Invasion Of Jammu-Kashmir In 1947-48:  Conspiracy And Ethnic cleansing of Non-Muslims

Dr Ramesh Tamiri

Dr.Ramesh Tamiri unravels details about  the conspiracy and ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims in J&K in 1947-48. He presented these details as a part of the research paper in a National Symposium at Sri Nagar in October,2020

Background               

Jammu and Kashmir(  J&K) was part of Princely India under British colonial rule. Partition plan didn’t extend to the princely states. The ruler was given the choice to join either of the two dominions –India or Pakistan after lapse of British paramountacy.The problems arose in case of Hyderabad, Junagarh and J&K because the rulers in these states didn’t belong to the majority community of that  particular state.

J&K ruler, Maharaja  Hari Singh , delayed accession for two reasons.One,Pt.Nehru put a pre-condition that Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference should be included in the Govt. before accession document is signed.Maharaja had doubts over what role Sheikh Abdullah would play.He did not give any commitment on this. Second reason for the delay was  that he feared that his state would be used as a pawn for a compromise with Pakistan.His strategy was to wait   till  Junagarh and Hyderabad decided the issue. A section of Congress leadership also  gave him this advice.Pakistan’s strategy was to grab all the three states.

The Conspiracy:

Though publicly Pakistan took a stand  that only the ruler was entitled to decide the issue of accession but even as early as June 1947 it began conceiving plans to grab J&K by force. It is a misnomer to call Pakistan’s naked aggression against J&K in 1947 as ‘Tribal Raid.’ Pakistan  organized the invasion and directly supervised the  operations.

‘Operation  Gulmarg’

Major Onkar Singh Kalkat,who had opted for India and was awaiting repatriation, was posted at Bannu,NWFP.On 20 August 1947 he  stumbled upon a letter marked  ‘Personal/Top Secret.’ It was addressed to his Brigade Commander CP Murray, a British army officer, and signed by Gen.Frank Messervey, Chief of Staff of Pakistan army. Attached to the letter was was  a copy of the plan that Pakistan army had prepared for launching invasion against J&K.The plan code-named  ‘Operation Gulmarg’ envisaged  use of non-state actors- the  Pashtun tribesmen as footsoldiers for the attack. Each  tribe was asked to raise a Lashkar of 1000 persons.Deputy Commissioners   and Political agents were  to recruit these tribesmen. The Pathan officers from  the  Frontier Force Regiment were to function as commanders of the  tribal Lashkars. As per this plan all arms, ammunition and other requirements were to be moved to Abbotabad by 15 October.An area of 10 miles on outskirts of Abbotabad was marked for the invading force.Details of the Operation Gulmarg  summarised by Major Kalkat  are available in his memoir titled The Far Flung Frontiers.

As per this plan   separate lashkars were  allotted  for Abbotabad-Baramulla axis,Hajipur-Gulmarg axis ,Tithwal-Sopore-Bandipur axis   and Poonch-Bhimber-Rajouri – Rawalakot-Jammu axis.One Infantry Division was to be stationed at Muree  and another one  Brigade at Sialkot for back-up support.

Role of Col.Akbar Khan                      

Did Col.Akbar Khan,who was that  time Director of Weapons and Equipment GHQ Rawalpindi, have any role in framing of this plan as some suggest?No definite answers are available.In his separate plan which he prepared in second week of September 1947  on the  orders of Mian Iftikharuddin  he had kept no role  for Pashtun Lashkars. But then how he was to command the whole Lashkar force if he had no link with this plan? In the ‘Operation Gulmarg’ plan Col.Akbar Khan was  also to  organise ‘Azad army’ from deserters of State army.

Another confirmation that Pakistan had drafted a plan for invasion of J&K  state comes from Gen.Thimayya. In August 1947 he  had gone to Lahore to attend a meeting of the Boundary Force. He overheard Pakistani officers talking about stationing their respective regiments at Gulmarg and Pahalgam soon. About the same time two senior commanders of 11 Cavalry ( Frontier Force)were  asked   to participate in the task of Jehad-e-Fisabilillah ( ‘Freedom for Kashmir’).

Two Plans

There were two separate plans drafted for the attack on J&K. One was prepared at Peshawar and another one at Lahore.

