THE LAST MAHARAJA of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh (second from left), holds discussions with Sheikh Abdullah (second from right), the future prime minister of the princely state, as well as Baldev Singh (left) and Jawaharlal Nehru, the first defence minister and prime minister of India, respectively. On 26 October 1947, the ruler signed the Instrument of Accession.
Hari Singh was the fourth Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. The dynasty was founded by Gulab Singh, a commander in the army of the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. In 1822, Ranjit Singh named him raja of Jammu. After the First Anglo-Sikh War, the East India Company sold Gulab Singh the dominion of Jammu and Kashmir, in 1846, formalising his military conquests of the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Gilgit–Baltistan.
When the British partitioned the subcontinent, in 1947, the princely states were given the choice of joining India or Pakistan, or remaining independent. Hari Singh manoeuvred to preserve independence, signing a standstill agreement with Pakistan. However, after a rebellion broke out in the western districts of his kingdom and Pashtun tribesmen backed by Pakistan invaded, on 20 October, he turned to India for military assistance.