The high point of the movement was July 13, 1931 when 22 protesters were martyred. The event strengthened the movement and contrary to the expectations of the then rulers, the peopled emerged more determined in their resolution to seek an end to autocratic rule. By the time the rulers could realise the futility of breaking the will of the people with the might of the State, the National Conference, headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, had become a mass movement and a force to reckon with. It broke the barriers of region and religion and became a popular and secular voice of the people of the State whose collective yearning was freedom from autocracy and the establishment of a popular rule. The people's movement spearheaded by the National Conference saw several ups and downs with its leaders particularly the Sher-I-Kashmir suffering vissitudes and long internment.
Jammu and Kashmir was one of about 565 princely States of India on which the British paramountcy lapsed at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947. While the power was transferred to the people in British India, the rulers of the princely States were given an option to join either of the two Dominions - India or Pakistan.
The Government of India Act 1935, as adopted in the Indian Independence Act, 1947, provided, "An Indian State shall be deemed to have acceded to the Dominion if the Governor General has signified the acceptance of an Instrument of Accession executed by the rule thereof." India, Pakistan and even Britain were party to these provisions. So the choice of joining either of the Dominions was left to the Rulers of the States concerned. Moreover, in the Indian Independence Act, 1947, there was no provision for any conditional accession.
The Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh did not exercise the option immediately and instead offered a proposal of Standstill Agreement to both the Dominion, pending final decision on State's accession. On August 12, 1947, the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir sent identical communications to the Government of India and Pakistan which read, "Jammu and Kashmir Government would welcome Standstill Agreement with Union of India/Pakistan on all matters on which there exists arrangements with the outgoing British India Government." Pakistan accepted the offer and sent a communication to J&K Prime Minster on August 15, 1947. It read, "The Government of Pakistan agrees to have Standstill Agreement with Jammu and Kashmir for the continuation of existing arrangements ". India did not agree to the offer and advised the Maharaja to send his authorized representative to Delhi for discussion on the offer.
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