FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
The forgotten war in Jammu and Kashmir
Posted:Dec 31, 2015
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Praveen Davar
 
The 50th anniversary of the 1965 India-Pakistan war was observed in a befitting manner by the Indian defence forces this year. Six years from now it will be the 50th anniversary of the 1971 war which most likely will be celebrated on a much bigger scale as it was the country's greatest military victory ever. Unfortunately, however, the war which gave us the state of Jammu and Kashmir, though truncated, is all but forgotten.
 
The day India became free on August 15, 1947, the state, like Hyderabad and Junagadh, and unlike over 500 other princely states, had not acceded to either India or Pakistan. Its maharaja, Hari Singh, was reluctant to join either of the dominions and wished to keep his state independent. Anticipating a threat from Pakistan, prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote to Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in September to prevail upon Hari Singh to release Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who, as leader of a popular rising against the maharaja, had been imprisoned by him. Nehru felt that without the cooperation of Abdullah, who had the full support of the people, the state administration would not be able to meet Pakistan's imminent threat. It will also facilitate Kashmir's accession to India.
 
On October 22, 1947, over 5,000 tribesmen, with weapons and transport supplied by the Pakistani Army, entered Kashmir and seized Muzaffarabad, Domel and Uri and surged towards Srinagar. Two days later, the maharaja offered to accede to India and asked for immediate military assistance. V.P. Menon, secretary in the ministry of states, flew to Jammu and got the instrument of succession signed by the maharaja on October 26. The emergency meeting of the Defence Committee comprising Nehru, Patel and defence minister Baldev Singh, despite initial resistance from Lord Mountbatten, its chairman, ordered troops to the Valley to evict the invaders.
 
Operation J&K commenced at first light on the morning of October 27. One after another more than a hundred planes, both civilian (BOAC) and military (RIAF), flew out of Safdarjung Airport, ferrying weapons, rations and troops of the Sikh regiment led by Lt Col Ranjit Rai who was one of the first soldiers to sacrifice his life, but not before his unit had succeeded in establishing a bridgehead on the Baramulla-Srinagar road which halted the invasion and saved Srinagar.
 
On hearing that Indian troops had landed in Srinagar, Pakistani governor general Mohammad Ali Jinnah ordered General Douglas Gracy, acting chief of the Pakistan Army (both India and Pakistan had British officers in top echelons), to move his troops into Kashmir on the Rawalpindi-Srinagar road towards the Banihal pass and cut off Kashmir from Jammu and the rest of India. Fortunately for India, Gracy refused. He did so at the behest of Mountbatten and Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck (the Supreme Commander of both Indian and Pakistani armies).
 
Mountbatten and his chief of staff, General Hastings Ismay, flew to Lahore on  November 1. They spent over three hours with Jinnah discussing Junagadh, Hyderabad, and Kashmir. When Mountbatten suggested impartial plebiscites the Quaid-e-Azam spurned the proposal.
 
On November 8, Nehru wrote to his Pakistani counterpart, Liaquat Ali, enumerating India's proposals: Pakistan should publicly compel the raiders to withdraw; India would withdraw its troops as soon as the raiders withdrew and law and order was restored; both governments should make a joint request to the UN to hold a plebiscite at the earliest.
 
By mid-November Indian forces had retaken Uri and secured the Valley. The invaders had, however, continued their advance in the Poonch and Mirpur areas. With the assistance of the local rebels they had captured Bhimbar, Rajouri and Rawalakot. They now posed a serious threat to the state forces' garrisons in Mirpur, Kotli, Poonch and Naushera. In Gilgit the Scouts, led by a British officer, staged a coup and declared their allegiance to Pakistan. On December 24, Indian forces at Jhangar were evicted by a determined attack. The raiders now had a free run of the road connecting Mirpur-Jhangar-Kotli-Poonch.
 
Nehru  and his senior colleagues decided that if Uri fell, Indian forces would have to enter Pakistan. Nehru directed the army chief to be prepared for every contingency and to be prepared soon. He intended to adopt two parallel courses of action: reference to the UN, and "complete military preparations to meet any possible contingency". Over the next couple of days, Naushera held and there was no imminent danger to Uri. By the end of December there was no pressing need for an attack into Pakistan.
 
Later India's military position had improved. Jhangar was captured in March 1948 and Rajouri taken next. By early March the threat to the lines of communication from Jammu to Naushera was neutralized. Indian forces were now poised for the "spring offensive".
 
On May 18, India launched a two-pronged offensive: one along the Uri-Domel road, the other towards Tithwal and thence to Muzaffarbad and Domel. The presence of Pakistani forces blunted the offensive by early June. The only significant success was the capture of Tithwal.
 
Having closely examined the situation Nehru concluded that the only practical solution was a compromise "on the basis of the ... existing military situation" (meaning thereby the partition of the state). Patel concurred.
 
The army concentrated on limited offensives in the Ladakh and Jammu sectors. By the end of November 1948 Indian forces recaptured Dras and Kargil, securing the route from the valley to Ladakh. Simultaneously they took Mendhar and linked up with the Poonch garrison, so lifting the year-long siege. Having fully secured Ladakh and Rajouri Poonch India accepted ceasefire for which international pressure had been building up and could not be resisted any longer. The guns fell silent on the last night of 1948 and ceasefire became effective from January 1, 1949.
 
India agreed to a plebiscite subject to certain very specific conditions, the most important of which was that Pakistan should withdraw all its troops and vacate the entire territory of the former princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. This Pakistan refused to do and still refuses to do.
 
The partition of Jammu and Kashmir, proposed by Nehru in 1948, and again put forward by Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his premiership half a century later, remains the only lasting solution for durable peace in the subcontinent.
 
(Praveen Davar, an ex Indian Army officer, is a member of the National Commission for Minorities. He can be contacted at praveendavar@gmail.com)
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
  Nearly 58 per cent of the about 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children who suffer from severe malnutrition, a UN report released said.
 
read-more
A unique and passionate gathering of acrophiles, or mountain lovers, took place in neat and picturesque Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state in north-eastern India in September.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
With over 100 incidents of braid chopping reported in different parts of Kashmir, there is widespread fear and anger among the people.
 
read-more
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the first three quarters of 2017, an increase of 0.2 percent above that of the corresponding period of last year.
 
read-more
As political roller coasters go, there is none as steep and unpredictable as the one shared by the United States and Iran.
 
read-more
In West Asia, the end of one war paves the way for the next. Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), has fallen to a coalition of rebels, the Syrian Democratic Forces that is backed by the United States.
 
read-more
On “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century”
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive