Sunday, January 21, 2024





                                                                BOOK REVIEW
By Dr. Ramesh Tamiri 
Published in December 2023
Printed at Thomson Press ( India ) Ltd.
Price Rs595/=( paperback ) and 995/=( hardcopy )
Distributed by Oberoi Book Service, Jammu
( Mobile ..9419189623 and 9797571413)
Dr Ramesh Tamiri is an ophthalmologist by profession. However, he is more known as an innovative thinker, author and writer whose work abounds in intensive research and objectivity. In his write-ups that I keep reading, he appears to be having a flair for revealing nothing more than what is true. Seldom have I noticed him balancing facts to be politically correct or skirt out through a mid-path that pleases all. The strength of his argument silences even his toughest critic .The enormous ground work that he does before publishing anything places him on a high pedestal in comparison to the usual copy-paste writers that thrive in the present-day world .This is his second book after, ‘Painting and Theatre in Kashmir: Suraj Tiku`s Journey’. This book established him as a writer of different class and calibre.
The present 342-page book, ‘Pakistan’s Invasion on J&K (1947-48): Untold Stories Of Victims ‘ , published in December 2023, is a result of about two decades of extensive research and hard work. Tamiri has reached out to the victims or their families to record firsthand accounts of what befell them and their nears and dears during those dark days (1947-48). What Pakistan did in October 1947, can’t be called, a “Tribal Raid’ to play down the genocidal atrocities committed upon Hindus and Sikhs of J&K State as it existed before 1947. The entire area that is presently known as POK, was cleansed of Sikhs and Hindus who were killed, tortured and made to flee. There are innumerable stories of gruesome rapes, plunder, kidnappings and killings. The book recounts thousands of women jumping into the rivers or wells or consuming poison to save their honour. It also informs of a designed operation by the Pakistani army and government to forcibly annex Kashmir and cleanse the area of Hindus and Sikhs once Maharaja Hari Singh refused to accede to Pakistan. 
Apart from the Introduction, Analysis and Conclusion, Postscript and Endnotes, the book has been set in five sections, viz; Pakistan Invasion, Muzaffarabad District, Jammu Region, Baltistan and Gilgit Region . The section on Invasion provides details of the conspirators who planned and tried to execute the atrocious plan for forcible annexation of J&K with Pakistan after cleansing it of the minorities primarily Hindus and Sikhs. As per the book, the principal conspirators of the plan were Liaquat Ali Khan (Prime Minister of Pakistan), Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan, Nawab of Mamdot, Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, Latif Afghani ( communist ), Mian Ifftikharuddin, Major Khurshid Anwar ( leader National Guards ), Col Akbar Khan, Col M Z Kiani, Col Sher Khan, Col Taj Mohammad Khanzada, Col R M Arshad, Major A S B Shah, former INA officers including Col Habibur Rehman, Khwaja Abdur Rahim ( Commissioner of Rawalpindi, Gujrat and Jhelum ) Pir Manki Sharif, Mohammad Ali Khan Hoti, Ch Hameedullah Khan ( Muslim League) , Furqaan Batallion (Ahmedi and a pro-British group ) and many more. Two British Commanders namely General F Messervy and General D Gracy had complete knowledge of the Invasion plan. It was also decided to recruit Pashtun tribesmen for the invasion of Kashmir through the call of ‘Jihad ‘after striking a deal with their leaders that the ‘Lashkars’ were free to plunder, loot and rape. The broader plan of the Invasion had sub-plans like, ‘Economic Blockade ‘ ‘Inciting Muslim soldiers in the State’s forces’, ‘Border Raids’ , ‘Communal Violence’, ‘Arresting Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and the Maharaja’, etc. The book informs while Jinnah camped at Abbottabad in anticipation of the ‘ expected victory’, a committee was set up to draft a ‘ Declaration of Freedom’. The members of this committee were poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mian Ifftikharuddin, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmed and Professor Mohammad Ishaqye. Others associated with this plan included Dr M D Taseer ( former principal of S P College, Srinagar ), Nasira Siddqi and many more . The Khudai Khidmatgars led by Badshah Khan, Zalmai Pashtuns and Ahrar leader Maulana Ghulam Ghaus opposed this plan.
