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Information Digest
Volume 4
April 2003

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Table of Contents

Lalla-Ded Educational Trust
Project Zaan
Information Digest - Vol. 4

Har-van

History

Kashmir - Religious Persecution 

Its beginning

Hindu rule came to an end in 1339, when Shah Mir, under the title of Sultan Shamas-ud-Din founded Sultan dynasty, which ruled for 222 years (1339-1561 AD). During the first 50 years of their rule, there is no evidence of religious persecution of Hindus. There is no record of forcible conversion. In fact the first three Sultans were quite liberal and had allowed complate religious freedom. But things changed during the rule of Sikandar (1389-1413).

 Sikandar followed the policy of religious tolerance for some time. His thinking changed with the arrival of 700 Sayyids under the leadership of Sayyid Mohamad Hamdani. They came from Persia as they had been persecuted there on political reasons by Timur. Sikandar received them with open .mp3s.

 Sayyids were orthodox Sunni theologians. Sikandar came into direct contact with them. As a result he was fired with religious zeal. He resolved to run the State on Islamic laws [The present call for Nizam-e-Mustafa]. He tried to propagate the faith by force. In this task, he was actively assisted by his prime minister Suha Bhat (Saif-ud-Din), a recent convert to Islam. Thousands of Hindus were converted and killed. A large number of Brahmins migrated to plains, carrying their sacred books with them. Hundreds of temples were destroyed.

 Sultan Sikandar, Butshikan was succeeded by his eldest son Noor Khan, who assumed the title of Sultan Ali Shah (1413-1420). He retained the services of his father’s prime minister, the renegade Brahmin Suha Bhat. Ali Shah continued the policy of persecution of Hindus till Suha Bhat’s death. After the latter’s death, Ali Shah appointed his younger brother Shahi Khan his prime minister.

Return of Tolerance - An Interlude

Shahi Khan (later knows as Zain-ul-Abidin) - Early life:

The younger son of Sikandae, he had fortunately received good education. He had had an opportunity of remaining in the court of Timurlaine (Timurlang) at Samarqand for seven crucial years. He observed the secrets of the prosperity of the people in that land. He had also developed interest in arts and crafts of the region. He realised their importance in the economy of Kashmir valley. By disposition, he was free from religious fanaticism.

 As prime minister in the court of his elder brother, he followed a liberal religious policy. Luckily his elder brother, the Sultan had by then mellowed down. Shahi Khan tried to assuage the hurt feelings of the Hindus. He tried to treat all irrespective of their religion, but on their merit. In a very short time, he succeeded in winning the confidence of Hindus.

Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-1470)

Shahi Khan, Ali Shah’s prime minister and younger brother ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1420. He assumed the title of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin.

 Zain-ul-Abidin’s accession to the Kashmir throne ushered in an era of peace, religious tolerance, justice, material progress, prosperity and glory of the valley. He has truly been called Budshah for his benevolence. He is chiefly being remembered for the following:

1. Recall of the Hindus: For bringing order in the country, he wanted the old class of officials, the Pundits, back with guarantee of full civil and religious liberties. Providence also helped. He fell seriously ill. He was cured by the famous physician Shri Bhat. The king wanted to give him a valuable gift. Shri Bhar refused to take anything for himself. Instead he wanted the king to remove all restrictions on Pundits imposed by Sikandar including poll tax (Jazia). The king at once granted him the request. He took the following steps:

a) Pundits could perf.mp3 their religious functions freely.
b) Made Shri Bhat his prime minister.
c) All persecutionary laws made by Sikandar were withdrawn.
d) Thos who had migrated, were invited back and most of them did come.
e) People were p.mp3itted to build new temples, some old ones were repaired.
f) The king built two temples near Ishbur with land grants.
g) Poill tax (Jazia) was abolished.
h) Killing of cows was banned.
i) During Hindu festivals, the king himself abstained from eating meat.
j) Killing of fish in springs sacred to Hindus was forbidden.
k) He would take part in Hindu festivals and go on pilgrimage to Hindu Tirthas including once to the holy Sharada Temple.

