History of Jammu and Kashmir
The East India Company arrived at the port of Surat in 1608 during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir that’s how trade began. The company rule in India effectively began in 1757 to 1857 after which the British Crown took direct control of the Indian subcontinent in the form of the new “British Raj” and it continued till 15 August 1947. So, if you see, the British ruled India for about two hundred years and it was on 15 August 1947 India got independence.
We can also say that the British government announced the intention of transferring the power of British India to Indian hands that meant the power from one government has to go into the hands of another. At that time there was only one widespread political party the “Indian National Congress” that had the opportunity to form the first government of India.
At the time of Independence in 1947, the whole of the Indian Subcontinent was divided into two sets of territories. One was under direct British rule and the other was under Princely rule and those were referred to as the Princely States. Before 1947, there were around 565 princely states in the entire Indian Subcontinent.
These states were all scattered and there was no uniformity as you can imagine it would have been so hard to construct or structural National identity with this kind of problem and the challenge was to join all princely states into the Union of India. So, this was the main objective of the Indian government, and it is also called the “political integration” of the princely states after independence.
Today Kashmir region is a Muslim majority region initially it wasn’t like that if you get a history of Jammu and Kashmir we have to go back in time around 300 BC Maurya Emperor Ashoka had a strong connection with Kashmir. During the reign of Ashoka, Kashmir became a part of the Maurya empire and Buddhism was introduced in Kashmir. He even found the city of Srinagar.
By the fourth century A.D., Kashmir became a learning place for both Buddhism and Hinduism. Kashmiri protest machinery help spread Buddhism to Tibet and China. After the 7th century, significant development took place in Kashmiri Hinduism. In the century that followed, Kashmir produced many poets, philosophers, and artists who contributed to Sanskrit literature and the Hindu religion.
After the 7th century, significant events took place in Kashmir Hinduism. In the century that followed, Kashmir produced many poets, philosophers, and artists who contributed to Sanskrit literature and the Hindu religion. It was during the 11th century when Mehmood Ghazni attempted to conquer Kashmir, but he did not succeed as we can say that Islam started arriving in North India in the 12th century by the Turkish invasion but it wasn’t that extreme.
However, it was during the middle of the 14th century, a refugee named “Rinchana” converted to Islam and established the first Muslim dynasty in Kashmir. Since then Islam gradually became the dominant religion in Kashmir. The Mughal rule started in 1526. Akbar became the Mughal emperor annexed Kashmir too has occurred province of Kabul Sabha in 1586. Mughals ruled Kashmir for almost four centuries.
After that, the Sikh Empire under Maharaja Ranjit Singh annexed Kashmir from the Mughal empire in the early 19th century. After that, the British East India company get the Kashmir region after the first “Anglo Sikh” war in 1846. The British then sold Kashmir to “Maharaja Gulab Singh Jamwal” who was the Hindu and the founder of the Royal Dogra dynasty of Jammu. Gulab Singh’s father was in the Army of Ranjit Singh. Gulab Singh was appointed as a Raja of Jammu in 1825. Maharaja Ranjit Singh himself made him one of his close associates, Gulab Singh soon capture the lands of Ladakh and Pakistan for the Sikhs and who knew one day from being a Raja of Jammu he will become the Maharaja of Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Gilgit Baltistan, and Ladakh.
All the land that he has conquered for the Sikh empire. So, from 1846 Hindu Dogra rule began in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir all because of the help from the British East India company. If you see for Maharaja Gulab Singh it is because of the British East India company that Kashmir was added to his princely state. If we analyze the process of annexation of Indian kingdoms by the East India Company from 1757 to 1857 you will notice that the company rarely launched a direct military attack on any unknown territory, instead, it used a variety of political, economic, and diplomatic methods to extend its influence before annexing an Indian kingdom. Further, the company was not interested in the direct administration of the annexed territory they were only interested in expanding their trade.
They were also one step ahead as instead of taking responsibility for director administration why not have a puppet Nawab or a ruler who was willing to grant privileges, finance the wars and meet the demands of trade and other expenses. But that kind of mindset in the first Anglo Sikh War of 1846 the East India Company confiscated the Kashmir region from his empire and sold it to Maharaja Gulab Singh who was the founder of the Royal Dogra dynasty of Jammu for 75 lakh Nanakshahi rupees which was the ruling currency of the Sikh empire at that time. This agreement was formalized in the “Treaty of Amritsar”, which is executed on 16th March 1846. At that time the Governor-General of India was “Henry Hardinge”.
Maharaja Gulab Singh died in 1857 making Maharaja Ranveer Singh the next ruler of the state. Maharaja Ranveer Singh brought a lot of reforms to the state. Penal Court which contains Civil and criminal laws. At the end of his tenure, he also founded separate departments of Foreign affairs, home affairs, civil affairs, and army. He also promoted trade and the shawl industry flourished during his period. In 1885 Ranveer Singh died and requested the British government to nominate his younger son “Amar Singh” as a successor but the British government sees the other son “Pratap Singh” as a successor.
