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J&K - "Betwixt, March 16, 1846 & October 30, 1947"
Jamwal Mahadeep Singh9/7/2018 10:23:58 PM
The integration of three diametrically Un-parallel topographies of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions as a single political and geographical entity as 'Jammu and Kashmir Princely State' under the sovereignty of Maharaja Gulab Singh matured on 16th March 1846 but its possession was obtained by Maharaja only on November 9, 1846. Sheikh Imam-ud-din, Sikh Governor of Kashmir unwilling to surrender the Kashmir province organized an insurrection, and all the hill chiefs also made a common cause with him. Maharaja Gulab Singh tried to take the insurgents by storm but failed and before making another attempt, he applied for the British assistance that held Lahore Sikh Durbar responsible for the gross violation of the 'Treaty of Lahore' by one of his own servant, the Governor of Kashmir. Thus a force from Lahore (desired by British) advanced towards Kashmir along with Gulab Singh. Brigadier-General Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence, a British soldier and political assistant to Governor-General of India, Field Marshal Henry Hardinge, also accompanied Gulab Singh. Meanwhile a large body of British troops under Brig. Wheeler also moved to Jammu from Jallandhar to manifest the British determination to uphold Gulab Singh's authority. This move forced the Sikh Governor to surrender and in this way Gulab Singh was able to get the actual possession of Kashmir only on November 9, 1846. With the acquisition of Kashmir, its dependencies, including Gilgit and Indus valley to Chilas, also passed into the hands of Gulab Singh. In 1847, the chiefs of Rajouri, Bhimbar, Poonch, Jasrota, Mankote, Ramnagar, Basohli and Kishtwar were pensioned off.
Maharaja built up the State on the ruins of the Sikh Kingdom. The great difficulty that the Maharaja experienced was with regards to Jagirs freely granted by earlier rulers. There were no less than 3115 Jagirs granted in Dharmarth and numerous alienations. A large number of them were unregistered. At the outset of his reign, Maharaja Gulab Singh by bringing an inquiry of quo-warranto (A legal proceeding during which an individual's right to hold an office or governmental privilege is challenged) confiscated all the unregistered Jagirs and declared that all land in his subjugated territories of Kashmir belonged to him and the owners of the tillers of land were simply tenants at will. It was in 1846 itself that Maharaja Gulab Singh; Founder ruler of the Jammu and Kashmir State created an endowment called the 'Dharmarth Trust' with a personal donation of Rupees Five lacs for the purpose of advancement of holy religion of Hindus. The civil administration of the State was assumed by the Gulab Singh himself. In A.D 1852, the Dogra kingdom was divided into several provinces, including Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, and Frontier Illaqas or regions. The two provinces of Jammu and Kashmir were placed under the control of Wazir or Ministers, whose position was analogous to that of provincial governors. These two provinces were divided into several Parganas (District). The top official in each Pargana were the 'Ziladars' (District Officer). The 'Thanedar' (police officer) was the chief officer of the each Pargana having 40 to 50 'Sepoys' under him. Tehsildar has under him two to five territorial sub-divisions and exercising supervision over the accounts with powers of punishment up to a fortnight in dispute and offences occurring within his Tehsil, with 200 to 400 'Sepoys' under him. The 'Qanoongo' (Revenue Officer) were responsible for revenue collections in the area under their jurisdiction. In each village 'Numbardars' were appointed, who were being called by the name of "Mokdams" (A village headman). Another department created by the Maharaja was 'Daftar-i-Dewani' (Department of Dewani). The accounts belonging to each and every department of the state were to be checked and audited by this office. The third department was called 'Dafter-i-Nizamat' (Land Record/ Office) having task to keep land records throughout the state and to give details to the Maharaja about the condition of the 'Zamindars' at the end of each harvest. The fourth department was to support inside peace and to put to stop and put out of the way crime. The fifth department established by the Maharaja was treasury department which was separately put in charge of 'Dewan', while another 'Dewan' supervised the Maharaja's household and private 'Toshkhana'. Another 'Dewan' headed the department of information. The troops remained directly under the Maharaja. On other reforms, Maharaja liberalized the system of forced labour (beggar) to do work on behalf of the Government. Number of labors from every village to do forced labor was fixed. Orders were issued for the two times meals to them on the day of work and one 'kharwar' (fixed weight) of grains every month from government stocks were ordered. Towards the later years of his life, Maharaja Gulab Singh suffered from dropsy (Dropsy: An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water). In February 1856, he installed his only surviving son, Ranbir Singh (born in August, 1830 at Ramgarh) on the throe and also appointed him as sole trustee of the 'Dharmarth Trust' and accepting the position of Governor of Kashmir, he retired to the valley. Maharaja Gulab Singh died on 30 June 1857 and Ranbir Singh ascended the throne of Jammu and Kashmir. Ranbir Singh, popularly known as General Shriman Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Sri Sir Ranbir Singh ji, Indar Mahindar Bahadur, Sipar-i-Sultanat, Mushir-i-Khas-i-Kaiser-i-Hind GCSI, CIE, Kaiser-i-Hind. He was noted as a great scholar of classical Persian, and was also learned in Swedish and English. He established a Translation Bureau called "Daarul Tarjumah" under the patronage of a learned Hakim of Turkish-Afghan ancestry, Agha (Hakim) Muhammad Baqir who also happened to be the chief physician to the Maharaja. It was under this bureau that Maharaja Ranbir Singh got "Tibb-e-Unaani" translated from Arabic and Latin into Persian and Dogri. He built the temples in Jammu city for worship and for imparting religious education. He set up many 'Pathshallas' and modern schools in the state and patronized scholars. He collected a large number of Sanskrits, Persian and Bodhi manuscripts.
