22nd October 1947: When barbarian hordes descended on Kashmir to plunder, rape and destroy

During the course of the war, the first Prime Minister committed a major blunder the consequences of which we are still suffering. Jawaharlal Nehru approached the United Nations to resolve the J&K issue as per the international law on disputed states.

The 22nd of October, 1947, marked the commencement of the events that led to the first Indo-Pak war and the venue for it was the state which to this day has a strong streak of separatism running in its veins. Although developments in the previous few months had made it clear that a conflict between the two nations was imminent, it was only in October that an armed Pakistani offensive began in Jammu and Kashmir to claim the state, which had decided to remain independent thus far.

The first clashes were reported on the 3rd and 4th of October. On the 22nd of October, after Pakistani Pashtun tribals infiltrated into J&K and attacked Muzaffarabad, the region fell quickly without much resistance. Many Muslim state forces mutinied and joined the invading Pakistani tribesmen. The path to Srinagar was clear but instead of advancing towards the capital, the tribal forces resorted to loot and plunder. Apart from plundering the state armoury, they are also said to have resorted to arson and set markets on fire.

“They plundered the state armoury, set entire markets on fire and looted their goods,” Gohar Rahman, who was one of Pakistanis that crossed over into J&K told BBC. “They shot everyone who couldn’t recite the kalima – the Arabic-language Muslim declaration of faith. Many non-Muslim women were enslaved, while many others jumped in the river to escape capture.” He further said, “Muslim women would sometimes offer us food but the Pathans were reluctant to accept, thinking it may be poisoned. They would instead capture those people’s goats and sheep, slaughter them and roast the meat on fire.”

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Rahman adds, speaking of the ‘war booty’ that the tribesmen brought, “Some had brought cattle, some horses. Most of them had brought arms, and many brought women. One Afridi tribesman walked back with two women in tow. They wept incessantly and just wouldn’t stop. A local feudal lord took pity on them and forced the Afridi man to release them.”

Stories of rape and torture and kidnapping of women by the invading Pakistani tribals are quite common. Although there’s denial on the part of the usual suspects that the invading Pashtuns were working for the Pakistani Army, it’s abundantly clear from the personal accounts of the tribesmen themselves that the Pakistanis had orchestrated the entire event to annex the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

It would do us well to remember that mutinies against the Hindu ruler by his Muslim subjects had begun much earlier in June itself. Violent clashes had erupted on the 15th of June in Poonch over a ‘no-tax campaign’, which was then an internal principality of the Kashmir state. Killings were then reported on the 15th of August after some pro-Pakistani elements decided to hoist the Pakistani flag and clashed with the state police.

Faced with the invaders from Pakistan and his own defections by Muslims from his own military, Raja Hari Singh of J&K came to the conclusion that remaining an independent state was no longer an option. It is said that thus far, he wished to stay independent because his Muslim subjects will not be happy if the state was annexed to Hindustan and he feared for the safety and security and dignity of his Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist subjects should he decide to join Pakistan. Thus, he requested the Indian administration for assistance in repelling the invaders and signed the Instrument of Accession to the Indian Union.

The Indian Army entered the fray after the Instrument of Accession was signed on the 26th of October, 1947. The tribals were soon overpowered and India succeeded in recovering most of the lands that were overrun during the subsequent months. The Pakistani Army formally entered the war in 1948 and a ceasefire was signed on the 31st of December, 1948 which came into effect from the first day of the following year. India is considered to have won the war as they managed to retain 2/3rd of the state including the Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh.

During the course of the war, the first Prime Minister committed a major blunder the consequences of which we are still suffering. Jawaharlal Nehru approached the United Nations to resolve the J&K issue as per the international law on disputed states. The fact of the matter, however, is that J&K can never be considered a disputed state by any stretch of the imagination. The King of J&K had signed the Instrument of Accession and thereby accepted J&K as a part of India.

The proper thing to do for India would have been to launch an offensive against Pakistan to reclaim the lands that rightly belongs to us. Instead, by raising the conflict in the U.N., India compromised on its sovereignty and threw open the scope of international agencies meddling in the domestic affairs of our country in Kashmir.

India could learn quite a few lessons from the war that began with the invasion by Pakistani tribals in 1947. Firstly, the modus operandi adopted by the Pakistanis in 1947 is still working fine for them today. They send their fighters across to India who then wreaks havoc inside Indian territory.

Secondly, there is a significant chunk of Kashmiris who are more than willing enough to fight for Pakistan due to their religious affiliation. Acceptance of that simple fact is necessary.

Thirdly, international organizations will not be sympathetic to India as it serves everyone’s interests if there’s a thorn in India’s sides that it cannot solve. Fourthly, Kashmiriyat is the biggest scam that has been perpetuated by our political class. Pakistanis in 1947 invaded J&K and murdered non-Muslims and raped, kidnapped and took women as ‘war booty’. Despite that fact, a huge section of Kashmiris side with Pakistan over India. Kashmiriyat is a farce, religious loyalty trumps everything.

Fifthly, all the Azaadi-waalas need to understand, J&K is not an independent state today due to the actions of the Pakistani establishment. Had they not conspired to invade J&K in 1947, Raja Hari may not have acceded to India as his intentions were clear that he would rather remain independent unless he was forced to choose. The dastardly act of the Pakistanis forced him to choose and he chose India.

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