After the Partition of India, during September–November 1947 in the Jammu region of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, a large number of Muslims were massacred and others driven away to West Punjab. The killings were carried out by extremist Hindus and Sikhs, aided and abetted by the forces of the Dogra State headed by the Maharaja Hari Singh. An early official calculation made in Pakistan, using headcount data, estimated 50,000 Muslims killed. A team of two Englishmen jointly commissioned by the governments of India and Pakistan investigated seven major incidents of violence between 20 October – 9 November 1947, estimating 70,000 deaths. Senior Jammu journalist Ved Bhasin estimated the total deaths to be around 100,000. A report by a special correspondent of The Times, published on 10 August 1948, stated that a total of 237,000 Muslims were either killed or migrated to Pakistan. According to scholar Ian Copland, these figures are doubtful.
As a result of the killings, scholar Ilyas Chattha says, more than 100,000 Jammu refugees had reportedly arrived in Sialkot in Pakistan due to these massacres. Scholar Christopher Snedden, on the other hand, cites a "comprehensive report" in Dawn published in January 1951, which said that 200,000 Muslims went as refugees to Pakistan in October–November 1947. Observers state that Hari Singh’s aim was to alter the demographics of the region by eliminating the Muslim population and thereby gain power to continue his rule.
Subsequently, many non-Muslims, stated by Snedden in his book as over 20,000, were also massacred in the Mirpur region of today's Azad Kashmir.
Mahatma Gandhi also commented on the situation in Jammu on 25 December 1947 in his speech at a prayer meeting at New Delhi : “The Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu and those who had gone there from outside killed Muslims. The Maharaja of Kashmir is responsible for what is happening there…A large number of Muslims have been killed there and Muslim women have been dishonoured.”
At the time of the Partition of India in 1947, the British abandoned their suzerainty over the princely states, which were left with the options of joining India or Pakistan or remaining independent. Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, wanted his state to remain independent and retain his kingdom. Muslims in Western Jammu province (current day Azad Kashmir) and the Frontier Districts Province (current day Gilgit-Baltistan) had wanted to join Pakistan.
Unlike the Kashmir valley which remained mostly calm during this transition period, the Jammu province which was contiguous to Punjab, experienced mass migration that led to violent inter-religious activity. Large numbers of Hindus and Sikhs from Rawalpindi and Sialkot started arriving since March 1947, bringing "harrowing stories of Muslim atrocities in West Punjab". This provoked counter-violence on Jammu Muslims, which had "many parallels with that in Sialkot". Ilyas Chattha writes, "the Kashmiri Muslims were to pay a heavy price in September–October 1947 for the earlier violence of West Punjab."
Scholar Ilyas Chattha and senior journalist Ved Bhasin blame the mishandling of law and order by Maharaja Hari Singh and his armed forces in the whole Jammu province, for the large scale communal violence in the region.
There were reports of large-scale massacre of Muslims in Udhampur district, particularly in proper Udhampur, Chenani, Ramnagar, Bhaderwah and Reasi areas. Killing of a large number of Muslims was reported from Chhamb, Deva Batala, Manawsar and other parts of Akhnoor with several people fleeing to Pakistan or moving to Jammu. In Kathua district and Bilawar area, there was extensive killing of Muslims with women raped and abducted.
There was mass killing of Muslims in and around Jammu. Most of the Muslims outside the Muslim dominated areas were said to be killed by the communal rioters who moved in vehicles with arms and ammunition though the city was officially put under curfew. Many number of Gujjar men and women who used to supply milk to the city from the surrounding villages were reportedly massacred en-route. It is said that the Ramnagar reserve in Jammu was littered with the dead bodies of Gujjar men, women and children. In the Muslim localities of Jammu city, Talab Khatikan and Mohalla Ustad, Muslims were reportedly surrounded and were denied water supply and food. The Muslims in Talab Khatikan area had joined to defend themselves with the arms they could gather, who later received support from the Muslim Conference. They were eventually asked to surrender and the administration asked them to go to Pakistan for their safety. These people, in thousands, were loaded in numerous trucks and were escorted by the troops. When they reached the outskirts of the city, they were allegedly pulled out and killed by armed people.
On November 16 1947, Sheikh Abdullah had arrived in Jammu and a refugee camp was setup in Mohalla Ustad.
According to Ved Bhasin, these riots were planned and executed by members of the RSS who were joined by the refugees from West Pakistan, and were supported strongly by the administration. He says that the massacres took place in the presence of Maharaja Hari Singh, his Prime Minister Mir Chand Mahajan & the then governor of Jammu, Lala Chet Ram Chopra, and that some of those who led these riots in Udhampur and Bhaderwah later joined the National Conference with some of them also serving as ministers.
On October 24, a provisional government of Azad Kashmir was established at Palandri under the leadership of Sardar Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, several thousand Pashtun tribesmen from North-West Frontier Province, who had support from Pakistani administration, had been pouring into Jammu and Kashmir to liberate it from the Maharaja's rule.
Several Hindus and Sikhs, on and after 25 November 1947 gathered in Mirpur for shelter and protection were killed by the Pakistani troops and tribesmen. A 'greatly shocked' Sardar Ibrahim painfully confirmed that Hindus were 'disposed of' in Mirpur in November 1947, although he does not mention any figures.
The table below compares the 1941 percentage of Muslim population with the present percentage for the Indian-controlled part of the Jammu province and gives figures for estimated 'loss' of Muslims, due to deaths as well as migration.
Scholar Ian Copland tries to estimate how many Muslims might have been killed in the Jammu violence based on the demographic data. An unidentified organisation in Pakistan counted refugees from Jammu and Kashmir during May–July 1949, and found 333,964 refugees from the Indian-held parts of the state. However, if this figure is used to calculate how many Muslims might have been killed in Jammu, one ends up with a surplus rather than a deficit. An even higher figure of 500,000 Muslim refugees was reported in Dawn on 2 January 1951. Scholar Ilyas Chattha has claimed that over 1 million Muslims were uprooted owing to the violence. Evidently, such high figures are not supported by the demographic data. The State's Army Chief, Henry Lawrence Scott, states that at least 100,000 Muslim refugees of East Punjab were safely escorted on their way to Pakistan through Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. To get a rough idea, if we assume that the first figure of 333,964 included the approximately 100,000 East Punjab refugees, we can estimate the number of Jammu Muslims killed to be a few tens of thousands.