Kashmir _ Bitter Chill of Winter

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Nagraj, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

    Jan 7, 2011
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    Meanwhile, something had to be done about Kashmir. There was unrest in the Army and even secular politicians felt that Kashmir, as a Muslim state, should form part of Pakistan. The Maharaja had begun to negotiate secretly with India and a desperate Jinnah decided to authorise a military operation in defiance of the British High Command. Pakistan would advance into Kashmir and seize Srinagar. Jinnah nominated a younger colleague from the Punjab, Sardar Shaukat Hyat Khan, to take charge of the operation.

    Shaukat had served as a captain during the war and spent several months in an Italian POW camp. On his return he had resigned his commission and joined the Muslim League. He was one of its more popular leaders in the Punjab, devoted to Jinnah, extremely hostile to Liaquat, whom he regarded as an arriviste, and keen to earn the title of ‘Lion of the Punjab’ that was occasionally chanted in his honour at public meetings. An effete and vainglorious figure, easily swayed by flattery, Shaukat was a chocolate-cream soldier. It was the unexpected death of his father, the elected Prime Minister of the old Punjab, that had brought him to prominence. He was not one of those people who rise above their own shortcomings in a crisis. I knew him well: he was my uncle. To his credit, however, he argued against the use of irregulars and wanted the operation to be restricted to retired or serving military personnel. He was overruled by the Prime Minister, who insisted that his loud-mouthed protégé, Khurshid Anwar, take part in the operation. Anwar, against all military advice, enlisted Pathan tribesman in the cause of jihad. Two extremely able brigadiers, Akbar Khan and Sher Khan from the 6/13th Frontier Force Regiment (‘Piffers’ to old India hands), were selected to lead the assault.

    The invasion was fixed for 9 September 1947, but it had to be delayed for two weeks: Khurshid Anwar had chosen the same day to get married and wanted to go on a brief honeymoon. In the meantime, thanks to Anwar’s lack of discretion, a senior Pakistani officer, Brigadier Iftikhar, heard what was going on and passed the news to General Messervy, the C-in-C of the Pakistan Army. He immediately informed Auchinleck, who passed the information to Mountbatten, who passed it to the new Indian Government. Using the planned invasion as a pretext, the Congress sent Nehru’s deputy, Sardar Patel, to pressure the Maharaja into acceding to India, while Mountbatten ordered Indian Army units to prepare for an emergency airlift to Srinagar.

    Back in Rawalpindi, Anwar had returned from his honeymoon and the invasion began. The key objective was to take Srinagar, occupy the airport and secure it against the Indians. Within a week the Maharaja’s army had collapsed. Hari Singh fled to his palace in Jammu. The 11th Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army had by now reached Srinagar, but was desperately waiting for reinforcements and didn’t enter the town. The Pathan tribesman under Khurshid Anwar’s command halted after reaching Baramulla, only an hour’s bus ride from Srinagar, and refused to go any further. Here they embarked on a three-day binge, looting houses, assaulting Muslims and Hindus alike, raping men and women and stealing money from the Kashmir Treasury. The local cinema was transformed into a rape centre; a group of Pathans invaded St Joseph’s Convent, where they raped and killed four nuns, including the Mother Superior, and shot dead a European couple sheltering there. News of the atrocities spread, turning large numbers of Kashmiris against their would-be liberators. When they finally reached Srinagar, the Pathans were so intent on pillaging the shops and bazaars that they overlooked the airport, already occupied by the Sikhs.

    The Maharaja meanwhile signed the accession papers in favour of India and demanded help to repel the invasion. India airlifted troops and began to drive the Pakistanis back. Sporadic fighting continued until India appealed to the UN Security Council, which organised a ceasefire and a Line of Control (LOC) demarcating Indian and Pakistan-held territory.[*] Kashmir, too, was now partitioned. The leaders of the Kashmir Muslim Conference shifted to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, leaving Sheikh Abdullah in control of the valley itself.

    Here is the complete article.

    Tariq Ali · Bitter Chill of Winter: Kashmir · LRB 19 April 2001
    it's an interesting read!
    one caveat though it's bit too long.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
    maomao likes this.

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