Accession day is celebrated on October 26 every year. It commemorates the day when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of Accession, in which the state of Jammu and Kashmir joined the Union of India, in the year 1947.
Before Independence, Kashmir was an independent princely state under the realm of Maharaja Hari Singh.Even after 71 years, Kashmir has remained a subject of debate between the governments of India and Pakistan. Separatist leaders such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have condemned the day as ‘Black Day’ and asked the residents to hoist black flags in protest against the Indian Army posted in Kashmir.
On the 71th anniversary of Accession, we bring to you nine facts about Kashmir’s inclusion into India that you must know:
1. Kashmir was plagued with repeated invasions by the Pathan tribesmen after India’s independence. Maharaja Hari Singh wrote to Lord Mountbatten seeking military help.
2. Mountbatten replied saying, “It is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people”. This remark is said to have sowed the seed of Kashmir dispute.
3. Following Mountbatten’s advice, the Indian government attempted a plebiscite or referendum for the Kashmiri people to decide if they wanted to stay as a part of India or Pakistan or an independent state.
4. The plebiscite could not take place as the Pakistani government and a part of Kashmiri residents questioned the legality of India’s accession to Kashmir, which remains a point of debate.
5. Maharaja Hari Singh had signed the Instrument of Accession at Amar Palace in Jammu, which India’s last Governor-General Lord Mountbatten had accepted on October 27, 1947.
6. Hari Singh had earlier signed a ‘standstill’ agreement with Pakistan for uninterrupted trade and communication in Kashmir.
7. The Pakistani government had contested the accession stating that it was fraudulent and that Singh was forced to sign the agreement with India.
8. The exact date of Accession has also been debated on. While Indian historian Prem Shankar Jha said that the accession document was signed on October 25, British researcher Andrew Whitehead pointed out that it happened a day later.
9. In the early morning of October 27, 1947, the Indian Army’s 1st Sikh battalion was airdropped in Srinagar where they resisted the Pathan invasion and officially completed Kashmir’s accession to India.