He introduced Dogri in official communication and even issued 'Firman' (Orders) in this language. Being a great social reformer, Maharaja Ranbir Singh introduced reforms in administration, the Judiciary and revenue laws. Regular courts of Justice were established and uniform laws were framed to make justice system more effective and efficient. It was he who compiled the 'Ranbir Dandh Bidhi' that exists and is applicable even today as 'Ranbir Penal Code' with some amendments. He augmented the Dharmarth Trust funds with further contribution to the tune of Rs. 30 lacs in the year 1884 and promulgated 'Ain-I-Dharmarth' for the management of the Trust in a religious and sacred manner. After the death of Maharaja Ranbir Singh his sons Maharaja Partap Singh, Raja Ram Singh and Raja Amar Singh executed a document declaring that as trustees shall carry out the injunctions laid down in 'Ain-i-Dharmarth'. The major irrigation 60-km-long canal known as 'Ranbir Canal', starting from Akhnoor and culminating at Dumi Malpur village in RS Pura tehsil was opened in 1905, during the reign of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. Initially apart for irrigation purposes, it was used for navigation purpose to carry essential commodities from Akhnoor to Jammu and vice versa. He renovated various old bridges and constructed new bridges as well over the Anantnag, Baramula, Srinagar and Jhelum. He also initiated an effort to levy the land revenue at a fixed rate for the benefit of the farmers. Numerous hospitals and medical dispensaries were built. Telegraph links were also set up between Jammu and Srinagar. During his reign, the trans-Himalayan regions of Gilgit, Hunza Nagar and Astore were conquered and included in the territory of the State. On family set up he was married for 5 times and had 6 children, including 2 daughters and four sons, namely Mian Lakshman Singh, Hari Singh, General Raja Sir Amar Singh, KCSI, Kaiser-i-Hind, General Raja Sir Ram Singh, KCB, Kaiser-i-Hind and Maharaja Pratap Singh, who succeeded Ranbir Singh after his demise on 12th September 1885 as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
Here we come across that the British Government was represented in Kashmir by an officer-on-special duty who had only limited functions to perform. After the accession of Maharaja Partap Singh, they posted a political resident in Jammu and Kashmir. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was upgraded to a permanent and hereditary 21-gun salute from a 19-gun salute. In 1887, the State Government carried out the first land settlement. As a result, the rights of the agriculturists were clearly defined. "Begar" or forced labor in its more objectionable form was abolished. A model agricultural farm was set up at Srinagar for the spread of knowledge about the scientific methods of cultivation. Establishment of the Department of Agriculture and the introduction of cooperative societies were the other measures taken up to further improve the lot of the cultivators. By 1929, the number of 'cooperative credit societies' in the state alone rose to about 1100. In 1891, the State established the Forest Department which soon began to give a very good account of it. Its surplus revenue for the first year was about a quarter of millions of rupees. The same rose to about two million for the year1921-22 and to a record figure of about five million for the year 1929-30. From 1919 the State Forest Department undertook to supply firewood to the city people at fixed rates. In 1897, during the rule of Maharaja Partap Singh the most "wonderful mountain road in the world", from Kohala to Baramulla was completed and extended to Srinagar. In 1922, another great highway, the Banihal Cart Road, which connected Srinagar, the summer capital, with Jammu, the winter capital of the state was thrown open to the public. Besides these, many feeder roads in the state including those connecting Srinagar with Gilgit and Leh were also constructed. A great spill channel was constructed in 1904 to divert the flood waters of the Jhelum. It was followed by the construction of smaller channels and several irrigation canals in both the provinces of Jammu and Kashmir. The longest and most important of these was the Ranbir Canal in Jammu with a total length of 251 miles including that of its tributaries, it was fully completed in 1911 at the cost of Rs. 3,536,714. This Canal also helped in propelling the turbines of the Jammu hydro-electric installation. One degree college each at Srinagar, Sri Pratap College established in 1905 and one at Jammu, Prince of Wales College, were established in 1907. Many changes were made in the system of education. A number of new schools for both boys and girls were also opened. The imparting of education in the primary schools was made free. Several