The Maharaja of Kashmir’s letter to the Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten, on October 26, 1947 and the Governor-General’s letter in reply dated October 27, 1947.
26th October 1947
My Dear Lord Mountbatten,
I have to inform your Excellency that a grave emergency has arisen in my State and request immediate assistance of your Government.
As your Excellency is aware the State of Jammu and Kashmir has not acceded to either the Dominion of India or to Pakistan. Geographically my State is contiguous to both the Dominions. It has vital economic and cultural links with both of them. Besides my State has a common boundary with the Soviet Republic and China. In their external relations the Dominion of India and Pakistan cannot ignore this fact.
I wanted to take time to decide to which Dominion I should accede, whether it is not in the best interest of both the Dominions and my State to stand independent, of course with friendly and cordial relations with both.
I accordingly approached the Dominions of India and Pakistan to enter into a standstill agreement with my State. The Pakistan Government accepted this arrangement. The Dominion of India desired further discussion with representatives of my Government. I could not arrange this is view of the developments indicated below. In fact the Pakistan Government under the standstill agreement are operating Post and Telegraph system inside the State.
Though we have got a standstill agreement with the Pakistan Government, that Government permitted steady and increasing strangulation of supplies like good, salt and petrol to my State.
Afridis, soldiers in plain clothes, and desperadoes, with modern weapons, have been allowed to infilter into the State at first in Poonch area, then in Sialkot and finally in mass in the area adjoining Hazara district on the Ramkote side. The result has been that the limited number of troops at the disposal of the State had to be dispersed and thus had to face the enemy at several points simultaneously that is has become difficult to stop the wanton destruction of life and property and looting. The Mahoora Power House which supplies the electric current to the whole of Srinagar has been burnt. The number of women who have been kidnapped and raped makes my heart bleed. The wild forces thus let loose on the State are marching on with the aim of capturing Srinagar, the Summer Capital of my Government, as a first step to over running the whole State.
The mass infiltration of tribesmen drawn from the distant areas of the NWF Province coming regularly in Motor Trucks using Mansehra-Muzaffarbad road and fully armed with up-to-date weapons cannot possibly be done without the knowledge of the Provincial Government of the NWF Province and the Government of Pakistan. In spite of repeated appeals made by my Government no attempt has been made to check these raiders or stop them from coming to my State. In fact both the Pakistan Radio and Press have reported these occurrences. The Pakistan Radio even put out a story that a Provincial Government has been set up in Kashmir. The people of my State both the Muslims and non-Muslims generally have taken no part at all.
With the conditions obtaining at present in my State and the great emergency of the situation as it exists I have no option but to ask for help from the Indian Dominion. Naturally they cannot send the help asked for by me without my State acceding to the Dominion of India. I have accordingly decided to do so and I attach the Instrument of Accession for acceptance by your Government. The other alternative is to leave my State and my people to freebooters. On this basis no civilised government can exist or be maintained. This alternative I will never allow to happen so long as I am the Ruler of the State and I have life to defend my country.
I may also inform Your Excellency’s Government that it is my intention at once to set up an Interim Government and ask Sheikh Abdulla to carry the responsibilities in this emergency with my Prime Minister.
If my State has to be saved immediate assistance must be available at Srinagar. Mr. Menon is fully aware of the situation and he will explain to you if further explanation is needed.
In haste and with kindest regards.
Reply from Governor-General, India, Delhi,
dated October 27, 1947
My Dear Maharaja Sahib,
Your Highness’s letter, dated the 26th October has been delivered to me by Mr. V.P. Menon. In the special circumstances mentioned by Your Highness, my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. Consistently with their policy that, in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government’s wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.
Meanwhile, in response to Your Highness’s appeal for military aid, action has been taken today to send troops of the Indian Army to Kashmir to help your own forces to defend your territory and to protect the lives, property and honour of your people.
My Government and I note with satisfaction that your Highness has decided to invite Sheikh Abdulla to form an Interim Government to work with your Prime Minister.
[. . .]
Mountbatten of Burma
Excerpted with permission from Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir (HISTORY/POLITICS) By A.G. Noorani Oxford University Press, Karachi ISBN 978-0-19-906508-0 487pp. Rs1,050