The Kashmir tragedy began when under the Treaty of Amritsar in 1846; the British sold the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Gulab Singh, a Hindu Dogra chieftain for the sum of 7.5 million rupees. Lord Lawrence who negotiated this treaty, termed this transaction as “iniquitous arrangement” The sale of such a vast area with a predominantly Muslim majority was justified by the Viceroy Lord Hardinge , in his correspondence with Queen Victoria ,to recover the losses in wars against the Sikhs. The maharaja and his kinsmen established and maintained a century of despotic, reactionary and oppressive regime in the state. The people were ruthlessly and heavily taxed and reduced to the condition of abject poverty. The Muslims suffered discrimination in every aspect of life. The slaughter of cow, a sacred animal for the Hindus, was prohibited. If a Muslim killed his cow to feed his family, the penalty was death, later mercifully reduced to ten years jail sentence. Many British in India criticized the Maharaja’s oppressive policies against his Muslim subjects, yet the acquisition of Gilgit Agency for strategic purposes, financed largely by the states money, superseded such organizations. In 1925, the semi-autonomous Jagir of Poonch was also ceded to the Maharaja whose coercive behavior had left no corner for him among the Muslim Kashmiris. With the spread of modern education, a demand for basic political rights began in the early 1930’s. In 1931, the Kashmiri Muslims earnestly began protest movement. The leaders of this movement were Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Ch. Gulam Abbas. They organized Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference. The Maharaja resorted to repressive measures of unusual severity culminating into massive massacre of the Muslims by the security forces. The struggle led to the formation of Glancy commission by the government of India. On the recommendation of the commission, some constitutional reforms were introduced. In 1939...
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