Kashmir: The Storm center of the World
Table of Contents
   About the Author
   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
   Book in pdf format  
   Official Site  

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Chapter 7

First Indo-Pak War: Fall Of Mirpur, Gilgit And Baltistan

Acceptance of the offer of accession made by Maharaja Hari Singh by the Government of India on October 26, 1947 made that state as a whole an integral part of India, its long border touching Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and Tibet became the border of India and its defence became the responsibility of the Government of India. Therefore, Pak aggression against the state that began on October 21st, became aggression against India and marked the beginning of the first Indo-Pak war.

This development was not surprising or unexpected. I had predicted it on August 15 itself. I was taking my B.A. History class under the shade of a Chinar tree on the bank of the Jehlum that day. Students were more interested to know about my assessment of partition of united India and future relations between the two new dominions than a routine lecture. I had then told my students that the artificial partition of what God and nature had made one country could not last long. But so long as Pakistan will exist, it will remain hostile to India and a war between the two dominions will be inevitable. But, even I had never expected the war to come so soon.

Pakistan wanted to grab Jammu & Kashmir through a swift and camouflaged action. Its leaders banked on indecisiveness of Pandit Nehru and split mind of Sh. Abdullah. But they counted without Sardar Patel and underestimated Hari Singh.

As stated earlier, Indian army acquitted itself, admirably. It was able to clear the Kashmir valley of the enemy by November 8, when Baramullah was liberated. Thus the battle for the Kashmir valley was virtually over in less than a fortnight.

The real brunt of Pak aggression was borne by parts of Jammu province particularly its western Muslim majority district of Mirpur and trans-Himalayan regions of Gilgit, Baltistan and Laddakh.

The Pak plan was to capture cities of Srinagar and Jammu about the same time, snap all links between them and other parts of the state and present the world with a fait accompli in regard to the whole state. Pakistan had considered its task in Jammu to be comparatively easy because of proximity of this part of the state to Pakistan and almost complete allegiance of its Muslim population to its ideology.

Its plan in regard to the predominantly Hindu eastern part of this province, including the city of Jammu which had a large Muslim population, was to foment trouble from within and send armed raiders from outside at the opportune moment. Jammu city being only 20 miles from Sialkot Cantonment the plan was considered to be quite workable. In pursuance of this plan, arms and ammunitions were smuggled into Jammu in large quantities to equip the local Muslims. Trouble from within was to be started approximately at the same time as the invasion of Kashmir. The signal was to be given by Pakistani raids on the border villages.

The signal was given by the middle of October when the border villages of Alla and Charwah were raided, many persons killed and many Dogra women kidnapped. The Dogras of Jammu who had come to know of Pakistan's plans became alert by these raids on their border villages. They, therefore, forestalled the Pakistanis inside the city as well as outside it. Taken aback by this sudden turn of events the Muslims vacated the city and made a hurried retreat to Pakistan. Some of them were killed in the encounters that took place in the city as also in other parts of the province. Huge quantities of arms and ammunition as well as wireless transmitters found from the houses of Muslim evacuees in Jammu left little doubt that any slackness on the part of the people of Jammu at that critical moment would have spelled disaster for them.

This failure of Pakistan's plan in regard to Jammu contributed a good deal toward the defense of Kashmir. The Dogra part of Jammu forms the only direct link between India on the one side and Kashmir valley and other parts of the State on the other. The vital Pathankot-Jammu-Srinagar road passes through this region up to the Banihal Pass. Had the Pakistanis succeeded in capturing Jammu, the only supply line to Kashmir would have been cut off and military aid to save Kashmir would have become impossible.

The situation in the Punjabi-speaking western districts of Mirpur and Poonch including Bhimber and Rajauri was different. This is a predominantly Muslim area. About a lakh of Hindus, who were less than 10 per cent of the total population of this region, constituted the business community though some of them tilled the soil as well. They were spread over the whole of this area. But the main centers of their concentration were the towns of Ponch, Kitli, Mirpur, Bhimber and Rajauri. The Muslim inhabitants of this area, who are mostly illiterate but warlike, economically depended on the Hindu population to a large extent. The relations with the Hindus were, therefore, generally good. But being closely connected with the Muslims of the adjoining districts of Gujerat, Jehlum and Rawalpindi in West Punjab, they had come under the influence of Pakistan ideology. It appealed especially to the upper and martial classes among them who had economic interests in Pakistan or depended for their living on service in that segment of the armed forces of undivided India which had opted for Pakistan.

