Saturday, October 31, 2015

MAHARAJA HARI SINGH

MAHARAJA HARI SINGH : THE LAST RULER OF JAMMU & KASHMIR By. Col. J.P. Singh (Retd).


Maharaja Hari Singh  was born on 23rd Sept 1895 in Amar Mahal Jammu which is a museum of world fame and most popular tourist attraction in Jammu. He was son of Raja General Amar Singhji; younger brother of Maharaja Partap Singh. He ascended to the throne of Jammu & Kashmir State in 1925 after the demise of Maharaja Sir Partap Singh. He was one of the most renowned ruler of British India as well as  Indian Union as a ruler of geographically largest and strategically most important empire of Jammu & Kashmir which continues to remain in the lime light for several political and historical reasons. He gained acclamation for being “The Last Ruling King of Independent India” since he continued to be Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir till 5th  November 1952 while all other rulers of princely states had seized to be Kings by 1948.
When he was 13 years old he was sent to ‘Mayo College of Princes’ for studies. Soon after his admission in the Mayo College his father Raja Amar Singhji died . After his father’s death, British Govt in Delhi took keen interest in his education and bringing up. A British Army Officer was deputed as his guardian with the responsibility of ensuring proper education and training with the aim of grooming him to be a good ruler. After completing his education in Mayo College he was sent to ‘Imperial Cadet Corps’ at Dehradun to imbibe in him Military and  Martial traits as well as polishing his English language. Maharaja Hari Singh married Maharani Tara Devi in 1928 as his fourth wife after his previous three wives had died earlier one after the other without an issue. This marriage was on the advice of the astrologers and true to their prediction a Yuvraj was born to them on 9 March 1931 as the next Heir Apparent.
In 1915 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of J&K State Forces when he was only 20 years old. On assuming command of the state forces, he introduced lot of reforms in the training and welfare of officers and soldiers. Central cook houses called Langars and Officers Messes were introduced by him in the state force prior to which the officers and jawans used to cook their own meals.  During the reign of Maharaja Partap Singh Union Jack used to fly on all official buildings of the State. Maharaja Hari Singh ordered their removal which was contested by the British govt but he didn’t relent. Later, on Viceroy’s request he allowed a British flag to be flown only on the residential building of the Resident thereby exerting his full authority over his sate.
His rule has been described as glorious by British historians because of several reforms that he introduced in administration and judiciary. After ascending to the throne he brought about several rules and regulations for the welfare and betterment of his subjects. There are numerous instances worth mentioning but few of them such as making primary education compulsory for all subjects; men & women, prohibiting child marriage and opening all the places of worship for his low caste subjects are most remarkable. He opened lot of new schools and colleges to promote education.  He managed to check corruption in the administration by adopting unique ways of detecting corruption, findings culprit officials and punishing them. He banned  beggar and it is said that during his rule none dared to accept bribes or deny wages for any  services rendered. He even ploughed land himself to get land holding rights to his subjects. He was made a member of the Imperial War Council from 1944 to 1946 during the World War II. During the war he visited Middle East where he joined his units which were fighting against Axis Powers. He lived with them in their temporary trenches and bunkers which encouraged them and boosted their moral. Showing his solidarity with his forces in the battlefield earned him lot of respect not only of his men but also of the Allied Powers particularly of the British Army.
Hari Singh’s rule witnessed lot of political upheavals. From 1931 onwards his rule faced Kashmiri insurrection against his rule which became a mass movement in the valley under the leadership of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah. He opposed Jinnah’s Muslim League for its communal agenda illustrated in his two nation theory; hence faced his wrath. He was victim of hostility of Indian National Congress because of Pt Nehru and Sheikh Mohd Abdullah. Immediately after independence and partition of India he saw the tragic communal riots which engulfed the State of Jammu & Kashmir as well. It was followed by an invasion of his State by Pakistani raiders. Jammu & Kashmir had become an  independent country after the lapse of British Paramountacy on 15 Aug 1947. It was during his reign that the first Indo-Pak war was fought on the soil of Jammu & Kashmir. Finally the Govt of India took over the control of J&K thus ending the 106 years old hereditary rule of the last Maharaja of India on 15th  November 1952.
