When the British left India in 1947 after creating Pakistan and India, the princely states were given the option of acceding to India or Pakistan or to remain independent. All the princely states except two had soon aligned with either India or Pakistan. One of the two was Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir. He could not make up his mind and continued to dilly dally. Most probably, he wanted to remain independent. On the other hand, his Prime Minister, Mr. Sheikh Abdullah wanted Kashmir to join India.

Pakistan on the other hand was insistent on Kashmir acceding to Pakistan. This is because a majority of the population of Kashmir were Muslims. The main road communication to Srinagar was through Pakistan along the Jhelum Valley.

Pakistan tried to pressurise the Maharaja to join Pakistan. Pakistan warned Kashmir that it would be annexed by force, if necessary. Pakistan also imposed economic sanctions on Kasmir by stopping the flow of essential commodities to Kashmir and cutting of electric supply.

When it became apparent that Maharaja Hari Singh would not join Pakistan on his own, Pakistan prepared to annex it by force. It got together about, 10,000 tribesmen (Kabalis) from the North-West Frontier Province and also provided some officers and men from the regular army to form the hardcore of the raiders.

The raiders were given the license to loot, rape and kill. The operations in the Jammu Sector and Poonch started on October 15, 1947, and in the Kashmir Valley on October 20, 1947, with the aim of capturing Srinagar by October 26, 1947. They were hoping to capture the strategic Srinagar Airport as it was the only way, Delhi could have deployed troops and logistics. Capturing the airport meant, cutting off the valley from the rest of India. The operation for the capture of Srinagar was given the code name ‘Operation Gulmarg’.

His was the Nation’s
Sacrifice, And Ours
The Priceless gain.”

Mohd. Maqbool Sherwani, the UNSUNG SAVIOUR OF KASHMIR and fondly known as THE LION OF BARAMULLA, was only 19 years old when he changed the course of the 1947 war between India and Pakistan. Before he died a martyr’s death on 7th November 1947, Maqbool Sherwani had saved Srinagar from falling into the hands of the Pakistani Army, who attacked Kashmir. He laid his life to protect the life of innocent people of his homeland.

Since his childhood, Sherwani was a dedicated activist of Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah. He was martyred before he could marry Zeba with whom he was engaged. When Mohd. Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir and spoke at Baramulla on his ‘Two-Nation Theory’. Sherwani forced him to come down from the platform and this stopped his speech. Ever since the founding of the All Jammu & Kashmir National Conference in 1939 by Sheikh Abdullah, Maqbool Sherwani had been a staunch supporter of the National Cause of The Forty Lakhs Of Kashmiris.

Anticipating the Kabalis’ advance towards Srinagar, Sherwani visited several villagers and held public meetings to unify them to take on the raiders collectively. A few days later Sherwani intercepted these raiders, single-handedly!

When Pakistani invaders captured Baramulla and were on the way to Srinagar, Maqbool Sherwani told the invaders that he would show them the way to Srinagar, the capital of what was then the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. The invaders agreed and thus Sherwani guided them. However, showing his presence of mind, Sherwani led them astray, slowing them down by days and giving the Indian Army enough time to land at the Srinagar Airport on October 27. It stalled the advance of the tribal forces and bought the Indian Army precious time. The invaders were intercepted and routed at Shalteng, a few kilometers outside Srinagar on November 7. If the invaders had reached Srinagar before the Indian Army, it is said that the war may have ended very differently.

The raiders found out about Sherwani’s ruse when he was in Sumbal, a place in Kashmir, some 35 kilometers from Baramulla town. Maqbool Sherwani had purposely misguided infiltrators on to wrong routes and made them lose four precious days so that the Indian Army could reach Srinagar for its defence. When Maqbool was captured by the furious raiders, the Amir(leader) of the raiders softly told Maqbool, “You are a promising young man. We will forgive you if, you yourself join us. As proof, positive of your change of heart, you must tell us the secret position of the militia (state force) and Indian troops in Shalteng and also show us the shortest route to Srinagar aerodrome.”

“No, that shall not be!” was the firm reply of the saviour Sherwani. The Amir wrote in Urdu on a piece of paper, “Sherwani is the traitor; his punishment is death.” He then pasted the paper on Sherwani’s forehead. The Amir then ordered his men, “Tie his ears and his dropping head and arms straight to the posts so that every passer-by can see him. Fire!...”

“Our Nation Owes A Debt To Its Fallen
Heroes That We Can Never Fully Repay,
But We Can Honour Their Sacrifice”

The barbaric Pakistani raiders mutilated Sherwani’s body and crucified him before firing 14 bullets at him!

Source: www.scroll.in

Raiders did to Baramulla, what Nadir Shah did to Delhi. The hordes of 20000 tribesmen known as Kabalis had plundered the beautiful city of Baramulla on October 26. They looted jewellery shops, houses, etc. In Baramulla town, for two days they only looked for “Zar, Zewar and Zenana (Cash, Jewellery and Women)”

Tribal raiders were fed with wrong information that Kashmiri Pandits had enough gold with them. So initially, they mistook brass for gold and took away many brass utensils, thinking it was gold. Many women jumped into the river Jhelum to save their honour. Raiders had planned the same thing for Srinagar, but Maqbool Sherwani greatly resented this and delayed the march of Kabali and Pakhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan and rebel forces along with irregulars of the Pakistan army in Baramulla.

On 8th November 1947, raiders were driven out of Baramulla. One of the first acts of the freed people was to reclaim the dead body of Sherwani and to bury it in the graveyard of Jama Masjid of the town with full military honours. Every year, on its infantry day, the Indian Army commemorates the Saviour Of Kashmir, Mohd. Maqbool Sherwani. The army has also constructed a Memorial Hall in his name in Baramulla town. In remembrance of the brave Kashmiri Youth, The Indian Army has named the 2nd Battalion of the Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry after his name, which is known as “Sherwani Paltan”.

“Thousands Laid Down Their Lives
So That Our Country Breath This Day.
Never Forget Their Sacrifice.”

Ironically, no one outside Baramulla has heard much about Mohd. Maqbool Sherwani and his sacrifice! That’s the reason why he is remembered only by the Indian Army and a few other people.



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