Oct 27, 2013
The first few days were very critical in the Valley. On the first day, we had only 300 troops in Srinagar while the enemy at Baramulla was some 10,000 strong and engaged in rapine and plunder. Ranjit Rai went forward from Srinagar to Baramulla to delay the enemy’s advance.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah was unhappy at getting a moth-eaten Pakistan, with both Punjab and Bengal bifurcated. He was keen to incorporate Kashmir, the largest Muslim majority princely state, in his newly won country.
Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan provided hordes of Pathans modern weapons and logistic support. Along with them and Pakistan Army personnel in civilian clothes, he invaded Kashmir on October 22, 1947. They reached Baramulla, 30 miles from Srinagar, by October 25. Srinagar lay defenceless. Maharaja Hari Singh and his top officials fled to Jammu. Jinnah had moved to Lahore from Karachi, the then capital of Pakistan, waiting for a triumphant entry into Srinagar. The raiders wasted two days in rapine and plunder in Baramulla. The Maharaja acceded to India on October 26 and on October 27 the first batch of Indian troops landed in Srinagar to rescue the people.
A new skeleton Command Headquarters under Lt. Gen. Sir Dudley Russell, with 12 staff officers, was raised to maintain law and order in Delhi and Punjab, and to arrange evacuation of lakhs of Muslim refugees to Pakistan. I was the only Indian officer in this HQ, serving as a major in General Staff.
On the afternoon of October 26, 1947, we were told that Maharaja Hari Singh had acceded to India and we had to conduct operations against the invading Pakistan forces in Kashmir. One brigade had to move to the Valley by air from Delhi and another by road from Gurdaspur to Jammu. Necessary orders for these moves and operational tasks had to be issued. I was ordered to organise the airlift. On the first day, only six Dakotas, but thereafter 40 civilian Dakotas of private airlines were available. My immediate superior, Lt. Col. MacConachie, and I arranged the movement of troops and wrote the required orders for the two brigades. He was to leave for UK after a week, but, unlike other British officers, worked sincerely. The attitude of the others was not helpful. I had to do a lot of leg-work. Woollen clothing, ammunition and supplies had to be brought from Shakurbasti Depot and issued to troops at the airfield. Hot and packed meals for troops had to be provided. Reception and guiding of troops at the airfield had to be organised. Operation orders had to be given to Ranjit Rai, the leading battalion commander, and he had to be briefed. Load tables for Dakotas had to be prepared.