The State Government was aware of the dangerous potentialities of this area if its people, of whom about a lakh were demobilized ex-soldiers, ever took it into their heads to rebel against their king. So a large part of the state forces was concentrated in the area as also along its border adjoining Pakistan. The State also depends upon the loyalty of elderly Muslim Rajput chiefs and Jagirdars of this area who had still close social relations with the Hindu Rajputs of their respective tribes and looked upon the Rajput Maharaja as their natural leader.

Rulers of Pakistan, therefore, knew that it was not easy to instigate rebellion from within. Therefore the plan adopted by them for this area was to send a large number of Pakistani nationals, soldiers and tribals, to rouse the local population in the name of Islam. This plan was put in operation in the Poonch area to start with. Large numbers of armed Pakistanis began to cross the Jehlum by barges to enter into the State. The state Government protested repeatedly to Pakistan and West Punjab Governments, as also to the Deputy Commissioner of Rawalpindi during September and October, 1947 against this violation of the State territory by Pakistan nationals. But the protests were of no avail.

When the invasion of Kashmir began, the trouble in the Poonch area had already become widespread with the collaboration of the local Muslims under the guidance of Sardar Mohd. Ibrahim Khan who later became the President of the so-called Azad Kashmir Government. Simultaneously with the invasion of the valley fresh raids on other parts of this area began. The Muslim personnel of the 2nd Jammu and Kashmir Infantry which had been posted in this sector, now deserted to the enemy. The Dogra troops hard-pressed from all sides could not stand the strain. They realized that it was impossible to defend the whole area against Pakistani invaders and local rebels. So they concentrated themselves in the few towns to which the Hindu population from the surrounding areas had gone for safety. Very soon all these towns were cut of from one another as also from Jammu. The history of the war in this region after the 22nd of October, therefore, is the history of the defense of these beseiged towns by the civil population with the help of the State troops who had managed to reach them. Their only hope of safety was reinforcements of Indian troops from Jammu or Srinagar. Unfortunately this expected relief failed to reach them in time, except in the case of Kotli and Poonch. They fell to the enemy one by one. Their history is one of tragic destruction and genocide in spite of the most heroic defense and sacrifices by the Hindu population. In chronological order, the part to fall was Bhimber.

1. Bhimber: This town, with a normal population of three thousand which had swelled to about five thousand because of some refugees from Pakistan and Hindus from surrounding villages, lies just two miles within the State border. It was a tehsil headquarter within the Mirpur district. It fell to the armed Pakistani raiders who began shelling the town with heavy guns. Just at this time, the Indian Dakotas were carrying the first consignment of airborne troops to Srinagar. The people of the town who had assembled in the courtyard of the fort-like tehsil building found all their roads of escape blocked. Still some of them rushed out with the few State troops. But most of them could not. Finding that no hope was left, hundreds of Hindu ladies took poison which they had taken with them as a precaution and thus revived the practice of 'Jauhar'. Many others were kidnapped along with their children. The male population was put to the sword.

Perhaps the fall of this town, though it was very tragic, could not be avoided because there were no troops in Jammu which could have been rushed to save it. But that was not the case with the other towns which fell soon after one by one.

2. Rajauri: This town with a normal population of about six thousand which had swelled to about 11 thousand at the time of its fall because of the arrival of Hindus from the surrounding villages, lies in the interior of Jammu Province on the old Mughal road to Kashmir. It was a tehsil headquarter within the Riasa district before its fall.

