Early Days of Kashmir Telegraphy

It was in the year 1877 that on behalf of Maharaja Ranbir Singh of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir, the Indian Telegraph Department supplied the first telegraph line between Srinagar and Gilgit. Telegraph line between Jammu and Srinagar was completed in May 1878. At 4pm, 1878, Maharaja Ranbir Singh personally had visited the Jammu Telegraph office. Telegraph line from Srinagar to Gilgit was completed & opened in 1894.

                                     THE TELEGRAPH TREATIES

{ Source of Treaties : Kashmirstamps.ca }

I.  The Treaty of 1878.

Agreement entered into between the British Government and the Cashmere State in regard to the Construction of Telegraph Lines from Jummoo to Srinuggur and from Srinuggur to Gilgit—1878. Whereas His Highness the Maharaja of Cashmere is desirous of obtaining the assistance of the British Government towards the construction of lines of telegraph from Jummoo to Srinuggur and from Srinuggur to Gilgit, the following terms are agreed upon by Major Philip Durham Henderson, C.S.I., Officer on special duty in Cashmere, on the part of the British Government, duly empowered by the Viceroy and Governor-General in Council on that behalf, and by Baboo Nilumber Mookerjee, M.A., B.L., Judge of the Sadr Adalut of Cashmere, duly empowered by His Highness the Maharaja on that behalf:

1.  The British Government agrees to construct for the Cashmere State two lines of telegraph, each consisting of one wire, to be carried on such suitable supports as are procurable in the vicinity, the one to be erected between Jummoo and Srinuggur at a cost of Rs. 21,600 more or less, and the other between Srinuggur and Gilgit at a cost of Rs. 31,900 more or less, provided in each case the following conditions are observed:—

   (a)  That the transport of all telegraph materials from Sealkote to the Cashmere frontier and within the limits of the Cashmere State shall be directly arranged and paid for by some duly authorised officer of the Cashmere State.

   (b)  That all labourers, whom the officer in charge of the construction of the line shall require to employ, shall be engaged and paid by a duly authorised officer of the Cashmere State.

   (c)  That on due notice being given by the officer in charge of the construction of the line, the Cashmere Government shall, to the utmost of its power, comply with requisitions for transport or labour.

   (d)  That sound seasoned deodar posts, where these are procurable, suitable for telegraph supports, shall be provided by the Cashmere State and distributed along the route to be taken by the telegraph lines, in such manner as the officer in charge of the work may direct.

   (e)  That no bracket or insulators be used in the construction of the lines, as their cost has not been provided in the estimated amounts stated above.

2.  The British Government guarantees that all telegraph materials, including the wire supplied by it, shall be of the best quality used for its own lines, and that the lines shall be handed over the Cashmere Government in full working order.

3.  His Highness the Maharaja agrees to pay to the British Government, as the money may be required, the actual cost incurred by it in the construction and establishment of the lines, such cost being inclusive of:—

(a)  The salaries and allowances of all members of the Indian Telegraph establishment for the whole period they may be detained on duty in Cashmere; and

   (b)  The cost of insulating the line, or of any other charges in the original scheme that may be made hereafter with the concurrence, or at the request of the Cashmere State.

4.  The salaries and allowances of all members of the Indian Telegraph establishment will be paid to them by the Government of India through the Officer on special duty, and the amounts of such payments will be recovered subsequently from the Cashmere State.

5.  On the application in writing of the Cashmere State, the Telegraph Department will supply at cost price all telegraph instruments and material required from time to time for the maintenance and working of the telegraph lines and offices about to be established.

6.  On the application in writing of the Cashmere State, the Telegraph Department will afford such advice and instruction as may be required and desired by the Cashmere State for the maintenance and working of such telegraph lines and offices.

7.  On the application in writing of the Cashmere State, the Telegraph Department will lend the services of any Native signallers, who may volunteer for the duty, and whose services can be spared, for such specified periods as may be sufficient to enable the Cashmere State to train its own signallers.

