26 October 1947
Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu & Kashmir
On 26 October 1947, the ruler of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession, the legal document that ceded J&K to the Dominion of India as per the Indian Independence Act 1947.
J&K Instrument of Accession
- During the period inching towards independence from British colonial rule, India was headed towards a split as per the ‘Two Nation’ theory expounded by the Muslim League.
- The Muslim majority areas under British India were to become part of Pakistan. The princely states (which were under suzerainty to the British crown and were over 570 in number) were given the choice to cede to either India or Pakistan under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947.
- By 15 August, 560 princely states had joined India. Junagadh, Jammu & Kashmir and Hyderabad had not joined either country.
- The ruler of J&K Hari Singh was a Hindu but the majority in his state were Muslims. He had hoped to remain independent since he would lose his monarchical power if he joined a democratic India.
- Hari Singh had also signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan which would render trade, communications and travel unhindered. There was no agreement with India.
- In October 1947, Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan’s NWFP invaded Kashmir in order to take it by force. They were headed towards Srinagar where the king was present. Today it is understood that the Pakistan army supported the tribesmen.
- There were tremendous law and order problem in the state. The invaders were looting, burning houses and raping women in the valley. They acquired parts of northern Kashmir in the process. On 26 October, 11000 people in Baramullah were killed by the invaders. Hari Singh desperately requested armed intervention from India in order to calm the situation and suppress the invasion. On the same day, he fled Srinagar and arrived at Jammu where he was met by V P Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru’s representative. He was told that India cannot send troops unless it was Indian territory.
- There the Instrument of Accession was signed by Hari Singh and J&K acceded to India. The Indian army airlifted its troops to Kashmir on 27 October and stopped the invaders within two weeks. The National Conference also supported the Indian army in driving out the Pashtuns.
- However, Pakistan refused to recognise the Instrument of Accession and soon the first Kashmir War started. Pakistani and rebel forces tried to push all the way into Jammu.
- Instead of pushing back the invaders all the way, the matter was taken to the UN in 1948 on the advice of Lord Mountbatten.
- A ceasefire was proclaimed on 1 January 1949 and the ceasefire line came to be called the Line of Control (LOC). 2/3rd of the state was under Indian control while the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan were secured by the Pakistani forces.
- The Kashmir issue is still unresolved.
Also on this day
1890: Birth of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, freedom fighter and journalist at Allahabad. 1891: Birth of Vaikunthbhai Mehta, a leader of the Indian cooperative movement at Bhavnagar. 1930: Death of the inventor of the cholera vaccine, Sir Waldemar Mordechai Haffkine.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.