Kashmir: The Storm center of the World
Table of Contents
   Index
   About the Author
   Foreword
   Abode of Kashyap
   The Making of J&K
   Hundred Years of Dogra Rule
   Quit Kashmir Movement
   Hari Singh's Dilemma
   Accession to India
   First Indo-Pak War
   Bungling at U.N.
   Kashmir Divided
   The Dixon Proposals
   Shadow of Cold War
   The Chinese Factor
   Indo-Pak War of 1965
   Indo-Pak War of 1971
   The Great Betrayal
   Back to Square One
   War by Proxy
   The Way Out
   Appendix
   Book in pdf format  
   Official Site  

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Matrimonial

 
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Chapter 6

Accession of India: Role of Pakistan, RSS & Sheikh Adbullah

The geo-political, religious and personal factors discussed in earlier chapters had made Jammu and Kashmir a apart in the five hundred and odd Princely States that dotted the map of united India before it was divided into Hindu India and Muslim India (Pakistan) on August 15, 1947 by the British on the basis of two nation theory propounded by the Indian Muslim League and implicitly accepted by the Indian National Congress. With the exit of the British, all these states became independent theoretically. But almost all of them had acceded to India or Pakistan in terms of the Mountbatten Plan by August 15. Jammu & Kashmir was the only exception. Its ruler approached both India and Pakistan for a Stand Still Agreement. Pakistan readily agreed. But India procrastinated.

Pakistan formally came into existence on August 14, when its flag was raised at Karachi. Since the post and telegraph offices in Jammu & Kashmir state came under Sialkot circle, Pak flag was hoisted on post offices of the state. This created the impression that the state had acceded to Pakistan. But raising of Pak flags came as a shock to the Hindus. Hindu students at Srinagar left their schools and colleges in protest and Pak flags were pulled down. The Maharaja's Government protested to Pakistan for what was described as a hasty action. This gave a clear indication that Maharaja Hari Singh had set his face against accession of his state to Pakistan.

The announcement of the Radcliffe Award on August 16 which gave part of Gurdaspur district lying to the East of the Ravi including the rail head of Pathankot, to India, removed a major hurdle in the way of accession of the state to India. This made rulers of Pakistan and pro- Pakistan elements in the state restive. They began to devise other means and methods for bringing the state into Pakistan.

Immediate concern of Pakistan, however, was N.W.F.P. which was under a Congress government led by Dr. Khan Sahib. Khan brothers and their followers were opposed to Pakistan. They had been put in a difficult situation by partition because N.W.F.P. had no direct link with India. A circuitous link with India could have been forged if Jammu & Kashmir had acceded to India. There were, therefore, some discrete suggestions to Maharaja from some Pakhtoon leaders for an early accession to India. Pakistan, therefore, wanted to tackle N.W.F.P. first. The decision about referendum in N.W.F.P. proved helpful to it because the choice given to the people was limited to accession to India or Pakistan. The demand for a third choice of independent Paktoonistan was not accepted. The Congress party led by the Khan brothers, therefore, boycotted the referendum. As a result the referendum's verdict went in favour of Pakistan. There after the Khan Sahib Government at Peshawar was dismissed. A Muslim League government led by Abdul Qayyum Khan, a Pakistani of Kashmiri origin, was installed. The Khan brothers were put in jail. This acted as a damper on pro-India elements among Kashmiri Muslims and gave new impetus to pro-Pak elements.

Pakistan now decided to put concerted pressure on the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan. A three-fold plan was made for the purpose. It included economic blockade, stepping up of pro-Pak propaganda among Muslim population and officials in the state to prepare them for a stir from within and armed raids into the Western districts of the State from without. Side by side, preparations began to be made in tribal areas and districts adjoining Jammu & Kashmir state for a direct assault, if necessary, at the appointed time.

Economic blockade was quite easy. Though contiguous to both the Dominions, all the main arteries of trade between the State and the outside world passed through Pakistan- Jammu was linked by rail and road with Sialkot and Srinagar was linked with Rawalpindi and Abbotalbad by all-weather motorable roads. Most of the import and export trade of the State passed through these channels. All the necessities of life like salt, soap, sugar, cloth, food-grain, gasoline and kerosene oil meant for Kashmir State used to be stocked in the markets of Rawalpindi and Sialkot from where they were sent to Jammu and Kashmir in trucks. The Pakistan Government stopped the movement of these gocds into the State. The rail link with Jammu was cut-off. All the engines, bogies and the Muslim staff on the intermediary stations were removed to Pakistan leaving the Hindu staff to fend for itself. This naturally caused great hardship to the public and the State Government. Even the supplies for which payment had already been made were not delivered. Stoppage of the supply of the gasoline affected internal transport as well as military movements. The State Government protested against this breach of the Stand-Still agreement but to no avail. Even the trucks sent from Srinagar to fetch the supplies were confiscated by the Pakistani authorities.

