Tribal Raid of 1947:   Sheikh Abdullah’s narrative missing real story

Indian soldiers fighting in 1947 war

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in his autobiography “Blazing Chinar” ( 2016 edition, Gulshan Books Srinagar) in chapter 36 titled “Medley of Internal Troubles” has in a real medley of things connected “accession” & “sending of Indian troops” to Kashmir to the “Tribal Raid” of 23rd October, 1947. However, he openly admits that it was only at his repeated “request” & after his approval of “accession” that Nehru agreed to dispatch troops to Srinagar. 1. He further admits that in “the ensuing darkness” of Tribal Raid that was likely to “take away nationhood & freedom” of Kashmiris, he “had gone to seek the Indian leaders’ help”. 2.

At the threshold, one is within one’s right of asking, as to by “supporting & confirming” accession with India & “requesting for dispatching Indian troops to Kashmir promptly”, whose “sovereignty & nationhood”, he claims to have had been protecting? Apparently, it wasn’t “Kashmiri” at all, as he avers.  That said; let us now refer to the facts & circumstances, as below that have had “closest & most real connection” with the developments of the last week of October, 1947 which are intentionally missing in the whole narrative of SMA in the cited chapter.

 (A) Sheikh’s release from prison:

Firstly, Tribal Raid took place on 23rd October, 1947. SMA was released from the prison on 29th day of September, 1947, though he was serving three years’ imprisonment on sedition charges, and his abrupt release from jail “was no princely whim on the part of the Maharaja” , 3. but it was pre-planned by Nehru who had secured his pre-mature freedom from prison for a “job-role” which is clear from a letter dated 27-09-1947 written by Nehru to Patel that contains as under:

“That the Maharaja should make friends with the NC so that there might be this popular support against Pakistan. Indeed, it seems to me that there is no other course open to the Maharaja but this: to release Sheikh Abdullah and the NC leaders, to make a friendly approach to them, seek their co-operation and make them feel that this is really meant, and then to declare adhesion to the Indian Union. Once the State accedes to India, it will become very difficult for Pakistan to invade it officially or unofficially without coming into conflict with the Indian Union”.  4.

On 29-09-1947, SMA was released from detention which was followed a few days later by release of other NC leaders; but nothing was done to free Choudhary Ghulam Abbas & his Muslim Conference colleagues at that time, 5, albeit they had not been convicted of serious charges of sedition like SMA. 6 Releasing Abdullah and his followers helped to “bring about the accession of Kashmir to the Indian union”. 7. His release was the price of the accession which was to follow.  8.

(B) Sheikh’s speeches & actions after his release:

Secondly, immediately after his release, SMA set up a number of meetings & declared on 05-10-1947 before a gathering of one lakh people at Hazuri Bagh (present day Iqbal Park) Srinagar that “I don’t know why I was arrested nor do I know why I’ve been released. We want first “freedom” & then only we can think of “accession”. If we have to decide about our accession, we will have to keep in mind Indian “baniyas” who constitute market for our Kashmir art & craft, on the one hand, and Pakistani “tangewalas”, on the other hand. We shall be cut to pieces before we allow alliance between JK and Pakistan….” 9. It may be noticed here that hundreds of Kashmiri-Muslim-families who had settled years before in parts of East Punjab were returning home (Kashmir valley) same time as they had escaped death, lost all their belongings (at the hands of Hindu & Sikh rioters) and reached home half-naked and in tears. 10. Since the basic pattern for accession by the Princely States to India or Pakistan was being decided exclusively on a communal basis, there can be no doubt that the sense of Sheikh Abdullah’s statement was decidedly pro-Indian-at least anti-Pakistani. The Sheikh’s subsequent actions are likewise significant. 11.

(C) Sheikh’s reprimanding Massodi:

Thirdly, after release from prison, NC workers gathered in the lawn of Pather Masjid, Srinagar to decide about future course of action that was to be adopted. In his address, Mawlana Masoodi stated that as new Dominion of Pakistan had taken birth, the party leadership should rethink about its secular political outlook. He was undoubtedly advocating accession with Pakistan. Revealing his anti-Pak mindset, SMA at this time interrupted Mawlana Masoodi & told the workers that “Mawlana Masoodi was in jail, has been released just yesterday & does not know anything about the outside world”. SMA had disclosed same pro-Indian mindset to Moti Ram Bogra also when in 1946 he had met him in Badrawah jail. 12.