2. a) He built numerous houses for widows of Brahmins killed in the reigns of Sikandar and Ali Shah.
b) He got Hindu Shastras including Mahabharata translated into Persian.
c) He entrusted administration  to Pundits, encouraged them to learn Persian before it became the official language. Shri Bhat, Tilakacharya, Shiva Bhatt, Simha Bhatt, Bodhi Bhatt and Shri Ramanand were some of the learned men and prominent administrators.

3. Development of Arts & Crafts: Zain-ul-Abidin recognised the ability and zeal of Kashmiris to learn certain arts and crafts, which he had learnt while at Samarqand. He introduced: a) Carpet Making. b) Papier Machie. c) Wood Carving. d) Silj Weaving. e) Paper Making. f) Stone Cutting & Poilishing etc. g) Window Cutting. h) Gold Beating. He invited competent teachers and craftsmen to train his subjects endowed with talent and natural aptitude. Soon these products acquired great fame in Asia and Europe. Pt. Anand Kaul says, “Zain-ul-Abidin turned Kashmir into a garden of industry.” Most of these are the bedrock of Kashmir economy even today.

4. Public Works: Zain-ul-Abidin built many towns and villages. He built several canals, many of them have been repaired or reconstructed and are under use. Bijbehara, Mansbal, Zainagir, Shahkul at Bawan are some of them revived for use. His engineer Damra Kach paved a road with stones. He also made Zaina Kadal, the first wooden bridge in Kashmir. The Sultan introduced wooden architecture. His 12 storeyed Zoona Dab is well known. (Also refer Pages 6,7,8 of Information Digest Vol.1)

 In short Zain-ul-Abidin  reversed the policy of his father Sikandar Butshikan, re-established a regime of religious tolerance, introduced measures to generate employment, improved irrigation and the economy of his State. And therefore called Budshah.

Kashmir under Dogras

The Birth of Jammu & Kashmir State

Sir Owen Dixon said in 1950, “The State of Jammu & Kashmir is not really a unit geographically, demographically or economically. It is an agglomeration of territories brought under the political power of one Maharaja. That is the unity it possesses”.  How that unity was achieved is the story of the birth of J&K State.

 Jammu passed into the hands of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1803. It was given to Raja Gulab Singh in F.mp3 by Ranjit Singh in 1820. Gulab Singh was the son of Mian Kishore Singh, jagirdar of an area near Sambha. He was a brave adventurous young man. Born in 1792, he joined the services of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1809. He rendered meritorious services to Ranjit Singh, conducted many successful military campaigns and brought under control the unruly Jammu province. [Kashmir valley was ruled by the Sikhs through governors from 1819.]

 In 1820, Jammu province was given to Gulab Singh (by Ranjit Singh) in f.mp3. To enable him to collect the revenues, Gulab Singh was allowed to raise an .mp3y and was given the title of Raja. In 1821, the Raja annexed Kishtwar. Gulab Singh reduced Rajouri under the instructions of Ranjit Singh. Thereupon Maharaja Ranjit Singh granted to Gulab Singh and his successors the principality of Jammu with the hereditary title of Raja. His able general, Wazir Zorawar Singh subjugated Ladakh and then Baltistan. Later, after the defeat of the Dogras and the death of Zorawar Singh in a battle at Lhasa, Ladakh was temporarily lost to Tibetans. Raja Gulab Singh sent 6000 troops under the command of Diwan Hari Chand and Wazir Ratnu to Ladakh. The Raja directed the campaign himself in the name of the Lahore (sikh) government while camping at Nasim bagh in Srinagar. The Dogras won a decisive victory. According to a treaty with the Tibetans, the boundary between Tibet and Ladakh was defined, the latter coming under p.mp3anent Dogra rule.

 Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839 was followed by disorder in the Lahore government. Gulab Singh played a significant role in the struggle for the Sikh throne. In 1841, the British wanted cooperation of the Sikhs in Afghanistan. Raja Gulab Singh was deputed by the Lahore government. He rendered valuable services to the British government and won their favour. He aimed at securing an independent status for his newly f.mp3ed State of Jammu. 

