Legality of Indian Claim on Kashmir

Following the World War-II, there has been an unremitting resistance by the people of Subcontinent against the ruling British colonial power. Under the swelling pressure of the people of subcontinent, the British Government finally had to announce the partition of the Subcontinent on June 3, 1947. However, the British Parliament formally passed “The Indian Independence Act-1947” on July 17, 1947. As per provision of Article-I of the Independence Act, India was to be partitioned into two Dominions namely “India” and “Pakistan” from 15th day of August 1947.

However, Article 7 of the Indian Independence Act very clearly states that from 15th August 1947, “the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian states lapse and with it lapses all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian states”. Consequent upon this, all powers and functions, which were exercisable by the British Government in relation to the Princely States, also ceased.

All agreements of British governments with either rulers or states also lapsed on 15th of August 1947. Since the state of Jammu and Kashmir was a Princely State with a special autonomous status, therefore, it can be very conveniently said that on 15th day of August 1947, the Maharaja Sir Hari Singh was not the permissible ruler of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as all his treaties with British India lapsed on that day. Once he was not a ruler of the state, he had no right to sign the instrument of accession (if at all he signed that) with the new Indian dominion. This title to the state was granted to him by the British Government (East India Company) under the Treaty of Amritsar (Kashmir Sale deed) signed on 16 March 1846 and lapsed on the appointed day of 15th August 1947.

Besides, on July 25, 1947 in his address to special full meetings of the Chamber of Princes held in New Delhi, Lord Mountbatten categorically told all princes of Princely States that they were practically free to join any one of dominions; India or Pakistan. He however clarified that, while acceding to any dominion they could take into account geographical contiguity and wishes of the people. In case of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, either of the above factors was favouring state’s accession to Pakistan, but Maharaja Hari Singh did not accept this basic precondition of accession.

Indian claim that its forces landed Srinagar Airport on October 27, 1947, only after signatures on Instrument of Accession by Maharaja and the Indian government is also fallacious. Indeed, a heavy contingent of Patiala State was involved in fighting against the Kashmiri rebellions in Uri Sector on 18 October 1947, which means that they were very much inside the State`s territory much earlier than October 27, 1947.

On 24 October 1947, Kashmiris formally declared their independence from Dogra Raj and established their own government with the name of Azad (Free) Kashmir Government. Following this Maharaja Hari Singh sent his deputy Prime Minister Mr. R.L. Batra to New Delhi for Indian military assistance to his Government against those revolted and tribal from NWFP who joined their brethrens against a tyrant rule. He (Batra) met the Indian Prime Minster and other prominent Indian leaders and requested for assistance without making any mention or promise of state’s accession to the Indian Union. The Indian government instead sent Mr. V.P Menon (Indian Secretary of State) to Kashmir to assess the situation on the spot by himself on 25 October 1947.

After assessing, the situation in Kashmir Mr. V.P Menon flew back to New Delhi on 26 October 1947, together with Kashmiri Prime Minster Mr. Mahajan, who met top Indian leadership, seeking military assistance. He was refused to get that until state’s formal accession with India. On this Kashmiri Premier threatened the Indian leadership that if immediate military assistance was not granted, he would go to Lahore for negotiations with Pakistani leadership over the future status of the state. In a parallel development, Sheikh Abdullah met Indian Premier, Jawaharlal Nehru, on the same day, October 26, 1947, who agreed to despatch military assistance to the Kashmir government.

As stated by Mahajan, the Kashmiri Prime Minister, that V.P. Menon accompanied him to convince Hari Singh for accession of the State with India on 27 October 1947. Under the compulsion, Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession on the same day i.e. 27 October 1947, which was later taken to Lord Mountbatten (Indian Governor General), who also signed that on the same day (27 October), which was practically difficult. V.P. Menon, however, states that all these formalities of signatures were completed on 26 October 1947, which is impracticable. This version, however, seems concocted as even contradicted by pro Indian Kashmiri Premier. Both however are unanimous on one point that Indian state forces landed at Srinagar airfield in the morning of 27 October 1947 and a battalion of Patiala State received them there, which was already there. Read more of this post

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