For the first time since India's independence, last year Government of India decided to officially recognize the horrors of Partition as a national tragedy. The Prime Minister has announced that every year 14 August will be celebrated as ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day. It is indeed astonishing that such a horrific tragedy, in which about two million people died and 15 million people fled, was either attempted to be erased from the Indian thought and memory, or there was a deliberate indifference towards it. The wounds of this tragedy are so deep that in large parts of the country, especially in Punjab and Bengal, elderly people remember August 14 only for Partition.
Effect of Partition on J&K
The Partition bloodbath affected a portion of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the populous and religiously diverse Jammu region. In the 1941 Census, Jammu had a population of 1.9 million (19 lakh), compared to 1.7 million (17 lakh) in the Valley. A total of 31,619 Hindu and Sikh households crossed the Line of Control in the fourth quarter of 1947, with 26,319 choosing to remain in the state. A portion of the community sought refuge in several locations across the nation, including the Pathankot neighborhood in the Gurdaspur district of Indian Punjab, neighborhood in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, the town of Agra in Uttar Pradesh, and the Lajpat Nagar neighbourhood of New Delhi.
Heroes of Jammu and Kashmir
Campaign Gulmarg, a covert operation to seize Kashmir, was started on September 1, 1947. Numerous thousands of tribal raiders were smuggled into Poonch, Muzaffarabad, Uri, Tithwal, Kargil, and Dras by Pakistani Army commanders. In order to fight the roughly 6000 militia that was invading, Rajinder Singh assembled 110 troops and headed to Muzaffarabad. By blowing up the Uri bridge, slowing them down in Mahura, and stopping them in Rampur, the Brigadier was able to stop their advance while causing significant fatalities. Cruelty was committed in Muzaffarabad Rajouri and Naushera saw a repetition of Uri and Baramulla, but Brig. Pritam Singh's outstanding leadership managed to preserve Poonch.
Role of Maharaja
Maharaja correctly predicted that his rule would be overthrown shortly after seeing the double game Pakistan was playing when he reached out to the Indian Prime Minister; Mountbatten informed him that nothing could be done until the Instrument of Accession was signed. Maharaja Hari Singh, made sure that the state of Jammu and Kashmir became a legal and constitutional member of India, continues to be the most misunderstood and mistreated king. The unceremonious abdication of Maharaja Hari Singh put an end to the Dogra dynasty's one hundred years of dominance.
Nevertheless, his remarks made in the House of Lords while serving as Vice-Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes were audible and unambiguous, which should allay any concerns about his allegiance. I am an Indian first, and then a Maharaja, he said during the British Crown-led convention.
(Shivendra Shandilya is Research Scholar at the Central University of Jammu & Convenor of SHoDH Jammu Kashmir)