The British government wanted a more credible ruler. For the British Empire, Jammu and Kashmir were a solute state, so, the ruler of a state in the British Empire gets a 21 Gun salute which is authorized from the British Crown so you can imagine the close relationship that the state had with the British Empire.
Maharaja Pratap Singh died in 1925 but he was succeeded by his nephew “Hari Singh”. Hari Singh was the last ruler of Jammu and Kashmir till 1947. So we saw how Kashmir went from the hands of one prince to another. When Kashmir was under Muslim rule, the Hindus were oppressed. Same way when it was undertaken by the Hindu and Sikh rule, the Muslims have a hard time. There has always been a disparity in the state concerning religion and ethnicity is not something that happened recently. South Jammu had a mixed population of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.
In heavily populated Central Kashmir Valley population was overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims. However, “Kashmiri Pandits” was a small but an influential Hindu minority. So, the Princely state of Jammu and Kashmir never developed into a fully coherent identity. However, till 1947, Jammu and Kashmir with the Muslim majority were under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last ruling Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
After the revolt of 1857, the rule of the East India Company was transferred to the British Crown. But then in 1857 when the first revolt of Independence broke out in which Indians irrespective of any religion or community jointly fought against the British, it was then the British government realized that if the Indian society shared a common feeling then soon it is going to be the end of their rule. So, keeping this in mind the period from 1858 to 1905 was the time when the British government started injecting communal poison by playing Indians against one another.
They followed the “Divide and Conquer” policy. There were no communal problems in India before 1857. In India, the most important political group when that went on to become the widespread political party of that time was the “Indian National Congress” which was formed in 1885. Indian National Congress during its initial phase that is in its first 20 years was dominated by a politician with moderate political views and used petition, prayers, meetings, leaflets, and pamphlets memorandum and delegation to present the demands in front of the British government but they were not able to achieve notable goals other than the expansion of the Legislative Council by the Indian Council act of 1892.
In 1937 Sheikh Abdullah met Jawaharlal Nehru for the first time Since Nehru was the leader of the Indian National Congress who was demanding similar rights for people of British India provinces and Nehru was also in support of the people of princely states in the struggle for a representative government. So, naturally, these two became friends and political allies and started helping each other.
Maharaja Hari Singh was fully aware of all these things. Hari Singh never liked the Indian National Congress he didn’t like the entire nationalist movement because he was the king. Lord Mountbatten arrived in India as the last viceroy of India. On 3rd June 1947, Mountbatten proposed the partition plan to divide British Indian into two independent the Dominions of India and Pakistan. He visited Kashmir for five days to persuade the Maharaja to accede to India or Pakistan but Maharaja showed reluctance.
In August 1947 the leaders of the Muslim League and Indian National Congress formally communicated their acceptance of the plan for the partition of the subcontinent into Pakistan and India. From 11th August 1947 to 13th August 1947 partition violence erupted in Sialkot and drove the surviving Hindus and Sikhs to Jammu. All the Hindus and Sikhs who lived in Sialkot region fled to Jammu. On 14th August 1947, Pakistan was created with Muhammad Ali Jinnah as the governor-general and on 15th August 1947, the British government transferred the power of India into the hands of the Indian National Congress with Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister.
All the princely states have the choice either to go with India or Pakistan. Some people also said that there was also an option to be independent but for the sake of the state it was somehow necessary to be with any of the dominions to carry out proper functioning of the administration services as the princely states were running with immense support of British government which will no longer exist afterward.
Anyhow when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh had to decide whether to join India or Pakistan. As we have understood till now that he did not like the Indian National Congress and he also did not like the Muslim League hence he signed a “standstill agreement” with both India and Pakistan. A standstill agreement is a contract that contains provisions on how two parties in this case Indian and Pakistan can offer their deals which would be in the best interest of Jammu and Kashmir and the Maharaja and one more important thing you need to understand is that a standstill agreement can effectively start or stop the process of a hostile takeover if the parties cannot negotiate a friendly deal.
From September 1947’s Jammu and Kashmir were facing minor threats from Pakistan because Pakistan badly wanted Kashmir to be part of it. In September 1947, Pakistan stopped the supplies of essential food, petrol, and clothing to the state and thereafter sent tribal raiders to take control of the state and it was during this time Maharaja Hari Singh had somewhat made up his mind to associate with India. Nehru and other Congress leaders in Delhi were very well informed about the situation inside. Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi demanded the release of Sheikh Abdullah as part of the negotiation with Maharaja.
As a result, he was released the next day. On 22nd October 1947, that is two months after partition Pakistan invaded the Jammu and Kashmir state from the west and Northwest. Inside Maharaja Hari Singh cannot back any longer so in fear of losing his state he appeals for assistance from the Indian government.
He then talked to Prime Minister “Jawaharlal Nehru” and Deputy Prime Minister “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel” and they agreed to send Troops and weapons to Maharaja only on the condition if he would sign the instrument of accession in favor of India. Many of the Western districts of Jammu and Kashmir were captured by the Pakistani troops. On 26th October 1947, Maharaja signed the “Instrument of Accession” and acceded to the state of Indian Union, and its control of the defense, external affairs, and communication comes to the Government of India in return for military aid. This is how Jammu and Kashmir became an eternal part of India.