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chapter 9 Kashmir and the McMahon Line Even as the Second World War raged across the globe, Gandhi and the Indian National Congress waged a relentless campaign under the popular slogan ‘‘Quit India’’ to force the British to leave India. By late 1942 Viceroy Lord Linlithgow’s response was to deploy thousands of troops and quell the disturbances with tremendous violence. However, most British political leaders recognized that Indian self-rule was inevitable.The election of a new Labour government under the leadership of Clement Attlee made this opinion official . However, subsequent negotiations to create a unified India failed, and the British government decided to transfer power to two independent nations , India and Pakistan. Numerous semi-autonomous princely states, relics of the British conquest during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, were incorporated into the Indian union. Problems arose when two of them, Junagadh and Hyderabad, both under Muslim rulers, attempted to join Pakistan. Both states were deep within Indian territory and had overwhelmingly Hindu populations. In response, the Indian government sent troops to ‘‘reintegrate’’ the princely states with India. Pakistan protested the Indian police actions but did not act. A third such situation, however, proved to be far more contentious .The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir,often referred to as Kashmir , was ruled by a Hindu Dogra ruler who favored independence.The state’s population was split between three groups: a Muslim majority in the west, a large Hindu minority in Jammu to the south, and a predominantly Buddhist population in Ladakh to the east. Further complicating the issue was that Kashmir, unlike landlocked Junagadh and Hyderabad, shared its borders with India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Afghanistan. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Pakistani president, was determined to absorb Muslim-dominated Kashmir while giving up the Hindu-dominated Jammu region. On the other hand, Nehru, the Indian prime minister and a member of the Kashmiri pandit, or teacher, elite, wanted the entire province to be part of India as a symbol of the secular aspirations of the new nation. While Kashmir’s Hindu ruler, Hari Singh, dithered between independence and union with India, an enraged Jinnah decided to use force to settle the issue. After instituting an eco159 Kashmir and the McMahon Line nomic blockade Pakistan launched a full-scale invasion. Two months after becoming an independent republic on 15 August 1947 Indian troops flew into Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, to confront thousands of tribal raiders whom the Pakistani army had armed, trained, and coordinated. The attackers were not Pakistani army regulars but tribesmen recruited from northern Pakistan. On 26 October 1947 a desperate Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, thereby handing over his kingdom to India. The very next day the headquarters of the First Sikh flew into Srinagar. Kashmir The first Indo-Pakistan War has been the longest war (October 1947–November 1948) fought between Pakistan and India to date. Coming as it did a mere three years after the conclusion of the Second World War, it showcased the capabilities of the newly independent Indian and Pakistani armies. At a tactical level it highlighted the use or attempted use of skills learned during that war, but the operational performance is probably of greater interest, as few Indian officers and even fewer Pakistani officers obtained hands-on experience commanding units above the battalion level. Indeed, the independent Indian army’s first battle experience came as a rude shock. Because the tribal Lashkars outgunned and outnumbered them, the First Sikh and later the 161st Brigade had to fight a desperate defensive action to save Srinagar. The outlying towns of Baramula and Bagdam fell on 28 October and 3 November, respectively. However, the Indian brigade commander , a decorated (Distinguished Service Order) World War Two veteran, L. P. (‘‘Bogey’’) Sen, successfully organized a counterattack on the Lashkars who had closed in on the First Sikh at milestone 4 on the road from Baramula to Srinagar. The plan was a masterpiece of mobility and indirect approach .While the First Sikh held up the tribal column, Sen deployed the First Kumaon (parachute) to its southwest, flanking the roadbound enemy’s right side. Additionally, he ordered two armored cars of the Seventh Cavalry to motor down the Sambal road to the enemy column’s rear on the ShalatengBaramula highway.1 Sen launched that attack at 5:00 pm on 7 November with complete surprise, resulting in the total rout of the tribals.2 The battle of Shalateng was a...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780803240612
MARC Record
OCLC
60714474
Pages
440
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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