdullah launched a `Quit Kashmir' movement against the Maharaja, mirroring the Congress party's `Quit India' movement against the British. He was arrested and put in prison. The Prime Minister of Kashmir Ram Chandra Kak placed the state under martial law. The other leading activists such as G. M. Sadiq, D. P. Dhar and Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad escaped to Lahore, where they remained until the time of independence.[13]

In January 1947, the Maharaja called elections for the Praja Sabha (State's Assembly) even though all the political leaders were in prison. The National Conference boycotted the election, missing an opportunity to confirm their popularity.[14] However, it is widely acknowledged that Sheikh Abdullah was the "most popular and influential politician" in the Kashmir Valley and possibly in all of the state. Kashmiris related to him because of his unprivileged upbringing, inspiring oration and the sacrifices made since 1931 in the struggle against the despotic Dogra rule.[15]

Muslim Conference[edit]

The Muslim Conference party was formed by Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas in 1941. Born in 1904 in Jullundar,[16][17] Abbas studied law in Lahore and began work as a lawyer in Jammu. In 1929, he founded the `Young Men's Muslim Association' to work for the betterment of Muslims,[18] joining Sheikh Abdullah's Muslim Conference in 1932. However, in 1941, he disagreed with Abdullah's secular stance and affinity to Nehru, and started supporting the All-India Muslim League and its call for an independent `Pakistan'. To this end, he, along with Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, "revived" the old Muslim Conference. Being a non-Kashmiri as well as a recent entrant to the State (a `class III state subject'[17]), Abbas never developed much influence in the Kashmir Valley.[19] However, the Muslim Conference did receive considerable support from the Muslim population of the Jammu division.[20] It became a communalist organisation, essentially a client of the Muslim League.[10]

In 1942, the Muslim Conference opposed the `Quit Kashmir' movement launched by National Conference, claiming that it was merely a popularity stunt of Abdullah. Instead, the Muslim Conference launched a `campaign of action' similar to the Muslim League's programme in British India. Abbas was imprisoned by the Maharaja.[13] The Muslim Conference supported the Maharaja's independence as a temporary ruse and portrayed it as a `sacrifice' meant to `allay the fears and suspicions of the minorities'. But, by 22 July 1947, it came out supporting the State's accession to Pakistan.[12]

Nehru and Congress[edit]

Jinnah and Muslim League[edit]


  1. ^ Bose 2003, p. 30.
  2. ^ Mansergh, Lumby & Moon 1983, p. xxiii.
  3. ^ a b Schofield 2003, pp. 6-7.
  4. ^ Schofield 2003, pp. 9-11.
  5. ^ Schofield 2003, pp. 12-13.
  6. ^ Snedden 2013, p. 38.
  7. ^ Guha 2004, p. 80.
  8. ^ Schofield 2003, p. 18.
  9. ^ Schofield 2003, p. 21.
  10. ^ a b Snedden 2013, p. 23.
  11. ^ a b Snedden 2013, p. 21.
  12. ^ a b Snedden 2013, p. 25.
  13. ^ a b Schofield 2003, p. 24.
  14. ^ Schofield 2003, p. 24; Snedden 2013, p. 23
  15. ^ Snedden 2013, pp. 23-24.
  16. ^ Schofield 2003, p. 23.
  17. ^ a b Snedden 2013, p. 327.
  18. ^ Schofield 2003, p. 17.
  19. ^ Schofield 2003, pp. 22-23.
  20. ^ Snedden 2013, p. 24.
  • Akbar, M. J. (1988). Nehru: The Making of India. Viking. ISBN 9780670816996.
  • Bose, Sumantra (2003). Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01173-2.
  • Mansergh, Nicholas; Lumby, Esmond Walter Rawson; Moon, Penderel, eds. (1983). The Transfer of Power 1942-7: The Mountbatten Viceroyalty, princes, partition, and independence, 8 July-15 August 1947 (Volume 12 of Constitutional relations between British and India). H.M. Stationery Office. ISBN 0115800875.
  • Schofield, Victoria (2003) [First published in 2000]. Kashmir in Conflict. London and New York: I. B. Taurus & Co. ISBN 1860648983.
  • Snedden, Christopher (2013). Kashmir: The Unwritten History. HarperCollins India. ISBN 9350298988.
  • Tikoo, Colonel Tej K. (2013). "Genesis of Kashmir Problem and how it got Complicated: Events between 1931 and 1947 AD". Kashmir: Its Aborigines and their Exodus. New Delhi, Atlanta: Lancer Publishers. ISBN 1935501585.