India: Role of Pakistan, RSS & Sheikh Adbullah
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (R.S.S.)
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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".
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
played a major role in resolving the dilemma of Hari Singh and bringing
about accession of Jammu and Kashmir state to India.
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.
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.
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
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
Jawahar Lal Nehru
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
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.
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.
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
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.