(D) Opposing Poonch revolt & supporting Dogra rule:

Fourthly, after campaigning for accession with India after his release, SMA visited Delhi where he reaffirmed his policy of joining against Pakistan & confirmed that the Poonchis were in open revolt against the ruler, Maharaja. 13. It may be noted here that the Poonchis who had already in June, 1947 started revolt against the Maharaja’s oppression & excesses were ex-service men of Indian & Dogra Armies. They had fought in WW 2nd for British & when they returned home, their hearts were brimmed with anger and eyes with tears when they saw and heard from their people about the excruciating atrocities of the Dogra rulers inflicted on them which included back-breaking exorbitant taxation on all household items [even]. They were supported in their rebellion by people of Sialkot, Muzaffarad & NWFP tribesmen. 14. The Kashmiris had themselves instigated the Kashmir dispute , & not Pakhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan, as India has long claimed, & in which claim Pakistan has, surprisingly, long acquiesced ,15)., more so,  because of local NC plus Indian propaganda as there was no way to counter it then as NC dominated entire political landscape of Kashmir then & there was no vibrant mass media & effective political opposition, either.

(E) Secret talks of Maharajah through R L Batra with SMA:

Fifthly, the Maharaja was steadily losing control over large parts of his State (in Poonch areas, Rawalkote) & to deal with the urgency, he had to have the support of SMA and his NC. By the time of M C Mahajan’s appointment as PM of JK, the Maharaja through his Deputy Prime Minister, RL Batra was already engaged in negotiations with Sheikh Abdullah, then still in prison (but under much improved conditions) on the kind of terms which might secure SMA’s freedom in exchange for his collaboration with the Maharaja’s Government over the accession question. 16.

(F) Patiala troops pre-stationed in Srinagar:

Sixthly, as Sikh ruler of Patiala had already met Hari Singh in his palace at Srinagar in last week of July 1947 & as he had already acceded to India, his Patiala State Troops had already become part of Indian Army & were already stationed in Srinagar since at least 17th October, 1947.  Patiala troops were already garrisoned in Jammu, even before that. Without Delhi’s complicity, the stationing of Patiala State Troops in Jammu & Srinagar was simply impossible.  17

(G) Nehru-Abdullah knew of Tribal Raid:

Seventhly, Nehru through “red shirts” (Congress-workers of Sarhadi Gandhi of NWFP) knew in advance about the possible Tribal Raid. As Henru had informed SMA in advance about Tribal Raid, SMA had taken his family members out of Kashmir and left them at Indore with a relative on October 14. 18

(H) Scathing attack against tribals:

Eighthly, SMA in the cited 36th chapter has not only condemned the Pathans’ Attack on Kashmir on 23rd October in the harshest language but has leveled all kinds of abuses and charges of mass murder, arson, loot & rape of women against them. This narrative is shared almost by all Indian authors in unison for obvious reasons. However, SMA is totally silent in this narrative under this chapter 36 of his autobiography about the FOLLOWING FACTS: 

(1) In the months of August-September, armed gangs of Hindus & Sikhs who had started pouring in three predominant Hindu districts of Jammu after fleeing from NWFP & West Punjab following Partition had started large scale atrocities on the local Muslim population in collaboration with Dogra Army. 19.

(2) By 15th August, there were many meetings and demonstrations in Poonch (95 % Muslim) in favour of Kashmir joining Pakistan. Martial law was introduced and meetings fired upon. Then, the whole district except for Poonch city itself was in rebel hands who were ex-Servicemen of Anglo-British Army. 20.

 (3) As the Muslims fell to “the bullets & swords of Hindus & Sikhs, in tribal areas the Pathans called for a holy war of revenge against their bothers’ killers”. 21. Evidence showed that Dogra forces were “combing out all those who are known to be supporters of Kashmir’s accession to the Pakistan Dominion”. There were “innumerable instances of looting of the houses of political workers. In Baramula and Rampur, several people have been shot dead on the mere suspicion that they were welcoming the armies of liberation” (tribesmen). 22.

