Kashmir and Partition of India
by Prof. Ramkrishen Kaul Bhatt
under the British was divided into two distinct entities, British Provinces and
Princely States. Princely States under the Government of India Act 1935 were
defined as including any territory, whether described as a state, an estate, a
jagir or otherwise . They were under the suzerainty of His Majesty and not a
part of the British India . The code of conduct governing the relations of
the princely states with the British Government was, therefore, different from
that which governed the relations between provinces and the British Government
. In the case of the provinces, the authority of the British Government was
direct. It was exercised through the British Parliament, the Secretary of State
for India, Governor General in Council or Provincial Governors. In the case of
the princely states, the authority was indirectly exercised by various treaties,
engagements and sanads, supplemented by usage and sufferance .
In 1945, Churchill's coalition
government was voted out and Clement Attlee's Labour Party came to power in
London. British Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced in the House of Commons,
in February 1946, that a Parliamentary delegation would visit India with a view
to meeting the national leaders and discuss various problems connected with self
government in India. The Cabinet Mission, consisting of Lord Pethic Lawrence,
Sir Stafford Cripps, and Mr. L. V. Alexander, all members of the British
Government, arrived in India on 23rd March, 1946, and held conferences with four
representatives, two each of the Congress and the Muslim League. But the
conference failed to devise and agreed formula and the Mission announced their
own proposals in the State Paper of May 16,1946. Their plan rejected the Muslim
League's demand for Pakistan and proposed a federal union of India including
British India and Indian Princely States. It provided for the establishment of a
Constitutional Assembly to frame the future Constitution of India, which was to
be based on the principle that the center would control only three subjects, viz,
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Communications, all other subjects were to be
administered by autonomous provinces and states .
It was proclaimed by the Secretary
of State for India that paramountcy was to lapse after India had achieved
independence and that the future relationship of the states with the rest of
India was to be decided by the parties themselves through consultations and
negotiations . In the meantime, 200 delegates of All India State People's
Conference from all over India, met to discuss the Cabinet Mission Plan, on 8-11
June,1946 . During his speech in the meeting Pandit Jawahir Lal Nehru
insisted on democratisation of the states to bring them at par with the rest of
India. He said," Rulers alone can't decide the fate of nearly 100 million
The Cabinet Mission Plan was
accepted hy the princes, but they wanted to make some proposals during interim
period . All these proposals were not at all concerned with people of the
states. The situation however changed when the Muslim League, after joining the
Interim Government, refused to join the Constitutional Assembly and continued to
insist on its demand for Pakistan. It was felt all over the country and in
England that events in India were leading towards a dangerous impasse. In order
to face the situation more effectively, the British Government appointed Lord
Viscount Mountbatten in place of Lord Wavell as Governor-General of India.
Lord Mountbatten, plunged himself
in the negotiations with the leaders of different political parties and announced that long before June 1948, the Dominions of India and Pakistan would
be established and that the question of Indian states would be dealt with in the
light of the Cabinet Mission's memorandum of May 12,1946 .To approve the
British plan, a conference between Mountbatten and several Indian leaders was
held on June 2, 1947. It was approved on June 3,1947. The plan stated;
"while paramountcy will lapse, according to His Majesty's Governments
declaration of May 12, and May 16,1946, His Majesty's Government will not enter
into military or any other agreement with the Indian states."
Most of the states were under the
impression that the lapse of paramountcy meant independent status for the states
and they could either join the Constitution Assembly or remain independent.
Seeing the attitude of the rulers in taking decision, Pandit Nehru said on June
15,1947, in the All India Congress Committee: "We will not recognise the
independence of the states in India and any recognition of such independence by
any foreign power will be considered as unfriendly act " . Mr. Jinnah
contested the views of Pandit Nehru. On June 17,1947, he said,"
Constitutionally and legally the Indian states will be independent sovereign
states on the termination of paramountcy and they will be free to decide for
themselves and adopt any course they like; it is open to them to join the
Hindustan Constitutional Assembly or decide to remain independent. In case they
opt for independence they would enter into such agreements or relationships with
Hindustan or Pakistan as they may choose."
Throughout the negotiations on the
Cabinet Mission proposals as well as the subsequent schemes of partition and
transfer of power, the question of states and State People's right was kept in
the foreground by the Congress and assurances were extracted from the British
Government that on the lapse of paramountcy the princes would not become
sovereign rulers .... "Sovereignty must reside in the people and not
in any individual. The State people's claim to represent for themselves is
justified and will see to it that they are heard. And certainly their rulers
cannot speak for them," said Nehru on June 8,1947 before the delegates of
State People's conference.
Whereas the Congress supported the
cause of the people of the states to determine their relations with the
Dominions, Muslim League's attitude towards them was antipathetic. The League's
policy of not estranging the princes had become apparent when Mr. Jinnah made
the following observations as far back as 1940:
With the passing of Indian
Independence Act 1947, all the states were released from their obligations to
the Crown. They became free to align their future with either of two Dominions.
