The Kashmir tragedy began when under the Treaty of Amritsar in 1846; the British sold the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Gulab Singh, a Hindu Dogra chieftain for the sum of 7. 5 million rupees. Lord Lawrence who negotiated this treaty, termed this transaction as “iniquitous arrangement” The sale of such a vast area with a predominantly Muslim majority was justified by the Viceroy Lord Hardinge , in his correspondence with Queen Victoria ,to recover the losses in wars against the Sikhs.
The maharaja and his kinsmen established and maintained a century of despotic, reactionary and oppressive regime in the state. The people were ruthlessly and heavily taxed and reduced to the condition of abject poverty. The Muslims suffered discrimination in every aspect of life. The slaughter of cow, a sacred animal for the Hindus, was prohibited. If a Muslim killed his cow to feed his family, the penalty was death, later mercifully reduced to ten years jail sentence.
Kashmir Tragedy Essay Example
Many British in India criticized the Maharaja’s oppressive policies against his Muslim subjects, yet the acquisition of Gilgit Agency for strategic purposes, financed largely by the states money, superseded such organizations. In 1925, the semi-autonomous Jagir of Poonch was also ceded to the Maharaja whose coercive behavior had left no corner for him among the Muslim Kashmiris. With the spread of modern education, a demand for basic political rights began in the early 1930’s. In 1931, the Kashmiri Muslims earnestly began protest movement. The leaders of this movement were Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Ch.
Gulam Abbas. They organized Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference. The Maharaja resorted to repressive measures of unusual severity culminating into massive massacre of the Muslims by the security forces. The struggle led to the formation of Glancy commission by the government of India. On the recommendation of the commission, some constitutional reforms were introduced. In 1939 Sheikh Abdullah came under the spell of Gandhi and Nehru. The congress leaders assured him of their support in the struggle against the Maharaja if the Muslim Conference was converted into communal organizations.
Accordingly Sheikh Abdullah began pursuing pro Congress policies from the platform of national conference. Consequently the Muslim Conference Waiz and many other and many other distinguished Kashmiri leaders organized their followers under the banner of Muslim conference. Sheikh Abdullah, however, to please his congress masters, defected and set up National conference. With this development, divergence between the Hindu and Muslim interests came to the fore. The movement soon turned into a wide scale agitation against the Dogra Raj.
There was a demand for an independent and sovereign Pakistan which produced a new situation. As the idea of Pakistan gained momentum, Sheikh Abdullah’s National conference, which was allied with the Hindu Congress, started losing its popularity. Sensing this Sheikh Abdullah turned to Quaid-e-Azam who specially visited Kashmir to bring the two organizations together, but his efforts were badly foiled by Sheikh Abdullah because he was deeply committed to the Congress leaders. It greatly annoyed The Quaid-a-Azam who then openly disapproved Sheikh Abdullah’s policies.
Sheikh Abdullah had boycotted the elections of the state’s assembly while Muslim Conference contested the elections and carried the majority. Pandit Kak, the Prime Minister of Kashmir, had put sheikh Abdullah in jail in 1946 on the eve of the independence of sub-continent. Pandit Kak, in collusion with the Maharaja wanted to declare the independence of Jammu and Kashmir which could not have been possible in the presence of Sheikh Abdullah and other prominent Kashmiri leaders. Sheikh Abdullah had also started his “Quit Kashmir” movement in order to get rid of Maharaja.
The news of Kak’s intention of declaring Kashmir as independent somehow leaked out to the Congress leaders. Nehru, who was busy in negotiations in Cabinet Mission, rushed to Kashmir secure the release of Sheikh Abdullah, his personal friend in order to tie him firmly to the side of the Congress. On the other hand, Gandhi, with the help of Mountbatten, arranged his visit to Kashmir on August 1947. He met the Maharaja and the Prime Minister Pandit Ram Chandra Kak. Gandhi’s object was to oust Kak and to win over the Maharajah for the accession of Kashmir to India.
Gandhi adopted a sanctimonious posture to play upon the religious leanings of the maharani. The Maharaja, who in his youth fell an easy prey to the blackmail of a cheap woman, could not withstand in his declining years the pressure of more exalted kind of woman. Pundit Kak was removed from the office of prime minister within ten days of Gandhi’s visit to Kashmir. A month later Sheikh Abdullah was released from the jail, but Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas and other Muslim Conference leaders remained in prison. He Kashmir problem was now on the way to being solved to Gandhi’s satisfaction.
The Maharaja was being arm-twisted into acceding to India. When the sub-continent was divided, the state was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh; an ignoble predecessors. The people of Kashmir, at the time of partition, felt that in view of the overwhelming Muslim majority the Maharaja would accede to Pakistan. The wishes of Muslim population of Kashmir were demonstrated in an unmistakable fashion on Independence Day. August 15, 1947, was celebrated as Pakistan Day throughout the state. The people of the Kashmir began compelling the Maharaja to announce the accession of the state to Pakistan.