This town was considered to be comparatively safe because of its being out of the direct reach of the Pakistan raiders. But the local Muslims, aided by the deserters from State troops did not wait for the raiders. The urgent calls of the beseiged population for help were in vain because the gravity of the situation in these areas was not appreciated by Sheikh Abdullah who continued to divert all available Indian troops to Kashmir. The result was that the town fell on the 10th of November before the local Muslims who proved to be more cruel and barbarous than the tribal raiders. The story of Bhimber was repeated with the difference that the number of the persons who could escape to Jammu safely from here did not exceed a hundred. Most of the ladies performed 'Jauhar' by taking poison while many of the youth, died fighting. Many of those who managed to escape were killed on the way by local Muslims. The number of ladies abducted from this town ran into several hundreds.

3. Kotli: This town with a normal population of 3 to 4 thousand was a tehsil headquarter within the Mirpur district. It lies on the Jehlum-Mirpur-Poonch road. The small detachments of the State troops spread between Mirpur and Poonch had concentrated themselves in this town when their position in the interior became untenable. Colonel Baldev Singh Pathania, the Revenue Minister of the State, who had been sent to guide the operations of the State troops in this area as also Brigadier Chatar Singh, the officer in-charge, had also taken shelter in this town. It was surrounded on all sides by the well armed local rebels and Pakistani raiders. Therefore no contact could be made with Jammu or Mirpur.

The arnmunition with the troops in Kotli ran out early in November. It would have therefore, fallen to the enemy and suffered the same fate as Bhimber but for the heroic gallantry of a few local young men. An Indian army plane dropped about 20 chests of ammunition in the town. But per chance instead of falling at a safe place they fell on a deep slope outside the town within the range of the enemy fire from the adjoining hill. To bring the chests into the town was a problem. It looked like sure death. No volunteers were coming forth even from among the troops. There upon about 20 members of the local branch of the R.S.S. volunteered themselves. They succeeded in salvaging about 17 chests of ammunition. Their heroism and sacrifice enabled the town to defend itself until it was relieved a few days later by an advance party of the Parachute Brigade of the Indian army stationed at Jhangar.

Though saved from the enemy at that time, this town was abandoned by the Indian army later. It withdrew from Kotli to Jhangar after evacuating all the civil population and the troops who had been defending it for over a month. This proved to be a military blunder. It made the position of the besieged population and garrison at Poonch precarious. It also relieved many hundreds of raiders besieging this town who now joined hands with the besiegers of Mirpur. That ill-fated town was next to fall.

4. Mirpur: This strategic town of a normal population of about 10 thousand which had swelled to about 25 thousand at the time of its fall was the headquarters of the Mirpur district. It lies at a distance of about 20 miles from the town and cantonment of Jehlum.

Mirpur had been cut off from Jammu after the fall of Bhimber and Kotli. It had a garrison of State troops. But it had run out of ammunition. Therefore it was feared that Mirpur may meet the same fate as Bhimber & Kotli.

It was a district headquarter and center of influential Mahajans, a fair colored Vaish community with distinct, Aryan features; many of its people hid their relatives in Jammu. They were naturally worried about their fate. They approached Praja-Parishad for moving the authorities to relieve Mirpur.

Pt. Prem Nath Dogra and myself met Brigadier Paranjpe, the Commander of Indian troops in Jammu and requested him to send reinforcement to Mirpur. He shared our anxiety but expressed his helplessness because as per instructions from above, all deployment of Indian troops in the State had to be done in consultation with Sh. Abdullah who was indifferent to the needs of Jammu.

He informed us that Pt. Nehru was visiting Jammu en- route to Srinagar on November 25, and suggested that we should approach him and request him to give proper directions to Sh. Abdullah in the matter.

I met Pt. Nehru at Satwari aerodrome and told him about the critical situation in Mirpur and requested him to order immediate reinforcement of Indian troops to the beleagured tour. I was amazed at his response. He flew into a rage and shouted: "Talk to Sheikh Sahib - talk to Sheikh Sahib. ' I then told him that Sheikh Sahib was indifferent to the plight of the Jammu region, and that he alone could do something to save the people of Mirpur. But all my entreaties fell on deaf ears. No reinforcement was sent to Mirpur.