Along with this economic blockade a virulent Pakistani propaganda offensive was launched. Parties of students of Islamia College Lahore and Aligarh Muslim University began to tour villages in the interior. The Muslim officials of the State and the Muslim personnel of the State police and armed forces were completely won over. Adalat Khan, began to work actively for insurrect on from within. Others like Mian Abdul Rashid, Senior Superintendent of Police in Jammu, Ch. Faiz Ullah, District officer of Baramula, and many others began to incite the civil population. Arms and ammunition began to be smuggled in large quantities from Pakistan into the State. Regular training in the use of firearms began to be given in the mosques at Jammu, Srinagar and elsewhere.

To disperse the State troops over large areas, raids were organized all along the western border especially in the Poonch area. The local Muslims were also incited to rise in rebellion in Poonch and Bagh areas.

These developments aroused the Maharaja out of his complacency. But it was too late. Thakur Janak Singh, on whom premiership had been thrust after Pt. Kak's dismissal, was too old and timid to initiate and carry out any policy at all. No Indian statesman wanted to risk his reputation by taking over the charge of the State as its Prime Minister at such a critical time. Continued absence of the National Conference leaders then in jail, had left the field free for the Muslim Conference whose followers were aggressively pro-Pakistan.

The developing situation compelled the Maharaja to release Shaikh Abdullah and his associates from jail so that they might counteract the growing influence of the Muslim Conference. Mr. Justice Mehar Chand Mahajan was persuaded to become the head of the State administration and help it in weathering the storm that had already gathered. He took over as Prime Minister on October 15.

The release of Sheikh Abdullah and the appointment of Mr. Mehar Chand Mahajan to the premiership came as a shock to the Pakistanis, inside and outside the State. The leaders of Pakistan knew Mr. Mehar Chand Mahaja too well to underestimate his strength and capacity. They did not want to give him time to prepare to meet projected Pak attack.

Meharchand Mahajan who enjoyed the confidence of Sardar Patel had been briefed before he left for Srinagar about the latest intelligence reports about Pak preparation for armed attack on the State to force the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan. He had therefore no misconception about the seriousness of the situation and intentions of Pakistan. Among the first things he did after assuming office was to speed up negotiations with Government of India for supply of arms and ammunitions for the state army. He also got in touch with me to seek the support of R.S.S. workers in the task of defence of Srinagar and preservation of internal peace. I was no stranger to him as I was working as Head of History Department and Vice Principal of the local D.A.V. College. Justice Mahajan was the Chairman of the managing society run by the D.A.V. colleges. I was also Chief of the R.S.S. set up in the valley at that time. I assured him that he could bank on unstinted support and cooperation of R.S.S. in the ardous task before him.

Role of Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (R.S.S.)

Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh played an important role in Kashmir in that crucial period. I had started a branch of R.S.S. in Jammu in 1940. I was then studying at Lahore. By the time I passed M.A. in History and returned to Jammu and Kashmir State, in 1942, the R.S.S. had picked up in Jammu City under the guidance of Pt. Prem Nath Dogra who had been appointed "Sangh Chalak" for Jammu. Within a couple of years of my taking charge, the network of R.S.S. branches was spread all over the Jammu region. In 1944, I moved to Srinagar Where I joined the local D.A.V. college as lecturer in history. This helped me to get in touch with the Kashmiri youth. Hundreds of Kashmiri Hindu youth began to attend R.S.S. branches daily. With the arrival of Hindu refugees from Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Abbotabad and other adjoining districts of west Punjab, the number of R.S.S. workers in Srinagar began to swell because some of them had been active workers of R.S.S. in their home districts.

R.C. Kak, the Kashmiri Prime Minister of the State was, as stated earlier, keen to enlist the support of R.S.S. for his plan for independence for the states. But I made it clear to him that R.S.S. was for accession of the State to India because it was convinced that the best interests of the nation demanded so.

I was conscious of the hurdles in the way of immediate accession of the state to India. I also knew about the growing opinion even in National conference circles in favor of accession of the State to Pakistan. It was, therefore of utmost importance that the Maharaja was given right and objective advice to resolve his dilemma. To that end I submitted him a memorandum giving the pros and cons of the options. Accession to India, accession to Pakistan and staying independent - before him. The memorandum tried to impress upon him, that in spite of personal hostility of Pt. Nehru the wider national interests as also the best interests of the state demanded that he should opt for accession to India.

DevanBadri Das a leading jurist of Punjab, who was also Sangh Chalak of R.S.S. for Punjab, was held in high esteem by Maharaja Hari Singh. R.S.S. leadership requested him to visit Srinagar and meet the Maharaja to persuade him to accede to India at the earliest. On october 5, the R.S.S. supreme, M.S. Golwalkar, himself came to Srinagar and had a long meeting with the Maharaia- He was known to have advised Hari Singh that any further delay in the matter of accession to India could be dangerous for him and the country.

