September 20th, 2012 08:53 EST
When Maharaja Hari Singh Declared his Religion as Justice!
Since the creation of the universe there have been many many kings and crowns, several of them ruled with grace and dignity yet not a single ruler in any part of the world had courage to declare his religion as justice. On 9thJuly, 1925, immediately after being crowned as Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh declared that, My religion is justice ".
This must have annoyed several religious priests yet Hari Singh stood to his commitment. In 1927 Maharaja Hari Singh issued a Royal Decree introducing a great revolutionary legislation, State Subject which now has been renamed as "Permanent Resident`.
What a great imagination the king of Kashmir had at a time when there was no religious conflict or inner tension in the state though 86% of the population belonged to Muslim fraternity from Gilgit to Kashmir.
This concept shows the unique farsightedness of Maharaja Hari Singh to save not only the land and properties of the residents of J&K but also put a permanent mechanism to save the identities of the Ladakhies, Kashmiries, Balties, the Dogras and others. Had there been no such legislation, the Kashmiries in particular would have lost not only their land but their cultural identity too. There is a misnomer that the identity and the land of the residents of J&K is protected under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. This is totally an incorrect statement. The identity and property stand protected under the unique law enacted by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927.
Besides, the High Court of J&K was established by another Royal Decree by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1928. Protection of civil and political rights of the residents of J&K was guaranteed by the Maharaja authorizing the High Courts and even Sessions Judges to issue writs including the writ of habeas corpus in J&K right back in 1928.
J&K, perhaps was the first princely state in India which enacted law opening all public places, temples, wells etc. for every citizen including that of the members of the depressed classes, called today as Scheduled Castes. Maharaja Hari Singh declared practicing untouchability as an offence and banned child marriage, prostitution and use of drugs. The Maharaja through an Ordinance put a strict ban on the transfer of females from Baltistan to other areas.
Maharaja Hari Singh introduced Parliamentary system by holding election to the State Parliament called as "Praja Sabha` right in 1934. Great legal luminaries and political activists like Mirza Afzal Beig were introduced in his cabinet. J&K was the first state under the leadership of Maharaja Hari Singh which evolved an independent Constitution which introduced the concept of elected representatives, members of Praja Sabha and established independent judiciary.
It was Maharaja Hari Singh who brought Kashmir on the map of world tourism. It was he who developed Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Dachigam for international tourism. The students of history may agree that not a single spot has been developed for world tourism in Kashmir since 1947.
Maharaja having absolute power under his command ensured that his opponents are not harassed or harmed by the administration or his police. Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beig and several others who were agitating against the Maharaja were not harmed or subject to any kind of oppression by the administration. There has not been a single instance of custodial killing during the time of Maharaja Hari Singh or any other Dogra ruler during 101 years of their rule from 1846 to 1947.
In 1931 the police resorted to firing on an angry mob of protesters in Kashmir resulting in death of several people. The Maharaja suo moto ordered probe under a British officer, Glancy Commission. The recommendations of the Commission were implemented within couple of months and the guilty policemen were brought to justice. Can anybody compare the justice delivery system of the Maharaja`s rule with the rule of the so-called democrats today?
Maharaja proved his conviction as a democrat and nationalist when he drove by himself with Maharani and his son, Yuvraj Karan Singh from Srinagar to Jammu to sign the Instrument of Accession. Mr. V.P. Menon had requested the Maharaja to come to Jammu to sign the Accession. There are several historians and politicians, who blamed the Maharaja for having delayed his decision to sign the Instrument of Accession before 14th August, 1947. Had Maharaja signed the Instrument Accession at that time, the same critics would have blamed him for hastening the process. Sheikh Abdullah who was the leading politician and leader of the Kashmiri Muslims might have joined with Jinnah to counter the Maharaja. The situation would not have favoured the sentiments of the people of Kashmir nor it would have worked in favour of the Union of India. The greatest tragedy that the intellectuals, particularly the historians, have not realized the great wisdom of Maharaja Hari Singh. The Govt. of Pakistan led by Jinnah singed a no war packed with the Maharaja on 16thAugust, 1947. This was Pakistan who invaded J&K in violation of its own agreement to grab Kashmir. The people of J&K stood as one to oppose the aggression from Pakistan side. Brig. Rajinder Singh, a Dogra Hero sacrificed his life with his 125 Dogra soldiers at the skirts of Baramullah on 26thOctober, 1947. Maharaja had to hasten the process of joining India to save the people of J&K from the wrath of Pakistani raiders.
The greatness of the Maharaja and his commitment to the cause of India is demonstrated when he eschew all insults and humiliations which he and his family met after signing the Instrument of Accession. Maharaja was forced to go on exile from his home state, J&K. During 14 years of his exile in Bombay, the Maharaja never uttered a word on the subject in spite of heavy provocations and unlimited temptations by the Anglo-American Bloc to denounce the Accession. Maharaja Hari Singh died at the young age of 66 years in Bombay leaving a clear message to the people of J&K that our future lies with India.
(Sr. Advocate, Chairman, National Panthers Party &
Member, National Integration Council)