Before I start this article let us remember and offer our tributes and gratitude to Brig. Rajindra Singh, (MVC) the saviour of Kashmir and Maj. Som Nath Sharma, (PMC) the saviour of Srinagar airport.
We are proud of their legendary outstanding heroic deeds and their highest patriotic fervour. Lt. Col. Dewan Ranjit Rai (MVC) who headed the first Indian army contingent which was flown to Srinagar on Oct 27, 1947, did a yeomanry feat. The young local civilian, Shaheed Maqbool Sherwani, who dodged tribesmen marauders for crucial four days at Baramulla, delaying their descent on Srinagar, shall always remain, embedded in the hearts of patriotic and nationalist hearts.
Master Abdul Aziz, who laid down his life while protecting the honour of nuns at Baramulla, taught the invaders a lesson that our culture and traditions held womanhood in high esteem. We shall always continue to express our gratitude to all those in uniform who laid down their lives protecting the state and also remember deeply all those innocent civilians, who got killed mercilessly at the hands of the Pakistan sponsored Qabayalis’ invasion on Jammu & Kashmir in 1947.
We pay our respectful homage to the Late Maharaja Hari Singh for his sagacity, vision and empirical political judgment in deciding to accede to the Indian Union on Oct 26, 1947 by signing the instrument of accession as the ruler of the Jammu and Kashmir, in consonance with the Government of India Act 1935 and Indian Independence Act 1947, the latter having no provision of any conditionality. This decision of the Maharaja was fully supported by the largest and the only political party that mattered, the National Conference, led by the leader of the masses, the Late Sheikh Abdullah who headed an emergency government which was formed on Oct 30, 1947. To put the historical perspective in due tangibility, this accession was later confirmed and ratified by an elected constituent Assembly of the state, stamping on it the status of its irrevocability.
It is, however, apathetic on the part of the state government not to declare the accession day as a holiday and arrange its full celebration, befitting the importance of the day.
This day reiterates the historicity of the unfortunate hurricane of the Qabayli raid which was a synthesis of intrigue, deception and a betrayal, planned and executed by Pakistan, immediately within a few days of partition. Despite Pakistan having signed a Stand Still Agreement with the ruler of the state, Late Maharaja Hari Singh , Pakistan sent heavily armed men from Afridi, Mahsud, Wazirs and Swathis tribes to ravage Kashmir and grab it by force. The blue print of this invasion was scripted in the office of the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liyaqat Ali Khan and one Maj. Gen. Mohd. Akbar Khan, with pseudonym of General Tariq, was entrusted to execute the nefarious plan. As a litmus test, the first shorts were shot as early as in Sept 1947 on the Maharaja’s army and the rakish movement gained speed. On Aug. 24, 1947, one of the leading news papers of Pakistan, The Dawn -wrote, “The time has come to tell the Maharaja of Kashmir that he must make his choice and choose Pakistan.” It further wrote, “Should Kashmir fail to join Pakistan, the gravest possible trouble will inevitably ensure.”
As a sequel to this warning, Pakistan frequently blocked Rawalpindi Srinagar road to enforce economic blockade on the state and to make the people suffer. On Oct 1, 1947 in Hazauri Bagh , Srinagar, the Late Sheikh Abdullah declared, “Till the last drop of my blood, I will not believe in the ” Two Nation Theory”. In this context, he spurned the overtures of M.A. Jinah, and he, in a bout of frustration, said that Kashmir was a blank cheque in his pocket and his moderate outlook being questionable, he was in full knowledge of and had his tactical support to the plans of grabbing Kashmir by deceit, mayhem and coercive force.
Just 24 hours before the massive assault by the Qabayalis, he, on Oct 20, 1947 sent a telegram in the capacity of the Governor General of Pakistan to the Late Maharaja, threatening him for not acceding to Pakistan and his statement that “……..and so long as the state did not accede to India, he would not mind if it did not accede to Pakistan either….”. And how much he was deeply associated with the rapacious invasion of tribesmen backed by his government, can be assessed by his informing Lord Mountbatten later that “I am in a position to call the whole thing off subject to some of my demands being met.”