measures were taken for the education of Muslims especially. Modern hospitals for both males and females were also established at Srinagar and Jammu. In other towns and important villages, medical dispensaries under the charge of qualified doctors were opened. A silk factory set up at Srinagar that attained the distinction of being "the largest of its kind in the world". Many oppressive taxes, including the Muslims Marriage Tax, were abolished. Pratap Singh left no issue of his own when he died on 23 September 1925. He was succeeded by his nephew Hari Singh, son of Raja Amar Singh. He made primary education compulsory in the state, introduced laws prohibiting child marriage, and opened places of worship to the low castes. He was hostile towards the Indian National Congress, in part because of the close friendship between Kashmiri political activist and socialist Sheikh Abdullah and the Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru. He also opposed the Muslim League and its members' communalist outlook, as represented by their two nation theory. During the second World war, from 1944-1946 Sir Hari Singh was a member of the Cabinet. Maharaja Hari Singh was having royal title as Shriman Indar Mahindar Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Shri Jammu Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibet Deshadhipati Maharaja Hari Singh. His reign was marked by complex political events, conspiracies, and sweeping changes. His first statement after assuming the high office in 1925 was "Justice is my Religion" and he gave importance only to meritocracy and appointed the best of Muslims in his court, administration and the army. Before Sheikh Abdullah's virulent anti Dogra campaign and many an unholy nexus that changed the winds, Khusrau Jung who belonged to the royal family of Hyderabad in the Deccan, was in Maharaja's employment. Malik and Nur Muhammad Khan from Baluchistan were his ADCs. Maharaja Hari Singh's head cook and head waiter were also Muslims. His secretary was Abdul Qayum Khan and one of his close friends was Sardar Abdul Rahman Effendi an Afghan refugee related to King Amanullah. In his kitchens only 'Halal' meat was cooked so that Muslims could eat as well. He was the first Maharaja of Jammu who went to the Mosque, standing respectfully throughout the prayer. Malka Pukhraj the legendary songstress and one of the gems of Maharaja' s Durbar was not only appointed as a court singer but it is an example of the Maharaja's progressive views on religion that he had her, a Muslim girl singing bhajans in the Mandi Palace early mornings alongside shloka chanting Pandits. Malka Pukhraj in her autobiography has mentioned the Maharaja's word as "I never differentiated between the Hindus and Muslims, for the two communities are like my two eyes". He abolished un-touchability and sacked the priest of Raghunath Temple, when he found out that the priest had refused entry to the lower castes despite his explicit orders. He opened all public schools, colleges and wells to 'untouchables' in 1931. Maharaja Hari Singh stopped the rampant practice of child marriage and actively promoted widow remarriage. Besides making primary education compulsory in 1930, a special department for female education under a deputy director was set up.
A blue print in lines leading to accession on 26 October 1947 can be summed up as: 0n 14th of July 1931, a massive demonstration was held against autocratic Rule in the State that was fired upon resulting death of dozens of demonstration. This event was followed by the appointment of 'Grievance Commission' by Maharaja, with an Englishman B.J Glancy as President. The first political party 'Kashmir Muslim Conference' was formed on 16 October, 1932, with Sheikh Abdullah as President that changed to 'National Conference' on 11 June 1939. Subsequently as per recommendations of 'Constitutional Reforms' conference presided over by B.J.Glancy, a 'Praja Sabha' with 33 elected members and 42 nominated members from both Hindus and Muslims was established in 1934. In May 1946 Sheikh Abdullah launched the 'Quit Kashmir' agitation against the Maharaja Hari Singh. Sheikh Abdullah was arrested and sentenced to three years imprisonment but was released on 29 September 1947. Simultaneously, with regard to the prevailing scenario because of partition of the country, the Maharaja, while requesting for Accession also gave his mind of formation of an 'Emergency Administration'. The Accession treaty architected by Maharaja Hari Singh on 26 October 1947, was accepted on 27th day of October 1947 by the then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten. Sheikh Abdullah was appointed as Head of the 'Emergency Administration' and he took over the same on 30 October 1947.
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