The Partition

Before the partition, Kashmir was one of the several princely states of India. The collaboration of Gulab Singh with the British in 1846 against the Sikhs of Punjab led to Kashmir being given to him in exchange for a paltry sum of money . Upon partition, such princely states were given three options: becoming a part of India, becoming a part of Pakistan or remaining independent.The integration of these states became an issue between India and Pakistan.

Kashmir, although ruled over by Hindu maharaja Hari Singh, had a Muslim majority population of 74% [1]. While the public sentiments were with Pakistan, Hari Sing did not think it wise to join the new state. However, since acceding to the Indian Union would cause great discontent and unrest, he decided that Kashmir would remain independent. At this point, the National Conference Party started an agitation for popular government under the leadership of Sheik Abdullah.

In response to the agitation, Hari Sing signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan. A similar agreement could not be signed with India due to the latter wanting to pursue further negotiation on the topic[2]. However, the Pakistani government violated the treaty by cutting off essential supplies like food and oil to Kashmir with the obvious intent of forcing its accession. This was a matter of deep concern for ruler Hari Singh, who had no other choice but to turn to India for help. In his letter to Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India at the time, he wrote, “Afridis, soldiers in plain clothes, and desperadoes with modern weapons have been allowed to infilter into the State” and “It has become difficult to stop the wanton destruction of life and property and looting.”[3]

This turn of events was Operation Gulmarg, which was launched on October 22nd, 1947. Tribesmen from the north-west frontier and Pakistani soldiers attacked and captured large parts of the region. The tribesmen raped, looted and killed locals and on October 26th, they massacred 11 000 of the 14 000 residents of Baramullah. In a panic Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession because as he mentions in his letter, he realized that India would not agree to help him until he acceded to them. The next day, the Indian military conducted a massive airlift of troops into the area, within two weeks of which Srinagar and Baramullah had been recaptured.

The issue at hand, was that Pakistan completely denied having sent the rebels into Kashmir. They also immediately argued that Kashmir still had a standstill agreement with Pakistan and thus could not accede to the Indian Union. Kashmir thus remained a disputed territory.

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[1] “The Digital South Asia Library-Statistics.” The Digital South Asia Library-Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

[2] “Maharaja Hari Singh’s Letter to Mountbatten.” Maharaja Hari Singh’s Letter to Mountbatten. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.  http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/documents/harisingh47.html

[3] “Maharaja Hari Singh’s Letter to Mountbatten.” Maharaja Hari Singh’s Letter to Mountbatten. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.  http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/documents/harisingh47.html

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