Pakistan’s oft repeated claims that it had got nothing to do with the ravaging invasion of Qabayalis on Kashmir in 1947 can be gauged by the eye witness account of a very senior correspondent and photographer with American magazine “Life” named as Margaret Bourke White. She was in Pakistan when raiders attacked Kashmir. Pakistan government was reluctant in allowing her to cross into Kashmir for the fear that the upfront journalist would not hesitate in telling the world the whole truth of the implicitly from toe to head of Pakistan in clothing , arming transporting and remunerating the invaders with the plunder and loot of the Kashmiris, in particular the Hindu minorities. “‘There was nothing to photograph, it may be very dangerous for a woman, tribesmen abducted women “was the de-motivating advice given to this contemporary journalist by the then Pakistani authorities.
Margaret,however, covered tribal invasion of J&K in 1947-48. Her book on India “half way to freedom” deals with the coverage in two exclusive chapters “Democracy in the Himalayas and “Struggle for Kashmir” (NY 1949). She records her conversation with one of the tribal Pushtun chiefs, Badshah Gul who said that he brought 1000 tribals, a convoy of trucks and lot of ammunition for invasion of Kashmir. The trucks and buses would at times come back within a day or two ,” bursting with loot only to return to Kashmir with more tribesmen to repeat their indiscriminate “liberating “…..Margaret White, further records that taxi companies in Rawalpindi were asked to donate 20 or 10 or a couple of trucks each, …..She debunked the theories that arms for the invasion came from tribesmen themselves, some of whom owned armed factories. In one of the arms factories she learnt that it took one month for a man to make a rifle.” It cannot be believed that all the shacks on NWF area would account for more than a fraction of the equipment with which the tribesmen poured into Kashmir during 1947 and what about the mortars, other heavy modern weapons and the two aeroplanes with which the raiders were equipped ?” Seeing how Baramulla had been ravaged, she records,” heaped with rubble and blackened with fire as those battered Jewels of Italian towns through which many of us moved during the war in Italy.”
After meeting the family members of the martyr, Maqbool Sheerwani, and on seeing his photograph, she notes, “even the soft focus effect of the fuzzy studio portrait could not erase the intensity of the eyes and the look of strength in the high forehead.” It is a historical fact and interesting too that the people of the valley resisted and rejected Qabayali attack with lathis and sticks and hence rubbishing Pakistan’s plans to annex Kashmir. Historical facts cannot be denied on the strength of political maneuverings later, as an afterthought in the back drop of enough water having flown down the Veth or the Jehlum.
The tribal attack on J&K, aided and abetted by Pakistan made things very murky . Jawaharlal Nehru was a true statesman. His was a statesman -like approach towards Kashmir. The temperament and character of the people of the State and the ideology of National Conference – then the sole representative of Kashmiris-brought Kashmir closer to India . In this regard Sheikh Abdullah is quite candid and clear in his autobiography Aatish e Chinar. To understand Nehru’s statements the whole scene would have to be recreated. Nonetheless, we have a number of his declarations to make the Indian position clear, which conveniently have not been noticed. On 24 July 1952 Nehru made a statement on Delhi Agreement in regard to J&K and declared in Lok Sabha ‘ the accession is complete in law and, in fact, J& K is a constituent unit like any other.’
In his letter No. 368 dated 21 November 1947 to Pak P.M. Jawaharlal writes that as soon as peace returns Kashmir should decide of accession by plebiscite or referendum. The peace still eludes Kashmir. On 29 March 1956 he stated in the Lok Sabha “The talk of plebiscite in Kashmir was ‘ entirely beside the point ‘ and there could be no question of holding it until Pakistan had withdrawn all armed forces from the state. He also said that the Kashmir problem had to be viewed afresh because of the American Military aid to Pakistan and added that Pakistan’s joining Baghdad Pact and SEATO had invalidated the old arguments relating to the question.” Then he went on to say, “Legally and constitutionally, Kashmir acceded to India .This is an undoubted fact. You may criticize the speed, with which this was done, manner of it , but the fact is that legally and constitutionally , the state of J&K acceded to India . Therefore it became the duty of the Indian Union to defend and protect Kashmir from aggression and drive out the invaders ….” (Jawaid Alam in Select Correspondence Between Jawahar lal Nehru and Karan Singh P 195 Penguin / Viking and Sandeep Bamzai in Bonfire of Kashmiriat -Deconstructing the accession Rupa & Co P 68 ) On 13 April 1956 at a public meeting in Delhi, on the occasion of National week, Nehru said that until Pakistan withdrew its forces from Kashmir in accordance with the UNCIP resolution there could be no talk of plebiscite. UNO came in the picture thus.
