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Kashmir 1947 Transition from Mid to Third week of October

Sardar Patel, contrary to the take of many for not having been overtly enthusiastic like Nehru to claim Kashmir, was nevertheless covertly involved and with a telling effect, his moves from Mid-September to Mid-October could be counted as:

a. Sending Lt. Col Katoch as adviser, while acting on 13th September request of Maharaja's state government, a request passed on favourably to Defense Minister, Baldev Singh

b. Arranging for the provision of one civilian aircraft [from Dalmia Jain Airways, presumably a DC 3] to run a special service between Delhi and Srinagar.28th. September

c. Supplying wireless equipment to assist all-weather operations at Srinagar airport, to which supply flights could now begin to take in loads of arms and ammunition to J&K state forces from Indian stocks (which so soon after Second World War were indeed massive).Ist. October

d. Preparations are afoot for more effective telegraphic communication between India and Jammu and Srinagar

e. Improvement of the road from Indian Punjab border near Madhopur to Jammu by Indian Army engineers and a pontoon bridge over Ravi leading to Kathua

f. Mid October-sending actual troops as well as arms and equipment from Patiala state army [published Patiala sources suggest the intervention took place at a personal request from Nehru to Maharaja Yadavindra Singh

These moves are noted in Alistair Lamb's [Birth of tragedy-Kashmir 1947-pages 71/72]

Lamb makes a case, whatever its credence that Patiala State Army was at this time legally part of Armed Forces of the Indian Union [page: 71] hence by implication its dispatch amounted to direct intervention, which India has never accepted, it did before signing of accession that Indian records claim was done on 26th October. That Patiala State forces were in J&K State is based on documented evidence, but if they were a part of Indian Armed Forces, then why did Nehru have to request Maharaja of Patiala, for releasing them in order to help J&K State Forces, unless there was in fact a provision that their deployment would have had to be wetted by Maharaja Yadavindra Singh? Lamb quotes published Patiala papers as evidence, which suggest personal request to Maharaja of Patiala by Nehru, though he calls the papers 'heavily doctored to accord with chronology of established Indian mythology' [page: 71] by saying that, Lamb yet again seems to suggest, sticking to traditional Indian position of absolute non-intervention before signing of accession on 26th October

One Patiala infantry battalion was posted in Jammu, a mountain artillery battery reached outskirts of Srinagar airfield and yet another, which Lamb makes out to be a probability, was sent forward along JV Road to the neighbourhood of Uri, where it stood in reserve behind 4th J&K Rifles guarding the two major points of access to this road from Pakistan. The deployment was completed by 18th of October [page: 71]. The Patiala troop movements have absorbed the interest of all analysts and writers, who have recorded the events in their narratives. The Pakistani accounts painting it in dark colours to counter Indian pre 26th October non intervention diplomatic insistence, with Indian writers out to de-link Patiala Forces from Indian forces and the impartial balanced reports quoting sources from both sides and leaning to one side or the other, with some like Lamb making out that Indian High Command [read that of Armed Forces] still British dominated unlikely to notice the movements of odd Patiala unit [page: 71] thus absolving Britishers who stayed back post 15th August to head the armed forces on any responsibility, at this stage. Later however the advice from high sounding British top brass in Indian Army was coming forth, withstanding the British stiff upper lip. On the contrary, the likes of General Gracy heading the Pakistan Army refused to intervene, on the plea of not being seen as partisans. This is one factor that strikes not only the interested analysts, but even the casual reader, as narrative after narrative of Kashmir-1947 is scrutinized, more on that later, as we get to the thick of the third week confrontation. We may now switch back to the ground situation in Srinagar, as Mid-October evolved to third week of October.

