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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Kashmir under the British Administration
January 30, 1890

Legal Document No 30

One of the official arguments in justification of the deposition of the Maharaja of Kashmir is the apparent indifference of the entire body of the Indian Princes in regard to this violent act of the Government. Those who advance such an argument altogether ignore the fact that Indian Princes are perfectly incapable of criticizing the conduct of the Paramount power. It is, however, not a fact that, slaves though they practically are they allowed this act of violence pass by without some sort of protest. Many Indian Princes were so powerfully moved by the incident that they did send secret messages to the Maharaja, deeply sympathizing with his hard lot. They advised him to remain strictly loyal to the British Crown, and at the same time lay his case before Lord Lansdowne, from whom they assured him he would get justice. But the Maharaja has already anticipated his friends, and sent his memorable letter to the Viceroy. Lord Lansdowne will thus see that, by denying justices to His Highness, he has not only bitterly disappointed the Maharaja of Kashmir, but also the Native Princes of India as a body.

That the deposition of the Maharaja caused immense sensation amongst the people of Kashmir and Jammu goes without saying. Indeed, an outbreak was seriously apprehended and the European officials of the State passed their time in great anxiety. General Marquis de Bourbel, the Chief Engineer of the State, who had access to all classes of the people, found their temper so bad, that he thought it prudent to send away his family from Kashmir to Sialkot. There is no doubt that a serious outbreak would have occurred, if the Maharaja and Raja Ram Singh had not supreme control over the army. A hint from them was enough for the Dogras to rise against the new order of things and commit horrible deeds. But both Maharaja Partab Singh and Raja Ram Singh preferred to trust to the sense of justice of the British Government, and they firmly restrained the Dogras from committing any act of violence.

To what a length these Dogras are capable of going may be conceived from an incident, which happened at the end of October last. One of the policies of the present regime is the reduction of the Kashmir army. A regiment of about 1,000 sepoys was thus ordered to be disbanded. But their pay was heavily in arrears, and they refused to obey the order till their salaries were paid in full. The Commander of the regiment had however no money to pay, and he pointed to them the house of the Governor of Kashmir. They besieged the Governor's house and threatened to kill him, and loot the bazaar if he would not pay them. But the treasury was empty, and the Governor was unable to oblige them. So the poor man had to run to the Residency and seek the help of the Resident. Colonel Nisbet however left for Jammu, leaving Captain Ramsay temporarily in charge of the Residency. Captain Ramsay was in a fix. He however advised the Governor to withdraw the order of disbandment at once, and pacify the troops by reinstating them. This was done, and a serious outbreak prevented.

The above incident brings one fact prominently before the public - the utter emptiness of the Kashmir treasury. Indeed, the financial collapse of the State is almost complete. And we shall show by a few facts, how this has been brought about. First of all, highly paid officials have been thrust upon the State. For instance, the three paid Members of the Council are Bhagram, Suraj Kaul, and Sheikh Ghulam Mohi-uddin. The first to get Rs.1,500 per mensem, and the last Rs.800. And yet Bhagram and Suraj Kaul each got only Rs.600 while Extra Assistant Commissioners in British India, and Sheikh Gulam only Rs.300.

But not only do these Members receive high salaries, they have been each given an Assistant or Naib on a pay of Rs. 300 per months All these Assistants are creatures of Colonel Nisbet, whom he has imported from the British territory and through them he manages to keep his control over the Members. One of these Naibs or Assistants is a Gurkha named Thapa. Just fact a Nepalese thrust upon the people of Kashmir, not a word of whose language he can speak or understand. Besides the pay, these Assistants are allowed free quarters. The Governor of Kashmir has also an Assistant or Naib of the above description, one Afzal Khan, who is a well-known creature of Colonel Nisbet.

But if Colonel Nisbet is filling the State with his creatures, so is Raja Amar Singh procuring berths for his own favourtes. The old Vakil got Rs.66 per month. He has been dismissed, and a railway man put in his place on a salary of Rs.500 per mensum: A photographer, who previously taught Raja Amar Singh photography, has been appointed as Superintendent of the printing press on a pay of Rs.500. The old officer of the Toshakhana, who got Rs.200, has been dismissed, and the father of head servant of Amar Singh appointed to the post on a salary of Rs.600. The loaves and fishes of the State are being thus divided mainly to the creatures of Colonel Nisbet and Amar Singh.

