The Tribesmen Extend Support
Haji Khawaja Lassa Joo Mir and Khawaja Ghulam Rasul Pandit, then President and Secretary, respectively, of the District Muslim Conference Muzaffarabad, and Khawaja Ghulam Din Wani, Acting General Secretary who was practising law at Muzaffarabad, were summoned to Rawalpindi towards the end of September, by Ch. Hameedullah Khan and introduced to Major Khurshid Anwar. Sardar Muhammad Sharif, now Judge High Court, has told me of a meeting held in Fair-View Hotel, Murree, also towards the end of September, 1947, which was attended among others, by Sardar Ibrahim, Major Khurshid Anwar, Begum Nasim Akbar and Sardar Sharif. It was decided in this meeting that the tribal invasion shall coincide with an internal uprising. Sardar Sharif claims that .the D-day was fixed for the 6th of October while Sardar Ibrahim thinks it was the 22nd of October. It seems there was an error some-where because while an uprising did take place at Mung and Thorar on the morning of 6th October, preparations for the induction of tribes-men were still in early stages.
According to Khawaja Lassa Joo, he met Major Khurshid Anwar and Mr. Abbas Khan, a Frontier Minister, at Abbottabad alongwith his above two colleagues and told them that according to their information, the Hindu-Sikh bands at Muzaffarabad had decided upon a massacre of Muslims on the coming Eid and that if Pakistan was really interested in the Muslims of the State rather than its territory, then, they ought to act in time. He says that Major Khurshid Anwar was perturbed and told them that an early attack was difficult because preparations in the tribal area had just begun but after a private meeting between Mr. Anwar and Abbas Khan, Haji Sahib was driven to the residence of Khan Abdul Qaiyum Khan at Peshawar where they reached at 3 a.m. Khan Qaiyum who was immediately awakened, came out in his night-clothes.
Next morning, several tribal Sardars visited his house and had a long discussion in Pashto which Haji Sahib could not understand. The same afternoon he was taken to Wana in the company of some Pathan Elders who moved him from place to place where however, the talking job was done by them. Haji Sahib was then a man of robust health in his early forties and grew a fairly long, impressive beard. It seems that the Elders spoke for him and impressed upon their colleagues the dire necessity of early action lest there was further bloodshed of State Muslims.
it will be recalled that largely through the efforts of Pir Sahib of Manki Sharif and some of his devoted followers, the Pakistan ideology had rapidly spread in the tribal belt. That is one of the reasons why Pandit Nehru had to face hostile demonstrations when he undertook a tour of the area, probably, towards the end of 1946. Thousands of Pathans had been working as money lenders, petty businessmen and chowkidars in Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Ranchi and other indian towns. During the pre-partition as well as post-partition riots, a large number of them were killed. This had naturally sent a wave of indignation in the tribal area where every unnatural death calls for reprisal. The pre-planned massacre of Muslims in East Punjab which even according to most conservative estimates ran into a hundred thousand, and which was carried out mostly by the Sikh armies of Patiala and Kapurthala, had received wide publicity in the tribal area. By the end of September it had so heightened their indignation and inflamed their hereditary passion for revenge that the word 'Sikh' had become an abuse. When news of the growing atrocities on Muslims in Poonch reached them through different sources, it was impossible to resist the temptation of going to their rescue. Apart from being bound by a common faith, Sudhans claim to be a branch of the Sadho-Zai Pathans and if someone were to undertake research, he may find striking similarities in their customs. It was therefore quite natural that the learned among them, the Maulvies, were already preaching a holy war when Khan Abdul Qaiyum Khan decided to make use of them in Kashmir.
The tribesmen who entered Kashmir did not belong to any particular tribe. There were ali of them, Mohmands, Mahsuds, Waziris, Afridis, etc. There were men from Malakand, Wana, Miran Shah and even from Afghanistan. It is often over-looked that these tribes have almost always been inimical to each other; they have been engaged in a vicious circle of blood feuds. Seldom In their history have they fought shoulder to shoulder and for a common Cause. How else did such a miracle come about? So on the 20th October, 1947, 900 tribesmen crossed Indus near Khushhalgarh
about 35 miles from Kohat towards Rawalpindi. The river here separates the N.W.F.P. and Punjab. Lt. General Ross McCay, then Commander of the Peshawar Military District, tried in vain to stop them.1 The undivided Indian Army had not been divided as yet. Some units which had opted for India and consisted largely of non-Muslims were then in the Frontier guarding the approaches to the Settled areas. They returned to India long after the tribal invasions
MUSLIM ELEMENTS OF THE STATE ARMY JOIN HANDS
The Dogras had the 4th J&K Infantry battalion located at Muzaffarabad. It had seen active service in Burma and was commanded by a Dogra, Lt. Colonel Narayan Singh. It had constructed defensive positions on features at Ramkote, Lohargali and Dhupgall that commanded the approaches to the State and at the Domel bridge. It is claimed by Mr. Mahajan as well as Lt. General Sen that Lt. Col. Narayan Singh had been warned by his Headquarter that Muslims could not be trusted and that they should be disarmed and returned to the Headquarters at Badami-Bagh, Srinagar but that he had stoutly refused to do so on the plea that he had more faith in them than the Dogra soldiers of the battalion. It may be true because he had led and watched them against the Japanese but what is absolutely untrue is Mr. Mahajan's further claim that they killed him on the morning of 23rd October.
