Accession Day 2023
India’s union territory of Jammu and Kashmir celebrates October 26 as a public holiday to commemorate the historic signing of the Instrument of Accession in 1947. This significant document marked the accession of the princely state to India and set the stage for the region’s integration into the Indian union.
The celebration of October 26 as a public holiday in Jammu and Kashmir holds immense historical and cultural importance. It marks the day when Maharaja Hari Singh took the pivotal step of signing the Instrument of Accession, thereby securing the region’s future within the Indian union. This commemorative holiday reflects the enduring legacy of this critical moment in India’s history and its impact on the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Signing of the Instrument of Accession: A Pivotal Moment
At the time of India’s independence in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was divided into two newly formed nations, India and Pakistan. Alongside these two dominions, there were 580 princely states that had previously accepted the paramountcy of the British Crown through subsidiary alliances. As per the Indian Independence Act of 1947, these princely states were granted the choice to remain independent, join India, or join Pakistan. The process of accession involved the signing of an Instrument of Accession (IoA) that outlined the terms of the accession.
Maharaja Hari Singh’s Dilemma:
Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra monarch of Jammu and Kashmir, initially decided to maintain the independence of his state. He signed standstill agreements with both India and Pakistan to preserve the existing status quo. However, his decision was soon challenged when the region faced incursions by Pathan tribal militias and Pakistani military personnel. Faced with this critical situation, Maharaja Hari Singh sought India’s assistance to repel the aggressors.
India extended its help, but on the condition that Maharaja Hari Singh would sign the Instrument of Accession. This agreement, signed on October 26, 1947, served as a pact between the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and India. Lord Mountbatten, then the Governor-General of India, formally accepted the Instrument a day later. This momentous agreement provided the Indian Parliament with the authority to legislate on matters of Defense, External Affairs, and Communications pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir.
October 26 as a Public Holiday:
In 2020, October 26 was officially declared a public holiday in Jammu and Kashmir to honor this historic event. This holiday serves as a reminder of the region’s integration into India and the significance of the Instrument of Accession in shaping the destiny of Jammu and Kashmir. It stands as a symbol of unity and solidarity between the region and the rest of India.