Peshwar  Plan

This Plan was brain-child of NWFP Chief Minister, Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan. It assigned main role to tribal lashkars in the invasion. NWFP Governor Sir George Cunnigham  and senior  Britishers  serving in Pakistan army  were kept in the loop.

Lahore Plan

This plan was prepared by the   Ex- INA officer Col.Mohammad Zaman Kiani in consultation with  Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, a minister in West Punjab Govt. Former  INA officers: HR Rehman,Dara,Arshad,Buruhanuddin  Mulk and Habibur Rehman were assigned key role in this. Col.MZ Kiani talked about pincer attack from Kashmir and Jammu sides. His plan had three main features:

  1. Using Poonchi ex-servicemen as foot-soldiers for the invasion.2.Setting up internal  subversive network for attacks within Kashmir valley.3. Preventing  Indian reinforcements  from reaching  Kashmir by disruption of line of communication on  Pathankot-Jammu road.

Col.Akbar Khan’s plan ‘Armed Revolt inside Kashmir’ was not much different from Kiani Plan but it  stressed  inclusion of Mirpuris besides   the  Poonchis  in the invasion.

Chief Ministers   of NWFP and Punjab were directed  to enroll ex-servicemen from Poonch and Punjab to provoke large-scale  anti-state and communal  violence in Poonch and organize border raids from Kathua to Bhimber.

Recruitment of Pashtun Tribesmen

Major Khurshid Anwar,leader of Muslim League’s National Guards  and Pir Manki Sharif  extensively  toured NWFP  in second week of September 1947  to enroll  tribesmen for ‘Jihad.’ The  task  of  recruitment  and  arming  of tribesmen  was  handled  directly by  NWFP  Govt.

The cry of holy war-Jihad was raised. Incendiary speeches   were delivered  by motivators and organizers  to raise   raw communal passions  among  tribal lashkars. Special songs  were composed in a   mix of  Pashto and Hindko to  inflame sentiments  of tribesmen  drafted for  Kashmir invasion  and claim that it was a voluntary effort.

The tribal lashkars were told that their Muslim brethren in J&K were ‘slaves’ of Hindu Maharaja.It was said that neither they could practice their religion nor  their womenfolk were safe. The recruiters  digged in to the minds  of  wild Pashtun tribesmen  that  subjugated Muslims  of the state were to be liberated.This propaganda  influenced them.

The tribesmen were told that  Kashmir was a rich country and  they could  plunder the state at will. In fact, there was an  understanding between NWFP Chief Minister Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan and tribal lashkars through Major Khurshid Anwar on this.Col.Akbar Khan shamelessly defends it,saying that the tribesmen had “ no other remuneration.” The  tribesmen were also given license to  rape  and   take away women.

Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan had his own force too , comprising the members of the Frontier Police, separate from that of Khurshid Anwar’s tribesmen.When the two forces converged near Srinagar dispute arose who would  make triumphant entry in to Srinagar for plunder.Since each side was unwilling for compromise it was decided that they would not attack Srinagar till dispute was resolved. Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan then  sent SP  Khushdil Khan to Srinagar to call back his force.

Besides  tribal lashkars  Pakistani soldiers in civvies,workers of Muslim League  and  Communists led by Latif Afghani were enlisted  for invasion force. All criminals in  the tribal belt of NWFP were  released  for joining ‘jihad’ for Kashmir. The Chief Minister of  NWFP also arranged  participation of Afghan Parwindas in  Kashmir campaign.

In June 1948 at the instance of   Pak Govt.  Ahmedi leadership helped raise Furqan battalion   from among  the  young volunteers of Ahmedi community. Some retired officers belonging to Ahmedi community too were recalled and attached to Furqan battalion.

Key Elements

The main role in the invasion was given to the Pakistan Army, the Frontier Constabulary, the Kassadars and Tribal Levies.

Khwaja Abdur Rahim  was appointed  Commissioner of Rawalpindi, which looked after three  districts bordering J&K-Rawalpindi,Gujrat and Jhelum. He openly called  for conquering   northern India and  slaughter of non-Muslims in presence of Prime Minister  Liaquat Ali Khan  and  Nawab of  Mamdot.He incited tribesmen by telling them that he had   made a plan to kill Hindus of Jammu and then settle tribesmen there. Veteran journalist  CGK  Reddy,an important eyewitness to the conspiracy , describes   him as one of the worse communal maniac.He holds him  responsible for the slaughter of the non-Muslims in the Alibeg camp in Mirpur. Jamaat Islami  ideologue Maulana Abul-Ala Maudoodi and  Ahmedi leader Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmed  were asked to assist in  the invasion.