Another opportunity came. In the war between the Sikhs and the British, Raja Gulab Singh played an important role. He entered into negotiation with the British, who had won a decisive victory. Conscious of the strength of Gulab Singh, the British welcomed a negotiated peace. The treaty among other things stated:

a) The Sikh Maharaja recognises independent sovereignty of Raja Gulab Singh.
b) The British government agreed to recognise Gulab Singh’s independence and right to enter into a separate treaty with it.

 The British government and Maharaja Gulab Singh signed a treaty on 16 March 1846 at Amritsar, known as the ‘Treaty of Amritsar’. The British transferred to Maharaja Gulab Singh and his heirs all the hilly country to the eastward of the River Indus and westwards of the River Ravi including Chamba and excluding Lahul (area ceded to the British by the Sikhs) in lieu of rupees seventy five lakhs, which the Sikh government had to pay to the British as ransom. The Maharaja accepted the supremacy of the British and agreed to pay a tribute. Gulab Singh overcame all local resistance of Sikh governors in Kashmir valley and added it to his possessions, to give birth to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, comprising hilly districts of Jammu including Kishtwar and Rajouri, Ladakh, Baltistan and Kashmir valley. The British recognised it as an independent state with complete internal independence.

Addition of Gilgit: Gilgit and adjoining areas on the right side of the River Indus were not transferred to Gulab Singh, though had been under the Sikhs. Gulab Singh succeeded in exercising control over it though temporarily. He lost the area in 1851 due to a series of rebellions. However, Ranbir Singh finally annexed it in 1859. In 1870, Chiefs of Nagar and Hunza were subjugated. Chitral followed suite and received Rs. 12000/- annually as subsidy from Maharaja Ranbir Singh. In 1889, the Kashmir Council ruling the State (Partap Singh was deprived of power) allowed the British government to establish the British Agency in Gilgit with Civil, Political, Military administrative powers.

 On 29th march 1935, Maharaja Hari Singh gave Gilgit Wazarat to the British government on lease for 60 years with authority to establish civil and military government there. (In addition to Gilgit Agency).

 The State of Jammu & Kashmir was ruled by Dogra dynasty from 1846 to 1947 AD.

  1846 - 1856  Maharaja Gulab Singh
  1856 - 1885  Ranbir Singh
  1885 - 1925  Partap Singh
  1925 - 1947  Hari Singh

Dawn of Modernism 1846-1925 AD

Dogra rule saw the end of certain pernicious practices, such as Begar (forced labour) and emergence of trends leading to the beginning of Modernism.

1) Gulab Singh suppressed crime ruthlessly. Some leaders of Galwans (Horse thieves) were captured and executed publicly. He introduced a Criminal Penal Code (CrPC), still essentially in vogue. He established 30 Subordinate Courts and Appeal Courts at Srinagar and Jammu. Any one could approach the Maharaja - Cost half a rupee Stamp Paper.

2. Education, the central pillar for progress received due attention.
a) Ranbir Singh was a patron of education and learning. He donated liberally to Sanskrit institutions at Banaras, donated a lakh of rupees for founding the Punjab University and became its first fellow; established  Maktabas and Pathshallas.
b) Ranbir Singh established a Sanskrit college, a research centre, a library with 5000 manuscripts, a translation bureau where Sanskrit and Persian books were translated into Hindi, Urdu and Dogri, and Sanskrit texts written in Sharda script transcribed in Devanagari script at Raghunath Mandir, Jammu, which he had built earlier.
c) Ranbir Singh started a State school at Srinagar in 1874, where education was imparted in Persian and Sanskrit. In 1886 AD, Dr. A. Mitra introduced English teaching according to University curriculum.
d) In 1905 AD (Partap Singh rule) a college was set up at Srinagar with the efforts of Annie Besant. It was later taken over by the State government and named Sri Partap College. Later in 1908, another college was started at Jammu.
e) Earlier Ranbir Singh had allowed the Church Missionary Society of England to open a private school (CMS School). Rev. J.S.Doxey opened a school in 1881. He was succeeded by Rev. Hinton Knowles who handed  over the charge of the school (with 500 students) to Rev. C.Tyndale Biscoe in 1892. It was the first school in the State to follow the university syllabus and imparted education in English.