In the Muzaffarabad section, the author presents some hitherto unknown facts like the positive role of Akram Hussain of Kotli in saving lives, the treacherous role played by deserters from State’s forces, the heroic fight by the Sikhs with Pakistani marauders at Gojra and Naluchi, the heroic fight of Capt. Ram Prakash with the invaders at Kotli, the role of Brigadier Paranjpe in saving ten thousand lives at Kotli, and the role of Aga Jan Khan in saving many Hindu and Sikh girls. No less was the role of RSS leader Kedar Nath Sahni in arranging all possible food and eatables for the fleeing victims from Kotli. In and around Muzaffarabad town, hundreds of women and girls were raped, kidnapped and taken to Pakistan and sold there. Thousands of men were brutally killed after looting their assets. Thousands of women in Muzaffarabad and adjoining villages jumped into the Kishenganga River to save their honour. There are stories of savagery, rapes and molestation the moment Pakistan-sponsored marauders arrived in Muzaffarabad and adjoining areas. Those who trekked for many weeks dodging the marauders and arrived in India were totally emaciated and had lost most of their relations in the mayhem and firing from the invaders on hapless fleeing victims. Those who were put in camps lived a miserable life and were repatriated as late as 1951 by the International Red Cross. Many of the 47 Kashmiri Pandit families residing in Muzaffarabad were also killed. 
Unfortunately, Mirpur, a town that had 80% Hindu population, faced the worst carnage, killings and genocidal atrocities. The stories of the brutal massacres of Hindus and Sikhs at Dharmsal , Kas Guma, Thathal, Alibeg Camp, Akalgarh, Mirpur courthouse, Dutiyal Camp and many more places send shivers down the spine. The book informs that when Pandit Prem Nath Dogra and Balraj Madhok sought Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru’s intervention to save lives in Mirpur, he is reported to have told them, “Talk to Sheikh Sahib“. Hindus and Sikhs living in Rajouri town also faced the worst atrocities during the Pakistani occupation. The painful story of Lala Anant Ram Kaila and his family brings tears to the eyes. At the same time the humanism of a local Gujjar Mian Abdullah in giving shelter to many Hindus in his Kothar is praiseworthy. Hindus and Sikhs of Budhal, Samote, Daraj, Dandakote-Ganjauli, Gota and Chitti Batti also faced similar extreme atrocities.
The book brings forth the reign of terror unleashed by Pakistan in Skardu ( Baltistan ) which was a part of the J&K State. The Hindu and Sikh employees or traders or soldiers at Skardu, Khaplu, Shigar, Bunji, and Drass, faced the worst from Pakistani marauders. Many Kashmiri Pandit victims and their relatives had horrible tales to tell to the author. The book also recounts how the Nationalist Resistance and the role of some patriots like Major Prithi Chand, Sonam Narboo, Shridhar Kaul Dulloo, Major General Thimaya, and Air Commodore Meher Singh saved Ladakh. Gilgit, a part of the J&K State with all its principalities like Hunza, Nagir, Punial, Koh-Ghizar, Yasin and Ishkoman were also ravaged by Pakistanis. The book illustrates the role of Brigadier Ghansara Singh in Gilgit who was held captive by Pakistanis. In Gilgit also, many Sikhs and Hindus were forced to change their faith by the marauders.
The book exposes Pakistani design of not only annexing Muzaffarabad, Bhimber, Poonch, Mirpur, Rajouri and other places by force but also the underlying plan to cleanse these areas of the presence of Hindus and the Sikhs by rapes, abductions, forcible conversions, killings and plunder. It also brings forth details of valiant resistance by Sikhs and Hindus at Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli, Deva Vatala, Budhal and many other places. The commendable role played by some saner Muslims like Master Abdul Aziz, Munshi Ferozdin, Abdul Aziz Thekkedar, Mir Zaman, Haji Mohammad Khan and many more in saving Hindus and Sikhs has been deservingly highlighted in the pages of this book. The book informs that more than 38000 innocents lost their lives in this holocaust. And the wounds of this calamity linger on to this day. I conclude this brief review with lines from poet Ali Sardar Jafri’s poem Sarhad ( border ) wherein the poet seeks reply to some questions from Pakistani authorities.
"Yeh tank taup ye bombaar aag bandookein,
Kahaan se laaye ho kis ki taraf hai rookh in-kaa
Dayaar e waaris o iqbal ka yeh taufa hai ?
Jaga ke jung ke tufaan zameen e nanak se
Uthay ho barq giraane kabir ke ghar par ?
Ghulam tum bhi thay kal tak ghulam hum bhi thay ,
Naha ke khoon mein aayee thi fasl e aazadi…” ………..Ali Sardar Jafri
"These tanks , canons , bombers, fire and the guns
Where from have you procured all this?
To which direction are these aimed ?
Is it a gift from the land of Waris Shah and Iqbal ?
From the land of Guru Nanak ,
You raise thunder of war hurricanes
to put Kabir’s dwelling on fire .
A slave you too were till yesterday ,
A slave we too were till yesterday,
Drenched in our own blood ,
We reaped the crop of freedom .”
(Avtar Mota )


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