Manoeuvres of the Maharaja

Manoeuvres of the Maharaja

In July, 1947, the Viceroy paid a visit to Kashmir for a political mission. He wanted to persuade the Maharaja to make up his mind before 15th August. On the advice of his Prime Minister, Kak, the Maharaja avoided to commit himself. He had his advisors had made their own plans to meet the situation. Sardar Patel sent a message to him through Pandit Kak, to come down to Delhi for talks, the Maharaja refused to move. He had his own plan in the context of his having fallen victim of the suggestion made by the Swami and Kak to carve out a kingdom.

All efforts on the part of Indian leaders and Lord Mountbatten to persuade him to take a decision one way or the other proved aborative. The Maharaja had every hope that he would be able to have Kashmir accepted as an independent State by India and Pakistan and possibly by other powers also. He was anxious to have an independent Kashmir with himself as its king.

The Maharaja was in no mode to take people into confidence nor release their leaders from his jails. Mahatma Gandhi visited Srinagar in the first week of August, 1947 and addressed many meetings. When the Mahatma met the Maharaja, he told him to take people into confidence and align himself with them. This implied that Hari Singh had to release Sheikh Abdullah and other leaders of the National Conference. Such advice had no effect on the Maharaja and instead he applied for Standstill Agreement with both the Dominions. While the Government of Pakistan accepted the offer of the Maharaja , the Government of India desired discussions with the authorised Minister of the Maharaja together with Sheikh Abdullah as representative of the people.

Sheikh Abdullah demanded that before the people are asked to pronounce their opinion on accession, they must become masters of their own fate. The Indian leaders fully backs this demand. This was made clear to the Maharaja when he approached New Delhi to enter into a Standstill Agreement. The Maharaja evaded the issue and consequently right up to the time the State was invaded by Pakistan on 22 October 1947, the matter remained undecided; the Maharaja making no move to transfer power and the Indian Government refusing to have any agreement with him in consequence.

In other public speech, Sheikh Abdullah declared :
Our first demand is complete transfer of power to the people in Kashmir. Representatives of the people in a democratic Kashmir will then decide whether the State should join India or Pakistan. if they forty lakh people living in Jammu and Kashmir are by passed and the State declares its accession to India or Pakistan, I shall raise the banner of revolt and we shall face a struggle.
The National Conference leaders wanted freedom to decide the issue of accession and did not wish it to be decided for them by the Maharaja.

Reference Book : India’s Struggle for Freedom: Role of Associated Movements Vol 4