October 26 is being observed as the anniversary of the accession of the then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian Union. On this day in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of J & K signed the Instrument of Accession confirming full and final merger of the state with the Indian Union. However, in spite of this full and final merger, the situation in the state continue to get murkier with each passing day.
In fact, the problems for J & K began with the announcement of India’s independence plan which provided for the partition of the country into two nations along the religious lines. Thus, the Muslim-majority Pakistan was carved out of Indian mainland on the western and eastern borders of undivided India. Pakistan eyed the state of J & K since those days and launched an all-out offensive to capture this ‘Heaven on the Earth.’
When India got independence there were over 500 princely states including J & K besides the British India. The credit of securing merger of all these states into the Indian Union undoubtedly goes to the first Home Minister Sardar Patel, the Iron Man of India and his secretary V P Menon. However, the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to deal with the J & K merger for his love and affection towards Sheikh Abdullah and kept the Sardar out of the Kashmir issue. In the process, instead of resolving the issue Nehru further complicated it.
The Pakistani government headed by Bar. M. A. Jinnah was consistently building pressure on the Jammu & Kashmir Maharaja Hair Singh for accession with Pakistan. The Maharaja was in doldrums on the issue because of the growing clout of diehard communalist Sheikh Abdullah and the support he received from Prime Minister Nehru.
Meanwhile, the pro-Pakistani Muslim elements in Kashmir intensified their propaganda to pressurise the Maharaja to join Pakistan. Large-scale smuggling of arms into the State to foment internal rebellion started taking place from the month of August 1947.
Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, was in an awful fix. He was a devout and patriotic Hindu and could not think of joining Pakistan. In view of the marked Muslim majority in the State, he was a little hesitant. Lord Mountbatten flew to Kashmir in the third week of June 1947 in a bid persuade the Maharaja to join Pakistan. The Maharaja resisted the pressure. R C Kak, the then Prime Minister of Kashmir, however, advised Maharaja Hari Singh to remain independent.
However, in such a delicate and difficult situation the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) came forward to help the Maharaja and to impress upon him about the merger of his state with the Indian Union. The RSS began its activities in J & K in the 1940s when the late Prof Balraj Madhok was a Pracharak. Under the guidance of late Pt. Prem Nath Dogra the RSS spread its work in Jammu and Kashmir.
As the Maharaja was sensing pressure from Pakistani authorities for the merger, he was left with three alternatives viz. Accede with Pakistan, join the Indian Union or remain independent. The Maharaja was not in favour of accession with Pakistan and had doubts about the state’s merger with the Indian Union because of the reservations he had about the attitude of Pt. Nehru who supported Sheikh Abdullah. Remaining independent would cost them dearly and there was every danger of facing aggression from the Pakistan side. In absence of sufficient security apparatus, it would be suicidal to remain independent.
Meanwhile, Maharaja Hari Singh replaced his Prime Minister and brought in Meher Chand Mahajan, a confident of Sardar Patel. Mahajan shared good relations with Prof Balraj Madhok, the RSS Pracharak in J & K. He submitted a detailed memorandum to the Maharaja listing the pros and cons of the possible options of joining either Pakistan or India and remaining independent. Madhok also assured full support of the RSS to the Maharaja.
The then Governor-General of India and Pakistan Lord Mountbatten too tried to insist upon the Maharaja to accept the Pakistani proposal of the merger. But the Maharaja refused to comply. Meanwhile, the Pakistani authorities were planning to invade the state in the guise of Kabaili groups supported by their army. The situation was turning very precarious for the Maharaja to take the decision.
The courtiers of the Maharaja, his associates and members of the council of ministers exerted their full pressure for Kashmir’s accession to India. Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi too tried but the Maharaja was not prepared. He was not ready to accept the domination of Nehru. On the other side, Pakistani troops had reached the borders of Kashmir.
As the efforts of political leaders had failed, the situation was getting delicate. In such a condition Sardar Patel sent a message to the then RSS Sarsanghchalak M. S. Golwalkar, through Mehar Chand Mahajan requesting him to use his influence to prevail upon the Maharaja to accede to India.
Golwalkar, fondly known as ‘Guruji’ cancelled all his engagements and rushed to Srinagar from Nagpur by air via Delhi to resolve the ticklish and delicate question. Through the efforts of Mehar Chand Mahajan and Pt. Premnath Dogra a meeting between Guruji and Maharaja Hari Singh was arranged.
According to late Madhavrao Muley, who was then Prant Pracharak of Punjab and J & K, Golwalkar could convince the Maharaja about accession with the Indian Union. The Maharaja sent the accession proposal to Delhi and Guruji directed the RSS workers in Jammu and Kashmir to shed the last drop of their blood for the security of Jammu and Kashmir. After issuing these directions he returned to Delhi.
Muley had given the detailed account of this historical fact in the book titled “Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan”.
According to Madhav Rao, “Union Home Minister Sardar Patel, had told Mehar Chand Mahajan, Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, to prepare Maharaja Hari Singh for the accession of the state to India. Mehar Chand Mahajan conveyed the message to Guruji requesting him to meet the Maharaja and prepare him for the accession. Mahajan had arranged the meeting between Guruji and the Maharaja”.
“Guruji reached Srinagar by air from Delhi on October 17, 1947. The meeting took place on the morning of October 18. During the meeting prince Karan Singh, with his plastered fractured leg, was present while lying on the bed. Maharaja’s contention was that ‘my state is fully dependent on Pakistan. All routes pass through Sialkot and Rawalpindi. Lahore is my airport. How can I have relations with India?’
Guruji made him understand by saying ‘you are a Hindu king’. By acceding to Pakistan your Hindu subjects will have to struggle against grave difficulties. It is correct that there is no road, rail or air link with India but it can be set right quickly. In your interest and in the interest of Jammu & Kashmir State it is better for you to accede to India.”
Prime Minister Mahajan too supported Golwalkar and said to the Maharaja that he was right. We must accede to India. At the end of their meeting, the Maharaja presented a ‘Tosa’ (best quality Pashmina Shawl) to Guruji and conveyed his readiness to accede to India.
After a period of eight days, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession with the Indian Union and thus, the Princely state of J & K became an integral and inseparable part of India. The then RSS Chief Golwalkar Guruji played a very crucial role in convincing the Maharaja and securing the merger.
However, there is no mention of this historic event is made in the annals of history and therefore, it remained out of the public memory. Those who question the role of RSS in freedom struggle should know that it was because of the RSS that the state of J & K is an integral part of India today. The supreme sacrifice the RSS swayamsevkas made in helping the armed forces during the invasion of Pakistani-sponsored Kabailies saved the state of J & K from being occupied by Pakistan.
October 26 is also the day for the nation to remember the role the RSS played in securing merger of J & K with the Indian Union and the supreme sacrifice RSS Swayamsevaks made in saving the territory of the state.