In January 1947 Kashmir had conducted an election for its Praja Sabha, and in February, Prime Minister Attlee had announced the British Government’s decision to quit India in the very near future. The people of Kashmir had a hunch that something was going to happen, but no one knew where and how. It happened in Poonch in the spring of 1947. The Raja of Poonch was a tributary to the Maharaja of Kashmir, and was his kinsman too. The Raja was dispossessed of his estates by a lawsuit during the war, and the Maharaja of Kashmir began to levy taxes in Poonch in accordance with the rules obtaining in Kashmir proper. These rules and the taxes consequent thereto were both harsh and exacting, and the Muslim Poonchis, noted for their valour and warlike spirit, defied the law of the Maha raja by unleashing a no-tax campaign in the spring of 1947. As to their type, it is reported that of the 71,667 citizens of Jammu and Kashmir who served in the second World War, 60,402 were Poonch Muslims.1 Richard Symonds, who as a member of the Quaker Group was very near the scene of trouble, narrates that the Poonchis complained about the rigours of the taxes in no uncertain terms. There was a tax on every hearth and every window. Every wife (the Muslims can take four according to law), cow, buffalo, and sheep was taxed and taxed. “Finally the Zaildari tax was introduced to pay the cost of taxation and Dogra troops were billeted on the Poonchis to enforce collection.”2
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