October 22, 1947: The Black Day when Pakistan invaded Jammu and Kashmir
Pakistan had launched Operation Gulmarg to take over the territory of Jammu and Kashmir by force
The date was October 22, 1947. It would go down in history as the Black Day - the day Pakistan decided to put into operation the nefarious 'Operation Gulmarg' to invade Jammu and Kashmir and capture it by force.
Over the next few days, the bloody campaign spearheaded by tribal invaders but backed and operationalized by the Pakistan Army saw thousands of innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir being killed. Countless women were raped and numerous towns and villages were plundered and pillaged.
Operation Gulmarg was a well-thought out operation, planned and implemented by the Pakistani military and political establishments to train and arm tribal groups who would go on to invade Kashmir. Pakistan wanted to present this invasion to the world as a local uprising against Maharaja Hari Singh’s ruling dispensation.
The plan of arming tribals is referred to in the book ‘Raiders in Kashmir’, written by Akbar Khan, who was then an officer in charge of weapons and equipment in the Pakistan Army. The book also talks about Pakistan’s need to present the uprising as coming from within Jammu and Kashmir. “I wrote out a plan under the title Armed Revolt in Kashmir,” Khan writes in the book.
The fulcrum of Operation Gulmarg was a ‘Lashkar’ (army) of about 1,000 men each, to be provided by tribal groups in Kashmir’s remote areas close to Pakistan. Multiple accounts, including several from Pakistan, suggest that these groups were lured to do so with a mix of money to be paid upfront and loot from the plunder and pillage that would inevitably follow.
Once the 'Lashkars' were ready, they were trained and provided arms, ammunition and other essential supplies by units of the Pakistan Army close to the border with Jammu and Kashmir and directed to head towards Srinagar.
Their first stop was Muzaffarabad, where they indulged in widespread killing and looting.
A commentary by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), published on October 16, 2020, refers to the account of an eyewitness, Khawaja Abdul Samad. He is quoted saying, “their attack had totally devastated Muzaffarabad, the homes of Hindus and Muslims were looted, shops were plundered, places of worships were not spared; they tore down Mandirs and desecrated Masjids”.
The invaders were to then pass through Uri and Baramulla before reaching Srinagar, where they were tasked with taking over the aerodrome. It was Baramulla which bore the brunt of the atrocities once the invaders reached the town on October 26.
Getting to know about the mounting atrocities, Maharaja Hari Singh signed Jammu and Kashmir’s Instrument of Accession to India the same day.
On October 27, 1947, the first contingent of the Indian armed forces landed at Srinagar airport and immediately launched a campaign to push back the invaders before they could close in on the city.
Over the years, estimates for the number of people killed by the invaders in Jammu and Kashmir have ranged from 30,000 to 40,000, with the largest number said to have been killed in Baramulla on October 26.
EXPOSING PAKISTAN’S FALSE NARRATIVE
Unlike the false narrative that Pakistan has tried to so assiduously push over the decades, even the United Nations had taken note of the invasion being against international law. The world body also acknowledged that Pakistan Army units had subsequently moved into Jammu and Kashmir's territory.
"I was prepared to adopt the view that when the frontier of J&K was crossed, on I believe 20 October 1947, by hostile elements, it was contrary to international law, and that when, in May 1948 as I believe, units of the regular Pakistan forces moved into the territory of the State that too was inconsistent with international law," Owen Dixon, United Nations Representative for India and Pakistan, said in a letter to UN Security Council President Gladwyn Jebb on 15 September 1950.
The invasion and the ensuing massacre were also raised at the UN Security Council by Sheikh Abdullah on February 5, 1948. Here are excerpts from his speech.
"... the tribesmen across the border have poured into my country. They have been helped and are being helped by the Pakistan Government..."
"...the raiders came to our land, massacred thousands of people -- mostly Hindus and Sikhs, but Muslims too -- abducted thousands of girls, Hindu, Sikhs and Muslims alike, looted our property and almost reached the gates of our summer capital, Srinagar..."
The first signs that Pakistan was up to something sinister and deceitful had come less than a month after it became independent, along with India. Multiple incursions from Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir's territory started being reported by early September 1947.
According to the commentary by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), “On 4 September 1947, General Henry Lawrence Scott, commander of the Jammu and Kashmir State forces, complained about multiple covert incursions from Pakistan and asked the Maharaja’s government to raise this issue with Pakistan. The same day, the J&K PM Janak Singh officially complained to Pakistan and asked for “prompt actions.”
Few at that time could, however, have imagined the horrors that were to follow a little over a month later.