The tribals of the Frontier, aided by the regular troops and officers of the Pakistan army, and invaded Kashmir in October 1947. Consequent upon Maharaja Hari Singh signing the instrument of accession to India the Indian Army intervened and repelled the aggression from ¾ of the Valley. India took the matter to the U.N.O which passed a number of resolutions. On 13 August 1948, the Security Council passed a three -part Basic Resolution and called for a ceasefire. It asked Pakistan to withdraw all her forces , regular or irregular , and permitted India to retain part of her troops in Kashmir. Part 111 of the resolution, no doubt, talked about the future status of the State to be decided by the will of the people, but it was not binding unless the first two parts had been implemented. This was precisely in the mind of Nehru when he made the statement in Delhi on 13 April 1956 regarding India’ stand on Kashmir vis-a vis UNCIP resolutions.
Pakistan refused to implement the first two parts and continues to do so till now . It will be profitable to reflect here the relevant clause of the resolution to see how presence of Pak troops in J&K state constituted a material change in the situation from where , till now , Pakistan has not been able to wriggle out .Clause A (1) Part 11; As the presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu & Kashmir constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council , the Government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops, from that State .
On 22 December 1949, the UNCIP adopted the proposals of the President of the Security Council General McNaughton about the demilitarization ,which included the withdrawal of the regular Pakistani forces ; the withdrawal of Indian forces not required for the purposes of security or for the maintenance of local law and order on the Indian side of the cease fire line ; and the reduction by disbanding and disarming of the armed forces of the state of J&K on the one side , and the Azad forces , on the other .
The Northern Areas were also included in this program of demilitarization; the administration was to be continued by the existing local authorities, subject to the United Nations supervision.
Pakistan’s hysterical obsession over Kashmir has made it to commit somersault at various times to suit her conveniences. The UNCIP resolutions, now described by Pakistan as sacrosanct, came forward on the complaint of India. The move was attributed by the Pak P.M to India’s desire to gain time to force a military decision . Liaquat Ali Khan never liked the intervention of the UNO and made it open in the press statement, while commenting on the Nehru’s letter to the President of the Security Council, dated 5th June, 1948. Pakistan’s intentions were never honest in the matter . After much dilly dallying Pakistani Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah , on 5 July1948 , informed UNCIP that his country had formally entered the war. On 10th January 1951 Pakistan Times published the statement of Sardar Abdul Rab Nishter, governor of West Punjab “So long as a single Pakistani is alive, nobody dare snatch Kashmir from Pakistan by force.” (Jawaid Alam in Select Correspondence between Jawaharlal Nehru and Karan Singh P 26 Penguin / Viking)
It is no secret that Pakistan initially scotched the U.N proposal of referendum fearing that the Kashmiris might vote against her, in the wake of mayhem created by the tribal invaders. Sir Owen Dixon , U.N S.C appointed mediator arrived in India on May27 ,1950 , and put forward the plan that wherever the desires of the inhabitants were known, the territory should be allocated between India and Pakistan, due regard being given to geographical , economic and demographic considerations . But where the desires were uncertain, a plebiscite should be held for ascertaining them. The voting would be con fined to that limited area. What happened to that plan? It did not take off. Why? Let us hear what Sheikh Abdullah – dramatis personae- has to say on the subject. He writes in his Aatish e Chinar (Page 486) – translated from Urdu; “. But Liaquat Ali Khan set forth a condition that he would consider this proposal only after I was relieved of the charge of Prime Ministership . He feared that in my presence the table would definitely turn in favour of India. A chemical prescription had come in his hand to ease me out of the power. Though the government of India assured him of my impartiality yet it did not agree to my removal. They argued that if the suggestion was accepted it would mean the victory of Pakistan before plebiscite is held. Moreover, Pakistani rulers were more interested in keeping alive the dispute than seeing it settled. Because, they thrived on it.”
Even now its intentions are suspect not to speak of withdrawing its forces from P.o.K and Northern Areas, Pakistan has detached Northern Areas from P.o.K. and merged some portion with itself and gifted a part of it to China. The matter was challenged in the Muzafarabad High Court. The Pak lobbyists in the Valley tell us to forget the Sheikh era as much water has flown down the river Jehlum and concentrate on the issue of plebiscite , afresh . Well, this argument could be available to the nationalist forces also, who could say that it is not wise to unsettle the things and reopen the scars on the wounds inflicted in 1947. U.N. Security Council tends to agree with the latter view , as it has sidelined the ‘ Kashmir issue ‘ from its current business — a step taken to consign the ‘ issue’ to the dust bin of the history.