Subversion in Kashmir       

A key component of  Pakistan’s invasion plan  was to subvert loyalities  of Muslim  officers and other ranks  in J&K administration  and State army. It  sent a senior Muslim League functionary,  Nasira Siddiqui,to   Srinagar in early August 1947.Her assignment was   to subvert loyalty of   Muslim officers in the state  administration and  the army   and enlist their  support  for subversive game-plan. After Govt. learnt about her activities she was  asked to leave the state immediately.She  re-entered Kashmir  and   received a bullet injury at Pattan on 27 October 1947.

Groups of students from Islamia  College Lahore and Aligarh extensively toured the state.They   also tried  to influence senior Muslim officers in State administration,police  and army. Some officers changed their loyalities and began helping in the  Pakistan’s subversive game-plan.These   disloyal  officials   openly instigated   civilian population to take up arms. The  disloyal officers  in army regularly briefed Pakistani planners  about deployments at  different places and allied decisions. Peer Asamuddin Gilani  of Muzaffarabad , who had access to Maharaja ,wrongly briefed him   that if he stationed Muslim troops at Muzaffarabad-Pakistan border Pakistanis  would not attack  the State troops because a Muslim would not attack Muslim.

Muslim Conference workers from Srinagar were sent to Abbotabad for training in firearms. An  Ahmedi leader Mahmud Ahmad  allegedly sent 700 rifles and a  huge cache of ammunition to Ch.Hameedullah Khan, President of Pro-Pakistani  outfit  Muslim Conference. In late August 1947  senior  functionaries  of  NWFP  Govt. smuggled  arms and ammunition  to Srinagar  and distributed  this to different  Pak cells.Ex-servicemen,belonging to West Punjab and NWFP,  were sent to Kashmir and stationed  at strategic points.

Border raids were organized from Kathua to Bhimber  to disperse the state forces and target Hindus and Sikhs. Loot, arson, killings and abduction of women continued unabated. Over 200 villages were subjected to arson and large numbers of non-Muslims  were killed.There were horror stories about abduction of women. Pakistan army was directly involved in some of the raids. There was active connivance of disloyal officers in police,army  and administration in this.

Pakistan had also hatched conspiracies to attack Maharaja at Bhimber on 20 October 1947 while he was on tour of border areas.Last minute change in the  tour itinerary foiled Pakistan’s plot.

In another  plot  Sheikh Abdullah was  to  be invited to Pakistan and arrested.In case he   came then a provisional govt. was to  be floated under his name and Kashmir attacked.Statements would  then be issued in his name making think Kashmiris that Sheikh Abdullah had sent the invaders.

Jinnah’s Role                  

False claims have been made that Jinnah had no role in planning the invasion.This  is contradicted by the evidence available.NWFP Governor Sir George Cunnigham admits that Jinnah knew everything about the Kashmir invasion. Shaukat Hayat Khan corroborates that Jinnah okayed the plan. In fact, Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan fully endorsed Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan’s plan to recruit Pashtun tribesmen. It was Jinnah who arranged condemned ammunition for two fronts at the instance of Shaukat Hayat  Khan.

Second Invasion  

Pakistan made another attempt to annex Kashmir valley through Tithwal in February 1948.The last remnants of the raiders were flushed out from Kashmir valley by early June 1948.

Ethnic cleansing of Non-Muslims:

Unlike  the  communal  violence  witnessed  during  the partition killings of Hindus and Sikhs  in the wake of Pakistani attack on J&K  in 1947  was  state-sponsored  ethnic cleansing.  The objectives of Pakistan’s invasion went beyond conquest of the land. It aimed at destroying non-Muslim populations too.

There is a  continuity between Pakistan’s attack on J&K in 1947  and  cross border terrorism unleashed  by it in 1989-90.The pattern  of ideological campaign informed by  jihad and use of  terror as an instrument   for ethnic cleansing of minority groups remains  the  same.