But what really clinched the issues was the unfolding of Pak plan of invasion of Kashmir. Its rumblings had been heard by some observers of the Pak scene. But Maharaia Hari Singh and Hindus of the state were blissfully ignorant about it. R.S.S. played a major role in gathering information about the plan of invasion and forewarning the state Government about it. The first clue regarding the projected invasion came from Dr. S.K. Atri, a medico from U.P., who had been practising at Srinagar for over two decades. His clinic was situated just on the Southern end of Amira Kadal bridge on the Jehlum. As I crossed the bridge on October 8, on my way to my college, Dr. Atri called me into his clinic. He told me that some of his elderly Muslim clients had visited him last night and requested him to leave Srinagar with family at the earliest because Pakistan would be invading Kashmir soon and no Hindu would be safe after that. He had no doubt about the sincerity of the persons who had met him because they had a sense of gratitude toward him. This information was too serious to be ignored. I discussed it with my top workers the same night and deputed some workers from Rawalpindi who could mix with Punjabi Muslims with ease to go to Punjab Muslim Hotel at Pratap Chawk now called Lal Chawk, which was known to be the rendezvous of Pak spies and agents to dig out the truth. They accomplished their mission within two days. The information supplied by a Muslim Officer of the State army was really alarming. The invasion was to be lauched from Abbotabad side on October 21. The Musliln officers and men of the state army were to join the invaders. Srinagar was to be captured by October 25, so that Jinnah might celebrate Id-ul-Zuha at Srinagar. An attempt was also to be made on the life of the Maharaja on October 24, when he was expected to go in procession to Batmalu ground for the Vyaya Dashmi Celebrations. A similar game plan had been prepared for Jammu also.

After getting this information we passed it on to the Maharaja and Brigadier Kashmir Singh, the Chief of the staff of the state army.

Later on the night of October 23, when Pak invaders were advancing fast toward Srinagar the Maharaja called me at dead of night to his palace and requested me to defend Srinagar city till Indian troops reached Srinagar. He asked for two hundred volunteers for the purpose. I mobilized the required number of volunteers the same night. They were taken to the Badami Bagh cantonment on the morning of 24th, given preliminary training in using fire arms and were put on duty the same evening.

I have the satisfaction that the workers of the R.S.S. and myself did our duty toward our motherland in those difficult days. This factual account should put the record straight about the role of R.S.S. in defense and accession of Jammu & Kashmir state to India.

The Jammu & Kashmir Government had no knowledge until then of this planned massive invasion from Abbotabad side. Its hands were full with Pakistani raids in the Poonch area which had became a major threat to the security of the State. The stoppage of all supplies including gasoline by Pakistan had created a very serious situation in regard to internal mobility of the limited defense forces which were dispersed over a long frontier.

While trying to cope with the situation as best as it could, the State Government tried to persuade Pakistan through diplomatic channels to honor its commitments under the Stand-Still Agreement. Failing to get a positive response to its numerous communications Prime Minister Mahajan sent a rather strongly worded telegram to the Governor General of Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah on October 18, 1947. In the concluding part of this telegram Mr. Mahajan said:

"Finally, the Kashmir Government wishes to make it plain that it is not possible to tolerate this attitude any longer without grave consequences to life and property of the people which it is bound to defend at all costs. The Government even now hopes that you would personally look into the matter and put a stop to all the iniquities which are being perpetrated. If unfortunately this request is not heeded the Government would be justified in asking for friendly assistance and oppose tresspass on its fundamental rights."

A cable was sent on the same day to the Prime Minister of U.K. apprising him of the situation, created by the influx of armed Pakistanis into Poonch area of the State and stoppage of all supplies. It added: "The policy of the Government has been to afford protection to the Muslim refugees about 100,000 of whom have been given safe conduct to their new abodes in Pakistan. On the other hand, a party of 200 State subjects sent from Rawalpindi at the request of the State has practically been wiped out and no non-Muslim from the State can pass through Pakistan. Railway service from Sialkot to Jammu has been stopped since August 15, without any reason. Protests only elicit promises which are never implemented. As a result of the obvious connivance of Pakistan Government the whole of the border from Gurdaspur side up to Gilgit is threatened with invasion which has actually begun in Poonch. It is requested that the Dominion of Pakistan may be advised to deal fairly with Jammu & Kashmir State and adopt a course of conduct which may be consistent with the good name and prestige of the Commonwealth of which it claims to be a member".

The Governor General of Pakistan in his reply sent to the Maharaja of Kashmir on October 20, took no notice of the allegations made by Kashmir Government and instead made counter charges of repression by Dogra troops. But to lull the state Government into complacency it repeated an earlier suggestion made by it about a meeting of the representatives of the two governments to settle outstanding questions at an early date. Mr. Khurshid, then private secretary of Mr. Jinnah was sent to Srinagar for the purpose.

