by Rafiq Kathwari
Nine days in October 1947 that mapped the future of Kashmir
October 23, Thursday
On my walk in the evening, I saw refugees arriving from Muzaffarabad, where it appears some trouble had started and tribesmen had infiltrated into Muzaffarabad. I found lorries arriving in large numbers with Hindu and Sikh refugees.
October 24, Friday
Today is arfa (the day before Eid-ul-Adha), as well as Dussehra (a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil). Maharaja Hari Singh went in the morning to attend the puja (ritual worship of god in Hinduism).
The ‘Salamati Fauj’ (Peace Brigade) of the National Conference is parading the streets. News about fighting in Muzaffarabad continues. In the evening, just before the radio news, the lights went off. First, we thought that it was only some trouble in the powerhouse, or on some line in the city, but later, we learnt that the staff at the Mohara powerhouse had fled, closing up the station. Grave situation is arising, seemingly.
October 25, Saturday
In the morning went to Eidgah for prayers–a record congregation. After the prayers, a minor scuffle with the National Conference people resulting from a hawker giving offensive slogans about Qaid-e-Azam. Police also arrived on the scene. No light. No radio news. Slept.
October 26, Sunday
I was awakened early by the telephone. The Maharajah, his family all other wazir’s and Rajput families have fled away during the night. Situation must be very grave. Went out to the boulevard. National Conference ‘Salamati Fuaj’ parading the streets: chaos and confusion everywhere. News about insurgents advancing: they have reached Sopore. Sheikh Abdullah has early in the morning flown to Delhi, presumably to sell musalmans of Kashmir and to hatch up an intrigue against Pakistan itself. God help us all. Reportedly, the maharaja called Sheikh Abdullah during the night to transfer power to him. The National Conference volunteers are harassing those who support Pakistan, and for whom conditions appear most apprehensive.
October 27, Monday
The National Conference has staged a coup d'état. It has set up a sort of operational headquarters in the Palladium Talkies as well as in front of the chowk. There is no civil, police or military administration working. The whole show is being run by the National Conference ‘Salamati Fauj’ under the command of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. He is the commander-in-chief and under him is everything: All tongas, lorries and other transport are being searched for refugees and others. Reportedly, lots of arms and ammunition from the Hindu and Sikh refugees have been confiscated.
In the evening, Sheikh Abdullah returned from Delhi. Prior to his arrival, the office of Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan announced that Kashmir had become free.
Sheikh Abdullah stated in his speech today that he had neither joined India nor Pakistan but had asked India for military aid, which would start arriving by plane from tomorrow. In the evening, the radio news was that Kashmir had provisionally joined India, which had accepted to give military aid until peace was restored. After that, there would be a referendum as to whether Kashmir should join India or Pakistan. Sheikh Abdullah has betrayed us, and Pakistan as well. Let us now leave everything to God.
October 28, Tuesday
After a sleepless night, very dejected and broken-hearted; prayed.
Both our office and residence telephones have been cut as have the telephones of all Muslim Leaguers, and also some officials who are not on the good books of the National Conference, as well as the Maulvi House, and the daily Hamdard. Planes with Sikh troops arriving: about five planes observed but the actual number not known. According to a bulletin issued by the National Conference high command, anarchy continues. Sheikh Abdullah is reported to have formed a government, the personnel not yet definitely known. Today’s news from Pakistan Radio: Pakistan has protested in the USA about Kashmir’s accession to the Indian Dominion. Tomorrow, Lord Mountbatten and Pandit Nehru are arriving in Lahore to have a meeting with Qaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan. Situation continues to be serious.
October 29, Wednesday
Three persons shot dead at Jamia Masjid by the ‘Salamaiti Fauj.’Troops are arriving by aeroplanes. Sheikh Abdullah has again flown to Delhi. The ‘Salamti Fauj,’ is again going round the city harassing supporters of Pakistan. Chaos continues. Panic spreading. The insurgents reported to be advancing, and the casualties among Indian troops believed to be high. The National Conference reports that the military has checked the advance of the insurgents and that their position is very strong. The expected meeting in Lahore today between Qaid-e-Azam and Lord Mountbatten and Pandit Nehru concerning Kashmir did not take place.
At 1:30 in the night, police and a magistrate arrived to arrest my father. He did not give himself up. The worse is yet to happen. We should be prepared. These are very mean tactics of the National Conference. Our only sin is we hold a different view. Let us see what God does. Truth Right and Justice will ultimately win.
October 30, Thursday
The three dead yesterday were buried today at Jamia Masjid, calmly. The ‘anarchy government’ has imposed a 24-hour-curfew in Muslim Conference quarters on the other side of Zaina Kadal (4th bridge) across the Jhelum, in ward 5 and 8. Pakistan will not recognize Kashmir’s accession to India, as per radio news. Sardar Qayyum has appealed to all Muslim countries for help on Kashmir. There is little authentic news about insurgents.
October 31, Friday
Sheikh Abdullah has formally taken over as head of the Kashmir administration. There has been no change in the cabinet. In fact, the constitutional position is rather obscure. After taking over at about 11a.m, Sheikh Abdullah delivered a speech in the secretariat in which he enumerated the circumstances under which Kashmir had joined India. He appealed to the Qaid- e-Azam to call back the raiders. He said he was prepared to go to Karachi if the Qaid- e-Azam wished him to do so. Later, the Sheikh went for prayers to the Hazratbal shrine where he also delivered a speech in which he appealed to all parties to cooperate, but in practice the Muslim Conferencites are being treated in the worst possible manner.
Defense Council meeting about Kashmir taking place tomorrow in Lahore between the representatives of India and Pakistan, in which both Lord Mountbatten and Qaid-e-Azam participating. Little news about insurgents but reportedly advancing.
It was the first time in history since the construction of the Jamia Masjid hundreds of years ago that its gates have been locked for the faithful who wished to offer juma prayers. Remember, not any infidel government but our own musalmans Sher-e-Kashmir anarchist government did it.
Note: In 1953, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad became the Prime Minister after deposing Sheikh Abdullah, who was removed and jailed for 18 years by Pandit Nehru on a specious charge. In 1974, Sheikh Abdullah again became the Chief Minister after signing an accord with Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter. The Sheikh kept Kashmir quiet for Delhi till his death in 1982 when his son, Farooq, became the Chief Minister, and then, his son, Omar, who, in November 2014, lost an election to the People Democratic Party which now administers Kashmir in a coalition with the BJP, India’s Right Wing Party. Meanwhile, the Kashmir valley is the most militarized zone in our galaxy.
Rafiq Kathwari’s new collection, In Another Country, is now available here.