8. The foregoing provisions are accepted by the British Government as a mark of friendship and good-will towards His Highness the Maharaja; but it is to be understood that after the lines are delivered over [to] the Cashmere Government, no responsibility whatever attached to the British Government in respect of their subsequent maintenance and working. (Sd.) P.D. Henderson, Major. Officer on special duty in Cashmere. (Sd.) Nilumber Mookerjee. Judge of the Sadr Adalut of Cashmere. The 9th March, 1878.

II. The Treaty of 1890.

In 1890 a further agreement was entered into by the two Governments for the maintenance and working of a third line of telegraph along the State Railway from Suchet Carh to Jammu. It was signed at Gulmarg on 3rd July, 1890, by R. Parry Nisbet—British Resident in Kashmir, and by Raja Amar Singh—Prime Minister and President of the Jammu-Kashmir State Council, being further approved and confirmed at Simla some three weeks later. 

Following is an 1897 newspaper page of New York NY Tribune pertaining to the Srinagar-Gilgit Telegraph line titled ‘PERILS OF ASIATIC TELEGRAPHING’ :New York NY Tribune 1897 Perils of Asiatic Telegraphing - New York NY Tribune ReportPerils of Asiatic Telegraphing - New York NY Tribune Report

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15 Questions to NC Headed Government in Jammu Kashmir

As J&K moves closer to four years of NC-Congress coalition Government, I want to ask 15 questions to NC party. These are :

1) On Autonomy: Whereas you have talked of restoration of autonomy in the election manifesto of 2008 which has been your party stand for years, what steps have you steered for its restoration?

As NC has been in coalition with BJP led NDA & also is now in echelons of power with Congress led UPA, has there ever been a whisker on it off lately with UPA on official level other than some occasional brouhaha on the issue of restoration & eroding of autonomy? Isn’t the word ‘Autonomy’ been now NC’s bluff which feels very monotonous to our ears due to your hollow trumpeting? What about the ‘Autonomy Plus’ which your Party had promised to unveil to the people in 2009?

2) On Separatists: Whereas you have said in the manifesto to solve Kashmir imbroglio, all sections of the society including separatists & extremists have to be taken on board, have you not further pushed the dialogue table to oblivion with their frequent house arrests as well as stopping them to offer Friday prayers? While you have used the word ‘extremists’ who you think should be taken on board but have you done any favor to the moderates so that the extremists shun their approach? Hasn’t this approach been more counterproductive leading to more dissent in the society? Also why hasn’t the much talked Rehabilitation Policy been successful here?

3) On LOC Trade: Whereas you have said in election manifesto that NC will ‘strive for free trade & traffic compared to present trickle across LOC & hassle free entry/exit of state subjects & better coordination between Srinagar – Muzafarabad’, not much is seen in this regard. The barter system with which the trade was started four years back still exists, while the Trade across the Salamabad,Uri has increased over years but the trade across Poonch has significantly decreased & there exists still lag in communication due to the ban on Telecommunication links across LOC. People still are hoping when the travel across the LOC would be liberalized so that they could see each other’s relatives.

4)  On TRC & SHRC: Whereas you have said that ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be formed to know what triggered the volcano of insurgency in late 80s & the guilty should be punished plus also that the report would be made public’, what have you done to keep that promise? Also you have pledged to restore the crippled SHRC & do away laws like DAA, AFSPA, has any progress been there so far? But point should be noted that the chief minister has gone on record saying that Kashmir is a political problem. As the problem is still lingering on where does this introducing of the idea of TRC fit in when the conflict hasn’t been solved yet. Further the words of TRC don’t evoke any interest in the minds of commoners as like all toothless commissions it will also lead to nowhere. The recent interlocutors report is one of the examples. There have been no concrete steps in restoring the crippled SHRC. Isn’t it your crippling factor that J&K Government has asked the SHRC to dispose of the cases in matters related to the unmarked graves so that it would be sorted out in yet to be made & much fancied TRC?

