Col J P Singh
The Princely State of J&K has been the playground of the British ‘Great Game’ since its inception. That is the sad story of J&K, which has been projected to the world differently by different historians. While doing so, they have obviously catered to the interest of powers that were influencing the geo-politics of the sub-continent. Worst of all is the misrepresentation of the facts of circumstances and events of accession of J&K after the partition of India in 1947. Untold stories of the valour of Dogras of J&K and the conspiracies and betrayal of J&K by various national and international forces before and during the accession are now out in the open with the release of this book.
History, as is known, remains prone to the vagaries of human understanding. Historic distortions are invariably the outcome of such limitations. This book is written by Maj Gen Goverdhan Singh Jamwal, the first and the last General of the Indian Army from the State Forces, and Col Ajay Raina, an accomplished author and military historian.
Both are proud sons of the soil. Between them, they are beneficiaries of ancestry and lineage. They are the seekers of the truth from peers of eternity and themselves privy to the events which led to the making of history of J&K. Such a background adds authenticity to the duo that many of the acclaimed historians simply lack. The authors have indeed gone into deep and detailed documentary research and oral narrations in compiling this compendium; no doubts then that this book can be treated as a Bible of the sort on the history of J&K, for the posterity.
Authentic details of the tactical battles fought by a handful of men to blunt the attacks of hordes of invaders, which is no less than the valour of the battle of Saragarhi, will certainly be an eye-opener of the readers of this book, much like me despite being a student of military history,which has also been endorsed by Dr Karan Singh in his Foreword of this book by words like, “Brig Rajinder Singh with few gallant Dogras saved Kashmir from the British engineered Pakistani invasion named ‘Operation Gulmarg’ launched on 22 October 1947. Had they not held on to the last man and the last bullet, the State would have been lost”. Holding on to the last bullet, easier said than done, will be clearer after reading this book. Tears will roll for their commitment to the command of their Commander Brig Rajinder Singh, the Saviour of Kashmir.
The book was released by Dr Karan Singh on 21 October 2021 in Amar Mahal, the palace where the historic ‘Instrument of Accession’ was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, handing over the Dogra Empire to India. The occasion was the historic celebration of 229thbirth anniversary of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of the proud Dogra Empire of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan, Tibet Ha-both a pleasant coincidence and well-deserved recognition.
Unlike the history of J&K authored by the likes of Christopher Snedden and Alistair Lamb, who wrote about J&K much later than the historical events of the subcontinent affecting the history of J&K,much as hearsay, sitting far away from the place of action; authors of this book, on the contrary, have written it from the place where the monumental events which shaped the history of the sub-continent happened. They have walked over the soil and the stones which have been coloured by the blood of the gallant soldiers who fought for their motherland. It is such history that enables the intelligentsia to draw lessons for a future relevance.
This book contradicts perverted versions of foreign writers with facts, figures and documentary support. As I went through the book, I regretted running after the books of foreign historians to learn the history of my motherland when the entire history was within my easy reach, thus proving, “Gharke Jogi Jogre, Bahir ke Jogi Sidh” attitude of humanity.
Dogras had fought many battles and wars independently and in support of the Sikhs and the British and each time proved their worth. Annexation of Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Western Tibet by Dogra sunder the daring leadership of legendary General Zorawar Singh, remain unparalleled. The JAK RIF Regt is the sole inheritor of 20 battle honours, and two Param Vir Chakra of the same war with hordes of gallantry awards. Never any doubts were cast on the valour of Dogras except after the treachery of Pak invasion. The story of this book tells us how bravely they saved J&K and yet got maligned in the historiography of J&K because of vested interest involved in the game of betrayal of J&K. Humiliations faced by the Dogras after partition have been covered in the book by Gen Jamwal, which will pain the lay readers in equal measure. Unfortunately, no one contradicted/defended it till now except Dr Karan Singh but perhaps mildly. I am happy to state that it has been forcefully done by the duo of the military writers but regret to say that it has been done too late; same has also been admitted by the authors. Commendably, the needful has been appropriately done nevertheless.
Revelation of betrayal of J&K by Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General, Pt Nehru, the Prime Minister, Sardar Baldev Singh, the Defence Minister and the British military officers commanding the opposing armies, by pretending to be ignorant about the dangers looming large over J&K after the partition, willy-nilly makes them a party to the Pak mechanizations of annexing Kashmir which the same people named it the ‘Crown of India’ after Maharaja acceded it. One sees conspiracy after conspiracy at every stage as one goes through the book. What our own soldiers did to their fellow soldiers of the State Forces in the name of religion is something that can put soldiering to shame. What may pain the readers is the fact of ignoring the alarm bells rung by the witnesses such as Maj OS Kalkat, who informed the Defence Minister about the impending attack three long days before the invasion. And yet no action was taken nor the Maharaja informed, as if J&K wasn’t India’s concern, despite the fact that all the Princely States were to accede to one or the other dominion after partition.Hidden facts like no efforts made nor even intentions shown to get J&K’s accession to India will amaze the readers. These were not the mere acts of omission but blunders for which the nation continues to pay with the blood of its brave hearts.
Many other revelations may be of immense interest to the readers. For example, the story of Shaheed Maqbool Sherwani’s heroism, who made the supreme sacrifice for Kashmir not necessarily for saving it from raiders per se but certainly for strengthening Sheikh Abdullah resolve to keep Jinnah away from Kashmir. His true story is given in the latter part of the book, which contradicts the existing narrative. He was a dedicated National Conference worker who tried to garland Jinnah with shoes in a public function at Baramulla in July 1947,thus winning Sheikh Abdullah’s favour. It could be one of the reasons that he was glorified for his sacrifice by Sheikh. Readers may reshape their opinion about the martyr or even challenge the narration if not convinced.
There is so much to talk about the revelations in this book. I am sure, sooner than later, Gen Jamwal and Col Raina would be the most sought-after proponents of J&K history in various universities, including Jammu University hopefully, and other fora of such debates. Overall, an interesting and inspiring reading for the public in general and Dogras in particular. It also would be invaluable for the military leaders of the nation.
Col J P Singh