Tribal invasion by Pakistan this month 75 years ago is considered, by many experts, to be the root cause of all problems in Kashmir. The tribal invasion, known as Operation Gulmarg, by Pakistani regulars and hordes of militant Pathan tribal warriors started one of the world’s most enduring territorial conflicts. It is considered a major event in the modern history of Jammu and Kashmir as it changed the course of region’s history.
The intervening night of October 21-22, 1947 is considered the darkest day in the history of J&K which left grim mark on the face or Kashmir. The invasion was an unprovoked and a unilateral violation of the Standstill Agreement breached by Pakistan.
Atrocities Committed By Pakistani Tribal Raiders
Despite the historical facts about the tribal invasion exposing Pakistan’s nefarious designs and evil intentions, the narrative around this event was always twisted in the favour of Pakistan. It was only in October 2020 that the Narendra Modi government launched what is being seen as the first serious move by India to counter the Kashmir narrative set afloat by Pakistan since 1947. Accordingly, October 22 is being observed as a Black Day, a reminder of Pakistan invading the Kashmir Valley on this day 75 years ago, much in contrast to October 27 that the separatists have observed in past as a Black Day to mark landing of Indian forces in the Valley.
From last two years, hoardings calling October 22 a Black Day are being put up in Srinagar as a reminder of the atrocities committed by the Pakistani raiders on the local population. It shows how tribal raids, backed by Pakistan Army, are the genesis of the turmoil and conflict in the Kashmir Valley.
The central government will also set up a museum in the national capital to showcase the attrocities of October 22, 1947. The museum will spotlight Pakistan’s role in instigating violence and terror in Kashmir and the destruction of its culture on October 22, 1947.
In 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state ruled by Hari Singh. The king had kept his cards close to his chest about the fate of his state. India got Independence and was partitioned to create Pakistan in August 1947. Partition of India was done on communal ground and it had its impact in Jammu and Kashmir. A section of Muslim leaders launched a no-tax campaign and resorted to armed revolt, particularly in Poonch region.
Hari Singh had decided not to accede either to India or Pakistan. The princely rulers had been authorised by the Indian Independence Act of 1947 – passed by the British parliament to grant Independence to India and create Pakistan – to join either of the countries.
The Maharaja wanted a standstill agreement with both the countries. Pakistan signed the agreement but used it to take control of communication channels, telegraph services and transport. By this time, Pakistan has started execution of its nefarious designs on border areas. There were guerrilla raids on bordering villages. They were looting civilians.
Hari Singh had tried to reach Pakistan with a plea to stop raiding bands from entering his princely state. He was snubbed. Also at this time, Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah was in communication with Hari Singh trying to convince him to accede to Pakistan. But Hari Singh did not agree.
Following this, Pakistan launched out its military mission masquerading as raids by tribal invaders. In truth, the whole operation was planned and executed by Pakistan Army’s officers. This has been detailed in a recently published book by Pakistan Army’s retired Major General Akbar Khan, who was part of the military plan.
Unspeakable Barbarity By Pakistani Forces
On October 22, thousands of tribal mercenaries and Pakistan Army regulars invaded the Kashmir Valley overrunning the outposts manned by the King’s forces in Muzaffarabad and other places as they headed towards Srinagar, their ultimate target.
Large-scale atrocities were committed by the invading forces. Civilians were looted, women raped, a number of them killed and even hospitals were attacked. The local Kashmiri population resisting the invaders and this was documented even in a film based on one of the heroes of Kashmiri resistance, Shahid Maqbool Sherwani.
It was only in October 2020 that the Narendra Modi government launched what is being seen as the first serious move by India to counter the Kashmir narrative set afloat by Pakistan since 1947. Accordingly, October 22 is being observed as a Black Day, a reminder of Pakistan invading the Kashmir Valley on this day 75 years ago
Sherwani was a member of the National Conference, whose leader Sheikh Abdullah – the most popular at the time – was campaigning for democracy in Jammu and Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah did not support merger with Pakistan.
Sherwani was killed by the raiders after they found out that he had tricked them by setting them on a different route when they asked him for the direction to Srinagar airport. Capturing the airport was a crucial part of Operation Gulmarg of the Pakistan Army.
The Counter Attack By India
In this background of devastation, Hari Singh reached out to the Indian government in Delhi. He signed the Instrument of Accession and the Indian troops started landing in Jammu and Kashmir on October 27.
The Indian troops launched a counter-attack. By November 8, the Indian forces secured Srinagar – the seat of the princely state. The pushback continued till mid-November, when the scale of war was reduced. The war continued with lower intensity till the end of 1948. The ceasefire agreement was officially signed in January 1949.
On August 5, 2019, India abrogated Article 370 and 35A that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Parliament adopted two resolutions in this connection one to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and second to bifurcate it into two Union Territories, namely, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Both units came under direct central rule. The Modi Government is directly looking into the affairs of J&K now, and as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has resolved the Kashmir issue by merging it wholly with India with the abrogating of Article 370.