5) On Chenab & PirPanjal: Whereas you have said that you pledge to form PirPanjal & Chenab development council, has any progress been done so far apart from a resolution passed in Legislative Council in 2009? What prevents you in granting the autonomous hill development council to the state’s most backward areas? If the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council is working fine administratively, then why not for Chenab Valley? The sooner the better if it would be made functional.

6) On Unemployment & SKEWPY: Whereas you said & are saying that you will explore all avenues for unemployed youth for their gainful employment locally, nationally & internationally, leave that aside, what is happening to the much hyped SKEWPY ? As newspaper reports suggest, the VSA has been hit by financial crunch with the unemployed youth not getting their allowances for past 4-5 months. Compared to rest of the neighboring states, J&K has the highest unemployment rate at 5.3% which needs to be specially addressed.

7) On Energy & Power: Whereas you said and are also saying that you will impress upon the center to compensate our state in case of electricity as the electricity generated by the water resources of our own state are shared by others, what steps have you taken? Didn’t the Union Power Minister for Power & the Union Power Secretary categorically reject the demand of handing over the power projects from NHPC back to the state government in their statements recently? Let it be reminded that the state is this time reeling under serious Energy crisis due to the shortage of LPG cylinders.

8) On SAC & SVC: Whereas you promised that the State Accountability Commission which was made defunct by previous government would be restored, it in fact has been made more toothless as recently your Government objected to the suo moto powers of the State Accountability Commission to initiate action against its legislators in corruption related cases. Further in the manifesto you had promised to strengthen the Vigilance organization for which you strengthened the State Vigilance Act in 2011 but the irony is that no state vigilance commission has been made so far.

9) On Women: Whereas you say that you will establish a Women’s university, so far no word on it. According to the economic survey the female unemployment in state is at 17.1% compared to 5.6% unemployment in males here. Keeping in view of the over growing unemployment in the state, wouldn’t it be better if you open a new industry which would help women empowerment?

10) On HR Violation: Whereas you have said in election manifesto that, ’One kind of terrorism cannot be fought with another’, on the issue of human rights violation by security agencies, what steps have you taken? What about the over 100 people getting killed in the summer agitation of 2010 on which the CM said that it is a cross he has to take all life along? Has any justice been done yet which was promised?

11) On Education: Whereas you talk of increase in literacy rate of state to 68% & 15% increase in female literacy, we would like to know the reason that why there has been an increase in school dropout rate in our state from 3.47% in 2009-10 to 5.3% in 2010-11 with over 43,000 drop-outs currently according to a recent survey.

12) On Health Care: Whereas India Today group has titled J&K as number one state in health sector for which I am congratulating you but isn’t it absurd that in the backdrop of messy GB Pant fiasco recently, do we deserve the number one position? Didn’t the CAG report this year term the Health care system in Jammu in shambles? What about the much talked Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the field of Health care? Any Progress on it?

13) On Roads: Whereas you promised of better & wider roads across the state & you claim to have built a wide network of roads, with the Chief Minister also quoting sometime back that, ‘Roads are arteries to progress’, has the road networking been better as promised? Take for example the summer capital, Srinagar, when during the poll campaign the chief minister promised that Srinagar would be transformed into Venice while as it seems quite opposite is the situation where the roads which had been dug up in the name of drainage & sewerage system have failed to re-carpet leading to spurge in nuisances of a common man.

14) On Panchayat: Whereas you were successful in conducting the Panchayat Polls in the state but aren’t they now being used as mere pawns in order to score political mileage with other opposing forces of your party?

15) On Shahtoosh Shawl Trade: Whereas in the election manifesto you have said that you feel that ‘Toosh’ has fallen prey to a certain elitist lobby, what steps have you taken to break this myth?