Authored by S.N. Prasad and Dharam Pal, Operations in Jammu & Kashmir 1947-48 gives a definitive account of how Pakistan betrayed the people of Kashmir and also of October 22, 1947 — a black day in the history of region when the barbaric tribal raiders, backed by the Pakistani forces and the government, destroyed the paradise to satisfy their greed and lust.
From Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, General S.M. Shrinagesh, General K.S. Thimayya and a host of other Indian Army generals to Hirubhai Muljibhai Patel — who served as India’s Defence Secretary between 1947 and 1953 — the authors not only spoke to all those who had participated in these operations but also visited many battlefields and operational areas to speak to the locals. All this to ensure that the history is as accurate and authentic as possible. They also went to the extent of following some of the routes, over very difficult terrain, taken by the troops to outflank certain enemy strongholds.
Lest we forget the atrocities perpetrated by Pakistani raiders in Kashmir, here are some selected excerpts:
The invasion plan
The invasion of the Kashmir Valley from Pakistan was planned with meticulous care and showed considerable strategic and tactical insight. The motive behind the Pak invasion of Jammu and Kashmir is not difficult to guess. When the British transferred power, one of the problems left unsolved by them was that of the tribal people, and Pakistan had to tackle it. Crores of rupees were spent by the British out of Indian revenues to appease these people, but the newly-born state of Pakistan could ill afford to spend so much money on them. Besides, the leaders of Pakistan have made Islam the basis of modern nationality, and all their high-sounding words would lose meaning if they treated the tribal people, their co-religionists, in the British way.
The urgent need felt by Pakistan to force the issue of Kashmir, and secure its speedy accession to Pakistan contained the possibility of a solution of more than one problem. To hold out to the poor tribal people the alluring promise of land and plenty in Kashmir, to give them a land description of the supposed atrocities done to Muslims so that they might be worked up to fever pitch, and allow them a free run of the beautiful valley to attain a variety of objectives: grab Kashmir, solve the problem of the tribal people, kill the Pathanistan Movement (started by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan), and secure Pakistan’s safety and prosperity.
The troubles in Kashmir
The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir decided to postpone a decision on the problem of accession and to have a Standstill Agreement with both India and Pakistan. An offer of a Standstill Agreement was made by the Maharaja in telegrams in identical terms to both India and Pakistan on August 12, 1947. However, the state signed a Standstill Agreement only with Pakistan, and no agreement was executed with the government of India prior to the state’s accession to India on October 26, 1947. The postal and telegraph facilities in the state were placed under the control of the Pakistan government, which promised to continue the existing arrangements by which the state imported wheat, cloth, ammunition, kerosene oil and petrol from West Punjab. Very soon, however, these amicable relations deteriorated. August ushered in a hideous wave of communal noting in the whole of the Punjab. Thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were butchered in West Punjab and the North West Frontier Province and their women abducted.
From early September, raids began to take place from Pakistan into the border areas of the state. On September 4, General Scott (General Henry Lawrence Scott, the Chief of Staff of Kashmir State Forces) wired to the state government at Srinagar: “Reliable reports state that on the September 2 and 3, 1947, a band of up to 400 armed Sattis—Muslim residents mainly in Kahuta Tehsil of Rawalpindi district—were infiltrating into the state over the river Jhelum from Pakistan. Their purpose is looting and attacking minority communities in the state.”
With passions aflame, lawlessness rampant and authority paralyzed, the raiders struck. Thousands of tribal wamors (unclear) swarmed across the frontier, and, like a mighty flood, spread deep inside the state by every road and mountain track. The main invasion was planned and launched by the Army Headquarters of Pakistan and was called ‘Operation Gulmarg.’ Orders were issued through DO letters marked personal/top Secret and signed personally by the C-in-C of the Pakistan Army, within a few days of Pakistan coming into existence.
The D-Day: October 22, 1947
The D-Day for Operation Gulmarg was fixed as October 22, 1947, on which date the various Lashkars were to cross into Jammu and Kashmir territory. 7 Infantry Division of Pak Army was ordered to be ready to move immediately into Jammu and Kashmir territory to back up the tribal Lashkars and consolidate their hold on the Valley. One infantry brigade was also held in readiness at Sialkot to move on to Jammu
Early in the morning of October 22, the main column of the raiders crossed the frontier from Garhi Habibullah and attacked Muzaffarabad. The traitors of the 4 K I holding the outposts at Lohar Gali and Ramkot joined the raiders, gave them the fullest information about the strength and disposition of the defending troops, and helped them to send sufficient force against each picket of the defenders. Muzaffarabad was given over to the fire and sword before its sleeping citizens could realize what had happened. The Dogra pickets, particularly the MMG section located on a high ground in the School area north of the city, fought with desperate gallantry and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy but they were engulfed in the tidal wave of the raiders who pressed on to the Domel bridge.
Similar was the story of the other outposts and detachments. All fought desperately against overwhelming odds and then slipped out of their untenable positions during the hours of darkness The MMG section at Muzaffarabad, under Havildar Bishan Singh, managed to retreat into the hills, and reached Srinagar many days later. The detachment at Battika was captured while retreating. The men were disarmed, stripped naked, except for their undergarments, led to the river bank, lined up and shot dead.
The raiders pressed on and entered the prosperous town of Baramula in the evening of October 26, 1947. The place was promptly given over to plunder and rapine. Hindus and Sikhs were hunted down and killed; their houses looted and then burnt. Young women were forcibly abducted and carried off without distinction of color, caste or creed, to be sold like cattle on the streets of Rawalpindi and Peshawar, or to live and die as slaves. Terror stalked the streets of the quaint little town. The deserted streets lay silent, echoing only to the rattle of the raiders’ nailed boots as they treaded their way between the corpses strewn around. With many young girls and much treasure now in their possession, the raiders gloated over their good fortune.
Yet in their success lay the seeds of their doom. For in the savage excitement of looting and raping, the ultimate goal of the ‘Holy War’ was forgotten. Each man tried to grab as much wealth or as many girls as he could, and for the moment refused to be bothered with the ‘infidel’ Maharaja at Srinagar or the ‘liberation of the oppressed Muslims’ of Kashmir. Many of the raiders, loaded with loot, turned back for home, and responded to their officers’ expostulations by saying that they would be back soon after depositing their treasure in security.
The advance on Srinagar was thus held up for a few days, and that proved crucial. For in Delhi, hundreds of kilometers from stricken Baramula, it had at last been decided to save Kashmir in its hour of peril, and the Indian Army was ordered to step into the breach. Even as the barbaric raiders were satisfying their greed and lust in Baramula, transport planes full of Indian troops were winging their way through the azure autumn skies, destination Srinagar.