Kashmir-The Dramatic Accession

“We have a religion in common with Jinnah and a dream in common with Nehru” 

                                                                                     (Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah)

Jammu and Kashmir State, contiguous to both the dominions, had a muslim majority with a hindu ruler and the struggle against the ruler had started long back. Pakistan had an advantage of having all the accesses to the State passing through it. Maharaja, thus, found himself between the devil and the deep sea and was not able to decide which dominion to join. Joining Pakistan would mean danger to his own life and his dogra community while joining India would result in a possible revolt by the majority of the people. The other alternative was to remain independent. The indecision resulted in a Standstill Agreement which Pakistan readily signed but India did not respond to. According to Mehr Chand Mahajan who became Prime Minister of the State in October 1947, “The Maharaja believed that by not committing himself he might emerge from the period of the transfer of power as the ruler of an independent Kashmir State”.(Looking Back p132)

On the other hand, during his visit to Kashmir in 946 Jinnah had received a hearty welcome from Sheikh Abdullah and his organisation, the National conference, but he preferred to align with Sheikh’s rival, a Moulvi and a committed muslim, besides claiming “Kashmir to be in his pocket” (Balraj Madhok; A Story of bungling in Kashmir p 38). He further slighted Sheikh Abdullah by his utterances such as calling Sheikh’s followers a “band of gangsters.”(SM Abdullah; Atishe-e-Chinar ) . This had pushed Sheikh Abdullah, the undisputed leader of Kashmiris, into the lap of Indian National Congress and it was this Nehru- Sheikh axis which subsequently weighed heavily in favour of India and against  the Pakistani interests in Kashmir. Writes Latif Ahmed Sherwani, “In the meanwhile, Nehru and Mountbatten had been able to corner the muslim majority district of Gurdaspur for India through the Radcliffe award to ensure a corridor for access to Kashmir which gave a new lease of life to the Indian interests.”(Kashmir’s Accession to India re-examined pub. in Pakistan Horizon Karachi, v43,no 2,Apr 90).

Nevertheless, the leaders of Pakistan had other designs drawn up to annex Kashmir. With a Stand Still Agreement in force, they intended to induce a rebellion in the state itself coupled with economic strangulation. Accordingly, the State of Jammu and Kashmir which was totally dependent on Pakistan faced unprecedented economic blockade from Pakistan. Supplies to the valley were completely stopped despite protests from the Maharaja.. By July 1947, critical situation had developed in the Sidhnuti tract of Poonch, with a large reserve of trained soldiers who were organised for an armed rebellion. Pakistan had master minded a tribal invasion of the J&K State by further organising Afridi, Mahsud, Wazir and Swati tribals besides soldiers of its own army, supposed to be on leave, providing them a fleet of 200-300 vehicles, arms and ammunition, ration and fuel so that it would look like ‘Kashmir Liberation War’ with Poonch as its epicentre. By the end of September the tribal raiders had destroyed Maharajas power in outlying areas of the State. A major thrust was further organised through Jehlum-Valley road to take control of Srinagar by 26 October 1947, the day of Eid,when Jinnah was supposed to ride in triumph into the Srinagar town.
On 26 October , after a rapid advance accompanied by much looting , rape and slaughter in which the invaders failed to make a great distinction between muslims and hindus, the tribals reached Baramullah at the edge of Sringar plain and attacked St Joseph’s convent in Baramullah putting to death several Europeans besides raping the inmates. The details were reported by Robert Trumbell in New York Times on 10 November 1947 which shook the Western world.

As a consequence, Maharaja of J&K was left with no choice but to seek help from the Indian Government and therefore signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October,1947. In response, India airlifted its armed forces into Kashmir with utmost precision, speed and dexterity on 27 October 1947 to defend Kashmir from disguised invasion by Pakistan. V P Menon writes in his memoirs,”Never in the history of warfare has there been an operation like the airlift of Indian troops to Srinagar on 27 October and on subsequent days, an operation put through with no previous thought, let alone organised planning and at such remarkably short notice…….. In the early hours of 27 October over a hundred civilian air crafts and Royal indian Air Force planes were mobilised to fly troops, equipment and supplies to Srinagar. The Royal Indian Air Force and civilian pilots and ground crews rose to the occasion and worked heroically to make the airlift a success”. This is also confirmed by Alistair Lamb who writes, “Operation JAK would have even the seasoned Generals of the IInd world war amazed.”(Crisis in Kashmir ;1947 to 1966). It is evident that the precocious action of Pakistani leaders to send tribals to Kashmir boomeranged resulting in their defeat. Prudence  demanded that  they should have accepted the decision of the battle field.

Lamenting on this loss of opportunity, P N Bazaz, a pro-independence Kashmiri leader writes,” The stupidity of Pakistani leaders in despatching unruly tribesmen  to invade Kashmir , combined to compel the hesitant Maharaja to hastily take a decision favouring the State’s future affliation with India.” (Kashmir in Crucible p x)

On the battle front the advance of Indian troops was halted by the untimely acceptance of ceasefire by both the countries which meant that India could not effectively complete total evacuation of the territory occupied by Pakistan later surreptitiously rechristened as ‘Azad Kashmir’. D N Raina , a reputed journalist writes that , ” A little statesmanship on the part of Pt Nehru at that crucial time could have saved Kashmir from being partitioned and also spared India thousands of men of the Armed forces and billions of rupees which had to be sunk in later years. (Unhappy Kashmir; The Hidden Story p 36)

Thus were born two Kashmirs , The Indian Administered Kashmir (IAK) and The Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) as they are called internationally,with a thin porous line of control in between which separated people related by blood but allowed exchange of narcotics, liquor,  arms and ammunition.

2 thoughts on “Kashmir-The Dramatic Accession

  1. One thing needs to be clarified whether or not it was per chance that existing cease fire line marks end of Kashmiri speaking area ,Kashmiri culture &cold climate and perhaps upto this area of Kashmir Valley Shiekh Abdullah had his political influence.From Uri onwards or Titwal onwards there is almost Punjabi climate as well as culture where Shiekh had almost no influence.

    • There have been speculations on the subject. Some people feel that Sheikh Abdullah feared the leadership that had emanated among Muslims in parts other than the valley who had become more vocal and influential among muslims and had the potential to destroy the secular fabric in the state besides challenge his leadership by whipping up communal passions. Therefore, he was more than happy in Nehru accepting truce at positions which later came to be known as the line of control so that the other non-Kashmiri leaders as also Moulvi Yusuf Shah, who opted to go to PAK, remain across such line of control and their influence is nullified tactically. These, however, are surmises only and cannot be verified. Fact remains that in such a turbulent time with common Muslim sentiment dragged on one side by Pan-Islamic dream and on the other side by Sheikh Abdullah’s dream of Naya Kashmir, decisions had to be taken which would stop further blood shed on account of partition of the country, assuage the feelings of various communities affected, and also face the hostile international community.

Comments are closed.