Mirpur fell on the 25th of November 1947, when the enemy broke open the back gate of the walled town by heavy gunfire. The state troops and local officers then lost heart and retreated even before the town could be evacuated by the civilians. The people, therefore, began to run in terror. The fight soon became a rout and the rout a massacre. Hardly two thousand people out of about 25 thousand living at that time in the ill-fated town managed to reach Jhangar in safety. The rest were ruthlessly butchered. The number of women abducted from there ran into thousands. Most of them were paraded and then sold in the bazaars of Jehlum, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. The barbarities of the Pakistan troops and civilians on these hapless women who were kept for sometime in Alibeg camp before their dispersal to different towns put to shame the worst orgies of rape and violence associated with the hordes of Ghengiz Khan and Nadir Shah.

The loot obtained by the Pakistanis from these towns, especially from Mirpur, went into crores. The floor of every house in Mirpur was dug by raiders in search of hoarded treasures.

5. Deva Vatala: Next to fall along the Jammu-Pakistan border in Bhimber Tehsil was the cluster of Hindu villages inhabited by Chib Rajputs and known by the name of Deva-Vatala. The warlike people of these villages kept the Pakistanis at bay for two months with their crude weapons. But when Pakistanis began to attack them with modern firearms supplied by the Pakistan Government they approached Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed then Chief Emergency Officer for Jammu Province, to supply them with arms and ammunition. But no heed was paid to their requests. Toward the end of December 1947, thousands of Chibs of the area retreated to Jammu with what little they could bring on their heads as refugees. The occupation of Deva-Vatala by the enemy brought him within 30 miles of the city of Jammu from the West.

6. Poonch: The only town of this area which did not succumb to the enemy pressure was Poonch. The small garrison of the State troops supported by the Indian troops who managed to reach there from Uri, kept the enemy at bay for one long year. Their task would have become impossible but for the daring landings of the I.A.F. Dakotas on an improvised air strip in the town, which lay within firing range of the enemy who commanded the surrounding hills. This town was later relieved by the Indian forces advancing from Rajauri.

The story of the war in the Jammu sector is thus a continuous tragedy occassionally relieved by episodes of glory provided by the heroes of Kotli, or the defenders of Poonch. But the most unfortunate part of it is that little is known to the people in India and outside about this side of the Kashmir story.

The sense of tragedy about happenings in Jammu area is heightened by the fact that most of this area fell in the enemy hands and massacres took place there after the State-acceded to India and the Indian troops had taken charge of the defense of the State.

Kashmir valley having been cleared of the enemy by the 8th of November, Indian troops could have conveniently turned their attention to this strategic area. They could have at least relieved the beleagured towns of Rajauri and Mirpur and prevented the worst massacre of Indian history after Timur's massacre of Delhi in 1398 from taking place at Mirpur.

That they could not do so was not the fault of army commanders. The men responsible for these massacres were Pt. Nehru and Sh. Abdullah. Pt. Nehru would not allow anybody else in India to advise him in his handling of the Kashmir situation. He was solely guided by Sh. Abdullah, who had no interest in any other part of the State except the Kashmir valley. His critics even go to the length of charging him uith deliberate indifference toward the fate of beleagured Hindus. That may or may not be correct, but the fact remains that he refused to send troops for the relief of Mirpur even when they were not so urgently needed in the Kashmir valley.


A more painful aspect of this unmitigated tragedy of Jammu is that very little about it is known in India or the outside world. Even though the number of Hindu men and women killed and abducted in Jammu area is at least three times that of the Muslim causualties, not a word of sympathy about them was said in India or at the U.N.O. On the other hand both Sh. Abdullah and his Indian patrons made so much noise about killings of Muslims in Jammu that Ch. Zaffarullah, Pakistan's representative at the U.N.O., could indict the Government of India of genocide of Muslims in Jammu with telling effect.

If the ruthless killings in Jammu area could be called genocide, it was a genocide of the Hindus and not of the Muslims. While most of the Muslims in the Hindu majority parts of Jammu province migrated to Pakistan, only a few thousands out of over a lakh of Hindus including refugees from adjoining district of West Punjab could escape to safety from Mirpur-Poonch- Muzaffarabad region.

