Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is one of the princely states that acceded to India through the Instrument of Accession. The state was facing many problems when the state was invaded by Pakistan in 1947 in violation of the Standstill Agreement, which both J&K and Pakistan had entered into in August 1947. At this juncture, Maharaja Hari Singh, who already expressed his desire to accede India, faced many problems because of the strange pressure exerted by the then Indian leadership.
Delhi forced Maharaja to release Sheikh and install him as emergency administrator of J&K
The release of Abdullah from Jail and his installation as Emergency Administrator were kept as the pre-condition of accession and India’s military help to safeguard the state of J&K. Sheikh Abdullah was imprisoned for 9 years on the charges of sedition, yet the central leadership in Delhi sought his release from prison and pressuring Maharaja to anoint him as the administrator of the state. J&K was already facing the problem from Pakistan, as Pakistan had put blockades on the supply of essential commodities and other facilities in violation of standstill agreement. Hence, Maharaja released Sheikh from prison under the duress of Pandit Nehru but he did not anoint him as the administrator of the state. But the invasion of Pakistan on J&K and indiscriminate killings of the state subjects compelled Maharaja to hand over the governance of the state in the hands of Abdullah. Therefore, Maharaja Hari Singh anointed Sheikh as the head of emergency administration on October 31, 1947. At a time, when India should have put faith in Maharaja Hari Singh, the then central leadership in India forced Maharaja to leave Kashmir though the Dogras were known for their valour and courage. The tilt of the then central leadership of India was clearly in favour of Sheikh that continued later as well.
Maharaja made greatest sacrifices yet central leadership of India betrayed him
Since his state subjects were facing worst kinds of onslaught on humanity and the Pakistani mercenaries were killing men and children and abducting and raping women, Maharaja kept his own difference aside and gave utmost importance to the safety and security of his state subjects. He relented to the unwarranted demands of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and not only released Sheikh Abdullah but also coronated him as the emergency head of the state. All this was done to satisfy the ego of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and getting military help from India so that his state subjects’ life, property and respected could be safeguarded. Ironically, his greatest sacrifice was never given due respect.
Sheikh was installed as Prime Minister of J&K on 5th March 1948 by Delhi
On March 5, 1948, again the central leadership of India forced Maharaja to anoint Sheikh as the Prime Minister of J&K (till 1965 the nomenclature Prime Minister was used for the Chief Minister of the state). Though Maharaja was unwilling to do this fraud yet the beleaguered Hari Singh had no option but to implement the directions from New Delhi. Hence, he ordered swearing-in of Abdullah as the Prime Minister of J&K on March 5, 1948.
Maharaja favoured India yet he was betrayed by Delhi
The central leadership of India made Maharaja helpless and his compulsion to anoint Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minister of the state could be found in his letter that he addressed to the President of India, in which he said “Are myself and my dynasty to be pawns in the game which Sheikh Abdullah is playing with the Government of India on the representation that he is actively helping India in the case before the UN Security Council?” He felt that Sheikh Abdullah was not “a synonymous term with the people of Kashmir’ and threw a challenge to the Government of India to “Let the people of Jammu and Kashmir freely decide between me and Sheikh Abdullah without interference from the Government of India.” But the Indian leadership did not do anything in this regard because it could not think beyond Abdullah.