Book Cover: Operations in Jammu and Kashmir (1947-48)

Authors Dr S N Prasad and Dharam Pal have painstakingly put together the details about barbaric invasion of the Pakistani army and tribal militia backed by Pak forces in Jammu and Kashmir that started on October 22, 1947 . Here are the excerpts:

“Early in the morning of 22 October, the main column of the raiders
crossed the frontier from Garhi Habibullah and attacked Muzaffarabad
The traitors of the 4 K I holding the outposts at Lohar Gali and
Ramkot, joined the raiders, gave them the fullest information about the
strength and disposition of the defending troops and helped them to
send sufficient force against each picquet of the defenders Muzaffara-
bad was given over to the fire and sword before its sleeping citizens
could realize what had happened. The Dogra picquets, particularly the
MMG section located on a high ground in the School area north of the
city, fought with desperate gallantry and inflicted heavy casualties on
the enemy But they were engulfed in the tidal wave of the raiders who
pressed on to the Domel bridge. At Domel, Lt-Col Naram
Singh was startled by the sudden bursts of firing and shouting from
Muzaffarabad and learnt of the attack from a wounded sepoy who had
managed to flee from there Within minutes of this news, however, his
own headquarters was attacked by the raiders, and the Muslim troops at
Domel also co-operated with the enemy. The Adjutant, Captain Ram
Singh, was killed as he ran to unlock the “kot” (armoury). The
Battalion Headquarters and the mortar platoon fought tenaciously the
whole day, suffenng and inflicting heavy casualties At night fall, about
15 exhausted and wounded men who, with the commanding officer, had
survived the day’s battle, crept out of their positions and took to the
hills. They were never heard of again

Similar was the story of the other outposts and detachments. All
fought desperately against overwhelming odds and then slipped out of
their untenable positions during the hours of darkness. The MMG
section at Muzaffarabad, under Havildar Bishan Singh, managed to
retreat into the hills, and reached Srinagar after… many
days later. The detachment at Battika was captured while retreating.
The men were disarmed, stripped naked, except for their under-
garments, led to the nver bank, lined up and shot dead Another
detachment at Kotli also managed to retreat safely to Uri…
was running short of ammunition and it feared encirclement During the
night of 26-27 October, therefore, the defenders retreated towards
Baramula. In the course of this retreat, a number of roadblocks were
encountered and cleared after stiff engagements. The tiny band,
however, was being steadily decimated by casualties, and finally it came
to a roadblock covered with intense enemy fire. There the gallant band
fought and penshed almost to the last man. Brigadier Rajendra Singh
was himself killed fighting bravely. He was awarded the Maha Vir
Chakra for his supreme gallantry and devotion to duty. He and his
handful of men had held up thousands of the enemy for four most
valuable days and thus undoubtedly saved the entire valley of Kashmir
from sack and pillage by the raiders

The raiders pressed on They entered the prosperous town of
Baramula in the evening of 26 October 1947. The place was promptly
given over to plunder and rapine Hindus and Sikhs were hunted down
and killed; their houses looted and then burnt Young women were
forcibly abducted and carried off without distinction of colour, caste or
creed, to be sold like cattle m the streets of Rawalpindi and Peshawar,
or to live and die as slaves m the mountain fastnesses of the distant tribal
territory. A Kashmiri Muslim patriot, Maqbool Sherwam, was shot
dead in the public square for professing to treat Hindus and Sikhs as his
brothers. An Englishman, Col Dykes, and several of his assistants
running the Missionary Hospital in Baramula, were also shot dead —
for what crime is still not known. Terror stalked the streets of the
quaint little town. The inhabitants, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike,
left all their earthly possessions and fled to the hills. The deserted streets
lay silent, echoingg only to the rattle of the raiders’ nailed boots as they
threaded their way between the corpses strewn around. A thick pall of
smoke hung over the ravaged city, and flames from burning houses cast
a lund glare over burnt out shells of what had been prosperous shops
and smiling homes. With many young girls and much treasure now in
their possession, the raiders gloated over their good fortune.

Yet in their success lay the seeds of their doom For in the savage
excitement of looting and raping, the ultimate goal of the ‘Holy War’
was forgotten. Each man tried to grab as much wealth or as many girls
as he could, and for the moment refused to be bothered with the ‘infidel’
Maharaja at Srinagar or the ‘liberation of the oppressed Muslims’ of
Kashmir. Many of the raiders, loaded with loot, turned back for home,
and responded to their officers’ expostulations by saying that they would
be back soon after depositing their treasure in security. The advance on
Srinagar was thus held up for a few days, and they proved crucial. For in
Delhi, hundreds of kms from stricken Baramula, it had at last been
decided to save Kashmir in its hour of peril, and the Indian Army was
ordered to step into the breach.’ Even as the barbaric raiders were
satisfying their greed and lust in Baramula, transport planes full of
Indian troops were winging their way through the azure autumn skies,
destination Srinagar. ”

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