The External Affairs Ministry of the Government of India did a singular disservice to India and the world by not bringing true facts of the Jammu story to the notice of the U.N. and the world. Pt. Nehru was thus not only unjust to the Maharaja, but also to the heroic people of Jammu who fought the Pakistani invaders and saboteurs on their own and thus saved the vital link between Kashmir Valley and East Punjab from falling into Pakistan's hands which would have made Kashmir operation infructuous.

Fall Of Gilgit

Foiled in their attempt to capture Srinagar and occupy Kashmir valley which would have automatically cut off all the northern parts of the State from lndia and brought them under Pakistan's control without much effort, the Pakistani strategists now decided to capture those parts first both for their own strategic importance and also for encircling the valley from the North. The closure of Burzila and Yojila passes which provided the only link between Kashmir valley and Gilgit, Baltistan and Laddakh due to the onset of winter made the chances of any timely help from Indian army to small detachments of the Kashmir state forces in these parts extremely difficult if not impossible. This was an additional temptation for Pakistan to lay her hand on them just then.

Gilgit, the western most part of trans-Himalayan frontier region of the State being directly continuous to Pakistan and approachable from Peshawar was the first to be attacked and occupied.

The Dogra rulers of Kashmir had a special sentimental attachment with Gilgit because of the great sacrifices made by the Dogra people in conquering it. The "Samadhis" of thousands of Dogra soldiers who had laid down their lives in the various Gilgit campaigns between 1859 and 1895 which finally brought the entire Gilgit area including the Gilgit states like Hunza, Nagar, Ishkuman, Koh and Gizar under Dogra rule, are still a grim reminder of their adventurous spirit and patriotic fervour. They had, therefore, resisted British pressure to surrender the control of this area to them as long as they could.

After obtaining a lease of the Gilgit area for sixty years from Maharaja Hari Singh in 1935, the British had set about building it as a strategic outpost in the chain of their North Western defences. It had been linked with Peshawar by a new road. A local force called "Gilgit Scouts" on the model of Frontier Guides, led by British officers had been raised and a British Political Agent was posted at Gilgit to control the administered area and the States of Gilgit Agency whose rulers continued to owe allegiance to the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir as well. The State forces stationed at Gilgit had been withdrawn to Bunji on the left bank of the Indus about 35 miles South of Gilgit cantonment.

Soon after the announcement about transfer of power the Gilgit Agency had been retroceded to the Maharaja who celebrated the occasion with great joy. He had then appointed Brigadier Ghansar Singh as military Governor of the area. He had reached Gilgit along with Major General Scotts then Chief of Staff of the State army, on July 20, 1947. On arrival there they found that all British officers in Gilgit Scouts also wanted to go over to Pakistan. The only force available to the Governor was the 6th J&K Infantry stationed at Bunji which was half Muslim and half Sikh. It was commanded by a Muslim officer of doubtful loyalty, Lt. Colonel Majid Khan.

In the circumstances it was clear that British officers on the spot were strongly pro-Pakistan. What was worse they had also poisoned the minds of the Rajas of Gilgit States, who so far had a deep feeling of personal loyalty to the Maharaja. It was also clear that the Maharaja's Government at that time was in no position to hold Gilgit militarily against the combined strength of Chitral and Swat levies backed by Pakistan Government and Gilgit Scouts, particularly when the loyalty of the Muslim officers and other ranks of its own army had beeome doubtful.

It was suggested to the Maharaja by some people who knew about the difficult situation in Gilgit that he might lease out the area to Afghanistan on the same terms on which it was held by the British. But the suggestion was never taken up seriously. Afghanistan might have welcomed such a move if it had been seriously mooted.

The things began to move fast after the launching of the fullscale Pakistan invasion of Kashmir in October, 1947. The Muslim personnel of the State army deserted. On the night of October 31, the Gilgit scouts together with these deserters surrounded the residence of the Governor who was forced to surrender. He was put under arrest and a provisional Government was established by the rebels. Most of the non-Muslims in the State army and town population were liquidated and a few made prisoners. Three days later, Major Brown, the British Commandant of Gilgit of Scouts, formally raised the flag of Pakistan in the Scouts lines. Soon after a political Agent from Pakistan established himself in Gilgit.