Jammu Region                                               

In Muzaffarabad,Mirpur,Bhimber-Deva-Vatala  and Rajouri  towns,  which  had substantial  non-Muslim population, Pakistani  invaders had been directed  to destroy  non-Muslim  habitats wholesale   through killings,arson,rape and abduction  of women.

Soon after the Pakistani invaders entered Muzaffarabad town on 22 October 1947 they indulged in    large-scale  killing  and arson. Most of the properties belonging to  the non-Muslims was torched.The  killings and loot continued unabated for two days. The tribesmen had orders to search for non-Muslims and kill them.Whereever  they  found non-Muslims the  male members  would be lined-up and  shot dead. Three days after the attack some  prominent citizens of the town were  brought  to the  bank of Kishen Ganga and shot dead.  In   the district   hospital  over sixty   patients  were locked up in a room and then killed in cold blood. Non-Muslim prisoners in Central Jail  were segregated and shot dead.

The raiders were asked not to kill   Hindu doctors because they were  needed  to treat   sick and injured Pakistani soldiers. The  doctors  were given immunity but their  family members   were  taken  captive.

Many Sikhs, including their women and children, who were hiding behind the  trees   near a   nullah, were spotted by the  tribesmen. Their male members were taken  to  the nullah and gunned down one by one.

Members of  the  Sikh community  gave tough resistance  to the Pakistani invaders at Nalochi Gurudwara and held them back for two days. After their  ammunition    was  exhausted  the tribesmen  entered  the gurudwara and massacred all those who had taken refuge there. Members of Sikh community were also  massacred  at Gojra  and Tarnaawa Makri.

Women were raped on the streets at different places in full public view. Most of the women could not flee. Hundreds of ladies took poison to protect their honour,while many drowned themselves in Kishenganga. Some immolated themselves. Many women fell into the hands of the raiders and were   taken to the tribal belt of NWFP.The kidnapped ladies were forcibly converted to Islam and  many  married off to local  men.

During the day the raiders would seek out men and kill them.At night they would  turn to the  women  and rape them.The   non-Muslim families saved their women  by seeking refuge  with  Muslim families in and around Muzaffarabad town. Many Muslims married these refugee seeking ladies. The deserters of State army from Jammu and Mirpur were quite brutal and carried away many women. Sardar Khazan Singh of Kotli  gives the  location of abducted girls—Tehsil Manshera 300,Garhi Habibullah 50,Garhi Tehsil  Muzaffarabad 100,Muzaffarabad  500. The whole operation of loot,killings,arson and rapine,etc.was being supervised by organizers of invasion from their Headquarters at Balapeer.

The death  dance  was repeated at Bhimber where over 5000 non-Muslims had taken shelter in the tehsil building. Majority of  them  were killed. Only a small section was able to escape. Hundreds of women took poison to save their honour. Many  were abducted. In the Deva-Vatala region over a thousand people were killed by Pakistanis in 30 villages.

On the day of Diwali in Rajouri more than 7000 Hindus and Sikhs were killed  by Pakistani invaders, their collaborators in local population and state army deserters. Most of the women here saved their honour by swallowing poison. The Hindus of Rajouri do not celebrate Diwali to keep alive the memory of their loving ones killed in 1947.

Mirpur witnessed one of the horrendous religious cleansing campaigns in human history.Alibeg camp became Auschwitz  from  where  every day the people were taken out  and killed. Hundreds of women were kidnapped, dishonoured repeatedly and then sold in towns of Western Punjab and NWFP.As per one estimate only two thousand out of 25000 people in Mirpur managed to reach Jammu safely and some were repatriated later by International Red Cross.

Baltistan

In Askardu an ex- INA officer Col.Mataul Mulk was  posted  as commander of the  Pakistan army. The surrender of Indian garrison in August 1948 was followed by mass murder and rape. In his report to the   Headquarters he shamlessly bragged, “All Sikhs shot, all women raped.’’    The Sikhs were tied with ropes and  taken to the river.After releasing the ropes  they were  asked to jump into the river. While they moved towards the river they were shot dead. Only the Sikh women and children below ten were left alive. Even Sikh  boys ,who had barely attained  adolescence,  were hacked to death.Forty Sikhs were killed.The Sikh ladies were served with a warning that if their male child  kept  long hair he would be  done to death immediately. Adolescent Hardev Singh,who had seen Pakistanis killing his father,brother and uncles,abused and pelted stones at Pakistanis.Stones were tied to his body with turban and then he was drowned in the Indus.A Balti tailor ,who had  some humanity left in him,saved him and hid him even from his mother.

