The Troubled Years
BRIG (RETIRED) VK SHARMA REVIEWS THE BOOK ‘MAHARAJA HARI SINGH: THE TROUBLED YEARS” HARBANS SINGH
Maharaja Hari Singh: The troubled Years is a highly effective portrayal of the accession of the then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union. The upheaval of the partition, which had shaken the Indian sub-continent did not spare the principality of J&K.
No other account of the events that have taken place gives such in depth insight into the options available to the cornered ruler of J&K, Maharaja Hari Singh, and the ultimate option he was forced to exercise. The author, Harbans Singh (Sambyal) gives an intimate description of what went into the mind of Maharaja Hari Singh, when confronted with four major forces, at that critical juncture. Firstly, the British, whom Maharaja did not like due to his patriotic feelings. Secondly, he did not appreciate the Indian National Congress, as it was anti princes, which is well understood. Thirdly, the Muslim League was detested by the Maharaja as it was communal in its outlook. Fourthly, of course, Sheikh Abdullah, who was not Dogra but also highly anti-Dogra.
The author, who has earlier authored books on sports, has taken a maiden plunge in the historical issue of ‘Accession of State of J&K’. He has rendered yeoman’s service in depicting the correct and accurate perspective, the actions taken by the Maharaja under the then prevailing circumstances, for the good of its, multi-linguistic, cultural, and religious population. The secondary aim of this book seems to be ‘to highlight the positive role and the sacrifices made by the rank and file of the J&K state forces’. If the sacrifices of Brigadiers Rajinder Sigh and Sher Jung Thapa were recognized there were many other sacrifices which went unsung. It is these unsung heroes to whom the author pays their due tribute.
The ‘fleeing’ of Maharaja Hari Singh from Srinagar, when the Pakistani supported tribal raiders had reached the outskirts of summer capital of J&K is deeply embedded in all accounts of the events.
Even with the account given by Dr Karan Singh in his autobiographical book ‘The Heir Apparent’ as to how, VP Menon, Secretary for States had convinced Maharaja Hari Singh to leave Srinagar (summer capital) for Jammu (Winter Capital) in the larger interest, nor the repeated requests of Maharaja Hari Singh himself to the Government of India to set the record straight about his departure from Srinagar to Jammu despite assurances from VP Menon and Sardar Patel, did little to stop the malicious propaganda unleashed against the Maharaja.
To add insult to the injury few of the eminent writers described the events of the fateful night suggesting that the Maharaja packed his precious jewels before fleeing. Surprisingly, canards of falsehood then spread, continued to stick and no one even seriously attempted to defend the move of the Maharaja from Srinagar to Jammu (Winter Capital), which in any case with the onset of winter would have been activated, few days hence. Harbans Singh has successfully attempted to depict the accurate picture of Maharaja’s move from Srinagar to Jammu. He has, thus not only come to the defence of unduly maligned Maharaja Hari Singh but has rendered immense service to the Dogra community in general and Dogra dynasty in particular.
It is felt that insertion of few photographs of those tumultuous times would have further improved the get up of the book. Notwithstanding above, the deep insight displayed by the author in various events makes the book highly absorbing. Given the dearth of well researched material on the issue of accession of J&K to union of India this book is a valuable addition providing an omnibus perspective to the scholar, analyst and a reader alike.
Brig (Retired) VK Sharma can be mailed at email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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