While this exchange of telegrams was going on, preparations were afoot at Abbotabad for a large scale invasion of Kashmir. A large number of soldiers and officers of the Pakistan army 'on leave' were deputed to organize and assist about five thousand tribals that had been assembled there in the name of Jihad or holy war. The invasion was to be led by Major General Akbar Khan of the Pakistan army who was given the name General Tariq after the name of the Islamic Arab conqueror of Eqypt.

As if to create an excuse of the personnel of regular Pakistan army taking part in the invasion a telegram was sent by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan to the Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir on the October 21, which said, "Serious anxiety regarding the Safety of their families are being felt by Pakistan military personnel whom it is exceedingly difficult to reassure in absence of any clear reports or assurances by you."

Before a reply to this telegram sent by the Prime Minister of Kashmir on October 22, reached the Pakistan Foreign office, the massive Pakistani invasion of Kashmir had begun.

The Invasion

The tribal hordes armed and supported by the Pakistan Government and led by officers of the Pakistan army that entered the State from Hazara district in the N.W.F.P. along the Abbotabad - Muzaffarabad - Domel- Srinagar road on October 21, formed the spearhead of the final and the biggest blow of Pakistan to the State. Its objective was Kashmir valley and the capital city of Srinagar. Almost simultaneously new thrusts were made all along the Kashmir - Pakistan border including Gilgit. These other thrusts did not get much publicity because they were directed against comparatively little known though strategically equally important parts of the State. They ultimately succeeded in gaining their objective in Gilgit, and the western districts of the State. But their master plan to occupy Srinagar and Jammu simultaneously and present the world with a fait- accompli before any outside help could come to the State was foiled by the timely arrival of air-borne Indian troops in Srinagar and by the popular resistance put up by the people of Jammu.

In order to appreciate the magnitude of the threat and the success it achieved, one should have a clear picture of the situation on the ground. The Kashmir-Pakistan frontier is over 500 miles long, a major portion of which is quite ill-defined. Beginning from near Pathankot it runs along the districts of Sialkot, Gujerat and Jehlam of the West Punjab; then turning North it runs along the Jehlam up to Kohala at which point that river leaves the State to form its western boundary. From Kohala onward this frontier runs along the Hazara district of the North Western Frontier Province, and then touches the tribal area of Yagistan and the frontier state of Chitral, which had already acceded to Pakistan.

During the British regime the State had not to worry about this long frontier. The prestige of Dogra arms established by Maharaja Gulab Singh coupled with British protection was enough to keep in check the turbulent elements within and without the State. The defense of the Northern frontier of the State used to be a joint responsibility of the British and the State troops stationed in the Gilgit cantonment. The ruler of Chitral owed allegiance to the Maharaja of Kashmir as well but with the disappearance of the protecting hand of the British and the establishment of a hostile and aggressive state like Pakistan along this long frontier, the problem of defense was bound to become difficult for Jammu & Kashmir.

The situation was made all the more difficult by the nature and affinities of the people inhabiting both sides of the Western frontier. The people of Mirpur-Poonch area belong to the warlike Rajput and Jat tribes. They have close social, economic and religious ties with the inhabitants of the adjoining districts of Jehlam, Rawalpindi and Hazara in Pakistan. They had been converted to Islam during the Mughal times. Many of them wanted to be reconverted to Hinduism during the twenties of the present century. But the conservatism of Brahmins and Hindu Rajputs did not allow such efforts to succeed. During the thirties they came under the influence of the Muslim Conference. The politics of the adjoining districts of Jehlam and Rawalpindi also began to influence them. The result was that most of them became supporters of Pakistan after its establishment. Many of them being ex-service men possessed fire arms and were adept in their use. It was, therefore, easy for the Pakistani agents to instigate them to rebel against the authority of the State.

The armed forces of the State which had to defend this long frontier, as also to meet the threat of internal uprisings were quite inadequate to meet the situation. The strength of the State Army was nine infantry battalions, two mountain batteries and one cavalry squadron. The two mountain batteries were retained by the British Indian Government after the end of the Second World War because they had given a very good account of themselves during the war. Of the infantry battalions three the 2nd, 4th, and 6th J & K infantries, were mixed- half Hindu Dogras and half Muslims from Mirpur and Poonch areas. These battalions had been spread all along the frontier. At the time of invasion the mixed 4th battalion was in charge of the Muzaffarabad-Konala sector, the 2nd of a part of Mirpur-Poonch sector and the 6th had been ordered to proceed to Gilgit to assist Brigadier Ghansara Singh who was appointed military Governor of that region after the withdrawal of the British Srinagar cantonment. At the time of invasion he had only one cornpany of the 4th infantry battalion besides the Maharaja's personal guards.

