BHARAT DARSHAN – REVISITING KASHMIR WAR 1947-48
The landmass that we call ‘INDIA’ has its own history. It moved across ocean to join Laurasia, a historical event that created Himalaya Mountain range. Man has no right to create political boundaries and establish his domain in Earthly realm. In fact, God, the LORD Creator is true owner of Land, Sea, and Air. Man cannot rule or govern his own body for the cells of his body enjoy cellular autonomy. Having said this, I submit, Republic of India’s duty demands defense of Indian Landmass from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to preserve its historical identity.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162 USA
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
IN 1947, INDIA DELIBERATELY LET MUZAFFARABAD GO: LT. GEN(RETD.) S K SINHA
Published on February 01, 2016.
IN 1947, INDIA DELIBERATELY LET MUZAFFARABAD GO: LT. GEN(RETD.) S K SINHA
Former Governor of Jammu & Kashmir Lt Gen(Retd) S K Sinha was among the first Armymen of the Indian Army to enter Kashmir on 27 October 1947. As a Major he was assigned the plan to plan and oversee the conduct of operations and also given the task of controlling airlift of troops from Delhi to Srinagar. Hence he is not only an eyewitness of the political and war happenings of 1947, but also performed an important role to shape them.
Q. As an Army officer, in which areas you remained posted and for how long?
A. From 1947 to 1949 I was posted with Tactical Headquarters Western Command, first at Jammu and then Srinagar when Lt Gen KM Carriappa took over as Army Commander from Lt Gen Sir Dudley Russell in January 1948. During this period I accompanied the Army Commander visiting forward areas where battles were taking place both in Jammu and in the Valley.
I remained in Kashmir from 1947 to 1949 when cease fire came into effect on 1st January 1949. I returned to Delhi in 1949 and periodically visited Jammu and Kashmir on tour with successive Army Commanders as part of normal duty as GSO 2 (Operations). In July 1949 I went to Karachi as Secretary of Indian delegation to delineate the Cease Fire line in Kashmir.
My total tenure in Jammu and Kashmir during my Army career was 10 years. As a Company Commander I served on a piquet in Gurez Valley, then in Jammu for three years, then three years in Ladakh as a Battalion Commander and after a few years as a Maj Gen commanding a Division in Akhnoor for one year. Subsequently after a long gap I got opportunity to serve people of J&K again when I was Governor of the State for five years from 2003 to 2008.
Q. What date and time you landed in Kashmir?
A. I landed at Srinagar grass landing ground at about noon on 27 October 1947. It was actually an airstrip amid a grassland made for personal plane of the Maharaja. I returned to Delhi later in the afternoon on that very date.
Q. What was your age at the time?
A. I was 21 years 10 months old.
Q. Tell something about your company/regiment and what was your rank?
A. I was in the rank of Major serving in the newly raised Headquarters Delhi and East Punjab Command (later Headquarters Western Command). I was GSO 2 (Operations) in Command with a skeleton staff of only 12 officers with rest all British. Lt Gen Sir Dudley Russel was the Army Commander. At that time both Indian and Pakistan Armies had number of British Officers serving in the two Armies, most of them in India were in the process of departing. The two Armies then had separate British Chiefs. No British Officer of either Army was allowed to visit Kashmir theatre for obvious reasons. Lt Gen Russell asked me to act as his eyes and ears. My responsibility in my appointment was to plan and oversee the conduct of operations as directed by my British superiors. I was also given the task of controlling airlift of troops from Safdarjang airport to Srinagar in requisitioned civilian Dakotas.
Q. Those days what was the number of soldiers flown to Srinagar?
A. We flew in 800 sorties of Dakotas in 15 days. 5000 troops with stores and equipments were flown into last the winter. I was shuttling between Delhi and Srinagar, often overstaying nights in Srinagar. On the first day we could fly in only 12 sorties due to non availability of aircraft. On 27 October 1947 our total strength in Srinagar was 600 troops and the enemy was reported to be 5000 to 10000 led by Maj Gen Akbar Khan of Pakistan Army.
Q. If Indian Army’s was lesser in number than raiders, then why didn’t they succeed to capture Srinagar?
A. They were engaged in rape, massacre and loot in Baramulla. Thus they lost the opportunity of capturing Srinagar which had no defences at that time. This is narrated by Maj Gen Akbar Khan in his book Raiders over Kashmir and also by me in my book Operation Rescue written in 1952.
Q. Where you went after landing?
A. As I said earlier that on 27 October 1947 I was at Srinagar landing ground for only a couple of hours. On the second day I went to Pattan where our troops had withdrawn after contacting the enemy at Baramulla. Lt Col Dewan Ranjit Rai, commanding the first lot of troops was killed at Baramulla after contact with the enemy.
