The headquarters of the 25 Infantry Division in Rajouri has a sign that commemorates the massacre of Sikhs and Hindus in Rajouri in 1947 by Pakistani raiders.
It has a letter written by an eyewitness who saw a Sikh kill his family one by one when cornered by Pakistani raiders. I had written about it soon after I visited Rajouri in the early 1990s.
It was a moving account that brought tears to the eyes of a hard-bitten fellow like me. But there is no point dwelling on these events anymore. It only generates further rancour.
What else is there to say about the 1948 "tribal" invasion of Jammu and Kashmir? The facts are all well known. We got in just in the nick of time to prevent the takeover of the Valley, Poonch and Jammu, and Ladakh and sent the blighters packing.
Pakistan suffered the first of its military disasters. But consider this. If the Pakistanis did not stupidly consider it to be the "K" in its name, J&K might have remained an independent entity.
The Maharaja did entertain notions of an independent existence and balked at signing the accession papers.
The first Indian troops landed at Srinagar Airport even as Pakistani raiders were breaching its perimeter. (Major Somnath Sharma of the 8th battalion of the 18th Hyderabad Regiment, later the 4th battalion of the Kumaon Regiment won India's first PVC here.)
Imagine the consequences implicit for India, Pakistan and China with a supposedly independent J&K wedged in between them?
|It is commonly believed that Sardar Patel wanted to settle refugees from Pakistan in J&K to create a new demographic reality. (Photo credit: Reuters)|
It could have conceivably become the platform for the Western powers to dominate this region. I don't think Pakistan was thinking of the consequences, but there is enough to suggest that Britain was thinking of the possibilities implicit in this and which is why British officers leading the Gilgit Scouts were the first to raise the banner of revolt against the Maharaja.
Many blame Jawaharlal Nehru for accepting a ceasefire in 1949 and implicitly to a partition of the state. I have serious doubts if the Indian Army in 1948 had the means to advance further without a huge build-up of forces, then not easily possible.
As it is the Indian Army had achieved the near impossible by driving the Pakistanis beyond Uri, defending Poonch and recapturing Zojila to open the road to Ladakh.
But I have also been told by the late PN Dhar, who was PM Indira Gandhi's principal secretary after PN Haksar, that Sheikh Abdullah did not want the Indian Army to take more territory in present day POK as it would have tilted the demographic balance against the Kashmiris.
I have never examined this notion in any depth, and have preferred to accept a great man's word for it. Some of you out there might want to comment (But no NaMo vs RaGa stuff please.)
It is commonly believed, I don't know if it is right or wrong, that Sardar Patel wanted to settle refugees from Pakistan in J&K to create a new demographic reality.
Like China is trying to do in Xinjiang and Tibet, and Israel is attempting in parts of the occupied West Bank territory.
This is the one big reason the RSS/BJP are desperately trying to appropriate Sardar Patel into its pantheon. It gives them a nationalist genealogy when the truth is that the RSS sat out of the freedom movement.
Every other national party can claim some lineage to the nationalist movement. The Communists only opposed the movement in 1942 as their mother nation, the USSR, was a wartime ally of Britain.
So the BJP/RSS needs Sardar Patel, despite the fact that as the first home minister of India he had warned the nation of the nefarious and unpatriotic designs of the RSS.
I was once privy to a conversation between the late Chandrashekhar and the BJP's top intellectual, Murli Manohar Joshi.
Joshi was railing against Article 370, when Chandrashekhar asked him why he found it so offensive. Joshi replied that it obstructed J&K's complete integration with India as it did not allow other Indians to buy land there and invest there.
To which Chandrashekhar asked Joshi why he didn't persuade the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh to allow other Indians to buy land in the state.
Chandrashekhar even told him that Atal Behari Vajpayee had to own his house in Kulu on a benami basis. After this Joshi, lost his loquaciousness for the rest of the evening.