All the negotiations that had already been held on Cabinet Mission proposal of
1946 and the transfer of power and Independence Act of 1947, made it evident
that if Indian states became separate independent entities, it would create a
serious vacuum between the Central Government and the States; this would effect
not only political relations but also economic and other relations between the
two. Taking into consideration these problems, Heartley Showcross, the under
secretary of States for India in a speech emphatically maintained that the
British Government would not recognise any state as a separate international
entity, and Prime Minister Atlee speaking on Independence Bill, hoped that no
irrevocable decision to stay out prematurely will be taken.  State
Department was set up on 27 June,1947, to deal with matters concerning states.
It was divided into two sections; one to be headed by a Congress leader and the
other by a Muslim League leader. Sardar Patel and Abdur Rab Nishtar headed these
sections  . Sardar Patel issued agenda for the conference of rulers of
princely states to be held on 25 July, 1947. It included (i) Accession of the
states on defence, external affairs, and communications, (ii) Standstill
Agreement. It was enthusiastically welcomed by states. The same was repeated by
Lord Mountbatten in his capacity as Crown Representative, when the special
session of Chamber Princes was held on 25 July,1947. He assured the princes that
their accession on these three subjects would involve no financial liability and
that in other matters there would be no encroachment on their sovereignty.
Finally he appealed to them to join any one of the two dominions before 15
August, l947 .
- The only important states
which matter are not in the Eastern but in the North-Western one. They are
Kashmir, Bahawalpur, Patiala etc. If these states willingly agree to come
into the federation of the Muslim Homeland, we shall be glad to come to a
reasonable and honourable settlement with them. We, however, have no
desire to force them or coerce them in any way. 
In order to expedite work, the
Negotiating Committee of Chamber of Princes prepared the draft of Instrument of
Accession and Standstill Agreement  which were approved by the General
Conference of the Chamber of Princes on August 1, 1947 . Some of the rulers
were inclined to execute Standstill Agreements but wait as the Instrument of
Accession was concerned. It was, however, made clear to such rulers in the
conference that the Government of India had decided to execute Standstill
agreement with only those who had already signed the Instrument of Accession.
 Therefore the only bases which constituted the basis of relationship between
the Indian states and the successor government in British India were the
Instrument of Accession and the Standstill Agreement.
Thus before 15th August, 1947, all
the states except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir had acceded either to India or
Pakistan. In Hyderabad the public opinion was divided; while the majority who
were Hindus favored accession with Indian Union, a strong minority under the
leadership of Kasim Rizvi wanted to remain independent as the Muslim state of
Hyderabad, and was aggresively hostile to Indian Union. The Government of
Hyderabad failed to check the frequent raids of Muslim razakars and the militant
communists of Telegana into the territory of Indian Union. These hostile designs
were overcome by police action, before the Nizam consented to accede to the
Junagarh had a Muslim ruling family
and 85% Hindu majority population. It had stated it would go along with the
policy of other 279 Kathiawar states, many encircling it, all of which acceded
to India. It was not contiguous at any point with Pakistan, and its railways,
posts and telegraph were an integral part of the Indian communication system.
There was a coup de tat on August 10, 1947, by a group of Sindhi Muslims
(pro-Pakistan) under the leadership of Bhutto, took over the government and the
Nawab became a virtual prisioner in his palace. On September 15, 1947, he
eventually acceded to Pakistan. On November 9, 1947, India occupied the state at
the invitation of the Prime Minister. On February 24, 1948, a plebiscite was
held resulting in an overwhelming vote for accession to India. Finally, in
January 1949, Junagarh was merged with Saurashtra, a union of princely states of
Kathiawar. Jammu and Kashmir was the only state whose Maharaja delayed the
accession of the state to India.
1. Govt. of India Act 1935, sub
section(1) of section 31.
2. White Paper on Indian States
(Ministry of States, Govt of India1950), p. 17.
3. Ibid. , p. , 22.
4. Report of the Joint Committee
on Indian Constitutional Reforms. (Govt. of India Central Publication Branch,
5.White Paper on Indian States
(Ministry of States Govt. of India 1950) , p. 28.
6. V. P. Menon, The Story of the
Integration of the Indian States, (Bombay, 1969) pp. 65-66.
7. Indian Annual Register, vol
8. Ibid. , p. 76.
9. Letter from the Nawab of
Bhopal, Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes to Viceroy dated June 19, 1946.
10. Mountbatten, Time to Look
Forward, Speeches 1947-48 (London, 1949) pp.13-18.
11. Indian Annual Register, vol.1
,June 4 ,1947, p. 213.
12. Ibid. June 15, 1947, p. 214.
13. Sisir Gupta, Kashmir; A Study
in India-Pak Relations, (Bombay 1966) p. 48.
14. Indian Annual
Register,1946,vol .1, p. 213
15. Ibid., p. 214 .
16. Jamal-ud Din Ahmad, Recent
Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah.
17. White Paper on Indian States,
(Ministry of States, Govt. of India,1950), p.32.
18. Parliament Debates, House of
Commons vol. 439, 1946-47, June 23, 1947.
19. White Paper on Indian States,
(Ministry of States , Govt. of India 1950) p. 33.
20. Patiala Archives, Chamber
Section vii.(A), 38, of 1947.
21. The Standstill Agreement.
22. Patiala Archives, Chamber
Section vii (A), 32 of 1947.
24. White Paper on Hydrabad
(Ministry of States, Govt. of India,1948).
For detailed study: Bhatt
Political and Constitutional Development of the
State of Jammu & Kashmir, (Seema Publishers, New Delhi)