On October 22, 1947, kabailis (tribesmen), backed by regular Pakistani army, attacked Jammu and Kashmir. To prevent the kabailis from occupying more areas, the Indian Army, with the Indian Air Force, landed in Srinagar on October 27 and since then the day is celebrated every year as Martyrs Day and also as Infantry Day.
The tribesmen supported by Pakistani soldiers swarmed across the Jhelum river and began systematic plunder, arson, rape and mindless killing of the unarmed and innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir. The state forces headquarters at Srinagar were informed and Brigadier Rajinder Singh reached Uri on October 23, 1947. The force of approximately one company held out against about 4000 tribesmen till October 24, 1947 and later withdrew to Mohura. Despite high casualties, the soldiers were able to hold the enemy till October 26, 1947, when they were overrun and almost all of them perished fighting. Brig Rajinder Singh, killed in the attack, was awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously.
The raiders entered Baramulla town on October 26, 1947 and promptly set about raping, plundering and killing. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were killed and looted without discrimination while women were forcibly abducted to be sold in the streets of Rawalpindi and Peshawar or to live as slaves in distant tribal territories.
While Baramulla was being ransacked, Maharaja Hari Singh requested military assistance from the government of India, paving the way for induction of Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Maharaja later signed an instrument of accession with India, which was accepted by the then Governor General. Apart from the men in uniform, civilians also played a crucial role in liberating the valley. Very few people know that a civilian washerman, Ram Chander, won a Mahavir Chakra for rescuing an officer wounded during an ambush, shooting down several enemy troops in the process.
1-Sikh deployed at Gurgaon was ordered to concentrate in Delhi on October 26, 1947. The first battalion of Sikh Regiment, commanded by Lt Col Dewan Ranjit Rai, made a historic airlift to Srinagar on October 27, 1947 for the defence of Kashmir with the first aircraft landing in Srinagar airport at 0930 hrs. The raiders were now barely 60 km from Srinagar. Intelligence reports received by Col Rai revealed that they had not reached Baramulla. He then left a portion of 1-Sikh to guard the airfield and moved forward to Baramulla via Pattan, a small town 17 miles from Srinagar.
After advancing 34 miles from Srinagar on this road, Col Rai ordered his troops to take up positions around the hills east of Baramulla. He took a small party with him and when it had moved halfway into the town of Baramulla, the raiders fired on them.
Col Rai was killed by a burst of automatic fire from a hill outside the town of Baramulla, but the attack on Pattan defence did not materialise as expected. This was probably because the raiders were unsettled by the appearance of this force and were unsure of their strength. They instead decided to fan out and bypass the Pattan defence and head for Srinagar .
Mohammad Maqbool Sherwani laid down his life in defence of the ideals of Kashmir and India at a young age of 35 on November 7, 1947, when the raiders were heading for Srinagar, fall of which would have installed a theocratic government in the state. However, between those ambitions and a secular Kashmir, Mohammad Maqbool Sherwani stood like a rock. Deliberately misguiding the infiltrators on to wrong routes, he made them lose four precious days by which time the Indian Army was able to reach Srinagar for its defence and that proved to be a turning point for the future of Kashmir and India.
Having delayed the infiltrators, he informed the high command at Srinagar but in the process was caught at Sangrama by the Pakistani intruders. In return for his safety, he was asked to raise pro-Pakistani and anti-India slogans but he refused and instead shouted ?Hindu, Muslim Ithad?. On November 7, peeved at this, he was brought back to Baramulla and tied to a pole near a local cinema, his body was nailed and 14 bullets were pumped into him. His body was left hanging for two-three days till the Indian Army came and brought it down for burial at the location of present Sherwani Memorial.
It was on this day in 1947 that the 170-km Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, also known as the Jhelum Valley road, was closed for traffic. However, the road was reopened on April 7 last year when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched a cross-border bus service?Karvaan-e-Aman?between PoK and Jammu and Kashmir following an agreement between India and Pakistan to allow divided families to meet each other after nearly 58 years. (KSK)