October 22 – The Black Day For Kashmir

Pakistan had entered into a Standstill Agreement with the Maharaja of Kashmir on August 12, 1947. On October 22, 1947, Pakistan unilaterally broke the Agreement and launched an invasion to forcibly capture Jammu and Kashmir using tribal raiders. The raiders, as is well known, looted and pillaged the state with a ferocity that shocked the people till the Indian army came to the rescue and decisively threw them back.

However, despite its direct responsibility, Pakistan has managed to spin a narrative that concealed its role in the 1947 invasion calling it a ‘spontaneous’ attack by the tribals in response to the communal killings in J&K. In addition, it has sought to throw doubts about the genuineness of the accession of J&K to India, labelling the entry of Indian troops on October 27, 1947, in Kashmir as illegal. Pakistan has observed this day as a ‘Black Day’ for decades in Pakistan, in Pakistan occupied J&K (POJK), and in the diaspora in order to bolster its narrative.

Unfortunately for Pakistan, there is documentary evidence in terms of eyewitness accounts of the tribal invasion that demolishes its case. One such is of Akbar Khan (later a Maj. General and involved in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case) whose book ‘Raiders in Kashmir’ leaves no doubt about how Pakistan planned the invasion and was directly involved in it.

Akbar Khan was then Director, Weapons, and Equipment at GHQ. He devised a plan to use a previous government sanction for the issue of 4,000 military rifles to the Punjab Police and have the rifles transferred from the police to the raiders. Likewise, old ammunition was secretly diverted for use in Kashmir. He even devised a plan titled ‘Armed Revolt inside Kashmir’ to strengthen Kashmiris internally and at the same time taking steps to prevent the arrival of armed civilians or military assistance from India into Kashmir, either by road or air.

The plan was discussed, first at a preliminary conference at the Provincial government secretariat in the office of Shaukat Hayat Khan, then a minister in the Punjab government. However, there was also another plan devised by the latter based on using the officers and other ranks of the former Indian National Army (INA). Zaman Kiani was to lead operations across the Punjab border and Khurshid Anwar of the Muslim League guards north of Rawalpindi. Both sectors were under the overall command of Shaukat Hayat Khan.

Later, Akbar Khan attended a meeting chaired by prime minister former Liaquat Ali. Others who attended were Finance Minister Ghulam Mohd., Mian Iftikharuddin, a Muslim League leader, Zaman Kiani, Khurshid Anwar, Shaukat Hayat. According to his book, several army and air force officers as also the Commissioner Rawalpindi were involved.

Another book is of Pakistan occupied Jammu & Kashmir (PoJK) author Mohammad Saeed Asad titled ‘Yaadon Ke Zakhm’ (Wounded Memories). Asad has managed to collect a series of first-hand accounts that graphically reveal the brutalities inflicted by the raiders on the people.

What Saeed’s account emphasizes is the tolerant and peaceful nature of society that existed in Kashmir before the tribal invasion. All the three communities- the majority of Muslims and the minority Hindus and Sikhs – lived in peace and harmony. The friendship between the communities extended to all aspects of social interaction- festivals, marriages, and funerals.

Let alone coming to the aid of their religious brethren, Saeed’s book makes clear that the raiders did not distinguish between Muslims and non-Muslims. Shops and homes of all communities were equally plundered. No home was spared the tribal carnage just because it belonged to a Muslim. In Baramulla, for example, only 3,000 survived out of a population of 14,000. In places, even the holy Quran was desecrated. No village en-route escaped plunder and devastation. Many Muslim women read the kalma and pleaded for their lives but the raiders took no heed. A large number of them were taken back to the Frontier and sold.

A third book is of Humayun Mirza who revealed in ‘From Plassey to Pakistan’ that his father Iskander Mirza (later Governor-General of Pakistan) was tasked by Jinnah to raise a tribal Lashkar in February 1947 to wage a jihad against the British if they did not concede Pakistan. Mirza identified the tribesmen from Waziristan, Tirah, and the Mohmand country for this purpose. He asked for a sum of Rs one crore (or Pounds 750,000 at the then exchange rate) to achieve this objective. Jinnah gave him Rs 20,000 for immediate expenses and told him that the Nawab of Bhopal would provide the rest.

In the event, the British conceded Pakistan and so the plan did not have to be put into action. However, by October 1947, Iskandar Mirza was Defence Secretary and his earlier experience with the tribesmen would have come in use to organize the invasion. The book also reveals that Jinnah was very much in the know about the events in Kashmir.

That is why 22 October matters because for too long has Pakistan got away with a false narrative, hiding its culpability in the tribal invasion. That’s why it is so necessary to sensitize people, especially the youth in Kashmir who may otherwise not be aware of the history of the event. They need to be reminded of the brutalities that Pakistan had subjected their forefathers to and what Pakistan’s real intentions were then and are even today.

Thus, if there is a ‘Black Day’ in Kashmir it has to be October 22 when its history was permanently distorted. This was the day when the princely state became an ‘issue’ and a ‘question’, this was the day when the truth was masked to further the Pakistani agenda, this was the day when Pakistan deliberately destroyed the unity, integrity, and civilizational ethos of Kashmir and this was the day when a deceitful and conniving Pakistan betrayed the people of Kashmir but projected itself as the champion of their rights.