3)  State Subject Question:

a) Government service was the only source of employment of the educated. With better facilities for education, pressure on employment increased.
b) In 1889, the Kashmir Council changed official language from Persian to Urdu. People were not prepared for the change. Old State officilas, not knowing Urdu, were retrenched and replaced by Punjabis. (This policy continued for a long time.)
c) The educated class (chiefly Kashmiri Pandits) agitated against the introduction of non state subjects. One Shankar Lal Koul carried a relentless campaign in the Indian Press. Ultimately, the State government accepted that only the State Subjects were eligible to government service. ‘State Subject Law’ was enacted.

4)  Revenue System:
 From ancient times, agriculture was the principal occupation and land revenue, the main source of State revenue. During the Hindy period, the State claimed one-sixth of the produce. During the rule of Sultans and upto Mughals, it was generally half, but the Mughals raised it to 75% of the produce. Maharaja Ranjit Singh experimented with cash assessment, but it degenerated into a system of auctioning the land. It ruined the tiller without any gain to the State.
 In 1889, land settlement was entrusted to Sir Walter Lawrence. He completed the Survey in 1893. As a result:
a) Occupancy rights were given to the cultivator.
b) State demand was fixed for 14 years.
c) Payment in cash was substituted for payment in kind.
d) All land was carefully evaluated on the basis of its quality and irrigational facilities.
e) Hereditary rights were granted to those who accepted the first assessment.
f) Begar (forced labour) was abolished.

6) Road Communication:
a) From ancient times, the valley surrounded by tall mountains remained isolated. There were no roads connecting the Valley to the rest of the country. “There was an absence of roads fit for wheeled traffic in the Valley in1890”, writes Lawrence. Construction of the first cart-road linking the Valley to the nearest rail head at Rawalpindi, 200 miles away, was started in 1880 and completed in 1890. Maharaja Partap Singh inaugurated the road and named it the Jhelum Valley Road.
b) In 1912, under the advice of his far sighted minister Dr. A Mitra, Maharaja Partap Singh ordered the construction of a cart-road over the Banihal. The work was started in 1913 and the first vehicle, a horse-drawn carriage crossed over in 1915, linking Kashmir to Jammu, 200 miles away. Jammu was already connected by rail to Sialkot in 1890.
c) Gilgit was connected to the Valley by a road fit for mule and pack-poney traffic. Gilgit Agency was connected to the .mp3y Headquarter in India and Residency in Srinagar by telephone. The State also took limited benefit.

7) Anti-flood Measure:
 The river bed beyond Wular was desilted using mechanical dredges driven by electricity. For this purpose, a hydro-electric power house was constructed at Mohara in 1907. (Second hydro-electric project in India, first being in Mysore). Dredging started in 1908. 6100 acres of land reclaimed round Wular, used for paddy cultivation. Dredgers sold in a junk in 1917, considered a mistake.

Kashmir - June 1947 to October 1947

Pains of Procrastination     

Introduction:  The State as on 15th August 1947:
Jammu and Kashmir was the largest of the princely states in territorial extent and the most diverse in cultural t.mp3s. It was also very strategically located. It shared its borders with Tibet (720 Kms.), Sinkiang (640 Kms.), Afghanistan (256 Kms.) and the newly born Pakistan in August 1947 (1120 Kms.) besides India. The state was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh, and had an overall Muslim majority. However, demographic distribution was as varied as its cultural diversity. Kashmir valley had predominantly Muslim population, Hindus (Kashmiri Pandits) and Sikhs f.mp3ing significant minorities. All spoke Kashmiri. Hindus were in majority in eastern Jammu and Muslims in western Jammu. All spoke Dogri. Ladakh was predominantly Buddhist populated area, linguistically close to Tibet. West of Ladakh was dominated by Shia Muslims speaking Balti. To further north lay Gilgit, mostly Muslim populated, speaking varied dialects. A strip running close to Pakistan border, comprised Muzaffarabad district, Poonch, Rajouri and Mirpur. The population here was mostly Muslims, with sizeable Hindus and Sikhs speaking a variant of Hindustani, close in identity to people on the other side of the border.

