The government has declared the 22nd of October this year to be the black day in the Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir. This is the day Pakistan supported tribal jihadis and attacked the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir from the west.
They plundered, raped, and murdered all through their victorious march until the very edges of capital Srinagar. Some gallant actions by soldiers under Chief of Military Staff, Brigadier Rajender Singh Jamwal delayed the jihadi raiders by two crucial days. The Brigadier attained veergati and was the first recipient of Maha Vir Chakra for being the savior of Kashmir.
It is a well-known story after that. Most of us are familiar with the story of how Kashmir acceded to Bharat, how Biju Patnaik landed in Srinagar airport, Bharatiya Army was airlifted and the war started. The Pakistani army and its supporters were stopped and pushed back to some extent. Finally, a ceasefire was agreed upon and the dispute was sent to the United Nations. That was a controversial decision. However, that is outside the scope of this article.
How Muslim soldiers betrayed Kashmir
How did a bunch of untrained tribesmen defeat the forces of Kashmir state? After all, howsoever small the forces, Kashmir did have a trained army and could have easily defeated the tribesmen. The answer lies in the betrayal by almost all the Muslim soldiers in the Maharaja’s army. This chapter of Bharatiya history has been tactfully hidden from public scrutiny, however, books on the subject frankly mention this great betrayal.
Duplicity at Tharochi Fort
On the night of 15/16 October 1947, a large party of raiders laid siege to Tharochi Fort where two companies of 2 JAK Battalion, one Gorkha and one Muslim had taken refuge. Brigadier Chhattar Singh in command of the Mirpur Brigade ordered his Brigade Major (BM), Major Nasarullah Khan to take two platoons of 3 JAK Battalion to deliver supplies and ammunition to the garrison in the Fort.
On the way, he also assumed command of two companies sent earlier to relieve the besieged garrison. He deployed the Muslim Company on perimeter defense duty outside the Fort and told the Gorkhas to rest. Nasarullah Khan then called a meeting of all Muslim officers and JCOs and hatched a plan to eliminate the non-Muslim elements. During the night, the Muslim Company mercilessly butchered the sleeping Gorkhas! The Gorkha Commander, Captain Prem Singh was strangled to death by Muslim brother officers of his own battalion. Two Gorkha JCOs and 30 Other Ranks (OR) managed to escape the massacre.
Major Nasarullah Khan then led the Muslim troops inside the Tharochhi Fort where the garrison, was unaware of the developments of the night before and received the relieving column with joy. And at night, the unsuspecting Gorkhas were all murdered in a repeat performance. Their commander, Captain Raghubir Singh Thapa was tortured to death!
Betrayal in Gilgit
Brigadier Ghansara Singh was appointed the governor of the Gilgit region by the Maharaja in August of 1947. He was to defend the region with help of Gilgit Scouts, the armed militia which owed its allegiance to Maharaja. Most of the soldiers in this body were recruited from Hunza and Nagar principalities.
Ghansara Singh also had under him soldiers of 6 J&K Infantry, with its Battalion headquarters at Bunji, 54 kilometers from Gilgit, on the road to Srinagar. The battalion had Sikhs and Muslims in equal proportion. Most of the Muslims in the battalion were from Poonch. Sensing trouble, Ghansara Singh called for help from Srinagar, but a Muslim officer who manned the telegraph office at Gilgit did not forward the messages!
On the night of 31 Oct- 01 Nov 1947 British Officers stationed in Gilgit, under the employment of Maharaja, and Muslim soldiers and officers of Gilgit Scouts treacherously captured Ghansara Singh. The 35 Sikhs of the 6 J&K Infantry at Janglot were attacked by Muslim soldiers of their own unit! Only 1 survived the massacre by jumping into the icy cold Indus river.
The other Sikh troops at Bunji got information of the massacre and tried to slip away, but most were ruthlessly hunted and killed by Gilgit Scouts and their own brothers-in-arms. The commander at Bunji, Lt Col Abdul Majid Khan, however, was a rare Muslim officer who remained loyal to Maharaja and was put under arrest. On 03 Nov 1947, Maj Brown of Gilgit Scouts hoisted the Pakistani Flag in the Scout Lines and declared for Pakistan.
Treachery in Skardu
With the arrest of Lt Col Abdul Majid Khan and the betrayal at Gilgit, the command of 6 J&K Infantry now devolved on Major Sher Jung Thapa. Skardu was east of Gilgit and an important town. 6 J&K infantry, was spread out thinly
in penny packets from Leh to Bunji. Capt Ganga Singh commanded two platoons at Kargil, which entirely comprised of Sikhs. Skardu itself was held by two platoons under Capt Nek Alam with entirely Muslim soldiers. Thapa was at Leh when Gilgit fell and he was ordered to March to Skardu with whatever troops available. He arrived there on 3rd December and immediately noticed the hostile environment. The Muslim soldiers of the battalion were being incited to rebel and Gilgit Scouts and raiders were moving towards Skardu. By mid-February, Skardu received some small reinforcements from Srinagar.
Thapa had 130 non-Muslim and 31 Muslim troops in Skardu now. He had deployed Nek Alam and his Muslim platoon 32 km towards west, on the road from Gilgit, which followed the river. Another platoon of Sikhs was positioned on the other bank of the river. This was at a place called Tsari
By the start of February, tribesmen and the traitors from 6 J&K Infantry had completed all the plans to capture Skardu. On the 9th of February, the enemies attacked. Nek Alam and his soldiers immediately changed sides. Krishna Singh and his small platoon were routed and the survivors murdered in cold blood.
They then moved towards Skardu, while Thapa was unaware of the disaster and treachery at Tsari. The first attack by raiders on 11th February was beaten back while some Muslims of Thapa’s garrison deserted. Skardu also received some more reinforcements and now had 285 soldiers. Thapa also provided shelter to all the non-Muslims of the town, which numbered around 229.
Skardu was besieged by well-armed raiders and Muslim troops, while Thapa defended it gallantly till August 14. They had fought without adequate ammunition, food, or even water. Finally, Skardu capitulated. All the surviving non-Muslims were murdered, but their women abducted, raped, and sold into brothels. Major Thapa and his orderly were the only ones kept alive. He was returned to Bharat some days after the war and was awarded Mahavir Chakra.
The story of how Muslim soldiers in Maharaja’s army, repeatedly and at multiple places, stabbed their Gorkha, Sikh, and Dogra brothers-in-arms in the back is the hidden truth of Bharat’s history. This history must be remembered to understand the Kashmir dispute in totality. Many instances in history can be recounted where traitors combined with invaders to inflict a defeat on us.
It is important that we learn from the mistakes we historically made so that our future could be secured. In 1941, the Hindu population in the area under the current occupation of Pakistan was more than 1 lakh. It was completely wiped out in massacres, especially in Rajauri, Poonch, and Mirpur. Thousands of Hindu civilians were killed and the women sold in brothels of Pakistan. Unfortunately, we are still losing the demographic battle in Bharat. Its effects are already being seen in Bengal to Kerala and Kairana.
This post was originally published in HinduPost.
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