(The author has written three widely acclaimed books on Pakistan and is a Member of the National Security Advisory Board. – ANI)

Kashmir Headed For A Hot Summer

While the nation including the politicians, bureaucrats, police, public and last but not the least Corona warriors that include doctors, nurses and hospital staff are busy combating Covid-19, militancy in Kashmir is picking up with the onset of summer months. India need to remain vigilant.

Traditionally, there is a spurt in infiltration attempts with the opening of passes but the last month has seen unprecedented bloody encounters resulting in the death of 22 security personal including Col Ashutosh Sharma, Maj Anuj Sood and three other brave hearts. The tracking down and final elimination of a prominent leader of Hizbul Mujahideen Riaz Naikoo, is a shot in the arm of security forces, but should not be termed as retaliatory or revenge operation as covered by the mainstream media.

While the world is desperately fighting against the global Coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan has been continuously perpetuating proxy war. It is reliably learnt that Pakistan is motivating Covid-10 affected terrorists to infiltrate and carry out violent actions against Indian security forces so that they can go to heaven after their martyrdom. While Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind remain the main active Tanzeems, Lakshar-e-Taiba leadership in Pakistan has floated a new outfit called The Resistance Front to give an indigenous look and ward off the pressure from Financial Action Task Force.

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A lid was kept on the internal security situation with a heavy hand by overwhelming deployment of security forces ever since article 370 was abrogated in early August 2019 but the dissatisfaction and disenchantment amongst the Kashmiris was brewing over time. Come November and as winter set in, the infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC) came down to a trickle.

The central government thought that the security forces were on top of the situation; but it was the combination of the curfew, crowd control measures, uncertainty, prolonged house arrest of political leaders, blocking of internet and social media and the inclement weather that did not allow terrorists groups to reorganise and operate freely during the winter months. This period also witnessed a reduction in number of stone throwing incidents as the locals were not sure whether the security forces will continue to show restraint or use adequate requisite force.

At the beginning of this year, schools and colleges in Kashmir started reopening, internet was restored and the situation appeared to be inching towards normalcy in the Valley. Ironically, as the 70-odd Kashmiri political leaders including Abdullahs were released in March from house arrest, the rest of the nation was confined to homes due to the threat of Covid-19 and Kashmiris came at par with the rest of the countrymen. The security forces in Kashmir had to have a balancing act of fighting on two fronts, militancy and Covid-19. That is not an easy task.

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A few questions have arisen as to why the armed forces are facing so many casualties including those among senior officers. The answer lies in the ethos of the officers of the Indian Army.

The Indian Army has a tradition of officers leading from the front. This was evident during the various wars fought after Independence. Officer casualties have been proportionately higher than the other ranks.

This is also true for some other armies of the world. Israel is a shining example. In the Armoured Corps Memorial and Museum at Yad La-Shiryon, Latrun, there are over two thousand names of officers and enlisted men who have died between the age of eighteen to twenty years.

It was heartening to see that one section of the museum in Israel is dedicated to an Indian army officer; Lt Gen JFR Jacob, a Jew who was the brain behind the meticulous planning of operations in East Pakistan, later Bangladesh, in Indo-Pak War of 1971. Incidentally, in the 1971 War a large number of casualties were officers from the batch that got commissioned on 13 November 1971, from Indian Military Academy, barely three weeks prior to the war.

In Kashmir, Handwara has traditionally been a hot bed since it has thick forests around it like Machipora, Kainyar, Kandi, Harfudda, Saren, Dalar, Surhalu and Galganjan. Its proximity to the LoC gives it the correct positioning for reception areas after the infiltrations. Infiltrating groups come to these forests, have their rest and the recoup and plan operations using these forests as bases.

Invariably over the years, there have been bloody encounters with security forces. The army has always had one to two Special Forces teams operating in these areas alongside the Rashtriya Rifles and regular infantry battalions operating in a grid pattern in the hinterland.

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Detailed analyses of the counter insurgency operations in J&K since 1989 reveal that the maximum casualties to own troops are either at the beginning of the operation when the exact location of the terrorist is not really known to the troops and they are fired upon by terrorists hiding in houses or under natural cover; or at the end of the successful encounter when own troops in a rush of adrenaline, close in to mop up the operation but some half dead terrorist opens up at close range knowing fully well that he is going to die. In both cases, the officers are generally leading and have greater chances of becoming casualties.

The 15 Corps Commander, Lt Gen BS Raju in a recent interview claimed that the leadership of various Tanzeems active in the Valley and named above; has been eliminated. Basu says local recruitment has come down by 45 percent. However there are further dangers.

The US pullout from Afghanistan will give Pakistan leverage over Afghan terror groups who can be easily diverted to Kashmir. The foreign constituents of terrorist networks would substantially be increased. Regarding the leadership, most of these Tanzeems work in cellular system and there is always a standby leader who takes the place of the slain leader. Sometimes the same alias like Abu Bakker is also inherited by the new leader.

Since Pakistan was not able to get adequate traction and leverage in its relentless diplomatic efforts to isolate India internationally after the abrogation of Article 370, it is likely to push a large number of terrorist groups into the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir this summer. Our brave officers and jawans are having to fight on two fronts, the Covid-19 pandemic and the terrorist escalation from across the border. The launch pads and training areas as per the Corps Commander, are working at full capacity and therefore we need to be fully prepared for a hot summer in the Kashmir Valley. Ready the Indian Security Services will be.