 (4) On the basis of recorded versions of several foreign authors and historians, it has been held that tribal invasion was a natural reaction of the Pathans against Dogra & Sikh atrocities on their Muslim brethren of J & K & that it was not possible for Pakistani authorities even to stop them, keeping in view their centuries old traditions of helping their coreligionists against any non-Muslim oppression. 23.

(5) On 13th July , 1953 at Mazar e Shudah, Srinagar SMA said: “ all the stories of killings and looting that were spread & narrated [by NC cabals ] among the Kashmir masses have on an investigation been found totally baseless & unfounded”. 24. “Don’t use cuss words against them because they (Pathans) were angels.  We had maligned them under compulsive situation”. SMA confessed before a well known Kashmiri poet in Jammu who later conveyed it to the publishers of Shabnum Qayoom’s book. 25. These admissions of SMA himself leave no further scope for discussing the propaganda that NC & its cadres had launched against the tribal people to ensure that JK was smoothly glided down the Indian way. 26.

(6) Muslim Massacre of 13th July 1931, outside Central jail, Srinagar, had motivated & mobilised thousands of volunteers across United Punjab to enter the territory of Jammu & Kashmir to express solidarity with its oppressed Muslims & huge demonstrations by Kashmiri-Muslims against the ruler’s atrocities espoused by those Punjabi Muslim volunteers, forced the Maharaja to form the Gallancy Commission. 27 No allegations of excesses whatsoever were leveled against those Muslim volunteers of Punjab by Muslims of JK as the Movement was purely ‘Muslim’ in character that time & SMA was, then, one of leading campaigners for “rights of oppressed Muslims” of JK.

(7) SMA has written several “canards” in the chapter 36 about tribal savagery; one of which, he writes, was blowing up of Mohara hydroelectricity power station in Uri by tribals that plunged entire Srinagar city in darkness for some time. Actually, on 24th October, 1947 the staff of the hydroelectric power station had abandoned their posts on hearing Dogra troops were retreating whom they mistook as raiders. For a while, the lights of Srinagar went out, an event which has produced its own mythology. It was blown out of proportions by the NC cadres. Some Indian writers have described in obsessive detail the way in which the “tribal raiders” systematically destroyed equipment at the power station. 28.

(8) SMA levels severest charges of killing in Baramullah town by “raiders”. 29. By the time news of tribal attack reached to the town, writes Alaistar Lamb, the town was deserted. He says that “in a pre-crisis population of 14,000, to say 13, 000 were killed is nonsense”. 30. Victoria Schafield write there were five killings in total at Saint Joseph’s Franciscan Convent Baramullah which included three Europeans & one nun. 31. Ian Stephens describes murders at Saint Joseph’s Convent as “bad but secondary episode, soon inflated out of all proportion by Indian propaganda at countries of Christian West”. 32. The Pathans’ invasion involved ‘dramatic but over-notorious happenings’, small by comparison with events in Poonch and Jammu. 33. P N Bazaz writes that they (tribesmen) wanted to liberate Kashmir from tyranny of the Maharaja & the nationalist renegades.  And, we should not forget that some members of Indian army did no less killing & molesting. 34. The basic cause was the action of the Hindu ruler in suppressing popular agitation in favour of Pakistan. 35.

(9) NC leadership & its “men” by their propaganda had succeeded in creating a very hating-mindset among Kashmiris against “tribals” so much so that those who had not seen them even were carried away by the sweeping tides of propaganda. 36. But M Y Saraf who was a native resident of Baramullah gives an honest account of some “incidents of excesses” caused by the tribesmen against the residents of the town that included “all communities”. However, he hastened to add that bad news travels fast; the news of these incidents reached Srinagar and lent strength to the campaign of untruths and half truths that NC leadership & the Mahajan administration had let loose against the tribesmen. 37. There is one more unconfirmed report that some “red shirts” (Congressmen inducted by Nehru) accompanying the tribesmen did the acts of killing & loot. 38.

