This page contains two notable items of postal regulation pertaining to the J&K Native service, one from Spring 1867 known as “Notification No. 673”, and the other near the end of the Native service in 1890 that led to the postal operations being handed over to the Government of India.
Containing the seven postal regulations of 1867 that were formally published in the Punjab Gazette No. 673 General Department, 16th March 1867. It is copied here from Appendix VI in W. Wakefield’s The Happy Valley: Sketches of Kashmir and the Kashmiris (1879). It reads:
“The following arrangements for Postal communication with Kashmir during the ensuing season have been made in communication with the Kashmir Government and the Postmaster General of the Punjab:
1. All letters for Srinagar and the Valley of Kashmir will be forwarded viā Marri.
2. At Marri the letters will be placed in a sealed bag, and made over to an official of the Maharajah of Kashmir, who will convey the bag to the civil officer on duty at Srinagar.
3. The bag will be opened, and the letters sorted, by an official attached to the office of the civil officer.
4. All letters for visitors at Srinagar and their followers will be distributed through the agency placed at the disposal of the civil officer. Other letters will be made over to the diwan of the Maharajah at Srinagar for distribution.
5. In addition to the English postage, a fee, equal to half the English postage, will be levied on all letters delivered at Srinagar.
6. A post-office will be opened at or near the residence of the civil officer, for the convenience of visitors to Kashmir and their followers; and letters for British territory will be despatched in a sealed bag to Marri, and made over to the postal authorities at that place.
7. All covers intended for despatch from Srinagar to British territory by the above dāk,
which for convenience will be designated the resident’s dāk, should be marked ‘per resident’s dak’
in English, and signed at the lower left-hand corner by the sender; they must further bear, in addition to the
English postage, a Kashmir postage-stamp of half the value of the English stamp required, otherwise they
will be made over to the diwan to be returned to the sender, if known, or otherwise disposed of according to the
rules of the Kashmir post-office.”
By order, T.H. Thornton, Secretary to Government, Punjab.
The 19 articles given here are a translation from Urdu as transcribed by J.L. Raina, ca. 1926, the original English not having been available to the author. The author notes that this document was not incorporated in Aitchison’s Treaties, Engagements, etc., with Native States, Vol XI. The treaty reads:
“Between the Government of India and the Council of the Jammu and Kashmir State, dated the 1st January 1890, and which will remain in force for two years only:
1. Letters, etc., coming from British India through the Imperial Post Office will not be charged doubly as heretofore.
2. One Imperial Post Office exists in Srinagar. In addition to this, Imperial Post Offices will be opened in Jammu and Nowanshahr from the date when Jammu is connected by railway line with Sialkot; and these post offices will remain within the boundary of the railway line. Post offices at Domel, Baramula, Uri, and Gilgit will be opened on or about the date of the opening of the Jhelum Valley Road.
3. All sorts of communication received and despatched through post offices will be charged at the rates prevalent in British India. British stamps will be used for the purpose and those will be sold in all such offices.
4. Except at Jammu and Srinagar all post offices shall have local delivery; but post offices at Srinagar and Jammu will reserve delivery to Englishmen by window; all the rest of the letters will be handed over to the postal agent appointed by the State. An annual fee of Rs 12 will be changed for the permit of window delivery.
5. All articles that are meant for villages will be handed over to the State postal agent on a receipt, and no alteration will be made in the distribution or the postal arrangements there.
6. The whole income of the Imperial post office will be credited to the State after meeting the expenditure of the Imperial post office.
7. The income of the post office will be received in the following manner: (a) The prices obtained from stamps used in letters, registered letters, and parcels. (b) Income on the delivery of ‘bearing’ articles. (c) Money order commission will be charged on such money as will be received by the post offices in Kashmir. (d) Income on the issue of permit of window delivery.
8. The mails will be run by train from Jammu to Sialkot and the expenditure will be met by the British Government.
9. A tonga line will be started from Srinagar to Murree. The State will pay annually a sum of Rs 1000. This expenditure will also include the expenditure on harkaras in the summer season required for Gulmarg. The British Governmnet will be responsible for any expenditure from Murree to Sialkot.
10. The arrangement and contract for tongas for Murree and Srinagar and all allowances as mentioned in the foregoing article, in spite of any other agreement which may be entered into by the State with the Government of India in this direction, will be made by the Imperial Government; and administration of the tonga line will remain in the hands of the Imperial post office.
11. All letters meant for British India and posted in the branch offices, whether these be stamped or ‘bearing’, will be handed over to some neighbouring Imperial post office without extra charge.
12. All money orders from outside the State will be sent through the Imperial post office. Money will be remitted to people residing at a distance from the Imperial post office on the receipt of a notice to that account through the postal agent; for the delivery of a money order, to the correct receipient, the postal agent will be held responsible.
13. In a similar manner all articles insured or value payable will be delivered by the Imperial post office.
14. An account will be maintained for the sale of stamps in order to show the possible income realised therefrom. The following sums will be included in it: (a) Stamps purchased; (b) Daily sale of stamps in which stamps for the use of registered letters and parcels will be included; (c) Daily clearances and outstandings.
15. British offices supplying stamps to Jammu and Kashmir post offices will also keep an account. A copy of this account will be sent monthly to the Controller of Post Offices, who will be responsible for checking and comparing the statements made by the Srinagar and Jammu head offices.
16. The Imperial post offices at Jammu and Srinagar shall prepare a monthly account, which will also include the following items: (a) Income from the sale of stamps; (b) Income accruing from ‘bearing’ letters; (c) Income from money order commission; (d) Income from ‘permit’ of window delivery; (e) Total of monthly income; (f) Monthly expenditure of the Imperial postal establishment; (g) Remainder that may be payable to the State after money expended on Imperial post offices.
17. The remainder paid to the Jammu and Kashmir State will be shown in the books of the Imperial post offices as a miscellaneous expenditure and the receipt obtained from the State Treasury will be sent to the Controller for record.
18. The remainder will be given to the State through the Resident in Kashmir; and all outstandings will be cleared every three months.
19. The Imperial office at Srinagar as aforesaid will have an establishment as detailed: Postmaster at Rs 200, one clerk at Rs 80, two clerks at Rs 60, to peons at Rs 18, extra expenditure at Rs 30. Every year from 15 November to 1 March there are recurring charges for fuel at Rs 3 per month, and from 1 May to 31 October a seasonal postman at Rs 9 per month.
J.L. Raina (1926) adds a sequel: “The term of the above agreement entered into by the State with the Government of India seems to have been extended under circumstances which are not traceable. Circumstances are different now and the whole control is with the Government of India. In 1894, a subsequent agreement had been reached by which the control was transferred to the Government of India for a period of 25 years and the State was given in lieu [British] postage stamps to the extent of Rs10,000 annually, recently raised to Rs20,000 annually. The term expired in 1919 and the question of revision or extension of the present arrangement is under correspondence between the darbar and the Government of India.”