 National Conference (NC) under the leadership of Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, was the most popular political party in the State. Ideologically, it was close to Indian National Congress. Ghulam Abbas, a non-Kashmiri speaking Mirpurian was the President of Muslim Conference. It had some presence in Mirpur and Poonch. National Conference  had launched Quit Kashmir Movement in 1946. R.C.Kak was the Prime Minister. The government came down on the people with a heavy hand. The Indian National Congress (INC) , particularly Jawahar Lal Nehru extended support to the people when they were under suppression. The State, though overwhelmingly Muslim populated was not affected by the Two Nation theory of the Muslim League and, therefore, was free from communal tensions when rest of the country was in the grip of communal violence.

Events - June 1947 onwards

Momentous political changes were initiated in the country on 3rd June 1947. The British government announced its scheme of the partition of British India into two dominions, India and Pakistan. It was made clear that the partition was applicable to the British India only. The Indian states would be dealt with under the t.mp3s of the Cabinet Mission Memorandum to the Chancellor of Indian Princes on 12 May 1946, which in effect stated that once self-governing governments came into being in British India, His Majesty's government would cease to exercise the power of paramountcy over the princes, bringing to an end the political arrangements (and hence Defence also) between the States and the  British government. The princes could enter into agreements with the new government or governments.

 On 17th June, the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act, under which two dominions, India and Pakistan would come into existence on 15th August 1947. It was reiterated that paramountcy of the British Crown would lapse to the Princes, who were free to accede to one or the other dominion, keeping in view the principle of contiguity.

 The 562 princes had to decide the fate of their people and of themselves also, as quickly as possible before 14th August. Till then, there was only one Governor General. So like his colleagues, Maharaja Hari Singh had to take a decision, keeping in view the socio-cultural and political conditions in view.

 On 19th June 1947, the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten came to Kashmir on a four day visit. He advised the Maharaja not to declare independence, but to ascertain the will of the people in any manner and accede to either of the Dominions. He had the authority from future rulers (i.e. Congress leadership) of India to assure His Highness that if he chose to join Pakistan, they would not object. Mountbatten was also of the opinion that if Hari Singh would accede to India, Pakistan could not interfere, as it did not exist. The Viceroy therefore, insisted that the decision was to be taken before 14th August 1947. In his speech in London on his return from India, Lord Mountbatten lamented that in spite of his repeated advice to the above effect, His Highness did nothing, giving rise to complications. (Ref: Time to Look Forward - PP 268-69). About the visit, Campbell-Johnson in his book 'My Mission with Mountbatten' says, " When he (Viceroy) got there, he found the Maharaja very elusive and the only conversations that took place, were when they were driving. The f.mp3al meeting fixed for the ultimate day could not take place as the Maharaja suffered a colic attack. Uncertainty and indecision continued.

 Towards the end of July 1947, Mahatma Gandhi visited Srinagar. He was not allowed to address the people. He advised the Maharaja to constitute a democratic government implying releasing National Conference leaders and associating Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah with administration. All that happened was that Thakur Janak Singh, a f.mp3er revenue minister replaced R.C.Kak as Prime Minister.

 On 12 August, Kashmir telegraphically entered into a standstill agreement with Pakistan regarding continuance of Civil Supplies, Transport, Communications, Postal Services etc. A similar telegram was sent to the Government of India. They wanted a personal discussion which never matured.

 Soon after the creation of Pakistan, trouble started first in Poonch and then on the Poonch-Mirpur border. On 4th September 1947, the Kashmir government lodged a strong protest with the government of West Punjab against large scale border raids by .mp3ed Muslims. Ignoring the protest, the Pak administration clamped an economic blockade, cutting essential supplies. Instead of seeking relief from India and reading the writing on the wall, Maharaja Hari Singh thought it fit to send a cable to the British Prime Minister. By the end of September, the border raids increased and the situation became explosive. The British Prime Minister ignored the cable and the Maharaja was al.mp3ed.

