Maharaja Hari Singh: A Friend or a Foe for the people of Jammu & Kashmir ?

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Shifting focus on the other side, the Kashmir story remains incomplete without mention of Maharaja Hari Singh. His supporters and critiques have their own reasons in support or against. While some have painted him as a worst villain of the majority population yet the other school of thought, particularly Dogra Rajputs, continue to project him as a benevolent ruler, friend of poor masses and different from his predecessors. The royal family particularly Jamwals take pride even today to have ruled the State. The Dogra consider Jammu as their motherland and Kashmir as a conquered territory ruled with the help of all fair and unfair means. Hari Singh was an exception as he was western educated and he alone among the royal family had taken to western way of life. He had the distinction to have learnt Kashmiri language and abolished ‘ Purdah ‘ for ladies of his dynasty.

Some of the revolutionary steps taken by the Maharaja during his rule, as claimed by Rajputs, are mentioned as under:

  1. Maharaja Hari Singh made primary education compulsory.
  2. Maharaja stopped the practice of child marriage and actively promoted widow re-marriage
  3. ” Justice is my religion” was Maharaja’s first statement after assuming the high office in 1925
  4. Maharaja ruled the State of J&K from 1925 to 1948
  5. Maharaja established the High Court on March 26, 1928
  6. Maharaja made a formal proclamation by throwing open the doors of State Temples and places of worship to the Harijans in 1932
  7. The Maharaja addressed Round Table Conference in London in 1930 and strongly advocated for the independence of India
  8. Maharaja established the department of Rular Development in 1937
  9. In 1940 Maharaja proclaimed untouchability a cognisable offence
  10. Maharaja established the J&K Bank in 1938
  11. Maharaja abolished the practice of ” SATI “
  12. Maharaja enacted the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution of 1928
  13. Established SMGS hospital (Jammu) 6 May, 1940 at a cost of Rs 8 Lakhs
  14. SMHS hospital was established in the bigning of 1948 at a cost of Rs 15 Lakhs
  15. Improved cannals and irrigation system in Jammu. etc etc.


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