Date: 26 Oct 2012

Comment \\\\\\\\\ Nehru sat unmoved as Pakistan took Gilgit\\\\\\\\\\ Sandhya Jain \\\\\\\\\\\\ 26 October 2012 \\\\\\\\\\ Indian intellectuals are having difficulty facing two overlapping anniversaries, viz., October 27, when Lord Louis Mountbatten accepted the hurried Accession by Maharaja Hari Singh after Pakistanís invasion of Jammu and Kashmir, and the fiftieth anniversary of the 1962 Sino-Indian war. Having battened on State patronage for decades, our Left-oriented intellectuals cannot cope with the criticism of Jawaharlal Nehru that is central to any honest appraisal of both military encounters in which India took a bloody nose. \\\\\\\\\\\\\ This article highlights some deliberately ignored truths of the J&K invasion despite their having trickled into the public domain. Why, for instance, did New Delhi ignore a direct warning by Major Onkar Singh Kalkat about the impending attack planned by Gen. Frank Messervy, British chief of the Pakistan Army, within days of the creation of Pakistan? Kalkat accidentally stumbled on the conspiracy and was placed under house arrest, but made a daring escape and reached Delhi on 18 October 1947. Pakistan had already imposed an economic blockade on J&K. Yet instead of rushing arms in anticipation of trouble, Nehru and the geo-strategically savvy Mountbatten sat unmoved even after Kalkatís warning, and enforced further delay by insisting that Hari Singh first sign the Instrument of Accession before sending the Army. \\\\\\\\\\\\ Academics are slowly waking up to the UNís dubious role in depriving India of Gilgit, coveted by the British to oversee Russia. In fact, Britain had leased Gilgit from the Maharaja for 60 years and integrated Gilgit Agency with the North West Frontier Province. When Gilgit was returned in August 1947, Brigadier Ghansara Singh, General Staff Officer of J&K State Forces, was appointed Governor. He was arrested on midnight of October 31, 1947, by Major Brown of the Gilgit Scouts and the Gilgit Government handed over to Pakistan soon after. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Brigadier Ghansara Singh wrote a prison diary which exposes the blunders made by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in allowing such a strategic area to fall to the enemy. Singh reveals that prior to taking up his assignment he met J&K Prime Minister Ram Chandra Kak and objected to the retention of British Officers in Gilgit Scouts as he was sure this would create problems. And even before he left Srinagar he learnt from the State Political Department that all officers of the British government had opted to serve Pakistan! Yet he was virtually sent alone to take charge of the whole Gilgit administration. \\\\\\\\\\\ The Political Agent then was Lt. Colonel Bacon who did not like the changeover, as a result of which he encountered many problems at every step of the way. The British had even emptied all stores and supplies before his arrival. \\\\\\ Six weeks into his tenure as Governor, Ghansara Singh realised the gravity of the situation on Gilgit given the attitude of the Scouts, 6th Kashmir Infantry, civilian local employees, and the local notables. Shockingly, however, he never got a response to any of his appeals from either Ram Chandra Kak, his successor General Janak Singh, and RL Batra, the then Deputy Prime Minister, a grave dereliction of duty on the part of each gentleman, unless historians establish that the missives were intercepted en route. \\\\\ Barely ten days before the uprising, Ghansara Singh went to Bunji to ascertain the strength available to him in the event of an emergency. He learnt from Lt. Colonel Abdul Majid Khan that there was only one Mohammedan Coy of Capt. Hussain Khan which was fit for operations as the Sikh Coy consisted of raw recruits. While here, he learnt of the defection of the Muslim Infantry to Pakistan side and that raiders had taken Muzaffarabad and were marching towards Baramulla. \\\\\\\\\\ With a sense of foreboding, Ghansara Singh returned to Gilgit and prepared to die in the line of duty as rumours swirled about an invasion of the Agency via Swat and Chitral. He contacted the Mirs and Governors who assured him of their loyalty and called the Raja of Punial. The Raja arrived the same evening that Ghansara was arrested (October 31 Ė November 1) and was not allowed to meet him. \\\\\\\\\\\ Singh was surrounded by about 100 Gilgit Scouts led by Major Brown, Lieutenant Haider Khan and Subedar Maj Babur Khan and arrested after an exchange of gunfire. The next morning, he was given an ultimatum to surrender or all non-Muslims would be shot dead. Local eminences like Raja Noor Ali Khan and Tehsildar Sehdev Singh urged him to accept and the Governor, who had no choice, agreed. \\\\\\\\\\ In the troubled times that followed, officers and civilians suffered greatly. Hindu and Sikh rank and file were shot on minor pretexts while there was much forcible conversion. Major Brown sent wireless messages to Peshawar asking the authorities to recognise Gilgit as part of Pakistan. On November 3, 1947, the Pakistan flag was hoisted at Gilgit. Ghansara Singh was forced to sign a telegram of surrender or all non-Muslims would be shot dead. A fortnight later, Sardar Mohammed Alam from Peshawar took over as Political Agent in Gilgit and the regular Pakistan Army poured into the Agency; Major Brown and Capt. Matheson were shunted off to Peshawar. \\\\\\\\\\\ Ghansara Singh was finally released on January 15, 1949 at Suchetgarh. He assessed the main causes of the fall of Gilgit Agency as inadequate deployment of the army, half of which comprised raw recruits who had not even done arms training; the trained Mohammedan coy sided with Pakistan at the instigation of the two British officers who played an active role in the revolution. The Mirs of Hunza and Nagir who were state guests in Srinagar had openly told the authorities that they would opt for Pakistan in Gilgit if J&K opted for India. \\\\\\\\\\ All in all, the 1947 war is a grim saga of failure of the Government in Delhi and of subsequent generations of historians and intellectuals who have not dared speak the truth about Gilgit-Baltistan. Interestingly, the Supreme Court of PoK held in a famous petition of Amanullah Khan that Gilgit-Baltistan was an integral part of J&K. \\\\\\\\\\\\\, 26 October 2012 \\\\\\\\\\\ Follow us on Twitter \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\!/vijayvaani ================================================================= 000000000