The three members of a Kashmiri Hindu family    were attacked  with swords. First the head of the family was hacked to death.Then  his wife , who was pregnant, was assaulted  when she rushed to   protect her husband. Her abdomen was thumped with feet leading to miscarriage.She collapsed on the spot. Then  the  mob  lynched his  daughter. His another  daughter ,who sustained mutiple injuries, lay unconscious in a pool of blood and  was presumed to be dead.

The Pakistani soldiers  made an attempt  to strangulate Niranjan Nath Nadir and push him   in to the nearby well. His two pet dogs   fought with the Pak soldiers and saved him from being drowned.

Shigar  had  7  Sikh families— all traders- dealing in dry fruit and cloth.These  Sikhs had been living here for  decades.The Sikh shopkeepers were tied to the trees and then shot at. One person named  Preetam Singh  survived  even after receiving three bullets.With  hands joined   he begged the attackers to spare his life.The attackers slapped him hard.Fourth bullet claimed his life.     The  family members  of the shopkeepers   were collected in the evening and stabbed to death. Among the attackers were two  Pakistani soldiers. When  their  eyes fell on two  grown up Sikh girls  they  told their  colleagues that they would themselves deal with  the Sikhs.   They forcibly married the two women survivors. One of the soldiers  had killed   the mother, sister and brother of the woman he married.Another girl committed suicide.

In Khaplu two Kashmiri Pandits, the doctor and his pharmacist, were killed. The doctor’s wife was abducted and tortured before she was released.

Gilgat

Astore                    

At Astore  Major Hassan Jarral,a deserter of the State army, resorted to extortions, abductions  and forcible conversions. He collected Rs. six to seven thousand   and coerced the   non-Muslims to convert to Islam. He   made  the life of the  Hindus and  the Sikhs  hell.He shot  them on flimsy  pretexts and  subjected  them to loot. One Sikh named Karan Singh,  who refused to accept Islam, was shot dead. He was working as a help in the family of Sardhul Singh,a business family from Bhoond Chakwal. The non-Muslims also   had nightmarish experiences  during the six months under  Colonel Mohammad Aslam.

Chilas   

                        After  the International Red Cross finalized the  arrangements for repatriation the  non-Muslims at Chilas were asked to move to Gilgat.They were provided horses and donkeys to cover the journey of four days.During night halts  the  tents were erected.At night   the non-Muslims had to face another  humiliation and agony when the  soldiers  barged  into  their tents, flashed  torches and picked  up any good looking woman .

Kashmir

In the Kashmir valley the  Pakistani  invaders ransacked   village after village and town after town that came in their way. The same process of loot, arson, rape, abductions and killings was repeated against Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs. In Baramulla town Kashmiri Hindus were dragged to concentration camps and women raped.36 Kashmiri Hindus were killed in the town.

In almost all villages, where Kashmiri Hindus escaped   killing, they were forced to become Muslims and  at some places  coerced to take   beef. At many places the Pandit couples were asked to perform marriage anew as per the Shariat.

Over 135 Kashmiri Hindus were killed. There were   nine major massacres. Seven baraatis were killed at Biner,Baramulla .In Aijar village of Bandipora  13 members of the  Pandit community were massacred, while in Chandrahama village  of Pattan 17  Kashmiri  Pandits were killed. The victims included women as well.

Sikhs

There was targeted violence against the Sikhs. The latter gave tough resistance to Pakistanis at Shalakot,Choora,Ichama and Atna. The massacre of the Sikhs took place at ten places in Kashmir. In village Yaarbug the Sikhs were taken to Gurudwara and burnt alive. Many Sikh women,particularly in Hamal region, were abducted and taken across to Pakistan.Some of them were repatriated  later by International Red Cross.The Sikhs resorted to honour killings at some  places to save their women from falling in to the hands of Pakistanis.

(The author worked on oral history of Pakistani invasion on Kashmir in 1947-48.Based on this research work his two books are scheduled for publication early next year. The views expressed are personal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

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