10 Oct 2010
J&K: A Historical Perspective
Editors Note: October, 27, 1947 is an important day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. It was on this day, Indian troops landed in Kashmir to counter the invasion perpetrated by Pakistan through its proxies. Following is an official account of the turn of events.

History

Jammu and Kashmir came into being as a single political and geographical entity following the Treaty of Amristar between the British Government and Gulab singh signed on March 16, 1846. The Treaty handed over the control of the Kashmir State to the Dogra ruler of Jammu who had earlier annexed Ladakh. Thus a new State comprising three distinct religions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was formed with Maharaja Gulab Singh as its founder ruler. The feudal dispensation in the State, however, was too harsh for the people to live under and towards the end of a hundred years of this rule when their Indian brethren were fighting for independence from the British under the inspiring leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Kashmiris led by a towering personality, the Sher-I-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, rose against the autocracy. The autocratic rule came down heavily on the people’s freedom movement. However, the people laid their lives in the cause of freedom and to uphold the ideals of secularism, equality, democracy and brotherhood.

The high point of the movement was July 13, 1931 when 22 protesters were martyred. The event strengthened the movement and contrary to the expectations of the then rulers, the peopled emerged more determined in their resolution to seek an end to autocratic rule. By the time the rulers could realise the futility of breaking the will of the people with the might of the State, the National Conference, headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, had become a mass movement and a force to reckon with. It broke the barriers of region and religion and became a popular and secular voice of the people of the State whose collective yearning was freedom from autocracy and the establishment of a popular rule. The people’s movement spearheaded by the National Conference saw several ups and downs with its leaders particularly the Sher-I-Kashmir suffering vissitudes and long internment.

Accession

Jammu and Kashmir was one of about 565 princely States of India on which the British paramountcy lapsed at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947. While the power was transferred to the people in British India, the rulers of the princely States were given an option to join either of the two Dominions – India or Pakistan.

The Government of India Act 1935, as adopted in the Indian Independence Act, 1947, provided, "An Indian State shall be deemed to have acceded to the Dominion if the Governor General has signified the acceptance of an Instrument of Accession executed by the rule thereof." India, Pakistan and even Britain were party to these provisions. So the choice of joining either of the Dominions was left to the Rulers of the States concerned. Moreover, in the Indian Independence Act, 1947, there was no provision for any conditional accession.

The Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh did not exercise the option immediately and instead offered a proposal of Standstill Agreement to both the Dominion, pending final decision on State’s accession. On August 12, 1947, the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir sent identical communications to the Government of India and Pakistan which read, "Jammu and Kashmir Government would welcome Standstill Agreement with Union of India/Pakistan on all matters on which there exists arrangements with the outgoing British India Government." Pakistan accepted the offer and sent a communication to J&K Prime Minster on August 15, 1947. It read, "The Government of Pakistan agrees to have Standstill Agreement with Jammu and Kashmir for the continuation of existing arrangements …". India did not agree to the offer and advised the Maharaja to send his authorized representative to Delhi for discussion on the offer. 

The Story Behind

Pakistan, though entered into Standstill Agreement, had an eye on Jammu and Kashmir. Even before the lapse of the British paramountcy on J&K, Mr.Mohammed Ali Jinnah, author of two-nation theory, had plans to grab the Paradise on Earth. He had once boastfully declared that "Kashmir is blank cheque in my pocket." The Pakistan’s designs on Kashmir could be well judged from the comments appearing on August 24, 1947 issue of its semi-official daily Dawn, "… 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 will inevitably ensue." In his bid to woo Sher-I-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the undisputed leader of Kashmir, Mr.Jinnah visited Srinagar a couple of times, but failed to achieve his objective. Even his arrogance and browbeating tactic did not pay him.

