Muslim tribesmen from the northwestern regions of Pakistan, along with local elements in Kashmir, were involved in large scale acts of violence, including rapes, killings, looting, and abductions.Lakhs of Hindus and Sikhs were massacred. Thousands of Hindu andSikh women were raped.
Their invasion was one of the factors that led to the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India, as the then-Maharaja of the princely state, Hari Singh, sought military assistance from India to repel the invaders. This event marked a significant turning point in the history of Kashmir and led to the involvement of both India and Pakistan in the long-standing conflict over the region.
Hari Singh’s decision to accede to India in 1947 was influenced by several factors, including:
- Tribal invasion: During the tribal invasion of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, the tribal invaders were not acting in isolation. There were indeed reports of elements of the Pakistani army being involved or providing support to the tribal militias. These tribal forces, in conjunction with the Pakistani military, engaged in acts of rapes, killings and looting. The Maharaja, realizing that his forces were unable to repel the invasion, sought immediate military assistance.
- The Instrument of Accession: Under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947, princely states in British India had the choice to accede to either India or Pakistan.
MaharajaHari Singh and the Indian government negotiated the terms of accession, leading to the signing of the Instrument of Accessionon October 26, 1947. This document allowed Jammu and Kashmir to join India.
- The popular will: Maharaja Hari Singh was aware of the diverse religious and ethnic composition of his state, with a Muslim-majority population. He took into consideration the preferences of his subjects, as many of them expressed a desire to accede to India, in part due to the invasion by tribal forces.
- Secular democracy: India, in contrast to Pakistan at the time, was conceived as a secular, democratic state. The idea of India being a secular and diverse nation appealed to the Maharaja’s vision of governance, which included safeguarding the rights of all religious and ethnic communities.
- The economic and administrative support: Accession to India offered the promise of economic and administrative support to Jammu and Kashmir, which was facing challenges and instability due to the invasion and internal conflict.
Maharaja Hari Singh’s decision to accede to India was thus influenced by a combination of factors, including the tribal invasion and the desire for military assistance, the preferences of the population, and the vision of governance and principles of secularism and democracy offered by India.