 Thakur Janak Singh, after staying in office for about two months was replaced by Meharchand Mahajan, an eminent jurist. On 29th September 1947, full 1-1/2 months after Pakistan had been born, Hari Singh released Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah and other NC leaders and workers. Sensing danger, the NC leaders activised the organisation. A delegation under G.M.Sadiq was sent to Pakistan. Sadiq met Liaqat Ali Khan, the Pak PM twice and presented  to him, a four point proposal; 1) to support Kashmiri People's struggle for self-rule; 2) to recognise the right of the people to decide the question of accession; 3) to allow people some time for it and 4) not to precipitate the matter meanwhile. G.M.Sadiq had to come back empty-handed and hurriedly in the face of a strict blockade.

 Maharaja Hari Singh was under pressure. He was advised even by Sardar Patel to associate Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah with the administration and take a decision. This, both Nehru and Patel felt was necessary to face any trouble from Pakistan which they feared. Unfortunately, time was allowed to slip. .mp3ed incursions became more frequent, necessitating the deployment of state forces in small strength all along the border, leaving no reserves in the barracks. Brig. Gansara Singh, who had been sent to Gilgit as Governor to receive charge from the British, was facing a revolt.

 On 22nd October 1947, 5000 .mp3ed tribesmen guided by Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan (under the name of General Tariq) entered the State and occupied Muzaffarabad and Domel. Their onward march was halted for two days by the valiant Brig. Rajinder Singh.

 The NC organised National Militia under the guidance of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed. Thousands of men and women volunteered to join it. Some of them were given short training in rifle-shooting. They were to maintain law and order, to keep vigil against enemy infiltration in the city and suburbs, and to assist the civil administration. Civil transport, whatever available was requisitioned along with the drivers for use in the emergency.

 The Maharaja sent an SOS to the government of India for military help on 24th Oct. 1947. Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah also flew to Delhi to appeal to the Indian Cabinet. Meanwhile, raiders were marching towards Baramulla.

 On 25th October 1947, the Defence Committee met under the Cha.mp3anship of the Governor General, Mountbatten to decide on the Maharaja's request for supply of .mp3s and ammunition. At this meeting, General Lockhurt, the Commander-in-Chief in India, read a telegram from Pakistan .mp3y Chief stating that 5000 .mp3ed raiders had entered and occupied Muzaffarabad, and many more were on their way. Would the supply of .mp3s and ammunition to the local population meet the requirement in the face of a massive .mp3ed raid? The problem of troop reinforcement was talked, but according to Campbell-Johnson, Lord Mountbatten ruled it out till the State had acceded. V.P.Menon, the Secretary M.O. Indian States was sent to Kashmir immediately. Menon flew to Kashmir, assessed the situation, advised the Maharaja to leave for Jammu along with him and went back to Delhi. On 26 October, the Instrument of Accession was signed by the Maharaja, Meharchand Mahajan and Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah as a witness.

 The accession of Jammu & Kashmir was accepted by the Governor General in the same way as in the case of other 560 odd Indian States. However in a separate letter to the Maharaja, Lord Mountbatten said, "In consistence with the policy of government of India that in the case of any state where the issue of accession has been a matter of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of State. It is my government's wish that as soon as the State has been cleared of the raiders and as soon as law and order has been restored, the question of State's accession should be settled by a reference to the people."

 It was a promise to the government of India which the State government fulfilled on 6th February 1954, when the duly elected Constituent Assembly ratified the State having acceded to India on 26th October 1947.

 The first batch of Indian .mp3y under Col. Rai landed at Srinagar airport on 27th October when Baramulla had fallen. Raiders then moved towards outskirts of Srinagar city, but were defeated and driven out of the Valley on 8th Nov. 1947.

 Accession has been done in accordance with the  provisions of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, under which 560 other state rulers decided their accession. The legality of Kashmir accession has not been challenged even in UNO. By implication, it has been recognised. But unfortunately the problem has been a constant headache. Is it not due to procrastination of a single person who mattered most?
 
 

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