In a moving gesture, the Indian Army on Thursday paid tributes at the renovated grave of Janab Maqbool Sherwani, a Kashmiri youth killed by Pakistani raiders in 1947 for blocking their advance towards Srinagar on Uri-Muzaffarabad highway.
According to the reports, the Indian army finished the renovation work of the grave of the martyr Maqbool Sherwani on July 15, which had been started in April 2021. The Army also held remembrance prayers for the revered martyr at his memorial, which is located in the old town, Baramulla.
#IndianArmy renovates grave of Maqbool Sherwani. Brave #Kashmiri youth who delayed march of raiders from Pakistan towards Srinagar by misguiding them, setting road blocks & demolishing bridges. He was later executed by the raiders @SpokespersonMoD @adgpi @NorthernComd_IA pic.twitter.com/MV1U6FPo21— Defence PRO Srinagar (@PRODefSrinagar) July 15, 2021
In a statement, Defence PRO Col Emron Musavi said, “The work commenced in the month of April 2021 and now stands completed. On 15th July 2021 Indian Army organized remembrance prayers at the grave of Janab Maqbool Sherwani, and floral tributes were paid. The deeds of this valiant warrior will be remembered and revered by generations to come.”
Who was Maqbool Sherwani?
Maqbool Sherwani, a brave Kashmiri young man, had laid his life to protect the lives of innocent people of his homeland. In November 1947, the tribal raiders, instigated by Pakistan, plundered, raped and murdered innocent people in Kashmir. As these raiders began their advance towards Srinagar, Maqbool Sherwani and his group of friends decided to halt their movement.
Maqbool Sherwani, fondly known as the lion of Baramulla, rode his motorcycle and found the raiders plundering the city. The hordes of 20,000 Pakistani tribesmen, known as kabailis, had plundered the beautiful city of Baramulla on October 26. The Pakistani raiders were hoping to capture the strategic Srinagar Airport as it was the only way Delhi could have deployed troops and logistics. Capturing the Srinagar airport meant cutting off the valley from the rest of India.
Anticipating their advance towards Srinagar, Sherwani visited several villagers and held public meetings to unify them to take on the raiders collectively. A few days later, Sherwani intercepted these raiders single-handedly. The Pakistani raiders were perplexed to see a local citizen on the deserted road, who asked him to guide them in the direction of Srinagar airport.
Maqbool Sherwani – “the Lion of Baramulla” halted Pakistani raiders’ advance towards Srinagar
Displaying his presence of mind, Sherwani misguided Pakistani raiders by convincing them to advance in the wrong direction. Maqbool Sherwani and his volunteers, comprising various communities with no military training, set up roadblocks and destroyed bridges, thus protecting the fastest access to Srinagar.
When these raiders realised that they were misled, they caught Maqbool Sherwani, tortured and killed him. The raiders had abducted Sherwani and brought him back to Baramulla to send a message. The barbaric Pakistani raiders mutilated his body and crucified him before firing 14 bullets at him.
Sherwani’s body was nailed to a plank and tied to two pillars of Khan Hotel, near Regina Cinema, which kept on hanging for several days. Finally, the Indian Army had to pull it down days after he was killed on November 7, 1947. The raiders had also pasted a note on his head that read – “He is a traitor, his punishment is death”.
However, the death of Sherwani did not go in vain. Kashmiris rose up against the Pakistani tribesmen with a greater intensity all over the valley. Most importantly, Sherwani’s brave act to keep Pakistani tribesmen away from Srinagar airport provided a buffer time for the Indian soldiers to reach Srinagar and save the airport and the city.
Reportedly, the memorial of Maqbool Sherwani was damaged during the beginning of the Pakistan-supported insurgency in the valley during the late 1980s. The Pakistani supported terrorists had set ablaze the memorial named after Maqbool Sherwani in 1988.
In remembrance of the brave Kashmiri youth, the Indian Army has named the Second Battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry after Maqbool Sherwani, which is known as “Sherwani Paltan”.
Indo-Pakistan War of 1947–1948
The partition of India on communal lines and the creation of Pakistan in August 1947 had an impact on the Hindu-ruled but Muslim-majority Kashmir. As Kashmiris decided against joining the newly created Islamic country Pakistan, they faced the wrath of the Pakistan military, who joined hands with the local tribesmen to invade the Indian territory of Kashmir.
Pakistan attempted to invade the Kashmir Valley, however, it did it cowardly by masquerading as raids by tribal invaders. In reality, the raids were instigated by the Pakistani Army in operation – codenamed Operation Gulmarg under the leadership of senior Pakistan Army officers.
On October 22, thousands of tribal mercenaries and Pakistan soldiers entered the Kashmir Valley and over-ran the outposts defended by the Maharaja Hari Singh’s forces in Muzaffarabad and other places. The ultimate goal of the Pakistani Army was to capture Srinagar with the help of these tribesmen.
As they entered Kashmir valley, these tribesmen committed large-scale atrocities, who raped, murdered, looted the civilians, resulting in several deaths. The Indian troops launched a counter-attack to stop Pakistani invaders. By November 8, the Indian forces had secured Srinagar – the seat of the princely state.
They forced the Pakistani Army to Muzaffarabad by mid-November. The war continued with lower intensity till the end of 1948 when the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru committed a huge blunder by taking the issue to the United Nations. Due to his actions, a ceasefire was announced, resulting in maintaining a status quo, with India losing nearly one-third of Kashmir to Pakistan, now known as the PoK.