(I) Visiting of several delegations from Pak to SMA:

Ninthly comes the tailpiece of the whole untold story of SMA. He has obfuscated the whole facts by partial disclosure about the number of Muslim delegations from Pakistani side who had visited him during those fateful 1st to 3rd weeks of October, 1947 immediately after his release from prison on 29-09-1947. “All (deputations) with one demand that he must support State’s accession with Pakistan”. The delegates included eminent personalities, namely, Dr Mohammad Din Taseer, (a former Principal of SP College, Srinagar) & Khawja Abdul Rahim (Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi), both of Kashmir descent and also Malik Taj ud Din & Mian Iftikhar ud Din, seeking his support for accession of JK with that Dominion, with “tearful eyes” & “some of whom even broke down under the weight of emotions while beseeching him not to accede to….”. 39. They remained in Srinagar for 2 to 3 days and they did their best to persuade him to see writing on the wall and support the State’s accession with their Dominion in the larger interests of overwhelming Muslim population of the State. They invited him to visit Karachi for a meeting with Jinnah. He told the delegation that he had been invited by Jawaharlal to visit Delhi and that once his Delhi visit is completed, he would fly to Karachi to meet Jinnah. 40. However, he did not visit Karachi after meeting Nehru at Delhi. But before leaving for Delhi, he had sent  G M Sadiq to Pakistan who returned (not to Kashmir as has been mendaciously propagandized by NC followers till now) but to New Delhi directly with a letter from Jinnah addressed to SMA requesting his support for accession with that country & assuring him that accession with that country would be limited to defense, foreign affairs & communication only, besides State would be having autonomy, right to secede & permanent representation in foreign office of that country. This letter was handed over to Nehru by GM Sadiq at the behest of SMA. 41. SMA justifies his decision of not going to Pakistan by saying that Sadiq had escaped from that country with “great difficulty” & that “it was disclosed later that they had a sinister design in inviting me”. They wanted to force me “declare accession” with them & in case “if I refuted, then they would shift me to some unknown place & announce that Sheikh Sahab had acceded to Pakistan”. 42. This story has not been corroborated by any independent source. It, on its face, seems to be a canard to find a justification for things which he never-wanted & wanted. He had much earlier chosen to throw his lot with India which has been described as his tragic blunder. 43.

