• The Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir; the colonial legacy

    Posted by Administrator on 11/04/2013

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    “Writing in 1844, Frederick Currie, Secretary to the Government of India, had suggested that-

    The Government knows generally that the extensive territory now under the Government of Raja Gholab Singh has in very recent times been conquered by him and his late brother Dhyran Singh and the Sikhs, and that the former chiefs     of the country have been deprived of their rights of sovereignty and prosperity with every circumstance of treachery and cruelty. Attached as the inhabitants of the hills are, to their ancient rajas it is impossible not to conclude that  these acts of injustice and atrocity have left upon the minds of the people feelings of deep rooted animosity against the chiefs of Jummoo... It cannot but be supposed that the rule of Gholab Singh is submitted to only from fear, and that   he can really command the willing obedience only of the man he pays. (Calcutta Review, vol. VI, 1846)

    If this had been the thinking of a senior British official in 1844, it is especially significant that only two years later the governor-general, in a stunning volte-face, recognised the ‘depredator’ Ghulab Singh as the representative of a pre-eminent Rajput ruling house. On 3 February 1846 he suggested that ‘it may be politic and proper… to weaken the territorial power of the Government of Lahore (the Sikh Confederacy), rendering the Rajputs of the Hills independent of the Sikhs’.

    Having chosen Gulab Singh as the sympathetic force on which to pin the strategies for countering the Sikhs on the one hand, and the Afghans on the other, the British now had to give the Dogra raja a veneer of lawfulness. The evidence presented previously of Ghulab Singh’s spoliations in the hill territories of these ‘ancient rajas’ had to be swept quickly under some carpet. And the most readily available cover was provided by the newly remembered fact of his ‘Rajputness’. James Tod’s Annals and Antiquities of the Rajasthan, published in 1829 and 1832, had made available ample evidence for the natural proclivity among these rulers for internal bickering, while the same time painting the Rajputs as natural aristocrats with a traditional mandate to rule.” Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects; Islam, Rights and the History of Kashmir by Mridu Rai

    We pose the following consideration.

    The creation of the princely State of Jammu and Kashmir was primarily to safeguard colonial British India’s geopolitical strategies; it cared very little for the interests of the various peoples subsumed within its borders. Unfortunately, today advocates of an independent Kashmir on the Pakistani side of the LOC (Line of Control) whilst pushing an independence agenda that has mass grass-roots support from Pakistan-administered-Kashmir’s population have downplayed the historical colonial underpinnings of the State. The fact that Pakistan’s on-going exploitation of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir’s natural and human resources has an obvious colonial feel to it may account for the anti-Pakistan establishment feelings in both ‘Azad Kashmir’ and the ‘Northern Areas’, it does not however presuppose that the State actually coheres as one uniform entity, mutually-benign for its various peoples. This self-evident fact has serious and grave implications for the Pahari-contingencies of the State (and other ethnic peoples) whose shared existence in spaces that transcend the artificially created borders of the State is strangely missing from numerous accounts of the State’s narrative. 

    Would this be a fair assessment of the facts?

    Please discuss the issues within the limits of proper comportment; extending respect and courtesy to those whose views you may not necessarily agree with. Offensive and hate-filled comments (normally reflective of intellectually-challenged people) will be deleted.


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