SRINAGAR: A close look at the Instrument Accession that Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu & Kashmir signed on 26 October 1947 and as was accepted by Governor General of India , Lord Mountbatten of Burma, on behalf of Government of Indian Dominion on 27th October 1947 would reveal that very vital questions remain still unanswered as regards the manner in which Government of India disposed of the Instrument of accession as was sent by Maharaja Hari Singh through Mr. V. P. Menon. The questions should agitate the reasoning minds for a better understanding so that a widely acceptable thought could be made to emerge to settle the confusions as created over the years in the innocent minds of subjects of Jammu & Kashmir in general and those from Kashmir Valley in particular. The Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja was covered with a letter of circumstances & reasons and so was the acceptance of the Instrument of accession as was done by Lord Mountbatten.
The terms of this my Instrument of Accession:
The contents of the Instrument of Accession of J&K with India where it says that “ Where as the Indian Independence Act , 1947, provides that as from the fifteenth day of August 1947 there shall be set up an Independent Dominion known as India, and that the Government of India Act of 1935 , shall, with such omissions , additions, adaptations and modifications as the Governor – General may by order specify be applicable to the Dominion of India; And where as the Government of India Act’1935, as so adopted by the Governor General, provided that an Indian State may accede to Dominion of India by an Instrument of Accession executed by the Ruler thereof : Now therefore, I, Shriman Indar Mahandar Rajrajeshwar Maharajadiraj Shri Hari Singhji, Jammu and Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbet adi Deshadhipati, Ruler of Jammu & Kashmir State in the exercise of my sovereignty in and over my said State do hereby execute this my Instrument of Accession and …….. I accept the matters specified in the schedule thereto as the matters with respect to which the Dominion Legislature can make laws for this State….. The terms of this my Instrument of Accession shall not be varied by any amendment of the Act or of the Indian Independence Act ,1947 , unless such amendment is accepted by me , an Instrument supplementary to this Instrument……I hereby declare that I execute this Instrument on behalf of this State and that any reference in this Instrument to me or to the Ruler of the State is to be construed as including a reference to my heirs and successors” need to be observed for the purpose. . And Lord Mounbatten of Burma, the then Governor General of India signed the acceptance on 27 October 1947 as ……… “ I do hereby accept this Instrument of Accession dated this 27th day of October , nineteen hundred and forty seven”.
The Maharaja said: Hari Singh did try to explain the reasons in his letter dated 26 October 1947 for not signing the Instrument of Accession with either Dominion by 14-08-1947. Some parts of the said letter are reproduced here to explain the circumstances / reasons. Maharaja as per the Indian Independence Act1947 and Government of India Act 1935 was the only authority to take a decision regarding a State of British Empire but outside British India and make any observations on the circumstances as prevailed around him while taking a decision regarding accession to any of the dominion or otherwise relationships.
Maharaja in his letter said, “ I have to inform your Excellency that a grave emergency has arisen in my State and request the immediate assistance of your Government. As your Excellency is aware , the State of Jammu & Kashmir has not acceded to either of the Dominion of India or Pakistan. Geographically my State is contiguous with both of them. Besides, my State has a common boundary with Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and with China. In their external relations the Dominions of India and Pakistan can not ignore this fact .” The Maharaja further said, “ I wanted to take time to decide to which Dominion I should accede or whether it is not in the best interests of both the dominions and of State to stand Independent, ofcourse with friendly and cordial relations with both……The mass infiltration of tribesmen drawn from distant areas of North West Frontier Province, coming regularly in motor trucks, using the Mansehra-Muzaffarabad road and fully armed with up-to-date weapons, cannot possibly be done without the knowledge of the Provincial Government of North West Frontier Province and the Government of Pakistan. Inspite of repeated appeals made by my Government no attempt has been made to check these raiders or to stop them from coming into my State. In fact, both radio and press of Pakistan have reported these occurrences . Pakistan radio even put the story that a provisional government has been set up in Kashmir”….Regarding his people the Maharaja said, “ The people of my State, both Muslims and non Muslims , general have taken no part at all…….With the conditions obtaining at present in my State and the great emergency of the situation as it exists, I have no option but to ask for help from India Dominion……. Naturally they can not send the help asked for by me without my State acceding to the Dominion of India. I have accordingly decided to do so and I attach the Instrument of Accession for acceptance by your Government.”
The letter written by Lord Mountbatten has left many questions unanswered. Even Jawahar Lal Nehru’s then Cabinet could be questioned. The core of the letter is reproduced here for those who would like to join the discussion initiated by me.
Lord Montbatten said,“Your Highness’s letter dated 26 Oct 1947 has been delivered to me by Mr. V.P.Menon. In the circumstances mentioned by your Highness, my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. In consistent with their policy that in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government’s wish that , as soon as the law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people. Meanwhile, in response to Your Highness’s appeal for military aid, action has been taken today to send troops of Indian Army to Kashmir, to help your own forces to defend your territory and to protect the life, property and honour of your people. My Government and I note with satisfaction that Your Highness has decided to invite Sheikh Abdullah to from an interim Government to work with your Prime Minister.”
It is a point here:
It is worth noting here that the letter from Mountbatten is dated 27 -10-1947 and by then neither the Maharaja nor Government of India had gone to UN Security Council . India had made a complaint against Pakistan in Security Council on 1-1-1948. And so strangely on the on set itself Government of India did not accept the instrument of Accession dated 26-10-1947 as signed by Hari Singh in full and Lord Mountbatten on behalf of his Government laid down the condition of final settlement of the Accession by reference to the people and classified J&K State as a State where the issue of Accession was a dispute. In the circumstances as explained by Maharaja in his letter there was no reference of any dispute or resistance from the people of his State where as Mountbatten had written to Maharaja that, “In the circumstances mentioned by your Highness, my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. In consistent with their policy that in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government’s wish that , as soon as the law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.”
Where as the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir who was the sole designated authority to assess the circumstances and requirements of his Princely State had no where given any indication that there was a accountable objection to accession with India from his people as could over ride his Right for decision making as a Prince of State. Then why this condition of settlement of issue of accession by reference to the people and what was the basis for Government of India to call the issue of accession a dispute as regards J&K when Maharaja Hari Singh Bahadur in his letter dated 26 Oct 1947 had clearly informed that the people of his State ( J&K) were not by and large involved in the disturbed conditions as prevailed in the State at time in view of the agression from across the borders along with the newly created Dominion of Pakistan, remains unanswered.-SANA