M J Aslam author, academician, story-writer & columnist


1). SM Abdullah’s Blazing Chinar (2016) page 292; 2). Ibid, pages 291-292 ; 3). Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, page 70; 4). Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru-, Second Series, Vol. 4, page 264(Nehru letter to Patel, 27th September, 1947); Kashmir Issue (2002) A M Mattu, page 46; KR dated 25-09-2015(Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah were in the know about tribal invasion plans); 5). Kashmir: A disputed Legacy ( 1991) Alaster Lamb, page 130; M M Isaaq , Nida e Haq (2014) page 177; 6). Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, page 70; Lord Birdwood, Two Nations & Kashmir (1956) page 62; 7). Ramachandra Guha, India after Gandhi (2007) 63; 8). Lord Birdwood, Two Nations & Kashmir (1956) page 61; 9). Ibid at page 62; M M Isaaq, Nida e Haq (2014) Page 176; 10). M Y Saraf, Kashmiris-Fight for Freedom ( 2009) Volume two, Page 799; 11). Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, Page 71 (emphasis supplied) ; 12). M M Isaaq , Nida-e-Haq (2014) pages 177, 165 (his actions of opposing ML were equal to stabbing in the back of Islamic world, Masoodi had written to GM Bakshi) ; 13). Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, page 71-72; 14). Kashmir: A disputed Legacy ( 1991) Alaster Lamb, Page 130; Saeed Naqvi, Being the other :Muslim in India (2016) page 176; M M Isaaq , Nida e Haq (2014) page 179 & 15). Christopher Snedden‘s Understanding Kashmir & Kashmiris (London, 2015), page 3. 16). Alaistar Lamb, Kashmir: A disputed Legacy (1991), pages 129-130; emphasis applied; 17). Ibid at page 131; KL dated 22-07-2013 (Telegraphic Past) ; 18) GK dated 26-10-2016; 19). A M Mattu, Kashmir Issue , Historical Perspective (2002) pages 48-53; Kashmir Watch, 16-11-2017, Jammu massacre of 1947 that was shrouded in Kashmir-happenings of that time;  20). Josef Korbel, Danger in Kashmir (1954) page 68; The Statesman (Calcutta), February 4, 1948; 21). Ibid, page 72; 22). Ibid page 73; 23). Shabnum Qayoom, Comprehensive History of Kashmir (2014), Volume 3rd, page 170;  Josef Korbel, Danger in Kashmir (1954) , pages 73-75; 24). Ibid; supra Shabnum Qayoom, Page 176; 25). Ibid; 26). See for example his speech in UN GA on 5th February, 1948 (He remained totally silent on Jammu massacres of lakhs of Muslims & Kashmir killings, respectively,  by Dogra & Indian forces ( at Solina bund) during those days); 27). Qudratullah Shahab, Shahabnama (2016) page 369-371; 28). Alaistar Lamb, Birth of a Tragedy (1994) page 83: “This was the work of demolition experts and not mere tribals”, Rajesh Kadian,  Karhmir Tangle. Issues and Options, (1992 New Delhi), page 821; 29) 27. Blazing Chinar pages 287-288; 30) Alaistar Lamb, Birth of a Tragedy (1994) page 115 exposing exaggerated figures of VPMenon; the Indian publicists have given the loss such dimensions that the word exaggeration is too insignificant to convey the truth, writes M Y Saraf, in volume 2, page 941; 31). Kashmir in Conflict (2003) by Victoria Schafield, pages 59-60 (SMA writes 14 nuns were raped by tribesmen at Saint Joseph’s Convent but there is no mention or confirmation of it in any independent source of history); 32) Cited in Kashmir in Conflict (2003) by Victoria Schafield, page 60; 33) Cited in a paper titled “Telling Stories & making myth” by Andrew Whitehead ; 34)  P N Bazaz, Azad Kashmir, (Lahore) page 33 cited in Kashmir in Conflict (2003) by Victoria Schafield, page 60; 35) Kashmir in Conflict (2003) by Victoria Schafield, page 60 quoting Commonwealth Relations Officer; 36) Shabnum Qayoom, Comprehensive History of Kashmir (2014), Volume 3rd, page 175; 37) M Y Saraf, Kashmiris-Fight for Freedom ( 2009) Volume two, Pages 906-909, 941-942 (number of Hindus & Pandits killed did not exceed six , there were , however, many unfortunate Sikh killings by tribesmen; albeit majority of their families had fled from the area) ; 38) Greater Kashmir, dated 26-10-2017: Who knew about the raid; 39) M Isaaq Munshi , Nid e Haq (2014), page 181-182; M Y Saraf, Kashmiris-Fight for Freedom ( 2009) volume two, pages 799- 800; Betrayal Yesterday, Distortion Today, Munshi Ghulam Hassan, Kashmir Awareness, dated  12-01-2011; 40) M Y Saraf, Kashmiris-Fight for Freedom ( 2009) volume two, page 800; 41) Betrayal Yesterday, Distortion Today, Munshi Ghulam Hassan, Kashmir Awareness, dated  12-01-2011; 42) Blazing Chinar , Page 285 ( SMA has based his allegations ( not supported by any independent source till date)  on a report of R K Reddy who was editor Kashmir Time but initially anti-Dogra & pro-Pak as he was externed for those policies ,immediately after Partition by Dogra regime, to Pakistan  where he was associated with APP . He was later on interned by Pak authorities too on charges of spying for India when he escaped in 1948. Thereafter, he was reporting for Blitz & Hindu. Nowhere, as editor of KT has G K Reddy, as claimed by SMA, ever made such an accusation. May be after he was externed from Pak as a spy, he had made such acrimonious assertions which was but natural reaction then); 43) M Y Saraf, Kashmiris-Fight for Freedom (2009) volume two, page 803



Note: Views expressed are personal & not of the organisation the author works for.



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