( The Sikhs arrive..)
Sunday,26th of October, V.P. Menon returned from Jammu with Kashmir in his pocket. He handed over the paper to Symon, the English Commissioner and said jubilantly, “ Here it is, we have Kashmir. The bastard signed the act of accession. And now that we’ve got it, we’ll never let it go.
On the next day, 329 Sikhs of the First Sikh Regiment and eight tons of material landed by nine DC3 plane on a miraculously empty Srinagar airfield.
But why was the field empty when only a night ago the tribals were only 9 miles away?
Actually the Pathans took a halt at Barramula, 30 miles from Srinagar. They stopped to give vent to their ancient appetite for rape and blood. There was Convent in Barramula in which there were fourteen nuns. So all the Monday, while the Sikhs were busy securing the only airport of Kashmir, the Pathans were busy violating the nuns, killing the patients of that little convent, and looting the convent down to the last nail. The nuns died, but there sacrifice saved Kashmir for India.
By the time Pathans resumed their attacks, Kashmir was gone. Jinnah’s dream was destined to remain a dream. It rather turned into his worst nightmare. Gradually, 1,00,000 Indian soilders moved in to the valley…never to leave again. The battle that followed saw the martyrdom of India’s first Paramveer Chakra, Maj. Somnath Sharma. He took a very active part in directing the fire of his sections on to the ever-advancing enemy. He exposed himself to the full fury of the enemy’s fire and laid out air-strips in order to guide the aircraft on to the targets in full view of the enemy. Realising that casualties had affected the efficiency of his light automatics, this officer, whose right hand was in plaster, personally commenced filling LMG magazines and issuing them to LMG gunners. A mortar shell landing amongst his ammunition resulted in an explosion that killed him.
Yet another martyr was Brigadier Usman, better Known as ‘Naushera ka Sher’. He was offered the post of the Army Chief of Pakistan….but he refused and chose to stay in his mother land. Usman died in battele ground during full action. His sacrifice was the first blow on the Two Nation Theory which was the very basis of creation of Pakistan. He was awarded Mahaveer Chakra….and Nehru himself attended his funeral. It took nothing less than a howitzer shell (cannon ball…simply) to kill him.
Slowly, the Indian troops started repulsing the tribals. And thats where the Pakistan army stepped in. Pakistan decided to take action, but the Army Chief of Pakistan General Douglas Gracey did not send troops to the Kashmir front and refused to obey the order to do so given by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Governor-General of Pakistan. Jinnah seething with anger barked, “It’s a mutiny…”. The veteran of two World Wars, Gracey, replied calmly, “But Sir,…mutiny is too large a word to be used in a country like Pakistan”.
Gracey justified his insubordination by arguing that Indian forces occupying Kashmir represented the British Crown and hence he could not engage in a military encounter with Indian forces. Pakistan finally did manage to send troops to Kashmir but by then the Indian forces had taken control of approximately two thirds of the former principality.
Indian forces, by the fall of 1948, had pushed Pakistan upto Kargil. They had to stop due to supply problem. At this stage Nehru asked UN to intervene and work out a ceasefire. A ceasefire came in force on Jan 5, ’49. According to this, the line of control was to be treated as International boundary until a final solution is not worked out, Pakistan was to withdraw all the troops where as India was allowed to maintain a minimum amount of troops to keep law and order.
But the dream of Jinnah had backfired on him. His decision to send in the troops to the state allowed India to intervene and pressurize the Maharaja to accede Kashmir. Jinnah’s tactics made him loose Kashmir. They also left the two countries entangled in a conflict which would lead to another war in 1965.
After the ceasefire, the valley returned to its life. Tourists poured in, films of those time included scenes of Kashmir on a regular basis (remember Amitabh in Kabh Kabhi, his fur coat and the snow). But was this peace destined to last?
Or was it only a prelude to a storm….
We will see next time..