The fall of Gilgit into the hands of Pakistan and the role played by British Officers in the whole affair throws a flood of light on the British attitude towards the Kashmir questions from its very inception. Their imperial interests demanded that Jammu and Kashmir State as a whole or at least its northern parts including the Kashmir valley should go to Pakistan which they considered to be more dependable of the two new Dom inions.

After consolidating their position in Gilgit the Pakistan militarists hurried to control the approaches to the valley before the winter had run out. One of their columns advanced towards the Burzila pass, occupied it, and began to infiltrate into Gurais area of Kashmir from that side. Another column advanced west, bypassed Askardu, the capital town of Baltistan, for it had a Dogra garrison in its fort, and occupied Kargil without much difficulty. Kargil lies on the road connecting Srinagar with Leh and Askardu through the Yojila Pass. From Kargil one of their columns began to advance toward Leh and the other advanced south and occupied the Yojila pass. Some of them even succeded in infiltrating into Kashmir valley.

Thus before the winter was over and before any reinforcements to Askardu, Kargil or Leh could be sent, the Pakistanis with the help of the Gilgit scouts and local recruits, for whom winter weather was no hindrance, had occupied both the passes linking these areas with Kashmir valley. Leh too would have fallen before the Pakistanis, who despoiled many monasteries and killed about five hundred Buddhists, but for the adventurous and hazardous dash of a Lahauli officer of the Indian Army, Captain Prithvi Chand, with a few companions toward Leh through Lahaul in Mid-winter. He succeeded in reaching Leh, organized a local militia and improvised an air strip at the height of about 11500 feet above sea level, where an equally adventurous Indian Pilot, Sardar Mehar Singh, landed his Dakota carrying sinews of war and thus saved Leh from meeting the fate of Kargil and Gilgit.

The besieged garrison and Hindu population of Askardu was soon reduced to sore straits by the besieging Pakistani forces. The I.A.F. did drop some supplies to them but due to bad weather and great heights that had to be crossed, they fell far short of the minimum needs of the besieged garrison. At last Colonel Sher Jang Thapa of the State forces surrendered to the Pakistanis after a gallant resistance of many months on August 15, 1948. The entire Hindu population as also most of the surviving troops were put to the sword.

Fall of Gilgit, siege of Askardu, genocide of the Hindus in Bhimber, Rajouri and Mirpur and retreat from Deva- Vatala shocked Maharaja Hari Singh who had acceded to India in the hope that Indian army would be above to save his territories and people from the Pak invaders. People of the affected areas of Jammu flocked to him with their tales of woe. He sympathized with them but could do nothing to relieve their agony. He had no control over the administration and deployment of the armed forces. Sh. Aibdullah, fortified by the blind support of Pt. Nehru, was indifferent about the fate of Jammu and other parts of the state. His motives and intentions had become suspect to all friends and well- wishers of India, including Justice Kanwar Dileep Singh who had been appointed Agent-General of the Government of India to watch the Indian interests in the state. Pt. Premnath Dogra and myself met him at the Residency in Jammu in mid-January 1948. We found him thoroughly disgusted and disillusioned about the role of Sh. Abdullah. He frankly told us that he was convinced that Sh. Abdullah was not playing fair to India. He was more interested in consolidating his position in the Kashmir valley than safeguarding national interests and unity and security of the country. He informed us that he was going to Delhi to apprise Prime Minister Nehru of his assessrnent and added, that he would return only if his advise was heeded and he was in a position to safeguard the national interests. He made it clear that he had accepted the post for serving the country and not for its pay of Rs. 5,000 a month. He would rather resign than be a mute witness to Sh. Abdullah's anti-national actions and activities. He never returned. This was a clear indication that Pt. Nehru was in the pocket of Abdullah so far as Kashmir was concerned.

As the founder leader of Jammu Parishad, I then decided to visit Delhi to meet and apprise Sardar Patel and other national leaders about the developing situation in the state and impress on them the urgent need to set things right. I left Jammu on January 29, 1948. I had to meet Sardar Patel in Delhi on February 2nd.

Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in January 30, upset everything. I could meet the Sardar a month later on March 8th. He gave me a patient hearing and hinted that he was aware of the situation by saying: "You are trying to convince a convinced man." But he expressed his inability to do anything because Kashmir was being handled by Pt. Nehru. He suggested that I should meet Pt. Nehru and also got my appointment with him fixed. I met Pt. Nehru the day after. His response was most disappointing. He was not prepared to hear a word of criticism of Sh. Abdullah. In the meantime, Sh. Abdullah externed me from the state and banned my re- entry into it. He also externed my parents from Jammu where my father had decided to settle after retirement from state service.

Though my meeting with Sardar Patel and Pt. Nehru had no immediate effect, a top secret letter that Maharaja Hari Singh had sent to Sardar Patel on January 31 did influence the Government of India and military operations in the state thereafter.

A Historic Letter

This is a historic letter which throws a flood of light on the exact situation in and about Jammu & Kashmir at that time and the mind of Hari Singh.

After describing the prevailing political military situation in detail, he wrote:

"In the situation described above a feeling comes to my mind as to the possible steps I may take and to make, as far as I am concerned, a clean breast of the situation. Sometime I feel that I should withdraw the accession that I have made to the Indian Union. Indian Union only provisionally accepted the accession and if it cannot recover back our territory and is going eventually to agree to the decision of the Security Council which may result in handing us over to Pakistan then there is no point in sticking to the accession of the state to the Indian union. For the time being it may be possible to have better terms from Pakistan but that is immaterial because eventually it will mean end of the dynasty and the end of Hindus and Sikhs in the state. There is an alternative possible for me and that is to withdraw the accession. That may kill the reference to U.N.O. because Union of India has no right to continue the proceedings before the Security Council if the accession is withdrawn. The result may be a return to the position the state held before the accession. The difficulty in that situation, however, will be that the Indian troops cannot be maintained in the state except as volunteers to help the state. I am prepared to take over the command of my own forces along with the forces of the Indian army and volunteers to help the state... I am tired of the present life and it is much better to die fighting than watch helplessly the heart breaking misery of my people.

"So far as internal political situation is ccncerned I am prepared to be a constitutional ruler of the state... But I am not satisfied with the leaders of National Conference. They do not command the confidence of the Hindus and Sikhs and even of a large section of Muslims. I must therefore keep some reserved powers of which you are already aware, and I must have a Dewan of my free choice as a member of the cabinet and possibly as its president.

"Another alternative that strikes me is that if I can do nothing I should leave the state (short abdication) and reside outside so that people do not think that I can do anything for them... Of course I will anticipate that as people started saying when I left Kashmir only on Mr. Menon's advice that I had run away from Srinagar, they will say that I have left them in their hour of misery. But it is no use remaining in a position where one can do nothing merely to avoid criticism.

"The third alternative in the situation is that the Indian Dominion discharges its duty on the military side effectively and makes an all out effort to stop the raids from Pakistan and to drive out of the state not only raiders but also all rebels... Pakistan is more organized against Kashmir than the Indian Dominion and as soon as snow melts it will start attacking Kashmir on all sides and the Province of Laddakh will also come into the hands of the enemy... Therefore unless the Indian Union makes up its mind to fight fully and effectively, I may have to decide upon the two alternatives mentioned above".

This letter jolted the Government of India out of its complacency in regard to the war. The Indian army thereafter devised a new strategy which turned the tide against Pakistan by the end of the year. Pakistan army were on the run all along the four hundred mile long battle front. The Indian army would have completed the job entrusted to it by clearing the whole State of the Pakistani invaders both regular and irregular, in course of time had it not been halted by the unilateral cease fire ordered by the Government of India on the first of January, 1949. This was done in pursuance of the resolution of the U.N. Security Council.

Reference of Kashmir issue to U.N. and interplay of super power politics there which gave a new and unexpected dimension and twist to Kashmir problem is even more painful and perplexing. It composed foreign policy of India and its sole architect, Pt. Nehru.

Kashmir: The Storm Center of the World



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