The State troops were efficient and brave. But they were ill-equipped. Even the quota of arms and ammunition allotted to the State had not been obtained in full for the last two years prior to the invasion. The Pakistan Government had withheld all supplies meant for the State forces after the partition. The Indian Government which had been approached for arms and ammunition had agreed to supply them, but none had been sent until the fateful day of invasion. To crown it all, the loyalty of the Muslim personnel of the armed forces was doubtful. Information was received about plans of sabotage and desertion prepared by Muslim officers of the State army in collaboration with Pakistan authorities. Their names had been supplied to the Maharaja and he had been requested to disarm and disband them in the interests of the security of the State. But the State Government did not, perhaps could not do this because it had no reserves and they feared mutiny. Colonel Narain Singh who commanded the 4th Battalion in charge of Kohala Muzaffarabad sector was, however, warned to remain alert and careful about the Muslim personnel. But Narain Singh, who had commanded that battalion in the Burma campaign, expressed his full faith in his Muslim soldiers and officers. He had to pay a heavy price for this self-complacency and credulity.

In view of these circumstances the rapid advance of the Pakistani hordes after they had once broken through the outer defenses should cause no surprise. Their main column, entered the State in the dead of night between 21st & 22nd of October, 1947. The Muslim personnel of the State pickets joined hands with them. They killed their Hindu comrades in their own tents and began to lead the convoy of trucks supplied by the Pakistan Government for carrying the invaders. They occupied the strategic Krishanganga bridge without much difficulty and entered the town of Muzaffarabad without firing a shot. The district officer Mr. Mehta was taken by surprise in his own house and shot dead in the presence of his wife and children for refusing to shout "Pakistan Zindabad". A few of them simultaneously crossed over to Domel, the contluence of the Jehlam and the Krishanganga, through a suspension bridge. The Muslim pickets there joined hands with them and Colonel Narain Singh was shot dead in his own tent by his own Muslim sentinel in the early hours of the 22nd morning. The occupation of Domel brought both the roads leading to Srinagar from Rawalpindi and Abottabad under the control of the invaders, securing their supply lines.

The road to Srinagar now lay open. The garrisons guarding the Kohala bridge found itself sandwiched between the hostile forces from across the bridge; those coming from Domel side made a hasty retreat toward Poonch. It succeeded however, in taking with it about ten thousand Hindus and Sikhs living in the Bagh area to Poonch town in safety.

The Gallant Brigadier

The raiders occupied Garhi the same day and started their advance toward Uri on 23rd. The few retreating Dogra troops resisted them at every step. But the odds against the defenders were heavy. Brigadier Rajendra Singh, then came forward to command the troops in person. He had orders from the Maharaja to fight till the last man to defend a bridge near Uri and stop the advance of the enemy.

Brigadier Rajendra Singh rose to the occasion and maintained the prestige of Dogra troops. He stemmed the tide of enemy advance near Uri for two days. But some of the raiders led by the Muslim soldiers of the State army managed to out-flank the Dogra troops. They were able to put the Mahura power-house, which Supplies electricity to Srinagar, out of order on the night of the 24th, and then attacked the State troops led by Raiendra Singh from behind. Rajendra Singh, like a gallant soldier that he was, fought the enemy to the bitter-end. He and all his 150 men were cut to pieces in this action. But they will live in history like the gallant Leonides and his 300 men who held the Persian invader at Thermopylae.

The leaders of the National Conference were in a fix, they could not depend on their followers, once the Pakistani invaders moved. They could turn Muslim Leaguers overnight. The Sheikh had already sent his family to Indore for safety. He himself slipped away to Delhi.

Before taking any action on the Maharaja's requests for help the Government of India decided to send its Secretary to the Ministry of States, Mr. V.P. Menon, to get first hand information. He flew to Srinagar on the 25th of October. He soon realized the desperateness of the situation. The invaders after overcoming the gallant resistance of Brigadier Rajendra Singh had reached Baramulla, the district headquarters at the entrance of the valley, where they were welcomed by Ch. Faiz Ullah, the Deputy Commissioner of the district, who was in turn appointed governor of the area by the invaders. Had they continued their advance they could have reached Srinagar in 24 hours. Mr. Menon, therefore, advised the Maharaja to leave immediately for Jammu to be out of reach of the Pakistani invaders. This was timely and correct advice because the aid could be sent from India only after the Maharaja had acceded to India by signing the instrument of accession. That he could not have done, if he had fallen in the hands of Pakistani invaders.

The Maharaja left Srinagar for Jammu that very night and Mr. Menon and the Kashmir Premier, Mr. Mahajan, flew to New Delhi. The Maharaja's departure for Jammu on the advice of Mr. Menon who spoke for the Government of India, was later exploited by Sheikh Abdullah who declared that the Maharaja had run away and that he had 'Picked the crown of Kashmir from dust'- What was worse, Pt. Nehru who was supposed to know the true facts also repeated the same allegation against the Maharaja to lower him in the estimation of his own people and add grist to the anti-Maharaja campaign of Sh. Abdullah. That also proved his personal vendetta against the Maharaja.

