On 15 August, the Indian subcontinent becomes independent.
Kashmir signs Standstill Agreement with Pakistan. Rulers of
Princely States are encouraged to accede their States to either Dominion - India or Pakistan, taking into account factors such as geographical contiguity and the wishes of their people. The Maharaja of Kashmir delays his decision in an effort to remain independent.
In theory, rulers were allowed to accede
their States to either Dominion, irrespective of the wishes of their
people; but as a practical matter, they were encouraged to accede to the
geographically contiguous Dominion, taking into account the wishes of
their people and in cases where a dispute arose, it was decided to settle
the question of accession by a plebiscite, a scheme proposed and accepted
by India. Being a Muslim majority State and contiguous to Pakistan,
Kashmir was expected to accede to Pakistan; since the Hindu Ruler acceded
instead to India, a dispute arose in the case of Kashmir.
In 1948, India imposed and won a plebiscite in the
case of Junagadh, which had a Hindu majority ruled by a Muslim Ruler who
acceded to Pakistan; However, in the case of Kashmir, the mirror image of
Junagadh, India did not hold a plebiscite; Pakistan applied its own share
of double standards by having divergent positions on Kashmir and Junagadh,
insisting it get both.
In Spring, internal revolt begins in the Poonch region against
oppressive taxation under the recently imposed direct rule by the Maharaja; Poonch is a predominantly Muslim area with over 60,000 ex-servicemen who served in the Second World War; The revolt is a people's movement led by ex-soldiers and is not communal;
Maharaja strengthens the Sikh and Hindu garrisons in the Muslim areas and
orders the Muslims to deposit arms with the police; In August,
Maharaja's forces fire upon demonstrations in favour of Kashmir
joining Pakistan, burn whole villages and massacre innocent people; The people of Poonch evacuate their families, cross over to Pakistan and return with arms; In the last week of August, a condition of unrest and spasmodic violence turns into an organised rebellion which also results in a number of killings of Hindus and Sikhs and atleast 60,000 refugees fleeing to Jammu by 13 September. The rebellion spreads to adjacent Mirpur and Muzaffarabad. The Poonch rebels declare an
independent government of "Azad" Kashmir on 24 October.
In September, massacre of Muslims start in Jammu by armed bands
of Hindus and Sikhs with active support from the State forces. Hundreds of
thousands of Muslims flee Jammu. On 12 October, Pakistan sends telegram to
Kashmir detailing the atrocities and demands an impartial inquiry; Kashmir
does not deny the charges in the reply telegram and promises an inquiry
which would never be carried out. It is noteworthy that there was no communal violence in the 94% Muslim majority Kashmir Valley itself.
Barring National Conference, other main political parties including the Muslim Conference and the Chiefs of Gilgit region, advise the Maharaja against acceding to the Indian Union and some advise in favour of Pakistan; While in prison, Sheikh Abdullah writes a letter to a friend in Jammu, which is published in the Congress press, in favour of accession of Kashmir to India. Abdullah is released
from prison on 29 September, in response to pressure from India. After his release, he speaks in favour of Kashmir's freedom
before accession. Throughout his career, Sheikh Abdullah would thus continue to oscillate between a pro-India stance and demanding self-determination for Kashmiris. On 22 October, he explains the apprehension of the Kashmiri Muslims in joining India, given the massacre of muslims in Kapurthala and elsewhere in India. On 26 October, he demands transfer of power to the
people within ten days.
On 22 October, thousands of Pathan tribesmen from Pakistan, recruited by the Poonch rebels, invade Kashmir along with the Poonch rebels,
allegedly incensed by the atrocities against fellow Muslims in Poonch and
Jammu. The tribesmen engage in looting and killing along the way. The tribesmen and
the Poonch rebels are unofficially supported by various individuals and
high ranking officials in Pakistan Government(including Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and Chief Minister of North West Frontier Province) and Pakistan Army(middle-level officers like Colonel Akbar Khan who becomes Major-General after the period in question). There is no compelling evidence as of date, to indicate that M.A. Jinnah, the Governor-General of Pakistan issued official directives to incite the tribesmen. However, Shaukat Ali Khan who was a close associate of Jinnah, has gone on record that Jinnah was aware of the tribesmen invasion and did nothing to stop it. India accuses Pakistan of violating
the Standstill Agreement with Kashmir by disrupting the supply links and
of engaging in aggression by sending in the tribesmen. Pakistan refutes
1947: The Maharaja of the State of Jammu and Kashmir signs
the Instrument of Accession (IOA) on 26 October, acceding the 75%
Muslim region to the Indian Union, following invasion by the tribesmen
from Pakistan, according to the 1948 Indian White Paper; India accepts the
accession, regarding it provisional until such time as the will of the
people can be ascertained by a plebiscite, since Kashmir was
recognized as a disputed
[A plebiscite is the direct vote of all members of an electorate on an
important public question being referred to them, in this case accession
of Kashmir to India or Pakistan.]
It should be noted that the IOA itself does not specify any
provisionality or conditionality of accession, while the White Paper
specifies it clearly, thus creating a conflict between strict legal
interpretation and repeated official promise made to the people of
The Indian army enters the state on 27 October to repel the invaders.
On 27-28 October, Pathan tribesmen engage in looting and killing a large number of people in Baramula, which results in the exodus of over 10,000 residents. There are also charges of atrocities by the Indian army.
Sheikh Abdullah endorses the accession as ad-hoc which would be ultimately
decided by a plebiscite and is appointed head of the emergency
administration. Pakistan disputes that the accession is illegal given
the Maharaja acted
under duress and that he has no right to sign an agreement with India when
the standstill agreement with Pakistan is still in force.
In November 1947, India proposes that Pakistan withdraw all its troops first, as a precondition for a plebiscite, which Pakistan rejects on the grounds that the Kashmiris may not vote freely given the presence of Indian army and Sheikh Abdullah's friendship with the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal
Nehru. Pakistan proposes simultaneous withdrawal of all troops
followed by a plebiscite under international auspices, which India
Pakistan sends regular forces to Kashmir and the first war over Kashmir breaks out.
Prem Nath Bazaz, Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir , New Delhi