On October 26, 1947, Jammu and Kashmir’s Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession after which the Indian Army landed here to drive away the tribal invaders.
Since 2020, the J&K government has been celebrating the day as the accession day which has been declared as a public holiday. After the division of the subcontinent on August 15, 1947 into two independent countries of India and Pakistan, the first Governor General of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah called the merger of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state with the newly carved out Pakistan as “the unfinished task of partition”.
In order to achieve its objective, Pakistan sent tribals of the Afridi tribe of Waziristan to invade J&K.
The arrangement with the tribal invaders was neatly worked out, they would take the loot and Pakistan would take the land.
The tribals descended on Kashmir as vultures would on an animal carcass. The army of the Maharaja was outnumbered one to ten. Despite initial resistance, it could not stop the marauding tribals, who looted, raped, and plundered like any barbaric invader would do.
Kashmir had sensed their intentions from day one and the locals fought alongside the Indian Army to drive away the invaders.
The fact that more than 6,000 Kashmiris died fighting the invaders stands out as proof to Kashmiri’s resistance to the tribal invasion.
The first Indian Air Force sortie landed at the Srinagar airport and the soldiers drove into Srinagar city on October 27, 1947.
There were many battles that the army fought with the tribals and the battle of Shalteng on the outskirts of Srinagar city was one of the largest.
Maharaja Hari Singh had left the Valley after the tribals snapped the electric supply to the palace and Srinagar city by damaging the Mohra Power Station. The engineer incharge there was killed by the tribals.
The Maharaja was also facing an uprising in the Poonch district and this was also covertly supported from across the border.
It is reported that more than 1,000 soldiers were killed while driving away the tribals.
Once uprooted from the outskirts of Srinagar city, the tribals could not get a foothold till they crossed the Kohala Bridge over the Jhelum River into areas presently under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Locals acted like the eyes and ears of the Indian army and their anger against the tribal invaders was expressed by them in multiple ways.
“Hamlawar Khabardar Hum Kashmiri Hain Tayar (Invaders beware, we are ready to fight you out)” – this slogan was heard everywhere in the Valley where locals formed small resistance groups against the invaders.
By the beginning of September 1947, general peace was established, but the fight against the invaders continued till 1948.
In 1948, the United Nations sent its group of observers to supervise the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan in J&K. This line finally became the de facto border called line of control (LoC).
Exemplary bravery was shown by the Indian Army whose 1,103 soldiers across ranks were killed fighting the tribals.
Indian army won 5 Param Vir Chakras, 47 Maha Vir Chakras and 284 Vir Chakra awards including 3 twin awards of Vir Chakra during the J&K Operations of 1947-48.
During the long campaign, the Indian Army lost 76 officers, 31 JCOs and 996 Other Ranks making a total of 1103.
Jammu and Kashmir finally won its freedom thanks to the sacrifices of the army and the locals.