Accession To India

On receiving the report from Mr. Menon the Government Of India felt inclined to go to the rescue of the state. But it was felt that formal accession of the State must take place before any help could be sent. So Mr. Menon flew back to Jammu with the Instrument of Accession. He woke up the Maharaja who was fast asleep after a night-long drive from Srinagar. Mr. Menon has recorded in his famous book 'Integration of States' that before going to sleep the Maharaja has left instructions with his A.D.C. that "If I (Menon) came back from Delhi, he was not to be disturbed as it would mean that the Government of India had decided to come to his rescue and he should therefore be allowed to sleep in peace, but that if I failed to return, that meant everything was lost, in that case in A.D.C. was to shoot him in his sleep".

The Maharaja at once signed the Instrument of Accession and also handed over a letter for Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India informing him that it was his intention to set up an interim government at once and to ask Sheikh Abdullah to carry the responsibilities in the emergency with Mr. Mehar Chand Mahajan, his Prime Minister. It was out of sheer patriotism and solicitude for the safety of his people that the Maharaja agreed to Submit to this pre-condition of the Indian Prime Minister.

Pakistan thus played a major role in resolving the dilemma of Hari Singh and bringing about accession of Jammu and Kashmir state to India.

Sardar Patel who in his anxiety for the State had been waiting at the aerodrome for Mr. Menon to return, was not prepared to go all out to save the State. But Pt. Nehru and Lord Mountbatten were hesitant. It was not before Mr. Mahajan, who knew that every minute counted if about a lakh of Hindus in Srinagar were to be saved from total annihilation, threatened to proceed to Karachi and surrender Kashmir to Mr. Jinnah to secure safety of its people that Pt. Nehru's reluctance could be overcome.

While these hurried discussions were going on in Delhi on that fateful Sunday, the people of Srinagar were hanging between life and death. The report of Maharaja's departure for Jammu and the invader's occupation of Baramula spread like wild fire in the whole city casting gloom of death on all Hindus and an air of jubilant expectation in pro-Pakistan circles. All ears were turned to the radios and all eyes toward the sky to hear the news of acceptance of accession and see the arrival of aid which could only come by air. But instead of news of help from Delhi reports began to spread that tribal raiders had been seen on the outskirts of the city. That was a signal for pro-Pakistan slogans. Stray looting of Hindu shops began.

Just then news reached that accession had been accepted and that the Indian help will not take long in coming. Mr. G.C. Bali, the Police Chief, immediately made this fact known to the people of Srinagar by the beat of drum and warned the pro-Pakistan elements of dire consequences if they started trouble. It had quite a salutary effect and the 26th of October passed off peacefully.

Had Pakistani invaders marched into the city that Sunday everything would have been lost. Not a single Hindu would have survived. The author himself was in Srinagar that day. But fate conspired otherwise. The tribal hordes which had come more out of lure for loot and women than for anything else found the autumn atmosphere and beautiful landscape of Baramula together with rich prospects of loot and rape too absorbing to remember Mr. Jinnah's resolve to celebrate Id, which fell on October 25, in Srinagar. They converted every mosque and house in Baramula into a brothel and entertained themselves to their hearts content. Even the European nuns of the local mission hospital could not escape their bestiality.

As a result the Indian airborne troops when they flew into the valley in the morning of October 27 found that the Srinagar aerodrome was still safe. It was not to fall in the hands of the invaders and Kashmir was to be saved. It was saved.

Kashmir Saved

The "Operation Kashmir" and the lightning speed and efficiency with which it was conducted saved Kashmir from the ruthless Pakistan tribal-cum-regular army marauders. It will ever remain a glorious chapter in the annals of the Indian troops. It was in a way unprecendented in the history of warfare. Lord Mounthatten who had been Chief of Combined Operations and Supreme Alied Commander South East Asia in the Second world war testified that in all his war experience he had never heard of an air lift of this nature being put into operation at such a short notice.

But the success of this air lift and the subsequent action in Kashmir was made possible by one basic fact of the failure of the invading hordes to capture the Srinagar aerodrome. This was mainly due to the dogged resistance of the Dogra troops who had been fighting against very heavy odds. Deserted and betrayed by their own Muslim comrades in arms, who acted as vanguard of the invading army, the Dogra troops had to literally fight for every inch to gain time for the expected succor to reach Srinagar before everything was lost. The example set by Brigadier Rajendra Singh who will go down in the history of India as a great military hero, inspired everyone of them. They were still holding the main enemy column at Pattan, seventeen miles from Srinagar, when the first Indian troops landed at Srinagar. They, therefore, in a way played the most decisive role in saving Kashmir and checkmating the Pakistani design of presenting the world with a fait aceompli.

