August 14 is important for Kashmiris for a variety of reasons. On this date in 1947, Pakistan was born. Kashmiris love Pakistan, and this has been discussed, and established, time and again, making further explanation unnecessary.
In a judgement, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has declared that the state was an independent entity from August 14, 1947 to October 26, 1947 when it relinquished a part of its sovereignty to the Union of India. And, it is important because in 1931, Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who headed the Kashmir Committee, had urged the Muslims of the sub-continent to observeAugust 14 as Kashmir Day.
There was no internet in 1931. The Kashmiris had no newspapers of their own, and were mostly illiterate. Notwithstanding these disadvantages, they had managed to muster support in India and Rangoon. They, of course, enjoyed the patronage of people like Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal, but their own efforts to apprise the outside world about developments in Kashmir too had an impact.
The July 13 massacre had created a stir in the entire sub-continent. The Kashmir Committee headed by Dr Iqbal worked hard to muster support for the Kashmir freedom movement. Blood-stained clothes of some of the July 13 martyrs had been sent to the Kashmir Committee and were displayed at various places. Processions were taken out in Lahore, Sialkote, Amritsar, Delhi and Lucknow to express solidarity with the Kashmiris. A rally was also held at Rangoon.
Like their counterparts in the rest of India, Muslims in Kashmir observed August 14 as Kashmir Day. Women assembled at the Naqshband Sahib shrine in Srinagar in large numbers. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas and Mistri Muhammad Yaqub addressed them. The martyrs’ blood-stained clothes were displayed here as well. Later, a massive rally was held at the near-by Jamia Masjid. The martyrs’ families were introduced to the people. Amid sobs, the gathering expressed its determination to continue the freedom struggle. Sheikh Abdullah began his address with verses from the Holy Quran.
Those days Kashmiris used to read newspapers published from Lahore and elsewhere, and were pleased to see reports of rallies held in various Indian cities. This added fuel to the already explosive situation in Kashmir. The agitation turned violent in September with the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah and other leaders. Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah called for Jihad. On September 24, people from all parts of Srinagar assembled near the Dastgeer Sahib shrine in Khanyar. Most of them were armed with knives, axes, shovels and spades. Some carried firearms as well.
In 1953, an important case, Magher Singh vs the State of JK, was heard by a division bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The bench, comprising of Chief Justice Janaki Nath Wazir and Justice Shahmiri, gave a landmark judgement, holding that Jammu and Kashmir had been an independent state from August 14 to October 26, 1947.
The appellant, Magher Singh, had prayed for a declaration that the Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates (Abolition) Act was ultra vires of the powers of Shree Yuvraj and, therefore, in spite of the passage of this Act, the plaintiff continued to be the lawful owner of 811 kanals of land situated in villages Kadyal and Kotli Arjun Singh in the Ranbirsingh Pora tehsil of the Jammu district.
Justice Shahmiri ruled: In regards to the first point that His Highness the Maharaja was not an absolute sovereign, it is urged by the learned counsel for the appellant that before partition, he (the Maharaja) was under the Paramountcy of the British Crown, and after he executed the Instrument of Accession in favour of the Dominion of India on October 26, 1947, he surrendered part of his sovereignty to the dominion of India and therefore was a limited subordinated sovereign, and consequently he could not delegate his legislative authority to Shree Yuvraj”.
“While the Maharaja of Kashmir was under the Paramountcy of the British Crown before the partition of India from August 14, 1947, under section 7, Indian Independence Act (10 and 11 Geo VI Ch 30) passed by the British parliament, suzerainty of His Majesty (King George) over the Indian States lapsed and all functions exercised by His Majesty at that date with respect of state of Jammu and Kashmir, all obligations of His Majesty towards Jammu and Kashmir state or the ruler thereof and all powers, rights, authority or jurisdiction exercisable by His Majesty at that date in relation to Jammu and Kashmir by treaty or otherwise lapsed and the state became an independent and sovereign state in the full sense of international law .Thus, whatever limits to the sovereignty of (the Maharaja) in relation to matters coming within the sphere of Paramountcy existed before August15,1947, these ceased to exist, and (the Maharaja) became an uncontrolled and absolute sovereign even in relation to such spheres from that .”(SIC)
Similar views were expressed by Chief Justice Wazir:
“It is contended on behalf of the appellant that His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur Hari Singh was not an omnipotent sovereign but was a subordinate sovereign. His sovereignty, if any, was lost after the state’s accession to India…….This contention is based on a misconception of the true constitutional position of His Highness…Maharaja was the fountain of all powers, executive, legislative and judicial. He possessed all the essential attributes of absolute sovereignty and his position can well be compared to the British Parliament. A reference of section 7 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 will further make it clear that even the external sovereignty of His Highness reverted to him after the lapse of the Paramountcy of the British crown. His Highness thus became an omnipotent sovereign after the new dominions of India and Pakistan came into existence.”(SIC)
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