“Anyway, we were flown in. We went to Srinagar. We went to the palace. I have never seen such disorganisation in my life. The Maharaja was running about from one room to the other. I have never seen so much jewellery in my life — pearl necklaces, ruby things, lying in one room; packing here, there, everywhere. There was a convoy of vehicles.
The Maharaja was coming out of one room, and going into another saying, ‘Alright, if India doesn’t help, I will go and join my troops and fight (it) out’.
I couldn’t restrain myself, and said, ‘That will raise their morale sir’. Eventually, I also got the military situation from everybody around us, asking what the hell was happening, and discovered that the tribesmen were about seven or nine kilometres from what was then that horrible little airfield.”
So, the tribals only 9 miles away, under immense pressure, the Raja Signed the papers of accession. Kashmir was India’s now. And with those papers, V.P. Menon and Shaw left for Delhi 3 o’ clock in morning. The Maharaja then moved down to his winter palace in Jammu, a 17 hours’ journey. The exhausted King, before going to sleep, told his ADC, “ Wake me up only if Menon returns from Delhi, because that will mean India has decided to come to my rescue. If he does not come before dawn, shoot me in my sleep….because if he hasn’t arrived, it will mean all is lost.”
“At the morning meeting he ( Menon) handed over the (Accession) thing. Mountbatten turned around and said, ‘ come on Manekji (He called me Manekji instead of Manekshaw), what is the military situation?’ I gave him the military situation, and told him that unless we flew in troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport and Srinagar, we couldn’t fly troops in. Everything was ready at the airport.
As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper.
He said, ‘Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away’. He (Nehru) said,’ Of course, I want Kashmir (emphasis in original).
Then he (Patel) said ‘Please give your orders’. And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said, ‘You have got your orders’.”
After getting the order by Patel, on behalf of Nehru of course, Menon rushed to Jammu. The Maharaja would not die of a bullet in his brain.And then the civilian aircrafts gathered by Mountbatten came into action.
More next time….
( Sam ‘Bahadur’ Monekshaw later Became the first Field Marshal of India an led India to victory in 1971 war)