The Maharaja was already facing a formidable challenge from the people who had launched the Quit Kashmir movement under the leadership of Sher-I-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah against the autocratic rule. Quit Kashmir movement ran parallel to the national movement with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah having close association with the leaders of the national movement against British rule. The national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru too espoused the cause of the people of Kashmir seeking political freedom from autocratic rule. To deal with the people’s upsurge, Maharaja had even detained Sheikh Abdullah on May 20, 1946 for spearheading ‘Quit-Kashmir’ movement. Faced with new alarming situation arising out of repeated violations of the Standstill Agreement by Pakistan and blocking of Pindi-Srinagar road, the Maharaja set him free on September 29, 1947. Sher-I-Kashmir, as he was fondly called by the people for his unmatched courage, deputed his close aide Kh.G.M.Sadiq to Pakistan to tell Pak leaders about the sentiments of the people who can not be taken for granted and coerced to join them. This plain speaking did not desist Pak for her designs.

While addressing a mammoth public meeting at Hazuri Bagh, Srinagar on October 1, 1947, Sher-I-Kashmir had made things about the future of the state obvious when he said, "Till the last drop of my blood, I will not believe in two-nation theory." It was yet another rebuff to Mr.Jinnah.Finding their designs on Kashmir not fructifying, Pakistan rulers launched an armed attack on Jammu and Kashmir to annex it. Tribals in thousands alongwith Pak regular troops entered the State on October 22, 1947 from several points and indulged in bloodshed and mayhem. The bewildered people of the estate were not expecting an attack from Pakistan especially in view of the Standstill Agreement.

Bowing before the wishes of the people as reflected by Muslim dominated National Conference and to push back the invaders, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession in favour of India on October 26, 1947 on the prescribed terms and conditions. This was accepted by the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbattan next day. The Instrument of Accession executed by Maharaja Hari Singh was the same which was signed by other rulers of the princely States. Similarly, the acceptance of the Instrument of Accession by the Governor General was also identical in respect of all such instruments. He was to write, "I do hereby accept the Instrument of Accession." It could not be conditional as mere acceptance by the Governor General was complete and final.

With J&K becoming legal and constitutional part of Union of India, the troops were rushed to the state to push back the invaders and vacate aggression from the territory of the state. The first batch of Indian Army troops arrived at Srinagar airport immediately after the Accession was signed. On October 30, 1947 an Emergency Government was formed in the State with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as its head. The Army fought sustained battle with the tribals and after several sacrifices pushed them out of the Valley and other areas in the Jammu region.

Meanwhile, the people of Kashmir under the towering leadership of Sher-I-Kashmir were mobilised and they resisted the marching columns of the enemy. Till the arrival of the troops, it were mainly the Muslim volunteers under the command of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who braved death to push back invaders. Lt.General P.C.Sen who as Brigadier functioned as Commander of 161 Infantry Brigade in Srinagar during 1947-48, wrote in his book, ‘Slander was the Thread’, "These volunteers moved across the mountains and forests with speed and gave accurate information the army about enemy’s strength, location and movements". While the army pushed back the invaders, there are several instances where people put up a gallant resistance and stopped the advance of the invaders. The most glaring examples of people’s resistance was the martyrdom of Mohammad Maqbool Sherwani and Master Abdul Aziz.

Shaheed Sherwani, a staunch follower of Sher-I-Kashmir, did not oblige the invaders when they enquired from him the route to Srinagar. Instead, he put them on a wrong track gaining time for troops to come. Somehow the tribesmen came to know about his tactics and nailed him at a Baramulla crossing and asked him to raise pro-Pakistan slogans. He did raise slogans but these were different. These were pro-Hindu Muslim amity and in favour of Sher-I-Kashmir. Engaged by this, the ruthless tribesmen emptied their guns on him.

The sacrifice of Master Abdul Aziz too was exemplary. The invaders who raped the nuns and wanted other non-Muslim women to handed over to them, Master Abdul Aziz, a tailor by profession, held the holy Quran in his hand and said that they can touch the women only over his dead body and the holy Quran. The brutal killers did not spare him.

On January 1, 1948 India took up the issue of Pak aggression in Jammu and Kashmir in UNO under Article 35 of its charter. The Government of India in its letter to the Security Council said, "…Such a situation now exists between India and Pakistan owing to the aid which invaders, consisting of nationals of Pakistan and tribesmen… are drawing from Pakistan for operations against Jammu and Kashmir, a State which has acceded to the Dominion of India and is part of India. The Government of India requests the Security Council to call upon Pakistan to put an end immediately to the giving of such assistance which is an act of aggression against India. If Pakistan does not do so, the Government of India may be compelled, in self defence, to enter into Pakistan territory to take military action against the invaders." After long debates, cease-fire came into operation on the midnight of January 1, 1949. Presence of Pak regular troops in the Valley was attested even by UNCIP documents (UNCIP first report).

