Big win for the people of Duggar Desh- ‘Jammu’
Er PL Khushu
Maharaja Hari Singh’s birthday will now be a public holiday in Jammu and Kashmir. Nevertheless, it finally came true. A memorial day for a great king of the last ruler of the Dogra Empire, Jammu and Kashmir was declared for the first time, after a long struggle of the people of Jammu in particular, after the independence of India, which will be celebrated on the day of his birth on September 23. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the party was a “tribute to the services of the Maharaja”. Great celebrations took place in Jammu after the announcement, when the valiant Dogra people of Jammu declared that it was their long-awaited request, which has been pending for a long time. Better late than never, it’s finally done. This is a great victory for the right-thinking people of Jammu and Kashmir in general and the people of Jammu the Duggar Desh in particular. Jammu has always been discriminated against in all respects since Sheikh Abdullah took the reins of state governance in 1947, almost until now, when even the BJP forgot about Jammu during its murky alliance with the PDP, led by muftis. Declaring the day of the birth of the late Maharaja Hari Singh a public holiday is no favor to him or the people of Jammu, as Maharaja Hari Singh was the sovereign ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, which included Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan, Muzaffarabad-Mirpur, Aksai Chin and Saksham Valley. The British wanted him to rent the Gilgit agency to them. The Maharaja was reluctant. He was one of the few Hindu kings to rule over his predominantly Muslim subjects. He was a great secular leader of courageous insight, who ruled Jammu and Kashmir with solemn sway. In tracing the history and journey of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, one recalls the events of the past and in this context, when it will be necessary to recall how the undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir was created. The state of Jammu and Kashmir came into existence on March 9, 1846, with the signing of the Treaty of Amritsar by Maharaja Gulab Singh with the British. This multi-regional, multi-cultural and multi-religious state continued until October 26, 1947, when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India. Half the state was lost when the ceasefire agreement was signed with Pakistan, which came into effect on January 1, 1949. Who is responsible for this? The inference is implicit. This left the huge region of Gilgit-Baltistan and the western strip of Muzaffarabad-Mirpur under Pakistani control, involving about half of the original state’s geographic area and a third of its population seceding from that state. The state of Jammu and Kashmir finally came to an end on October 31, 2019, with the original state eventually split into two union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. History bears witness to the fact that the original state of Jammu and Kashmir covering 84,000 square miles, one of the largest princely states in British India, was actually a Dogra Empire built through the great efforts and sacrifices of Maharaja Gulab Singh and Maharaja Ranbir. Singh, who extended the borders of India to the borders of Tibet and Central Asia. It is this legacy of these Dogra warrior rulers, which the Indian government defends with its military might, while part of it in Ladakh is under invasion from China. Let us pay homage to these great Dogra leaders who had placed all these territories under their domain of domination. This state was ruled for about 100 years by the Dogras, then for about 70 years by the Kashmiri. Jammu and Kashmir was one of 562 princely states that joined and became part of India at or after independence in 1947. The revocation in 2019 of special status under Section 370, as well that the downgrading and splitting into two union territories, the other being Ladakh, also wiped out a legacy of the Dogra Empire. When the British officially left on August 15, 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu ruler of a Muslim-majority state, wanted his state to remain independent. But he signed an instrument of accession with India in October of the same year to secure the support of his army against an invasion by Pakistani-backed tribal raiders. He later lived in exile in Mumbai, where he died in 1961. Even after accession, the state had its own punishment code, the Ranbir Penal Code, named after one of Hari Singh’s predecessors, Ranbir Singh . These laws recalled the reign of the Dogras. Among the most notable was the Subjects of State Act which prohibited foreigners from owning land in Jammu and Kashmir. But all that disappeared as Article 370 was gutted on 5th August 2019. The glorious status of Jammu came to an end with the signing of the Instrument of Accession in favor of India on 26th and 27th October 1947 by the Maharaja Hari Singh. There was constant pressure from the then Congress leaders on Maharaja to somehow introduce Sheikh Abdullah into the new machinery of state power. When there was an invasion from Pakistan to Kashmir by border raiders in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh appealed to Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India, for Indian military aid. In his offer of accession dated October 26, 1947 which accompanied the instrument of accession duly signed by him on October 26, 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh wrote: “I can also inform your Excellency’s government that I have the intention to set up an interim government and to ask Sheikh Abdullah to assume responsibilities in this emergency with my Prime Minister. Lord Mountbatten accepted membership after a meeting of the Defense Committee on October 26, 1947. In his letter to the Maharaja, Lord Mountbatten wrote: “My government and I note with satisfaction that Your Highness has decided to invite Sheikh Abdullah to form an interim government to work with your prime minister. Support from Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was a key factor in the Maharaja’s appointment of Sheikh Abdullah as head of the emergency administration. As a result, Sheikh Abdullah was appointed head of an emergency administration by an order issued by the Maharaja which was undated except for October 1947 in place of the date. He took over as head of the emergency administration on October 30, 1947. Sheikh was appointed Prime Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, as the post of head of administration was later abolished and Sheikh Abdullah was appointed state premier in March. 1948. This happened with Jawaharlal Nehru’s constant lobbying of Maharaja Hari Singh to have Sheikh Abdullah appointed Prime Minister and the power of administration transferred to him entirely. Thus began the stage of maternal treatment with the Jammu division in all parameters of development, whether it was education, whether it was employment, whether it was agricultural development, whether it was tourism development, whether it was the development of communication infrastructure, be it cultural development, be it its representation in legislative bodies and above all every effort has been used and applied to keep Jammu under the monopoly of Kashmir centric politics. This was the case for all the political parties that ruled the state, while Jammu had very little say in governance. While declaring Maharaja’s birthday a public holiday is a welcome step, much more needs to be done to fulfill the long-awaited aspirations of the people of Jammu. Is it still necessary that the people of Jammu remain calm and continue to suffer. Probably not. May the ruling political powers in Delhi take the pulse of the people of Jammu now and rectify all previous acts of hypocritical discrimination against them and ensure that Jammu is declared a separate state in its own right and the land label of the union be withdrawn. This is the right time to do so because Jammu and Kashmir cannot remain a territory of perpetual union and today or tomorrow its statehood must be restored in any case. In this case, Jammu will probably refuse to be part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir for obvious reasons of discrimination, which Jammu has faced. Once bitten twice shy. Why shouldn’t Jammu be a separate state and suffer from Kashmir’s problems, which can be geopolitical and strategically loaded with other security considerations? Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha declaring the public holiday on his birthday is a “worthy tribute” to the Maharaja. This is a feat for the lost Dogra pride as the people of Duggar Desh Jammu should be very grateful to the Government of India through Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. Displaced Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley congratulate their fellow Jammu people for such an achievement when the KP lost their pride and power in the Kashmir Valley in 1947 after he came out as Maharaja of Kashmir when the power was handed over to Sheikh Abdullah.
(The author is a Chartered Consulting Civil Engineer, passionately attached and devoted to his homeland – Jammu and Kashmir).