Maharaja Hari Singh, the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir signed instrument of accession on 26th October 1947 with India. Only Maharaja being Sovereign of State was competent to sign Instrument of accession but history and historians have been unkind to him. He has been projected as who wanted to be independent without going into details of the reasons for delay in signing the Instrument.

There are many instances and facts which clearly show that Maharaja was more Indian Nationalist. In his address as Chairman of Chamber of Princes in Round Table conference he identified himself as well as J&K not separate but as integral part of India.

His statement

Allied by the Treaty (Amritsar Treaty of March 16, 1846) with the British Crown and within our territories independent Rulers, we have come with a full sense of the responsibility to our states and all India. As allies of Britain we stand solidity by the British connection. As Indian and loyal to the land of our birth, we stand as solidly as the rest of our countrymen for our lands and enjoyment of a position of our honor and equality in the British Commonwealth. Our desire to co-operate to the best of our ability with the section of the conference is genuine as also is our determination to base our co-operation upon the realities of the present situation. Neither England nor India can afford to see this conference end in failure. We must resolve to succeed it. The difficulties shall not be insuperable. We must exercise patience, tact and forbearance and be inspired by mutual understanding and goodwill. We must give and take, if we succeed, England no less than Indian gains. If we fail India no less than England loses. The task is gigantic. In the case of no people would such aim as ours be easy to accomplish. In the case of India, the complexity of the factors is unique, but by the grace of God, with goodwill and sympathy on both sides the difficulties shall be surmounted and with the words of King-Emperor still ringing in our ears we princes affirm that the conference shall not be fail through any fault of ours.” On other day, January 15, 1931 he rose to say, “I say with deep sense of responsibility that I am prepared cordially to bless the scheme of Sankey Committee (United Federal Structure) and that is so far as my own state is concerned, I will in the interests of the greater India be ready to join such a federation.

In July 1946 Srinagar address Maharaja again identified J&K’s future with India and India’s future with J&K and interdependence of each other.
The situations in J&K unlike other Princely States mainly like supplies and connectivity were from those areas which went to Pakistan. There was not a single connectivity with areas through which J&K presently connect with rest of India. So without making alternative arrangements Maharaja wasn’t in position to take any decision otherwise it would have led to clashes within the State due to scarcity of resources.

On August 14, 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh proposed a Standstill Agreement with both India and Pakistan. Pakistan was in the hope that, under British pressure, the Maharaja will accede to it sooner or later readily accepted the Agreement. But India demanded further discussions before signing it because Lord Mountbatten as well many in Delhi like Nehru were not interested in it. Pakistan after being aware of fact that the Maharaja was inclined towards India, so it started creating trouble for Maharaja firstly by cutting off the supplies of petrol, sugar, salt and kerosene and then stopping trade in violation of the Standstill Agreement.

Pakistan’s intentions became clear when it started attacking and raiding the frontier areas of the state. J&K even demanded armed help from India on 1st October 1947 but despite orders by Sardar Patel that help was not provided due to deliberate attempts of British Army Officers like Commander-in-Chief Lockhart. The Maharaja sent his emissary Mehar Chand Mahajan to Delhi to meet Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to make them aware of the situation in the state. He also informed them of the Maharaja’s willingness to merge his state with India but Nehru because of his close friendship insisted on first the release of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah who had been imprisoned by the former on charges of sedition.

Lord Mountbatten taking full advantage of Nehru’s views towards Maharaja was also working for the furthering the interests of Western forces. The British had a special interest in J&K due to the strategic importance of Gilgit-Baltistan that was very important to the British Empire. Due to Indian Independence Act 1947, the Gilgit area was returned to the Maharaja on August 1, 1947 but the British were unwilling to lose control over the area. Through manipulations and non-serious attitude of Nehru Govt Britishers managed revolt and raised the Pakistani flag on October 1, 1947 and J&K lost one of Strategic area to Pakistan. This loss we are paying till now due to lack of direct land connectivity with Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Earlier in June, Mountbatten visited Kashmir to convince the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan. Since connectivity to Gilgit was via Pakistan, the British were interested that the Maharaja should accede to Pakistan to protect their strategic interest. The British strategy was to use West Pakistan as a base to counter Soviet increasing influence towards the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Maharaja Hari Singh did not show any inclination towards joining Pakistan.

Pakistan managed to forward a narrative that concealed its role in the 1947 invasion calling it a ‘spontaneous’ attack by the tribals in response to the communal killings in J&K. Majority of intellectuals and expert on J&K bought this narrative and promoted it with ferocity.

There are documentary evidences in terms of eyewitness accounts of the tribal invasion that demolishes its case. One such is of Pakistani Army officer Maj Gen Akbar Khan whose book ‘Raiders in Kashmir’ leaves no doubt about how Pakistan planned the invasion and was directly involved in it.

Akbar Khan attended a meeting chaired by prime minister former Liaquat Ali. Others who attended were Finance Minister Ghulam Mohd., Mian Iftikharuddin, a Muslim League leader, Zaman Kiani, Khurshid Anwar, Shaukat Hayat. According to his book, several army and air force officers as also the Commissioner Rawalpindi were present.
Another book is of Humayun Mirza who revealed in ‘From Plassey to Pakistan’ that his father Iskander Mirza (later Governor-General of Pakistan) was tasked by Jinnah to raise a tribal Lashkar in February 1947 to wage a jihad against the British if they did not concede Pakistan. The tribesmen from Waziristan, Tirah and the Mohmand country for this purpose. He asked for a sum of Rs one crore (or Pounds 750,000 at the then exchange rate) to achieve this objective. Jinnah gave him Rs 20,000 for immediate expenses and told him that the Nawab of Bhopal would provide the rest.

Sensing Maharaja’s mood the British Chief of the Pakistan Army, General Sir Frank Messervy, planned Operation Gulmarg, a military plan for annexing J&K in case Maharaja did not accede to Pakistan. The operation order for this plan was dated August 20. The plan was to be implemented in three phases with Phase 1 beginning in September and final multi-directional armed incursions to commence on October 22. As the events unfolded Pakistani invasion was just implementation of operation Gulmarg. However, the Maharaja did not succumb to the British pressure and voluntarily acceded to India thus upsetting the entire game plan of Britishers along with their supporters sitting in decision making in Delhi.

The real intentions of Nehru and Sheikh unfolded when Maharaja was subsequently forced to leave the state in June 1949 and Sheikh Abdullah virtually became the head of administration of the state.

These facts has never been brought to public domain because they don’t suit the narrative of those who wanted to assign power to one particular group of people and never wanted Maharaja to be real hero of J&K being part of India.
The accession of the state with the Union of India was ratified by the State Constituent Assembly in February 1954. On October 30, 1956, the State Constituent Assembly adopted the state constitution declaring Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of the Union of India.

Dr Ganesh Malhotra (A J&K based Strategic and Political analyst)

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