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The thorniest problem the British faced during the partition (see History) was what to do with the some 580 princely states that controlled 43% of British India's territory and contained almost 100 million people. To resolve this problem, Lord Mountbatten, Britain's last Viceroy of India, stated in 1947 that the ruler of each princely state should decide whether to merge his state with India or Pakistan, taking into account the geography of the state and the wishes of the population. The leaders of India convinced most of the princely states to accede to India, while most Muslim rulers joined their states to Pakistan. The accessions of Junagadh, Hyderbad, and Jammu-Kashmir were sources of conflict between India and Pakistan.

Located about 210 miles southeast of Pakistan along the Arabian Sea coast, Junagadh had a Muslim prince who ruled a mostly Hindu population. The Muslim prince signed a document of accession merging his kingdom with Pakistan on September 15, 1947. India immediately objected and demanded that a plebiscite be held to determine the wishes of the population and began to mass troops along the kingdom's borders. The Muslim prince fled to Pakistan, and the prime minister of Junagadh invited Indian troops into the state to counter threats from Hindu nationalists. Later a plebiscite was held, and the people overwhelmingly approved joining India. However, Pakistan still claims that the document of accession was legally valid and takes precedence over the plebiscite.

Hyderbad was the largest of the princely states, having a population of 17 million in a territory the size of Germany. Located in southern India, Hyderbad was totally surrounded by Indian territory and the majority of the people were Hindu. Hyberbad was ruled by the Nizam, a Muslim prince who tried to maintain the independence of his kingdom. With the partition of most of British India in 1947 into Pakistan and India, tensions rose between Muslims and Hindus, and various disturbances occurred within the kingdom and along its border with India. After more than a year of frustrating negotiations between India and the Nizam, the Indians invaded the kingdom on September 13, 1948 and quickly defeated the Nizam's army. Pakistan protested the Indian action and took the matter to the United Nations Security Council, but India claimed the matter was internal to India, renamed the kingdom Hyderbad State, and incorporated it into India. Image courtesy of www.arttoday.com

In Kashmir, the Maharaja Hari Singh Bahadur (see History of Kashmir to 1947) and his predominately Hindu administration refused to accede to India or Pakistan. Soon after the British granted independence to British India on August 14, 1947, Muslims in Gilit and parts of Ladakh revolted against Bahadur.

In October 1947, Muslims in western Kashmir set up an Azad (free) Kashmir government at Muzaffarabad and organized an army, which soon received supplies from Pakistan. Shortly thereafter, several thousand tribesmen from Pakistan invaded Kashmir and headed toward Srinagar. Bahadur acceded his kingdom to India and asked for assistance. India sent in troops to protect the capital and fighting soon raged throughout Kashmir.

In May 1948, Pakistan sent in troops to defend Azad (free) Kashmir against efforts by the Indian army to conquer the territory. Ultimately, both India and Pakistan appealed to the United Nations, a peacekeeping force was sent to the border, and on January 1, 1949, a cease fire line was agreed to by both nations.

During the long  and unsuccessful negotiations that followed, both India and Pakistan claimed that a plebiscite of the population should be held to determine the ultimate fate for Kashmir. Pakistan's position has been that Bahadur's accession to India is invalid, that Indian troops must be withdrawn, and that only then can an internationally conducted plebiscite be held. India has argued that all Pakistani troops must be withdrawn, including from Azad Kashmir, that the accession was legal, that Indian troops must stay to preserve order, and that only then can a plebiscite be held.

Neither Pakistan nor India have argued or behaved consistently in claiming these three princely states. India was successful in gaining control over Junagadh and Hyderbad, but could not prevent Pakistan from seizing large areas of Kashmir. As a result, the two nations continue to quarrel over who should have Kashmir.



Kashmir and Its People..| History of Kashmir..|..Partition, 1947-49.|..Kashmir, 1949-89 ..|..Terrorism and Repression in Kashmir..|..Kashmir's Future

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