Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Accession Day Replaces Martyrs Day In Jammu and Kashmir As Regional Holiday

Accession Day is the new holiday that the residents of Jammu and Kashmir will celebrate. Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir administration replaced former CM Sheikh Abdullah’s birth anniversary and Martyrs’ Day from its list of public holidays for 2020 and included Accession Day which will be celebrated on 26th October.

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Great fervour and enthusiasm were seen in the celebrations of the Accession Day on 26 October 2019. Various functions and public meetings were organized by various political parties and social organizations across the Jammu region while the Kashmir valley remained indifferent.

What is the Accession Day?

A public holiday will be given to people in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on October 26 every year. It will be observed as Accession Day, as it marks the signing of the Instrument of Accession by the last Dogra ruler of J&K, Maharaja Hari Singh, with the then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten. Mountbatten accepted it on October 27, 1947.

Along with this, Jammu and Kashmir has dropped Martyr’s Day (commemorating the deaths of the 22 people who lost their lives when the Maharaja’s forces opened fire on them) and December 5 (the birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah, former prime minister and chief minister of J&K).

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Instrument of Accession?

The legal document signed by the Maharaja of J&K that acceded the princely state to India is called the Instrument of Accession. Its origin lies in the Indian Independence Act, 1947, due to which British India was divided into India and Pakistan and the 580 princely states had their sovereignty restored to them.

In simple words, these princely states were given the option to remain independent or to join the Dominion of India or Pakistan.

The ruler of Jammu and Kashmir – Hari Singh was a Hindu but the majority of his subjects were Muslims. He wanted to remain independent because he did not want to lose his monarchical power.

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But after tribesmen and army men from Pakistan invaded the princely state, the Maharaja sought India’s help. New Delhi was willing to help him on the condition of the accession of the state to the Dominion of India.

Terms & Conditions of Instrument of Accession (IOA)?

According to the accession document, the Indian Parliament could legislate in respect of J&K only on matters of defence, external affairs, and communications.

Clause 5 of the IoA explicitly mentions the will of the Maharaja, that the terms of the IoA “cannot be varied by any amendment” of the Government of India Act, 1935, or the Indian Independence Act, 1947, “unless such amendment is accepted by me by an Instrument supplementary to this Instrument”.

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In Clause 7, the Maharaja said, “Nothing in this Instrument shall be deemed to commit me in any way to acceptance of any future constitution of India or to fetter my discretion to enter into arrangements with the Government of India under any such future constitution”

Article 370 was incorporated through the Accession document that gave special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India, which has now been revoked.

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