Tag Archives: Mirpur

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


Is generational change the key to resolving the Kashmir dispute? 11 June 2013


Is generational change the key to resolving the Kashmir dispute?    11 June 2013

Recently, I returned from New Delhi where I launched a book I have written called Kashmir: The Unwritten History (published by HarperCollins India). To my pleasant surprise, my book has been well received in India. Since its release, it has been on India’s ‘Top Ten Non-Fiction Best Selling List’, rating as high as three at one stage.

My book may be popular because it is controversial. Using primary sources, I have discussed how people in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) started the dispute over J&K’s international status (the so called ‘Kashmir dispute’) in 1947—and not outsiders, as India has long claimed and in which claim Pakistan surprisingly has acquiesced.

The people of J&K instigated the Kashmir dispute by undertaking three significant acts in 1947:

  • soon after partition on 15 August 1947, some Muslim ‘rebels’ living in the south-western Poonch and Mirpur areas of the Jammu Province of J&K mounted an uprising against the ruler of J&K;
  • in September-October 1947, residents of Jammu Province (‘Jammuites’) engaged in serious inter-religious violence throughout Jammu Province, as a result of which many people in all communities (Hindu, Sikh, Muslim) were killed, or were forced to flee to other areas;
  • Poonchi and Mirpuri ‘rebels’ created the Provisional Azad (Free) Government in those areas that they had successfully liberated or ‘freed’ from the ruler’s control, with this area quickly becoming known as ‘Azad (Free) Kashmir’.

Significantly, all of these three actions by the people of J&K (who collectively I call ‘J&K-ites’) occurred before the ruler of J&K, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, acceded to India on 26 October 1947. Surprisingly, they have received scant—or even no—attention in most histories about the Kashmir dispute.

Nevertheless, these three actions importantly confirm that the people of J&K not only have long been stakeholders in the long-running Kashmir dispute, but also that they actually instigated this serious, ongoing, matter. This conflicts with the official Indian version that Pukhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan instigated all of the violence and troubles in J&K in 1947 when they invaded Kashmir Province on 22 October. Most Pakistanis also have ignored the significant events that preceded the embarrassing (for Pakistan) tribal invasion.

While some Indians have called me a rebel, or they think that I am pro-Pakistan, or that my ‘revision’ of history will empower Pakistan, many subcontinentals are pleased to hear that there is more to the Kashmir dispute than has been enunciated in Indian and Pakistani histories. In particular, J&K-ites have been pleased to see their forebears’ side of the story revealed in a comprehensive way for the first time. Some have informed me that they have found my book empowering.

One Indian reviewer believes that my book was based on a false premise: that the Muslim League and Muhammad Ali Jinnah were responsible for organising whatever negative (that is, anti-maharaja or anti-Indian) events happened in J&K in 1947. Interestingly, he did not provide a shred of evidence to support his position. This reviewer also stated that my book ‘flies in the face of historical facts’. I agree with him. Indeed, this was always my intention: to provide a more complete picture of what happened in 1947, rather than to selectively relate historical ‘facts’ advantageous to India (particularly) or to Pakistan.

Another reviewer claims that I have not accessed any Indian documents about these events. I did actually do so, including some that show that Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel were aware in late September/early October of what was happening in J&K, including in the Poonch area, and, more pointedly, that they both knew that the Pukhtoon tribesmen were planning to invade Kashmir Province.

Interestingly, there seems to be a generational issue involved in people’s acceptance or rejection of my book. Many younger people—those under about 45 years old—appear more prepared to consider the book’s contents on its merits. People older than 45 tend to want to apportion blame for what happened in J&K in 1947.

This possibly suggests that, in terms of resolving the Kashmir dispute, a resolution may happen more easily when the older generation that directly experienced or that strongly remembers partition in 1947 has moved on. In Pakistan, most such people have passed away. In India, there are still many alive, with some serving in important political positions. This includes the current Indian President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

My sample has been small, but perhaps younger people in the subcontinent might be more amenable to resolving the Kashmir dispute than the older generation?

(Kashmir: The Unwritten History, published by HarperCollins India in 2013, was first published by Hurst and Co., London, and Columbia University Press, New York, as The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir. The title was changed to take account of the Indian Government’s sensitivity in relation to the use of the term ‘Azad Kashmir’, which region India considers to be under Pakistan’s ‘occupation’.)

Christopher Snedden

11 June 2013