Friday, August 19, 2011

Mohammed Yusuf Saraf, Kashmir’s Fight for Freedom

 "Kashmir's Fight for Freedom" by Mohammed Yusuf Saraf, who rose to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of "Azad" Jammu Kashmir (AJK).

“A large number of tribals, without wasting any time, arraigned themselves against the people of Baramulla and within a few hours many buildings were gutted. Houses built of pucca bricks were forcibly entered into and plundered, the inhabitants being held in thrall at the pain of death. Scores of houses on the left bank of Jhelum were burnt to ashes.”

“The Mother Superior of St. Joseph Hospital, three nuns and a British couple staying there were slain. Three of my Hindu neighbours – Shambhu Nath, Ved Lal and Arjan Nath – schoolteachers all, were murdered. As far as looting and arson went, no distinction was made between Hindus and Muslims.”

“For instance, when a tribal started to forcibly snatch away a blanket from a poor weaver called Ghani – the father of four daughters – he asked him, “Is it for this purpose that you have come to Kashmir?” Ghani was shot dead on the spot. The local cinema hall was turned into a veritable brothel. Exercising abundant caution, a well to do family sent all its women out of town. Due to some reason, one daughter-in-law of the house was unfortunately left behind. When a tribal spotted her, he ordered her to the camp. Displaying presence of mind, the girl sought permission to don new clothes and to carry her jewellery. The permission was granted. The girl entered a large room where fodder for horses was stored. She set the fodder on fire and herself jumped in. Not only the girl and her house, two hundred other houses of the mohalla were reduced to ashes.”

“A city dweller named Rasul, who owned an oil press, invited two hundred tribals for dinner. After having eaten, the ‘guests’ demanded women. Fortunately all women had been sent out earlier and there was just an old granny in the house. The tribal went away in thorough disgust.”

“The Kashmiri Pandit women wear a particular piece of jewellery in their ears which is never taken off during the lifetime of their husbands. The tribals, without giving them the opportunity to remove these themselves, tore at them mercilessly, leaving the ears of the women spouting blood.”

“While plundering houses, they did not stop only at cash and jewellery. Samovars and brass utensils were also looted, thinking them to be made of gold. Some tribals were seen wearing ferans that are the particular apparel of women.”

(Mohammed Yusuf Saraf, Kashmir’s Fight for Freedom, p.906-908) 

Baramullah's population of 14,000 before the invasion of October 22 1947 was reduced to 1,000 by the time the Indian Army freed it in the first week of November. The men had been killed. Something like 4,000-5,000 women of all communities had been transported back in lorries to be sold in markets in Peshawar, Rawalpindi etc. I have said this on the basis of my readings of the newspapers of the time etc but would much appreciate any further references.

Akbar Khan's *Raiders in Kashmir*- The Hurriyat's denial of it is therefore their central falsehood

Former President of Muslim League, Sardar Shoukat Hayat Khan, gave major details about the tribal invasion in an interview with Daily Jung, London in April 1995. Later his book ‘The Nation that Lost Its Soul’ and its Urdu translation ‘Gum Gashta Qaum’ were published and appeared in the market. Sample some excerpts from the book of Sardar Shoukat Hayat Khan:

“I was appointed supervisor of the Kashmir Operation. I requisitioned the services of Brigadier Sher Khan and Brigadier Akbar Khan. Both were from 6/13 Frontier Force (Puffers). We also requested that we be supplied with the guns of local make like the ones that were in the Lahore Fort. Apart from this we also included former INA general Kayani, Colonel Dara and Taj Khanzada in this expedition.”

(Gum Gashta Qaum, p.278)

“ Taj Khanzada was appointed Commander of Baramulla and General Kayani was entrusted with the job of breaching Kathua road, so that Akhnoor be taken over and the land link between India and Kashmir snapped.

“At this time Ghulam Mohammed, the Finance Minister of Pakistan, recommended the inclusion of a relative of his in the High Command. This was Major Khurshid Anwar, a reserve officer of the Railway Battalion who had – during the time of the referendum in NorthWest Frontier Province – played truant as the Commander of Muslim League National Guard. His sole qualification was that he and Ghulam Mohammed were cousins. I rejected this recommendation on the grounds that I could not entrust military command to a non-military person. But Ghulam Mohammed (Finance Minister) and Liaqat Ali Khan insisted that his inclusion be accepted to make the National Guard happy.

(ibid, p.218)

“We selected the tribes near the Black Mountains of Swat to occupy the frontier mountain ranges of Kashmir. We also decided to keep tribes of other areas out of this war to maintain the element of a surprise, sudden attack and the secrecy required for the same.”

