October commemorations in J&K 8 October 2013

October commemorations in J&K                                             8 October 2013

October 1947 was an eventful month for people living in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). I have listed some dates below that J&K-ites may—perhaps should?—commemorate this month. I have extracted these dates mainly from my book The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir. This is not an inclusive list. Rather, it details events that were reported in 1947 and therefore are accessible to foreign scholars.

From 1 October: Maharaja Hari Singh’s armed forces continue their offensive against Muslims rebelling (at least since partition) in the Poonch (particularly) and Mirpur areas of western Jammu Province.

From 2 October: newspapers, including the Civil and Military Gazette (CMG), Lahore, The Times, London, and The Times of India, Bombay, report on the anti-maharaja uprising in Poonch.

4 October: inspired by events in Junagadh, a rebel Poonchi, Khwaja Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, tries, but fails, to create a ‘provisional government’ for J&K.

5 October: India’s Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, informs Minister for Home Affairs, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, that the (secular) All J&K National Conference had ‘decided for the Indian Union’.

7 October: Patel requests India’s Defence Minister, Sardar Baldev Singh, to send arms and ammunition immediately to J&K, by air if necessary, as a Pakistani intervention there appears likely.

7 October: Maharaja Hari Singh imposes ‘rigorous precensorship on all news and views’ in J&K and forces the Kashmir Times to cease publication after it advocates J&K’s accession to Pakistan.

8 October: CMG states that ‘there is already a 
movement’ in Gilgit for J&K’s accession to Pakistan. (This culminates in early November when Gilgitis successfully free their area from Maharaja Hari Singh’s control.)

9 October: the Kisan Mazdoor [Peasants and Workers] Conference, the party of Prem Nath Bazaz, a Kashmiri Hindu, calls upon the maharaja to accede to Pakistan.

9 October: leader of the National Conference, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, states that his ‘prime concern … is the emancipation of the four million people [in J&K]. We can consider the question of joining one or the other Dominion only when we have achieved our objective.’

10 October: The Times notes that Abdullah and Hari Singh are ‘anti-Pakistan’.

By mid-to-late October: anti-maharaja ‘rebels’ control large parts of Poonch and Mirpur districts.

Around mid-October: the J&K Government accuses Pakistan of providing cross-border support to Poonchi and Mirpuri rebels; equally, Pakistan confronts cross-border activity across the Sialkot-Jammu border that possibly involves ‘Kashmir state Forces’.

18 October: Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, complains to J&K’s Prime Minister about the ‘ruthless oppression of Muslims’ in J&K.

19, 21 October: CMG reports on serious inter-religious violence in Jammu Province. In the east, pro-Indian Hindus and Sikhs attack Muslims; in the west, pro-Pakistan Muslims attack Hindus and Sikhs. (Violence continues throughout November 1947. All Jammu communities are seriously affected.)

21 October: CMG reports that the southern Kashmir Valley, a ‘stronghold’ of the Kisan Mazdoor Conference, ‘last week witnessed a massive upsurge in favour of Pakistan’.

21–22 October: pro-Pakistan soldiers in the J&K Army, inspired by elements in the so-called Azad Army fighting in Poonch and Mirpur, rebel at Domel, near Muzaffarabad, and take control of the strategic bridge over the Jhelum River that controls entry to the Kashmir Valley beyond.

22 October: Muslim Pukhtoon tribesmen coming from, and sent by, Pakistan invade Kashmir Province via Kohala, on the J&K-Pakistan border, and Domel. Their intention is to capture Hari Singh and/or J&K for Pakistan.

22 October: Abdullah, talking in New Delhi before news of the Pukhtoons’ invasion has reached there, discusses the ‘present troubles in Poonch’.

From 22 October: Pukhtoon tribesmen heading for Srinagar brutally loot, pillage, rape and kill Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in Muzaffarabad, Uri and Baramula. In Baramula, they also kill some Europeans. Immediately thereafter, Kashmiris’ support for Pakistan wanes.

24 October: senior politicians in the (pro-Pakistan) All J&K Muslim Conference, led by the Poonchi, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, and benefitting from the Pukhtoons’ invasion of J&K, form the Provisional ‘Azad’ (Free) Government of J&K in the ‘liberated’ or freed areas of J&K. The nascent body claims to be the legitimate government for all of J&K, but neither Pakistan nor India recognise it.

26 October: Maharaja Hari Singh accedes to India, chiefly in order to obtain military help against the Pukhtoons. While accepting the accession, India’s Governor-General, Lord Louis Mountbatten, proposes that a plebiscite be held to enable the people of J&K to resolve J&K’s contentious international status.

27 October 1947: Indian military forces enter J&K, chiefly to defend J&K from the ‘raiders’—in which term New Delhi (disingenuously) includes Pukhtoons and all anti-maharaja/anti-Indian elements in J&K. Fighting closes the all-weather Jhelum Valley Road from Srinagar to Kohala (and on to Rawalpindi).

29 October: The Times reports an equivocating Sheikh Abdullah as saying that J&K ‘might be well advised to accede to neither [Dominion], but to retain neutral status and serve as a meeting ground for Hindu and Muslim ideas’.

30 October: Pakistan, which naively had expected the princely state ‘to fall into its lap like a ripe fruit’, rejects Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India as being based on ‘fraud and violence’.

31 October: Maharaja Hari Singh’s autocratic rule in J&K ends when Sheikh Abdullah is installed as Chief Emergency Administrator of the National Conference-dominated administration. It then is largely restricted to Kashmir due to the onset of winter, road closures and the Indian Army still securing territory. Singh’s officials remain in control in eastern parts of Jammu Province.

Late October: Kashmiris form a People’s Militia to defend themselves against the marauding Pukhtoons.

A lot happened in J&K, and to J&K-ites, in October 1947!

Christopher Snedden
8 October 2013


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