Besides many Europeans have been imported into the State on high pay. The Survey Officer, the Chief Engineer, and two or three Assistant Engineers, and the head of the Forest Department are Europeans. The contractors for Jhelum Valley road (the Murree road) and their subordinates are also Europeans. And this road alone devours half a lakh every month, perhaps more. Need anybody now wonder why there is no money in the treasury?

Add to the above the costly hobbies of the Colonel Nisbet. One of these hobbies is the waterwork at Jammu. The treasury was empty, but yet he must prosecute the work and leave a name behind. So he introduced two Engineer friends into the State and asked them to make an estimate of cost and undertake the work. But he was not yet satisfied. He promised them a reward of Rs.10, 000 if they would finish the work in 6 months. The result was that the engineers employed men and purchased materials at exorbitant rates so as to finish the work in time, and get the reward. They finished the work and got the reward, but they have left a veritable white elephant upon the Kashmir State. The mere cost of pumping up the water is Rs.100 per day, or nearly Rs.40, 000 per annum. The water might have been brought down from a higher level, and the cost reduced to almost nil. But the engineers must finish the work in 6 months - the prospect of a reward of Rs.10, 000 was before them. 'o they had no time to search and find out a reservoir on the top of some hill from where the water might come down of its own gravity. And they therefore dug out a well in the bed of the river, and the water has to be raised from there to a height of some 300 feet at the enormous cost stated above.

Nor is this all. Wretched water-piles, with old-fashioned stands, have been introduced. They have been constantly bursting forth, and deluging the streets with water, and waterwork at Jammu has proved altogether a strange phenomenon to the people. And one of the Engineers, who were entrusted with the charge of this water-work, has been appointed for the Kashmir road on Rs.1, 000 per month.

Colonel Nisbet is about to confer the same blessing upon the people of Srinagar at an equally enormous cost. Indeed the water-works there have been already commenced. But there is no immediate necessity for good water at Srinagar. The Jhelum water is quite enough for the purpose. But, we believe, the water-work at Srinagar will also be soon finished by Colonel Nisbet, and the treasury still further exhausted, and the State burdened with another white elephant. If Srinagar wants anything it is the cleaning of its street, and not water.

But while such is the wretched condition of the finance of the Kashmir State, the British Government is going to thrust four British Officers upon the State, with the object of organizing the Kashmir troops. Whether they will be placed under the direction of Raja Ram Singh, who is the Commander in Chief of the Kashmir army, we do not know. But it is not likely that these British officers will ever agree serve to under a Native Commander. We also see that Lieutenant-Colonel Neville Chamberlain has been posted as military to the Council. It is needless to point out that these officers will cost a good deal of money to the State.

Here are a few more items of Expenditure. A new Residency House is about to be built at Jammu at a cost of one lakh. The Resident has already got a house there. But he must have another at the cost of the State. As Jammu and Sialkot have been joined by Railway, there is absolutely no necessity for sucl1 a palace at all at Jammu. And then money is being spent like water upon the Lalmundi palace and Residency houses, in expectation of Lord Lansdowne's visit to Kashmir in March next.

And lastly, the building of the Gilgit Residency which being vigorously pushed on, is a costly affair. Even such things as flag, staffs, furniture, etc. are being sent to Gilgit at the cost of the State. And the following cutting from an Anglo-Indian paper shows how Captain Durand is making himself merry at the expense of the poor people of Kashmir, and how he has been dealing with the subjects of the Maharaja as if they were British subjects: 

"Captain Durand, the British political Agents at Gilgit, is reported to have recently invited the chiefs of Punyal, Hunza and Nagar to come in person or to send suitable representatives to Gilgit to be present at a Darbar. Raja Saddar All Khan of Hunza deputed his half-brother, Mohammad Nasim Khan and the Raja of Nagar his eldest son, Raja Uhzar Khan, while the Punyal Chiefs, who are subjects of the Maharaja of Kashmir, came in person. A Darbar was held by the British Agent, with whom were the Governor of Gilgit and the General Commanding the Kashmir troops. and the establishment of the Gilgit Agency was formally announced. The Chiefs remained in Gilgit as guests for a week, the time being filled up with horse-racing, sports and polo matches in which the people of the country and the Kashmir sepoys freely joined".

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