‘Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want
to give it away?’
Kashmir 1947, Rival Versions of History, by Prem
Shankar Jha. - Editor
Sam Manekshaw, the first field marshal in the
Indian army, was at the ringside of events when
Independent India was being formed. Then a
colonel, he was chosen to accompany V P Menon on
his historic mission to Kashmir. This is his
version of that journey and its aftermath, as
recorded in an interview with Prem Shankar Jha.
At about 2.30 in
the afternoon, General Sir Roy Bucher walked
into my room and said, ‘Eh, you, go and pick up
your toothbrush. You are going to Srinagar with
V P Menon. The flight will take off at about 4
o’clock’. I said, ‘why me, sir?’
‘Because we are
worried about the military situation. V P Menon
is going there to get the accession from the
Maharaja and Mahajan.’ I flew in with V P Menon
in a Dakota. Wing Commander Dewan, who was then
squadron leader Dewan, was also there. But his
job did not have anything to with assessing the
military situation. He was sent by the Air Force
because it was the Air Force which was flying us
Since I was in
the Directorate of Military Operations, and was
responsible for current operations all over
India, West Frontier, the Punjab, and elsewhere,
I knew what the situation in Kashmir was. I knew
that the tribesmen had come in - initially only
the tribesmen - supported by the Pakistanis.
us, and for Kashmir, they were busy raiding,
raping all along. In Baramulla they killed
Colonel D O T Dykes. Dykes and I were of the
same seniority. We did our first year’s
attachment with the Royal Scots in Lahore, way
back in 1934-5. Tom went to the Sikh regiment. I
went to the Frontier Force regiment. We’d lost
contact with each other. He’d become a
lieutenant colonel. I’d become a full colonel.
Tom and his wife
were holidaying in Baramulla when the tribesmen
forces were 50 per cent Muslim and 50 per cent
elements had revolted and joined the Pakistani
forces. This was the broad military situation.
The tribesmen were believed to be about 7 to 9
kilometers from Srinagar. I was sent into get
the precise military situation. The army knew
that if we had to send soldiers, we would have
to fly them in. Therefore, a few days before, we
had made arrangements for aircraft and for
soldiers to be ready.
But we couldn’t
fly them in until the state of Kashmir had
acceded to India. From the political side,
Sardar Patel and V P Menon had been dealing with
Mahajan and the Maharaja, and the idea was that
V.P Menon would get the Accession, I would bring
back the military appreciation and report to the
government. The troops were already at the
airport, ready to be flown in. Air Chief
Marshall Elmhurst was the air chief and he had
made arrangements for the aircraft from civil
and military sources.
Anyway, we were
flown in. We went to Srinagar. We went to the
palace. I have never seen such disorganisation
in my life. The Maharaja was running about from
one room to the other. I have never seen so much
jewellery in my life — pearl necklaces, ruby
things, lying in one room; packing here, there,
everywhere. There was a convoy of vehicles.
The Maharaja was
coming out of one room, and going into another
saying, ‘Alright, if India doesn’t help, I will
go and join my troops and fight (it) out’.
restrain myself, and said, ‘That will raise
their morale sir’. Eventually, I also got the
military situ-ation from everybody around us,
asking what the hell was happening, and
discovered that the tribesmen were about seven
or nine kilometres from what was then that
horrible little airfield.
V P Menon was in
the meantime discussing with Mahajan and the
Maharaja. Eventually the Maharaja signed the
accession papers and we flew back in the Dakota
late at night. There were no night facilities,
and the people who were helping us to fly back,
to light the airfield, were Sheikh Abdullah,
Kasimsahib, Sadiqsahib, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed,
D P Dhar with pine torches, and we flew back to
Delhi. I can’t remember the exact time. It must
have been 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock in the morning.
(On arriving at
Delhi) the first thing I did was to go and
report to Sir Roy Bucher. He said, ‘Eh, you, go
and shave and clean up. There is a cabinet
meeting at 9 o’clock. I will pick you up and
take you there.’ So I went home, shaved,
dressed, etc. and Roy Bucher picked me up, and
we went to the cabinet meeting.
meeting was presided by Mountbatten. There was
Jawaharlal Nehru, there was Sardar Patel, there
was Sardar Baldev Singh. There were other
ministers whom I did not know and did not want
to know, because I had nothing to do with them.
Sardar Baldev Singh I knew because he was the
minister for defence, and I knew Sardar Patel,
because Patel would insist that V P Menon take
me with him to the various states.
mor-ning the Sardar wo-uld sent for V P, H M
Patel and myself. While Ma-niben (Pa-tel’s
dau-ghter and de facto secretary) would sit
cross-legged with a Parker fountain pen taking
notes, Patel would say, ‘V P, I want Baroda.
Take him with you.’ I was the bogeyman. So I got
to know the Sardar very well.
At the morning
meeting he handed over the (Accession) thing.
Mountbatten turned around and said, ‘ come on
Manekji (He called me Manekji instead of
Manekshaw), what is the military situation?’ I
gave him the military situation, and told him
that unless we flew in troops immediately, we
would have lost Srinagar, because going by road
would take days, and once the tribesmen got to
the airport and Srinagar, we couldn’t fly troops
in. Everything was ready at the airport.