At the time of cease-fire, Pakistan was holding 78114 sq.Kms illegally and this aggression on that territory continues even today. On March 5, 1948, the Maharaja announced the formation of an interim popular Government with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as the Prime Minister. Subsequently, the Maharaja signed a proclamation making Yuvraj Karan Singh as the Regent.

During one of the debates in UN Security Council on February 5, 1948, Sher-I-Kashmir, said "aggression and not the accession is the issue." The Security council, however, passed a resolution on plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir subject to certain conditions. The resolution had three parts, one relating to cease-fire while the second, the most important and relevant, was a truce agreement which provided the mechanism for plebiscite. As per the agreement, Pakistan Government agreed to withdraw its troops from the State and undertake to secure the withdrawal of its tribesmen and nationals who had invaded the State. The territory thus evacuated by the Pakistani troops would be administered by local authorities under the surveillance of UN Commission for India and Pakistan.

The second part of this agreement related to the obligation of Government of India which would have come into force after Pakistan had fulfilled its obligation in part A of the agreement and thereby terminated the situation which occasioned the presence of Indian troops. On being notified that Pakistan had withdrawn its forces, the Government of India would begin withdrawal of bulk of its forces in stages but she will maintain the minimum strength of its forces necessary for law and order with the Commission stationing its observers.

The third part related to reaffirmation of both the countries to determine the wish of the people.

Pakistan, knowing well the fate of such plebiscite at that time did not take any step to fulfil its obligations under the agreement and continued to hold the territory of the State illegally and forcefully even today. The issue plebiscite was linked with the condition of withdrawal of Pakistani forces and tribesmen from the occupied territory of the state which it never fulfilled, making the resolution absolutely irrelevant. On the other hand, J&K after attaining political freedom, marched ahead to strengthen democratic structure. Moreover, the truce agreement on plebiscite was superseded by the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan signed on July 3, 1972 itself, the two countries undertook to resolve all differences bilaterally and peacefully. Pakistan, through its commitments enshrined in this Agreement, accepted the need to once and for all shift the Kashmir question from the UN to the bilateral plane.

In 1951, the State Constituent Assembly was elected by the people. The Assembly met for the first time in Srinagar on October 31, 1951. Close on the heels of this, the Delhi Agreement was signed between the two Prime Ministers of India and Jammu and Kashmir giving special position to the State under the Indian Constitutional framework. The Constituent Assembly elected the Yuvraj as the Sadar-I-Riyasat on November 15, 1952, thus bringing to end the 106 year old hereditary rule in Jammu and Kashmir. The State Constituent Assembly ratified the accession of the State to the Union of India on February 6, 1954 and the President of India subsequently issued the Constitution (Application to J&K) Order under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution extending the Union Constitution to the State with some exceptions and modifications. The State’s own Constitution came into force on January 26, 1957 under which the elections to the State Legislative Assembly were held for the first time on the basis of adult franchise the same year. This Constitution ratified the State’s accession to Union of India. Section 3 of the Constitution makes this historic fact a reality. This section 3 of the Constitution says, "The Sate of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India." The Section 4 of the Constitution defined the territories which on the fifteenth day f August, 1947, were under the sovereignty of suzerainty of the Ruler of the State." Since then eight assembly elections have been held in the state besides Lok Sabha elections where the people exercised their franchise freely.

While the people of the state continue to march ahead for socio-economic emancipation as per the Naya Kashmir charter for better quality of life, Pakistan continued with her plans to grab Kashmir through force. Pakistan waged two wars in 1965 and 1971 to annex Kashmir but the people gave her befitting reply and repulsed her attacks with the help of army like they did in 1947-48. Failing to match India’s military power, it launched a low intensity war through militancy in 1990 which took a toll of 20,000 human lives besides destroying private and public property.

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