Kashmir Misgovernment (Book review)

The book “Kashmir Misgovernment” is divided into four main chapters and an Introduction section, in which Gulab Singh Dogra’s loyalty to the British government is being shown swankily, primarily this section reveals that how the British Government brought the Gulab Singh Dogra’s subjugation to Kashmir.

The main object of the book according to F.M.Hassnain is to inform the public as to how the British Government in India, sold this beautiful valley of Kashmir against the wish of its inhabitants to Gulab Singh Dogra of Jammu and how the poor Kashmiris were oppressed by their new rulers.

The book “Kashmir Misgovernment” is divided into four main chapters and an Introduction section, in which Gulab Singh Dogra’s loyalty to the British government is being shown swankily, primarily this section reveals that how the British Government brought the Gulab Singh Dogra’s subjugation to Kashmir.

The same part of the section reads that Gulab Singh Dogra had come as a conqueror in Kashmir and was determined to make his power felt throughout his territory and also the main aims in the life of the Gulab Singh ie Zamin and Zar are categorically denoted. In this section, the main thing is conferring about the Author of the book Robert Throp (The first foreigner who sacrificed his life for the Kashmir cause).

The chapter first starts with the “Kashmir Misgoverment” in which the most important content of the book i.e. Land taxation which was taken by the government at everything produced at that time is being elaborated with principals and agents like Tehsildars, Thanadars Kardars,Dooms (policeman) which were forcefully involved in this unethical collection of taxes.

In this chapter, the next section writes about the Gulab Singh as a Trader in which the author has beautifully represented Maharaja as a human Trader which is one of the unfortunate and inhuman tradings the Kashmiris have ever met with. And at the last of the chapter, the author in order to understand the whole situation has enumerated the grievances of the Muslims (majority community of the state of Jammu and Kashmir) in ten points from which whole oppression by the Gulab Singh is cleared to the readers.

The second chapter “Oppression” of the book is giving an idea about the Art and Crafts of the Kashmir which Kashmiris know before as well but was given a refined shawl weaving and thus flourished by Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin. The chapter gives much information to understand the shawl system in Kashmir and its demands.

The shawl industry in Kashmir was so important that a government department had been maintained for long to deal with it. Before 1833, the duty on shawls was levied according to the number made and stamped in the year at the rate of three annas in the rupee one. As soon as Gulab Singh consolidated his possessions he reorganized the Shawl industry Once in 1865, Shawl weavers went on agitation that is known as Shawl Bauf Agitation of 1865. Due to oppressive rule, the revolt was suppressed and large numbers of subjected masses especially Experts suggest the gross annual revenue from thirty-six Paraganas (Tehsils) of Kashmir, gained through taxes on grain, oil and cotton was approximately seventeen lakh rupees in 1848.

Although the Chapter is not having a clear shot about the 29 April 1865 when 28 shawl workers sacrificed their lives while opposing the heavy taxes on shawls. But the author here has mentioned a figure which is three times more than the total revenues of Kashmir amounted after the first year of the rule of Maharaja.

The third chapter “Scenes of Death” starts by stating the raised rank and dignity of Gulab Singh Dogra by the British when he was handed over with Jammu, Ladakh and the region between the rivers Ravi and Beas as a price. But at the same time, the ill-fated bravery of Dogra which he tried to show was tooth and nail opposed by the people of Gilgit, Chilas, Yasin, Ishkonan and Chitral and consequently the spirits of these people remain free from Inhuman Rule of Maharaja. During this time Gulab Singh time and again tried to send his troops for the subjugation of Gilgit which under the leadership of Gowhar Aman were failed at all the times.

The maharaja also introduced the system of beggar In Kashmir. The state is surrounded by high mountains and in the absence of other transport facilities necessitated a large number of men for carrying essential commodities in or outside the valley. As Kashmir felt under tyrant rulers, beggar or forced labour developed there.

The last chapter “Sale of Kashmir” reads about the selling of Kashmir to Gulab Singh under the infamous treaty of Amritsar on March 16, 1846 The Treaty of Amritsar consisted of 10 Articles (given at page 95-97 under appendix 1 of the book) which elaborate only upon the boundaries of the area sold, the sale amount, resolution of bilateral disputes, forging of military alliances, acknowledgement of British supremacy and yearly tribute but made no mention whatsoever of the rights, interests or the future of the people of the State.

Robert Thorp in the book has described the preposterous Treaty of Amritsar in the following words, “towards the people of Cashmeer (Kashmir) we have committed a wanton outrage, a gross injustice, an act of tyrannical oppression which violates every human and honorable sentiment, which is opposed to the whole spirit of modern civilization, and in direct opposition to every tenet of the religion we profess”.

Robert Thorp has said that British “deliberately sold millions of human beings into the absolute power of one of the meanest, most avaricious cruel and unprincipled of men that ever sat upon a throne”. The Author here once again highlights the consideration which makes the sale of Kashmir yet more Iniquitous, is the character of the man into whose absolute power British sold the people.

Dr. Allama Iqbal while lamenting upon the sale of Kashmir has said the following words which are written at the starting of the chapter “Sale of Kashmir”.

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