War of 1947 was manipulated Print
Written by Sandhya Jain   
Thursday, 10 January 2013 00:00

[From Niti Central]: Excerpt from below: "In his book, Jammu & Kashmir, The Blunders & Way Out, Prof. Bhim Singh of the Panther’s Party charged that the most strategic areas of the State were allowed to be lost because Sheikh Abdullah did not want them. In the original kingdom, the Kashmiri-speaking population comprised only 21 per cent. He wanted it to be the majority – a very British inspiration, one may add."

War of 1947 was manipulated

Maharaja Hari Singh’s agony over the conduct of the war to liberate the invaded territories in 1947 raises serious questions about Delhi’s intentions towards the kingdom and people of Jammu and Kashmir. Did a core leadership in the Congress and native Indian bureaucracy have a secret understanding with the British regarding ‘sacrifice’ of a region contiguous to Pakistan and desired by the British to oversee Soviet Russia and its satellites in the looming Cold War? Scholars must examine the matter in view of new facts coming to light, beginning with the decision to retain Louis Mountbatten as first Governor General of India, when Mohammad Ali Jinnah, to whom the British gifted a new country, gave him the boot.

The modern kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir emerged when Gulab Singh, the Dogra general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, became ruler of Jammu region in 1820. By 1850, Gulab Singh had settled the boundaries of the kingdom as they existed till 1947 when Pakistan attacked. Sadly, India’s new rulers subverted General KM Cariappa’s efforts to liberate the areas seized by Pakistan and allowed Gilgit to fall by November 1947. Mirpur fell the same month.

The invasion began on October 21-22, 1947. Muzaffarabad was quickly seized and Uri invaded. The Maharaja’s army had just 12 battalions with 12,000 soldiers and some officers, and a 700 km-long border to defend. Hari Singh decided to personally lead the defence of his beleaguered kingdom, but was dissuaded by his army chief, Brigadier Rajinder Singh, who was then deployed with just 125 soldiers on October 24, 1947, to stop the enemy at Baramulla at all costs, ‘to the last man and last bullet’, a command he followed in letter and spirit.

Citizens must ask why the Defence Committee chaired by Louis Mountbatten rejected Hari Singh’s call for help on October 25, and wasted valuable time sending VP Menon, Secretary, States Ministry, to Srinagar without the Accession document. There, realising the gravity of the situation, Menon urged Hari Singh to leave for Jammu and softened him regarding Sheikh Abdullah who was extremely hostile towards the king. On October 26 Menon returned to Jammu with the Instrument of Accession, which the king signed. The Indian Army landed in Srinagar on October 27. Anywhere in the world a commander-in-chief conducting a high-stakes war in such cavalier fashion would be court-martialled. But Congress allowed Mountbatten to lead it by the nose to ignominy and defeat.

Most of the Jammu province fell to Pakistan after October 27, 1947. In Kashmir, barring Muzaffarabad, all occupied areas were freed by November 10, 1947. Inexplicably, on January 1, 1948, India approached the UN Security Council with a complaint against Pakistan, instead of liberating all occupied areas, a decision that deserves critical scrutiny by scholars. To his credit, Sardar Patel realised grave blunders were being committed regarding this strategic State but was powerless to turn the tide and went along with Nehru’s disastrous decisions, including personally compelling Hari Singh on May 1, 1949, to make a ‘temporary exit’ from the State and appoint Yuvraj Karan Singh as Regent. Eventually, the monarchy was crudely terminated through a legally questionable resolution moved by DP Dhar in the nominated Constituent Assembly of the State on August 20, 1952.

While still in the State, however, Hari Singh wrote to Sardar Patel on January 31, 1948, expressing dismay at the army operations. In Mirpur district, he noted, the State forces held Mangla and the territory along the Jhelum Canal bank when the Indian Army arrived. But in the past two months, Mangla, Alibeg, Gurudwara, Mirpur town, Bhimber town, the villages of Deva and Battala, Rajouri town and the whole area adjoining Chhamb, and Nowshera were lost. Then, Jhangar, a key place for Mirpur and Kotli, was lost.

These defeats, Hari Singh lamented, hurt him badly but also undermined the prestige of the Indian Army which had so far not recovered a single town. Enemy attacks had intensified on the Kathua-Sialkot border, and everyday villages were being burnt, people looted, women abducted, crops lost. There were nearly 80,000 refugees in the city of Jammu.

Poonch and Rajouri remained under siege for one year. The heroic resistance of the J&K Army’s Brigadier Pritam Singh, Col. Hiranand Dubey, Captain Dewan Singh, and local leaders saved the day. But Bagh, Rawalakote and other areas west of Poonch town were lost. In his book, Jammu & Kashmir, The Blunders & Way Out, Prof. Bhim Singh of the Panther’s Party charged that the most strategic areas of the State were allowed to be lost because Sheikh Abdullah did not want them. In the original kingdom, the Kashmiri-speaking population comprised only 21 per cent. He wanted it to be the majority – a very British inspiration, one may add.

Cariappa was ordered to stop the liberation campaign at Teetwal after the Army recaptured Uri town, and abandon attempts to liberate highly sensitive zones in Uri and Karnah – precisely the places of repeated encounters with Pakistan forces to this day.

Thus, non-Kashmiris were kept out of J&K and one-third of the State (PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan, Mirpur, Kotli, Muzaffarabad) axed out of its geographical boundaries. This suited British strategic interests and helped entrench the Abdullah dynasty in the State. Sheikh did not want Ladakh and Jammu either, but Delhi could not go that far.

In all this misadventure, Louis Mountbatten was Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and Governor-General of India, and Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army! He must legitimately be viewed as the kingpin of the State’s tragedy.

Continuing Anglo-American designs, the Security Council sent Frank Graham and Owen Dixon to Kashmir to find a ‘working situation’ after Pakistan refused to withdraw from POK and Gilgit. He proposed a buffer State of Greater Kashmir comprising the Kashmir Valley and Muslim majority areas of Jammu province (north of the Chenab). Congress dared not support it then, but the formula keeps reappearing as Chenab formula, Musharraf formula, and is a Track II favourite.

J&K’s travails did not end here. In 1965, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri inexplicably surrendered the strategic Haji Pir Pass to Ayub Khan at Tashkent. In 1971, India surrendered Chhamb at Shimla. It transpired that Indira Gandhi’s principal secretary PN Dhar was abruptly shunted out of Shimla and the disastrous accord sealed. We must uncover the truth about what transpired in Shimla.

The worst is New Delhi’s silence when China seized 5000 square miles of territory in the Karakoram from Pakistan in 1963 to build a highway from Beijing to Peshawar, in violation of UN Resolutions. Perhaps Nehru quailed after the stunning debacle of 1962. But sovereign nations cannot conduct statecraft in such lackadaisical fashion. We must get to the bottom of the matter.

(Image courtesy: Broadlands archives)