Have just read the book 'Jammu Fox'...and have some important remarks to make on it. The fact that it took me 48 years and in particular the last 15 to get to it, has its own story.
This is an astoundingly balanced account of a man who was both brutal and brilliant in his execution of statecraft.
We are talking about Ghulab Singh 1792 - 1857.
The following 2 paragraphs have been taken from Page 166 and 167 of
'the Jammu Fox' - A Biography of Maharaja Gulab Singh of Kashmir 1792-1857
by Bawa Satinder Singh:
1974 - Southern Illinois University Press
By the middle of 1847, the Company felt compelled to adopt a policy of direct interference by pressuring the Maharaja to initiate reform. Early in June it asked the Kashmir government to reduce prices on foodstuffs and to make available in the market an abundant supply of rice. Simultaneously, Henry Lawrence dispatched to Srinagar a mission under one of his assistants, Lieutenant Reynell Taylor, who was given the formidable task of recommending necessary reforms after consultation with the people as well as the government. While extending a warm welcome and ostensible co-operation to the mission, Gulab Singh skillfully blocked it from completing its work. Attempts were made to convince the visitors that the Kashmiris were generally content with the Maharaja's rule, and that the cause of their grievances came from other quarters. For example, in July over four thousand shawl weavers staged a demonstration against their local Kashmiri employers and went on strike,but it was suspected that their protests were inspired by Gulab Singh himself to impress the mission with his own innocence. During his three-month stay, Taylor's attempts to secure the populace's viewpoint were thwarted not only by the manipulations of the Maharaja's officials but also by the timidity of the people themselves. Khuihami, a Kashmiri historian, recorded the futile exertions of Taylor:
In 1847 Mr. Taylor Sahib came to Kashmir to inquire into the conditions in Kashmir and to suggest reforms in the Maharaja's administration. For some time he studied the local laws and revenue regulations. He called a general darbar in the Maisuma grounds (at Srinagar), and in a very loud voice he inquired "O you, the people of Kashmir, are you happy with the Maharaja's rule or not." Some of the people who had been tutored by Pandit Raj Dhar Kak (a high government official) shouted back, "Yes, we are." When Taylor Sahib heard this he felt disgusted with the character of the people of Kashmir and went back to (British) India.
End of excerpt.....
While reading the above it dawned on me that not much has changed in 173 years! The recent UK parliamentary delegation's visit to AJK headed by Debbie Abrahams MP was not too dissimilar. Stonewalling and non-platforming the internal narrative is just as effective today as it was then!
We all need to understand and resolve that.