“We had decided upon a date in September as the D-Day. It came to be known that Khurshid Anwar had gone missing. He had married a Muslim League woman worker in Peshawar and disappeared for his honeymoon.”

“I reached the Muzaffarabad border, beyond which I did no have permission to go lest a Pakistani Minister be arrested in Kashmir. This war had to be seen as a popular uprising.”

“At Baramulla, the tribals refused to take orders from Khurshid Anwar. The tribals started treating the three lakh rupees from the treasury as their own ….. during this time they started looting the locals. The lockets and collars of the nuns of Baramulla Convent were snatched. The tribals went on a looting spree in the market. Thus, precious time was lost.
We lost Kashmir due to our own follies.”

(ibid, p.280)

Sardar Shoukat Hayat Khan makes a surprising revelation in his book. Lord Mountbatten had come to Lahore for a meeting with Liaqat Ali Khan. After dinner Mountbatten told Liaqat Ali Khan that he was carrying the message from the Iron Man of India, Sardar Patel, that Pakistan should get out of Hyderabad and Junagarh since both were Hindu majority states and had no overland link with Pakistan. In return India would withdraw its forces from Kashmir which could then accede to Pakistan.
Shoukat Hayat says that after conveying this message, Mountbatten retired for the night to the Government House, while two or three of us colleagues stayed back. We went up to Liaqat Ali Khan and said to him that we may consider Patel’s proposal regarding the exchange of Hyderabad in lieu of Kashmir, since we did not have a just claim on Hyderabad in any case.
Turning to me, Liaqat Ali Khan replied: Sardar Sahib, do you think I have lost my mind to accept the proposal and give up Hyderabad, which is bigger than Punjab province, for a few mountains of Kashmir?

(ibid, p. 280, 281)

Stating the reasons for the tribal incursion into Kashmir, Sardar Shoukat Hayat Khan writes:
“India accepted the Security Council resolution as per which the decision about Kashmir had to be arrived at through a referendum. It kept on putting off this referendum on one or the other pretext. Even after assuring the United Nations on oath, it reneged on its decision to hold a plebiscite. We saw through the deceit of India and the Maharaja and decided to enter Kashmir.”

(ibid, p.278)

Subroto Roy Mr Kaul, thank you *very much* for this addition. Akbar Khan's *Raiders in Kashmir* needs to be uploaded onto the Internet for all too. The attack changed everything in Kashmir; it was because of the attack that Hari Singh and Sh Abdullah came together and allied themselves with one another and with India; it is because of the attack that the history and present of Kashmir has been what it is. The Hurriyat's denial of it is therefore their central falsehood, since that is the basis for India and Pakistan carving up by military contest the ownerless anarchic territory that Dogra J&K had become.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

US senator McCain arrives in Kashmir - Hindustan Times

US senator McCain arrives in Kashmir - Hindustan Times

US senator John McCain arrived in Kashmir on Tuesday just two days after visiting Pakistan and meeting its top political leadership, including Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. McCain, who was a presidential candidate in the previous US polls, arrived in Srinagar in a special US plan

on Tuesday. The US senator's visit has come as a shot in the arm of the chief minister Omar Abdullah-led J-K government as the republican leader avoided meeting any separatist leaders, including moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
The Mirwaiz, who seeks the US intervention in the Kashmir problem, has been for years now harping on "use of US good offices to push India into a dialogue to resolve the problem". The Mirwaiz was unavailable for his comments.

McCain, at present a member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee and ardent opponent of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, met governor NN Vohra earlier in the day.

"During the wide ranging discussions lasting for about two hours, McCain and the state governor exchanged views on various important issues of mutual interest," said a Raj Bhawan spokesman without divulging details of the contents of the discussion.

Significantly, the meeting was attended by top army official, including Northern Army Commander Lt General K. T. Parnaik and Corps Commander, XV Corps Lt. General SA Hasnain.

The Republican leader, who went for sightseeing on the banks of Dal Lake, also met Abdullah in the afternoon at his residence. Both engaged in a discussion about the prevailing ground situation in Kashmir and the security scenario.

Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani downplayed the US senator's decision not meet separatists. "India is trying to use its influence over the US. The senator visiting Kashmir and not meeting freedom fighters is not bothering. Our struggle is just and for the basic right to self-determination, which has been snatched and suppressed at the gun point by India," said Geelani.

Geelani said "it's moral responsibility upon the US to support genuine people's movement and the majority sentiment of the people of Kashmir if it claims to be a democracy". "Whether the US support us or not, we will continue our struggle for justice and for right to self determination," said Geelani.

McCain is scheduled to visit a temple tomorrow in Srinagar and will leave thereafter.

Jammu Kashmir & Laddakh

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