As usual Nehru
talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa,
God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost
his temper. He said, ‘Jawaharlal, do you want
Kashmir, or do you want to give it away’. He
(Nehru) said,’ Of course, I want Kashmir
(emphasis in original). Then he (Patel) said
‘Please give your orders’. And before he could
say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said,
‘You have got your orders’.
I walked out,
and we started flying in troops at about 11
o’clock or 12 o’clock. I think it was the Sikh
regiment under Ranjit Rai that was the first lot
to be flown in. And then we continued flying
troops in. That is all I know about what
happened. Then all the fighting took place. I
became a brigadier, and became director of
military operations and also if you will see the
first signal to be signed ordering the
cease-fire on 1 January (1949) had been signed
by Colonel Manekshaw on behalf of C-in-C India,
General Sir Roy Bucher. That must be lying in
the Military Operations Directorate.
“V P Menon
turned around and said, ‘Sam we’ve got the
the first field marshal in the Indian army, was
at the ringside of events when Independent India
was being formed. Then a colonel, he was chosen
to accompany V P Menon on his historic mission
to Kashmir. This is his version of that journey
and its aftermath, as recorded in an interview
with Prem Shankar Jha.
You went in on
the afternoon of the 25th. When you got to
Srinagar, were you actually present when the
Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession?
I was in the
palace when V P Menon, Mahajan, and the Maharaja
were discussing the subject. The Maharaja was
running from one room to another.....I did not
see the Maharaja signing it, nor did I see
Mahajan. All I do know is that V P Menon turned
around and said, ‘Sam we’ve got the Accession.’
He said that to
Yes, yes he
turned around to me, and so we flew back.
And you were
actually present the next morning when V P
Menon handed this over during that.....
was at the cabinet meeting presided over by
Mountbatten when it was handed over....we’d got
the Accession. I can’t understand why anyone
said that the thing was signed in Jammu, because
we never went to Jammu.
Was it the
cabinet meeting, or was it the defence committee
of the cabinet?
No, it was a
meeting with Mountbatten presiding, with
Vallabhbhai Patel, Baldev Singh...
There were other
ministers too; I can’t recall.....
That was the
defence committee. Otherwise, there would have
been a much larger group. Sir Roy Bucher was
Yes, yes, Sir
Roy took me there.
Maharaja, in your presence, demurring from
signing, was he laying down conditions. Was V P
Menon saying ‘look you’ve got to bring Abdullah
into the Cabinet first....’
That I honestly
can’t tell you. All that I can say is that the
Maharaja was ... he was not in his full senses.
He was running about saying I will fight there.
Unless the Indian army comes in, my own forces
will fight’; that sort of rubbish was going on.
All that V P Menon was telling him was that we
cannot send forces in unless the accession takes
place. Then he signed it. That is all I can tell
you about the actual signing.
And you were
present the next morning when the Instrument was
handed over to Mountbatten?
You have said
that the first lot of troops were flown in
(emphasis in original) after the cabinet
meeting. We went to Srinagar I think on the
25th. I can’t tell you the dates. We came back
on the 26th in the early morning, and the same
day we started to fly troops in. And the
Pakistanis only came in when we started throwing
the tribesmen out. It is only then that the
Pakistani regular troops came in. I think it was
General Akbar Khan, who was married to Begum
Shah Nawaz’s daughter; can’t remember her name,
dammit, I used to know them so well in Lahore. I
think he organised the tribesmen coming in.
What you said
about the Sikhs being moved on the 26th,
immediately after the Letter of Accession was
given, is not known. The story is that the first
Indian troops were moved on the 27th - that they
left at the crack of dawn, maybe even earlier,
and that they arrived in Srinagar at 9 am.
General Sen, who wrote a book about it, said
that they were surprised to find troops of the
Patiala regiment (state forces) already there.
Did you find, when you went to Srinagar that in
fact at some point earlier on, perhaps even
before 15 August, the Maharaja of Patiala had
agreed to send a battalion of his troops to
If that had
happened, I would have known. No. There were no
soldiers of either the Indian or Patiala forces
which had gone in earlier.
Then is it
possible that the troops that General Sen
referred to were the ones who had gone in on the
No, that was the
First Sikh Light In....Sikh Battalion, that was
sent with Ranjit Rai. That was sent on the 26th.
The same day we’d had the cabinet committee
meeting, the defence committee meeting or
whatever. I remember getting out of that meeting
and making arrangements. Bogey Sen went in
later. Poor old Ranjit was killed. He and I were
from the same batch - the first batch at the
In his book, The
Great Divide, H V Hodson, who wrote it after
being given access to Mountbatten’s personal
papers, doesn’t specifically say that the
Instrument was presented to the defence
committee at its morning meeting. But he does
say that after you had given your appreciation
of the military situation in the morning,
discussion went on about, well, we should send
in the troops but should we accept the Accession
that the letter of Accession had already been
given but the cabinet (committee) was still in
two minds about whether it should be accepted,
or whether the Maharaja should be told, well, we
are sending in troops to support you, but we are
not going to accept the accession just now. In
the evening, apparently, the decision was taken
that we will accept the accession but with the
proviso about the reference to the wishes of the
people which eventually went into the letter
that Mountbatten wrote.
Now is it
possible that although you made the arrangement
to send the troops, the actual fly in took place
on the 27th.
(Thinks) No they
were sent in the same day. And I think you would
be able to verify that from air force records
because we didn’t have all that many aircraft,
and had to get them from the civilian airlines.
They had all been got ready.
--Courtesy: The Net.