`Ceasefire in 1947-48 war was unwarranted’

July 17th, 2011 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) A former Indian Army officer who took part in the 1947-48 operations against Pakistan-backed tribesman in Jammu and Kashmir feels that a ceasefire that halted the march of Indian forces to Muzaffarabad was unwarranted, according to a blog post by BJP leader L.K. Advani Sunday.

Advani quoted a speech of former Jammu and Kashimir governor Lt. Gen. (retd) S.K. Sinha at the Kolkata University Institute last week stating that India had to confront a very difficult situation in the northern state after independence. The lecture was held as part of 110th birth anniversary celebrations of BJP idealogue S.P. Mukherjee.

Sinha said in October 1947, Pakistan organised a clandestine invasion of the state by a force composed of Pathan tribesmen, ex-servicemen and soldiers ‘on leave’ which precipitated the first Indo-Pak war after the two countries became independent.

Advani said an Indian Foreign Service officer, Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, who served as India’s ambassador to China 1993-96, has written a book on the Kashmir invasion titled “War and Diplomacy in Kashmir, 1947-48″, in which he describes this war as “unique in the annals of modern warfare”.

`”It was a war”, he writes, “in which both the opposing armies were led by nationals of a third country. British generals commanded the armies of the newly independent states of India and Pakistan. In India, moreover, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet was chaired by Lord Mountbatten, not Prime Minister Nehru. Thus the course and outcome of the Indo-Pakistan cannot be explained simply in terms of political objectives and military capabilities of the antagonists. A crucial determinant was the role of the antagonists,” Advani said.

Advani said three top British generals were serving in the Indian Army after August 1947.

He said during the period, Lt. Gen. Dudley Russell headed the Delhi and East Punjab and Sinha, then a major, was General Staff Officer (Operations).

Advani said of the three British officers, Gen. Robert McGregor Macdonald Lockhart proved disloyal to India, and had to be removed.

“Dudley Russell, in contrast, was very loyal. Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India on the afternoon of 26 October, 1947. Russell told Sinha that there being an embargo on British officers serving either India or Pakistan from entering the Kashmir theatre Major Sinha as the only Indian officer in the region would have to conduct the operations,” Advani said.

Advani said in his Kolkata speech, Sinha pointed out that it was nothing less than a miracle to do as many as 800 Dakota sorties at a short notice to airlift troops from Delhi to Srinagar.

He said Sinha told the gathering that they were able to win a decisive victory by liberating Baramulla and advancing 60 miles to Uri where, the Valley ends and a gorge along the Jhelum starts to Muzaffarabad.

Sinha said at this point Indian forces received orders to cease fire and halt the advance to Muzaffarabad. He said Russell was surprised by the orders as he felt Indian forces should advance to Muzaffarabad and seal the border by securing the two bridges at Kohala and Domel.

“Russell, however, was overruled. The senior British officers in Delhi as also Lord Mountbatten, we gathered, did not want the Indian Army to get directly involved in fighting the Pakistan Army, which this advance to the border would certainly entail.

“It was argued that hitherto the confrontation was mainly with the tribal raiders. The argument did not have much merit. Everyone knew that Pakistani soldiers dressed in civilian clothes were in action along with the tribesmen, and all were functioning under direct command of the Pakistani army General, Akbar Khan,” Advani quoted Sinha as saying.

Sinha was the Indian Army vice chief when he was superseeded to enable Gen Arun Vaidya occupy the past on the retirement of Gen. K.V. Krishna Rao. He subsequently put in his papers.

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