Col. Shah, the Pakistani envoy was rushing from pillar to post in Srinagar in Mid-October, with no takers for what he had to say or propose. Notes Owen Bennet Jones in his narrative [Pakistan-Eye of the storm-Yale University/ 2002 & Penguin/2005 publication - Page: 67] "Indeed given the fact that maharaja felt he was facing a Pakistan-backed rebellion in Poonch, he didn't even want to meet the envoy from Karachi." To that Jones, the long time BBC's point man in Pakistan adds, "While Pakistan was becoming the maharaja's enemy, the Indians continued their efforts to be seen as friends." At this stage Jinnah got into the act with a 18th October missive to Srinagar for diplomatic efforts to get out of the impasse, but it was too late. Dogra Durbar had by then turned into pro-Indian bazaar, where anything Delhi wanted could be purchased and it was a closed shop for Karachi based tottering Pakistan trying frenetically to establish a state, where none existed just two months back. It had all the elements of frenetic activity-anxious, worried, hysterical, reckless, mad and crazy work-up. In fact it was known as 'Langda [Lame] Pakistan'-a state with doubtful chances of survival as a nation-state. In such a state, to expect a major diplomatic drive or a decisive military thrust could be constructed to asking for the moon! The officials in various ministries, set-up frenetically did not have even the chairs to sit on, no tables on which to work, the various government departments were not even properly housed. Such a state of affairs could hardly be conducive to claim a strategic asset like J&K State, which provided a huge defense barrier virtually at no cost in terms of what a state needs to guard itself, geopolitically. Pakistani historian Hasan Zaheer sums it up amply: "The Muslim League leadership, overwhelmed by the issues arising from the creation of the new state, did not apply itself seriously to the Kashmir situation in the period preceding independence day, while India was systemically working at securing the accession of the state by any means" [Hasan Zaheer - The Rawalpindi Conspiracy-1951-Oxford University Press, Karachi 1998 - Page: 63-quoted also on page65 of Jone's narrative].

While Pakistan was in such a state of disarray, a ragtag force-poor in planning and as seen later in execution too compared to organized moves of Delhi-pre or post 26th October was gathering momentum in Jhelum Valley. By 20th October, notes Qudratullah Shohab [Shohab Nama - Page: 382] 'In the forests between Abbotabad and Muzzafarabad, thousands from the tribes of Mahsoodi, Afridi, Mohamind gathered to constitute a huge force, looked after by Khan Khushdal Khan of Mardan and the command of this force was assumed by Major Khurshid Anwar-a retired Indian Army Officer, who was also the commander of Pakistan Muslim League National Guard'. There were others, notes Shohab "from Dogra forces stationed in Lohar Gali and Ram Koot, which had some Muslim officers-prominently Captain Sher Khan, who established secret contact with Major Khurshid Anwar and planned the take over of Muzzafarabad and bridges over Kishan Ganga, Domail and Kohala. Another retired officer of state forces-Major M. Aslam Khan got involved". Regarding organisation of this force, Shohab notes that Jhelum valley residents' combination was named 'Mujahideen Home Front' and there was a 'Hyderi Column' a neo-military combination of volunteers getting training in guerilla warfare. Sonauulah, Mohd.Iqbal and Abdul Rashid along with a few women underground workers find space in Shohab's account, as the ones who made attempts to distribute arms in Srinagar, but a few of them were caught. The valley it seems was not prepared for an arms struggle, in 1965 too, there was no positive response to take up arms. That got reversed in 1989, however the effect didn't sustain for long, it happened sooner than expected-farewell to arms, the problem though looms large!

1947 tangle started with 'Transfer of Power' as per the act power was transferred to two dominions-India and Pakistan and one of its key clauses 'Lapse of Paramouncy' [according to which on the 'Paramount' power Britain ceasing the over lordship of 600 odd Indian States, the States had to accede to one of the dominions-India or Pakistan] the act proper and its key clause was made much more palatable to Indians. In the final analysis, Pakistanis were left with a bitter taste in their mouth. Some analysts believe, with some justification perhaps that India being the major South Asian power got trusted to shoulder greater responsibility for regional and global geopolitical reasons, but the consideration weighty though left some questions un-answered-chiefly Kashmir, in the fond hope, that time will settle it-it hasn't, hence the stalemate!

As we move into the third week, God willing Monday next, we would get to see how the dominions of India and Pakistan went headlong into a conflict, the resolution of which six decades hence defies them, withstanding their willingness or the lack of it to attempt it, knowing fully well that this might constitute the most important step, if not the only one to put the subcontinent on the road to peace-peace which has been elusive so far!

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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