Genesis of the Kashmir Problem

India and Pakistan gained independence amidst population displacement and violence. Kashmir became the major bone of contention during the Partition. War with Pakistan in August 1947 led to the signing of instrument of accession between Maharaja Hari Singh and Government of India on 26th October 1947.

This further caused tensions in Pakistan and it sent its troops and Mujahideens to take over Kashmir. War of 1947 was the first of the many wars between India and Pakistan. Two other states were Army under took operations to ensure national integration, were Hyderabad where operation Polo was launched. Other one was in Goa, the Portuguese and their sympathisers were driven out by the combined action of Navy, Air Force and the Army and the operation was called Vijay.

In August 1947 when the Indian subcontinent became independent, rulers of the 565 princely states, whose lands comprised two-fifths of India and a population of 99 million, had to decide which of the two new countries to join, India or Pakistan. This is how India looked like before 1947.

The ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, whose state was situated between the two new countries, could not decide which country to join. The King, Maharaja Hari Singh was a Hindu but his population was predominantly Muslim. Instead he signed a "standstill" agreement with Pakistan in order that services such as trade, travel and communication would be uninterrupted. India did not sign a similar agreement.

Pakistan violated this agreement as soon as it was signed and started applying economic and other pressures to force it to accede to Pakistan. The only rail link with Jammu & Kashmir was cut off and the traffic along the main road Srinagar-Rawalpindi was also interfered with. When these pressures failed, tribal raids were organized from Pakistan into various parts of Jammu & Kashmir. This became the beginning of the Kashmir problem.

Invasion of Kashmir Valley

The invasion of the valley was carried out from across the Pakistan border. The invasion was well planned and carried out in two phases. When first phase commenced thousands of raiders came across the border and carried out several border raids along the Pakistan - Kashmir border. This phase started on 20th October 1947. These raiders mostly comprised of Hazara and Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province.

The invaders came into Kashmir in two lots. One from Muzaffarabad towards Srinagar and the other came from Nowshera-Poonch area. They quickly captured towns and villages and came up to Srinagar town. On 24th October the ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, sent an urgent message to Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, seeking immediate India's help to stop the invaders.

When Pakistan launched a large-scale offensive, Kashmir accepted to merge with India by signing the Instrument of Accession on 26th October 1947. Indian army was quickly deployed in Srinagar and Poonch and defeated the invaders.

Major Battles During the War in 1947-48

During the war of 1947-48, the Indian Army took part in several battles at different areas. It happened during the winter and summer seasons.

Operation Gulmarg: Battle in Srinagar

Three hundred men of 1 Sikh, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai, were flown to Srinagar on the morning of 27th October. Colonel Rai's task was to secure the airfield as well as Srinagar town. The raiders were delayed for nearly two days by Col Rai's gallantry efforts. This valuable time enabled our army to rush more troops to Srinagar airfield. Colonel Rai had played a vital role in the defence of Srinagar and was awarded Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.

Battle of Shelatang

Airplanes of the Indian Air Force brought in more troops, guns and ammunition at Srinagar airfield. The next task was to throw out the invaders from the Kashmir valley. This was done by one brigade sized force of the Indian Army. The main attack took place in a place called Shelatang. The attack was so quick and fierce that the enemy was defeated within 20 minutes.

All the raiders panicked and ran towards Muzaffarabad. The Indian Air Force bombed and fired at the raiders causing huge casualities. Baramula town and Uri were captured quickly thus ending the war in Kashmir valley.

Attack on Naushera

The winter months meant hardly any operations in the north and action was confined to the south, in Jammu area. Enemy was concentrating his troops for an attack on Naushera which was an important place between Jammu and Poonch. The enemy attacked Naushera on the night of 5th and 6th February from three sides. After a bitter battle, the attack was repulsed with heavy losses to the enemy. It was also the biggest battle of the Kashmir War. Enemy was defeated because of our very effective Artillery.

Attack on Poonch

The raiders attacked Poonch town in October 1947 and surrounded it. Indian Army led by Lieutenant Colonel Pritam Singh was already inside the Poonch and he started defended the town. The army went on patrols by night and fought and killed the raiders. This action did not allow the enemy to enter Poonch town.

Later in December 1947, Air Force landed their aircraft carrying more troops and guns. Similar to what was done in Srinagar. Because of the attacks by raiders, the area faced problem of refugees & their settlement. The Air Force aircraft after dropping the army soldiers carried the refugees to Jammu and other safe areas. The daring attacks by Indian Army stopped the raiders from coming any further.

Attack on Kargil: Operation Bison

Pakistani invaders had come to Kargil also. An operation was launched on 01 November 1948 through Zoji La pass to capture Kargil. It was a daring attack led by General Thimayya. He used tanks, artillery and Air Force to defeat the Pakistanis. By 22 November 1947 all areas upto Kargil were free of the invaders.

At this time Colonel Sher Jung Thapa defended Skardu. He defeated all attacks by the enemy for one long year without any additional troops or ammunition. Finally he had to surrender to the Pakistanis as no reinforcement could be provided to him and Skardu is now in Pak occupied Kashmir (POK).

The Ceasefire

The Kashmir dispute was referred to the U.N. on the advice of Lord Mountbatten by the then Prime Minster, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. In December 1947, India had complained with the United Nations Organisation about the attack on Kashmir, by regular and irregular troops from across Pakistan.

In the early stages Pakistan kept denying that her troops were involved in the fighting, and was saying that it was a revolt by the local tribes; later on, however, Pakistan accepted her direct involvement.

The United Nations Security Council, by a resolution of 13th August 1948, called for an immediate cease-fire between the two sides and for setting up of a commission to supervise the cease-fire. Both sides agreed to the cease-fire and it came into being on 1st January 1949. And a commission known as United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was set up to supervise the ceasefire. United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was made responsible to ensure that either side did not violate the ceasefire line.