The Khan of Garhi who lived close to Ramkote had already established close contact with Muslim elements of the battalion. Their pro-Pakistan leanings were no secret and one wonders how it could be expected of them to allow the passage of their mother-land into Hindu slavery, to say the least of being instrumental in bringing about such an end and of sheding their blood for their own enslavement? They had therefore, assured the underground organisation that they would join their ranks if and when an attack was launched which came on the night falling between the 21st and 22nd October, 1947. About 2000 persons who were mostly tribesmen but some of whom were from the civil area of Abbottabad district, assembled at Abbottabad where from they travelled to Garhi Habibullah the same evening. On the border, the State had military posts at Ramkote, Lohar Gall and Dhup Gall. All these were exclusively manned by Muslims while the Dogras manned the strategically more important posts—the bridges at Neelum and Domel. Heavy guns had been installed near the present C.M.H., Domel and at Bakote, a village
I. The story of Pakistan Army, p. 88. 2. Slender was the Thread, p. 43.
at the top of the hill over-looking Domel, from where targets on the Lohar Gali road could be easily hit. Colonel Narayan Singh was himself at Domel. The Khan of Garhi, Muhammad Aslam Khan, was already in touch with the Muslims, manning the entry posts. Those at Ramkote and Lohargali had offered unreserved support. Those posted at Dhup Gali declined to give unreserved support in the expressed fear that the tribesmen may withdraw and leave them to the wolves; it had therefore been decided that the tribesmen would avoid their post so that they may have a convenient excuse, if need be.
Of the four companies posted at Muzaffarabad, 'A' company was at Kohala; 'B' company commanded by Lt. Labh Singh was at Barsala, about a mile from Kohala on the main road to Muzaffarabad; of the 'C' & 'D' companies which comprised of Muslims, a platoon under Capt. Sher Muhammad Khan was guarding Brarkot and another platoon under Jemadar Khawaja Ali Muhammad was guarding the vital Lohargali post. Another platoon under Jemadar Nawab Din was at Dhup-gali; the rest were posted at Garhi-Dopatta and the treasury at Muzaffarabad under Captain Muhammad Azam Khan. The Battalion Headquarter was at Domel. In consultation with the Deputy Commissioner Mehta, Col. Narayan Singh supplied some rifles and ammunition to the local Sikhs and Hindus. Muslim elements of the battalion were perturbed when they learnt that their Commander whom they had loyally served for years, was arming non-Muslims. The news of the Dogra excesses in Poonch, the burning down of houses and standing crops and the killing of innocent Muslims had been already reaching their ears. It was only logical that they should have been provoked into counter action with the result that excluding officers above the rank of J.C.Os.Os, it was secretly resolved to help the local Muslims on the first available opportunity.
Rumours were already afloat in the town that a Pathan invasion was in the offing. This information must have been conveyed to Srinagar but it seems that either no serious notice was taken or the local force was considered sufficient to beat back such an attack. The second possibility is more probable because of the strategic location of Lohargali and Dhup-gali. On 21st October, the Battalion Headquarter definitely learnt that a Lashkar of tribesmen aided by civilians was gathering at Garhi-Habibullah because Colonel Narayan Singh personally visited all the posts and gave them necessary instructions. He sent Captain Azam Khan of the 'C' company to Lohargali. Captain Sher Muhammad Khan abandoned his Brarkot post and withdrew to Lohargali at 8 p.m. The withdra‑
wal was pre-planned because Colonel Narayan Singh had rightly thought that due to the location of the Lohargall post, the incomers could be easily blocked there, at least for several days. While a conference between Jemadar Khawaja All Muhammad who hailed from Srinagar and Subedar Muhammad Jabbar 2-I/C of the Company was still in progress, the jawans, without having to be canvassed, expressed their readiness to make a common cause with the tribesmen and take revenge for the Dogras misdeeds in Poonch. At 4 a.m. Major Khurshid Anwar and Khan Rahim Dad Salar appeared at the post, heading a long column of tribesmen and civilians. There was no resistance. A substantial party of the Pathans came down to Gojra; a small group which included some Muslim soldiers from the State army, crossed the suspension bridge linking the gurdawara with the Battalion H.Q. They had been told not to open fire until there was a signal from the town and to ensure that the arms stores were captured intact. On reaching Ramkote which is now known as Brarkote, the main force descended upon Muzaffarabad through the main road without the slightest resistance because Muslim soldiers posted at Lohar Gall kept their vow and made a common cause with them. A second batch descended upon the town on foot through Dhup Gali nullah avoiding the military post while yet another group crossed via Kahori. How-ever, the first group to reach the town was led by Major Khurshid Anwar himself.