Q. Who were the local Kashmiris you met and what did they say?
A. On first few days I met only local civilians wanting to sell apples in packed boxes at the airport at distress rates to be taken to Delhi in returning empty Dakotas. After a couple of days when we had withdrawn further from Pattan to Shelatang on the outskirts of Srinagar and the front had been stabilised I had to go to Srinagar city on 5 or 6 November 1947. There was no habitation between the landing ground and Zero bridge at that time. I met National Conference workers with lathis in their hands shouting the slogan Hamlewar Hoshiyar, Hum Kashmiri Hindu, Sikh, Muslman tyar. There was no communal tension nor communal violence in Srinagar when the rest of the Sub Continent was caught in the Partition holocaust. The Maharaja and senior officials had fled to Jammu.
Q. Is it true that there was resistance by some locals so army convoys on way to Uri hoisted Pakitani flags on the vehicles?
A. This is utter nonsense and total false propaganda. The only people we encountered between Baramulla and Uri were withdrawing enemy forces in disarray. At Baramulla, on 7 November 1947, we saw the body of Maqbool Sherwani nailed to a Cross just ahead of the Baramulla Convent. There were bodies of Nurses from the hospital in the well and also that of Lt Col Dikes and his wife who had come to Baramulla for a holiday from Naushera in Pakistan. The first notable Kashmiri I happened to meet was Sheikh Abdullah who had just been appointed Administrator of Jammu and Kashmir.
Q. There was killing of civilians by Army at Ram Bagh? Why did army fire on civilian?
A. I am not aware of this incident and I doubt the veracity of this.
Q. Its said that Nehru has said or written in some book that India had asked its Army not to cross Uri. Is it true?
A. I am not aware of it. What I know is that on 14 November 1947 when we reached Uri, our Army Commander, Lt Gen Sir Dudley Russell recommended to Army Headquarters at Delhi that we should pursue the fleeing enemy to Muzafarabad and seal the two bridges at Domel and Kohala and completely clear the Valley of the enemy. The British Military leadership at Delhiu comprised Mountbatten, the Viceroy, General Sir Rob Lockhart, the Army Chief and Lt Gen Sir Archibald Nye, British High Commissioner at Delhi. I believe they advised Nehru that advance to Muzaffarabad may lead to a full blown war between two Commonwealth countries, India and Pakistan. The United Nations was seized of the Kashmir problem and will resolve the issue peacefully. We also heard that Sheikh Abdullah for political reasons did not want the Army to proceed to Muzafarabad because that was a non Kashmiri speaking region where he did not have much political following.
Q. What directions where you given in the field?
A. In the field we got orders not to advance beyond Uri and instead proceed South to Poonch where 30000 Hindu and Sikh refugees were besieged by the enemy forces.
Q. In your view, if Army was allowed to proceed ahead of Uri, what would have happened?
A. Situation would have been totally different. We would have reached Muzaffarabad and cleared it of the attackers and taken it in our control. We were having a big battle advantage. Enemy was fleeing and we could have sealed the two important bridges of Domail and Kohala.
Not allowing its Army to go ahead of Uri chasing the enemy was a battle blunder of India. We lost an important opportunity. If Indian army was allowed to advance beyond Uri, then Muzaffarabad would not have been under control of Pakistan
Q. You have been an Army General. Why Army has failed to completely crush militancy in J&K?
A. In the old days armies of Atilla, Chingiz Khan or Timur did not allow militancy to erupt by carrying out wholesale massacres. No Army in the present age can completely crush militancy. The US failed to do so in Vietnam, Pakistan in Baluchistan, China in Tibet, French in Algeria and so on despite using air power, machine gun and artillery. There has not been a single instance in 25 years in which Indian Army has used any of these heavy weapons causing indiscriminate killing of civilians. Nawab Mohammad Bugti, the veteran separatist leader was killed in a well planned attack on his location by Pakistan Air Force while veteran Kashmiri separatist leader, refused visa for treatment by the US, had been provided best available medical treatment in Mumbai and recovered from serious complicated operations. No doubt there have been some serious cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir which are inevitable in such operations. The guilty have been proceeded against and till my time in Kashmir nearly one hundred Army personnel found guilty were dismissed and given prison sentences from 2 to 14 years depending upon the gravity of the crime. Most allegations against the Army were found false or exaggerated. The human rights record of the Indian Army in such operations has been much better than any other employed in such operations.
Q. What you think can be a possible solution to Kashmir issue?
A. Pakistan claims that Kashmir is its jugular vein and for India, Kashmir is its soul. India’s legal claim to Kashmir was recognized in the UN Resolution of 13 August 1948 which required Pakistan to withdraw all its forces from Kashmir and allowed to retain her forces till the plebiscite which was not allowed to be held by Pakistan. The Indian Parliament has passed a unanimous resolution to recover the whole of the Sate as it stood on 22 October 1947 without legal justification invaded Jammu and Kashmir. India has been repeatedly reiterating that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Notwithstanding all this, my own personal view is that we should recognize the LOC as international border and both sides develop cordial neighbourly relations. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto during Shimla Accord had given verbal assurance to that effect when the term Cease Fire Line was changed to Line of Control. The latter is more indicative of a permanent solution. The four point out of box solution proposed by Parvez Musharraf was also a move in that direction and so was the call of Atal Beharee Vajpayee to settle the Kashmir issue in Insaniyat Ke Daire Me.