The Dogras thus vindicated themselves and their ruler in the eyes of history. Those who had ruled the valley for one hundred years did not leave it to the vultures as a dead corpse. They defended it with their own blood. But for their dogged resistance, Kashmir valley would have been lost. So the highest honors for saving Kashmir must go to these gallant Dogra troops.

It is, however, equally true that but for the timely arrival of Indian troops on October 27, and the immediate relief they provided to the Dogra troops, the enemy would have entered Srinagar in the course of the day and achieved his objective.

The first Indian troops to land at Srinagar came from Sikh unit commanded by Colonel Ranjit Rai. The people of Srinagar who had been gazing at the sky for hours in expectation of the air lift planes were thrilled by the sight of Dakota after Dakota suddenly emerging from behind the snow covered Panchal range. It was comparable to the thrill created in French hearts by the emergence of Allied planes from the horizon over the French sky on the D-day in 1944.

No sooner did the first Dakota land than the troops jumped into the trucks that were standing by and moved on to the front line. The author wanted to stop these troops near his residence for small refreshments. His request was met by a loud and heart warning cry of 'Sat Siri Akal' and the curt reply: "Do not detain us. We will quench our thirst with the blood of the enemy".

Within hours they went into action and before the day was out Colonel Ranjit Rai lay dead in defense of Kashmir which had by now become an integral part of India, legally and constitutionally, as a result of acceptance of accession sf the State by the Government of India. The next important casualty was Major Sharma who died defending the aerodrome against an enemy column which was approaching it from behind along the foothills of Gulmarg.

Mr. Jinnah who had come down to Lahore to proceed to Srinagar as a victor was terribly upset by the report that India had accepted the accession of Jammu and Kashmir and that Indian troops had landed at Srinagar. He immediately summoned General Gracey, the C-in- C of Pakistan army, and ordered him to rush regular troops to Kashmir. But General Gracey expressed his inability to carry out his instructions without the approval of the supreme commander, Field Marshal Auchinlek, who was supervising the partition of the army and its stores between the two Dominions. Field Marshal Auchinlek who reached Lahore on the 28th of October informed Mr. Jinnah that in view of Jammu & Kashmir state having legally acceded to India the British officers of the Pakistan army will have to withdraw if he ordered a regular invasion of Kashmir. This forced Mr. Jinnah to relent. Thus the immediate danger of a full scale war between India and Pakistan which would not have remained confined to Jammu & Kashmir, was averted.

But short of throwing regular Pakistan Army into action everything possible was done to strengthen and reinforce the invading hordes who were well equipped with arms and stores supplied by the Pakistan Government. Therefore, the Indian troops had quite a tough job to do in the beginning. The enemy was able to get local support wherever it reached. The only notable exception was Maqbool Sherwani of Baramula who refused to line up with the invaders and was therefore shot dead.

But the tide turned with the arrival of more troops and armored cars, Baramula was recaptured on the 8th of November. This removed the threat of further incursions into the valley because Baramula commanded the entrance to it. A few days later Uri was recaptured and a column was sent from there to relieve Poonch which had been besieged by the enemy. But this column could not reach Poonch because of destruction of a strategic bridge by the Dogra troops who thought that the enemy and not friendly troops were advancing from Uri.

The recapture of Baramula and Uri demoralized the stray detachments of the invaders still in the valley. They withdrew from Gulmarg and Tanmarga without firing a shot. Thus by the middle of November, 1947, the Valley proper was cleared of Pakistani invaders.

Baramula, Sopore and the Western fringe of the valley along the Gulmarg sector of Pir Panchal range were the only parts of the valley which came under the effective control of Pakistan for a few days. The rest of the valley, particularly its southern and south eastern part which is directly contiguous to Jammu and Laddakh regions of the State, remained untouched by the invaders- An attempt was later made by them to break into the valley through the old Mughal route which would have brought them to Shupian and enabled them to cut the Banihal road. That would have proved a grievous blow because Banihal road is the only motorable link between Srinagar and Jammu. But they were intercepted and pushed back by the Indian troops after bitter fighting near Nandi-margi, over l0,000 feet above sea level.

Liberation of Kashmir by the Indian army thus supplemented the legal right of India over Kashmir valley attained through the lawful accession of the state. In doing so it had to undergo a lot of suffering and make heavy sacrifices in the blood of Jawans drawn from all over India. This fact needs to be kept in mind when looking at the Kashmir problem which mainly revolves round the valley.

Role of Sh. Abdullah

The facts given above do not point to any worth mentioning role of Sh. Abdullah in the defense of the valley. But most of the books written on the subject have projected Sh. Abdullah as the real savior of Kashmir. This depiction of his role is fraudulent. It amounts to deliberate distortion of facts and history to serve partisan ends. Therefore the record needs to be put straight.

Sh. Abdullah, as has been made clear in the earlier chapters was interested only in Kashmir valley. His one ambition was to become master and arbiter of Kashmir. He had neither any interest nor any stake in other parts of that far flung Kingdom.

His attitudes about accession to India or Pakistan was also guided by this one over-riding ambition and consideration. As a realist he knew that his followers were emotionally inclined toward Pakistan. As an Islamic fundamentalist his own intuitive sympathy was for Pakistan. The whole tenor and tone of his autobiography points to his aversion for Hindus and Hindu majority part of the State. All through his biography, he has referred to Anantnag, the district headquarters of southern part of Kashmir valley as Islamabad. His admiration for Dr. Iqbal - the father of the idea of Pakistan is writ large over 1,000 pages of "Atish-i-Chinar."

But experience of Khan brothers of N.W.F.P. and his own experience during his struggle against the Maharaja had made him sceptical about his own future in the case of accession of the state to Pakistan. He wanted assurance from Jinnah that he would be made master of Kashmir valley. Jinnah was not prepared to give that assurance. Emissaries sent by him to Pakistan in early October to secure such an assurance had returned empty handed. Jinnah was reported to have told them that Kashmir was going to fall in his lap like a ripe apple in any case.

Abdullah has himself given a vivid account of the talks he had with two representatives of Pakistan, Dr. Mohammed Din Tashir and Sheikh Sadiq Hassan, President of Punjab Muslim League, who visited Srinagar on the eve of Pak aggression. They tried to persuade him to put his might for accession of the state to Pakistan. Instead of giving a clear reply he equivocated. He wanted a clear assurance for himself before taking any positive decision in favor of accession to Pakistan. Both of them invited him to visit Lahore and have direct talks with Mr. Jinnah. He accepted the invitation.

But before going to Pakistan he had to go to Delhi to preside over State's People's Conference of which he had been elected President. He was in Delhi when Pak attack on Kashmir began on October 21. He addressed press conference at Delhi on October 21, in which he blamed the Maharaja's Government for repression in poonch, but did not say a word against Pak raiders who had created insurgency there.

On his own admission he was in Delhi on October 25-26 when Meharchand Mahajan reached there to plead for immediate acceptance of accession and despatch of Indian troops to save Srinagar from falling into the hands of invaders. There is no authentic information about his whereabouts on October 22 to 24. Even if he had returned to Kashmir he must have maintained a studied silence. As a man on the spot who was constantly moving in Srinagar to keep up the morale of the beleagured Hindus. I did not notice his presence at all. National conference workers came out on the streets only after information about acceptance of accession and imminent arrival of Indian Itroops reached Srinagar in the afternoon, October 26.
 

Sheikh Abdullah
Sheikh Abdullah
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru

Sh. Abdullah was at Pt. Nehru residence at New Delhi on October 26 when a crucial meeting about accession was held there. He did not take part in the meeting, but over heard what transpired in it from a side room. He was, however, known to have endorsed the statement of Meharchand Mahajan about need for immediate accession when Pt. Nehru got non-plussed by plain Speaking by Mahajan about his orders to go to Karachi and surrender Kashmir to Jinnah on condition of safety of the Hindus if India was not prepared to accept the accession there and then. Abdullah's endorsement might have had some effect on Pt. Nehru. It is however utterly wrong to say that accession took place because of his efforts. The decision to accede to India was an independent decision of the patriotic Maharaja and was accepted bv the Indian cabinet which gave greater might to the words of Sardar Patel in spite of hesitancy of Pt. Nehru.

The truth is that Sh. Abdullah and his followers never played any role in the defense of Kashmir in those five crucial days nor had he any significant role or say in the matter of accession of the State to India though he became the main beneficiary of it.

So called secularism of Sh. Abdullah and his followers would have been put to real test if Pakistani invaders had been able to enter Srinagar before the entry of Indian troops. There is no doubt in my mind that no Hindu, including myself, would have been left alive to testify to the much trumpeted secularism of Sh. Abdullah and his followers. Maqbool Sherwani of Baramula was the only Kashmiri Muslim at that time who can be called a real nationalist.

Kashmir valley was saved from Pakistan marauders by the gallantry of Dogra troops, vigilance of R.S.S. workers and other nationalist elements, decision by the Maharaja to accede to India and timely arrival of Indian troops. They were the real saviors of Kashmir and not Sh. Abdullah and his double faced followers.

Accession of the Jammu and Kashmir state to India and liberation of Pak occupied areas of Kashmir valley by air borne Indian troops was a great victory for India and its armed forces. That should have set at rest the doubt and uncertainty about future dispensation of Jammu and Kashmir state as an integral part of India.

But that was not to be. Dishonesty of Sh. Abdullah and blunders and bunglings of Nehru who considered Kashmir as his domestic domain, soon clouded the achievements of the armed forces and created a situation of neither victory nor defeat. This state of affairs has lingered on to this day.
 

Kashmir: The Storm Center of the World

 

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