Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, to accede to India. After that, Jammu and Kashmir became a part of India officially, and Indian troops landed in Srinagar to repulse the tribal Pathan lashkars led by Pakistani army personnel. Successive Kashmir-centric political dispensations in J&K ensured that the day was not declared a gazetted holiday. July 13 was a gazetted holiday for several decades but Accession Day was omitted from the list of holidays. It changed this year, as July 13 was not a holiday and October 26 declared a holiday in 2020. It was a day of celebrations for a very large section of population in the UT and several functions were held by different organisations.For past many years, an organisation used to mark the day with paying homage at the statue of Maharaja Hari Singh near Tawi bridge by offering a huge Laddu. Last year, it had organised a function at which a 73-Kg Laddu was made and then distributed among the passers by. This time, the organisation had to cancel its plan to offer a 74-Kg Laddu at the venue for distribution among citizens. This happened due to Wuhan virus spread and it organised a programme in the nearby Maharaja Hari Singh Park. Hopefully, the programme next year will be a lot different and people will be able to gather without any hindrance imposed by the pandemic. A grand programme was organised a couple of years ago when Vikramaditya Singh and Ajatshatru Singh, two grandsons of the last Maharaja, attended the programme. The scenes were chaotic at the venue as hundreds of people stopped by the statue to pay obeisance to the Maharaja.By all available indications, a reassessment of the late Maharaja’s important role in the events related to J&K is on. Nowadays, unbiased and more sympathetic narratives about him can be found in the public domain. Earlier, Hari Singh was often painted as a villian by many sections of people who blamed him for not having acceded his State to India by August 15, 1947. This delay was blamed for the ills plaguing J&K as if Pakistan’s evil eye was not the single most important contributory factor. More awareness about the legal framework regarding accession needs to be spread widely. We all are Indians today because Maharaja Hari Singh had acceded J&K to India and that is a reason for celebrations.
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