Maharaja Hari Singh was a democratic and progressive ruler and knew what was to come. He had made it clear in the Round Table Conference in London that he was for independence of India for which he had to pay heavily as Britishers never trusted him thereafter. As a result he had to face many uprisings fomented and abetted  by the British. He also knew that the era of the dynastic rule was to end soon for which he prepared his son to fit in the future democratic set up of the country. Dr Karan Singh bears  testimony to it as he became the first elected head of the State as a Sadar-i-Riyasat and later Union Minister for many years and is still a Member of Parliament even 63 years after the transfer of power. In fact he should have been the President of India today. Hopefully next time. The credit for preparing him for the distinguished career in the changed political scenario goes to him.
Lord Mountbatten visited Srinagar in June 1947. He advised Maharaja Hari Singh to accede to Pakistan on the grounds of religion of majority population and geographical contiguity. Although the advice amounted to be an order because the state was part of the Dominion.  Maharaja ignored this advice and instead wanted more time to decide the future of his State. He knew that Pt Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah were for State’s accession to India which was his wish as well. But all the rail and land routes to J&K passed through Pakistan. Despite Gurdaspur District falling part of India and River Ravi becoming the boundary line, there was no road or rail link to India through Pathankot which hindered Maharaja’s early decision of accession to India. But Pt Nehru took keen interest in the development of road link to Jammu facilitating accession. When India gained independence he had the option of joining either  India or Pakistan or to remain independent. He knew the consequences of all the options for which he offered Standstill Agreement with both the Dominions, which unfortunately was not accepted by Pt Nehru which changed the course of history. Had Pt Nehru accepted it, it would have given India over two months to understand the problems of the most strategic State of the world and prepare  for anything untoward from any direction. It might have perhaps averted Pakistani attack in Oct 47 as the State would have been the joint responsibility of both the Dominions. However following the invasion by Pakistan on 21 October 1947 he appealed  to the Indian Union for help. India refused  unless he acceded to the Indian Union. He signed the instrument of accession with the govt of India on 26 October 1947 acceding his country to the Indian Union which included Jammu, Kashmir, Northern Areas, Ladakh, Trans Karakoram Tract, POK and Aksai Chin. The events mentioned above leading to the accession with Indian Union created Indo-Pak hostility which has resulted into 4 military conflicts and the ongoing proxy war in Kashmir. Due to unresolved and undemocratic nature of transition all the territories mentioned above are considered disputed.
Due to growing hostility with his Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah, he appointed his son Yuvraj Karan Singh as his regent and left for Bombay in 1949, never to return to his State there after. He spent rest of his life in Bombay. His passions for Polo, Horse Racing and Reading kept him occupied for the remaining period of life. Lt Gen His Highness Shriman Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Sri Sir Hari Singh Indar Mahindar Bahadur Sipar-i-Sultanat, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCVO, Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir breathed his last on 26 April 1961 at Bombay. As per his will his Ashes were brought to Jammu and spread all over J&K and immersed in River Tawi at Jammu.
Amar Kshatriya Rajput Sabha is remembering the beloved rulers by celebrating his 115th Birth Anniversary  on 23 September 2010 at Raj Tilak Bhavan Purani Mandi Jammu.


महाराजा हरि सिंह के राज्याभिषेक का दुर्लभ वीडियो
जम्मू-काश्मीर के अंतिम नरेश महाराजा हरि सिंह (Colonel His Highness Shriman Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Sri Sir Hari Singh Indar Mahindar Bahadur, Sipar-i-Sultanat, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, KCIE, KCVO : 1925-1961) के राज्याभिषेक का दुर्लभ वीडियो (सितम्बर, 1925)