'Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir,
Sam Manekshaw, the first field marshal in the Indian army, was at the ringside
of events when Independent India was being formed. Then a colonel, he was chosen to
accompany V P Menon on his historic mission to Kashmir. This is his version of
that journey and its aftermath, as recorded in an interview with Prem Shankar Jha.
or do you want to give it away?'
At about 2.30 in the afternoon, General Sir Roy Bucher walked
into my room and said, 'Eh, you, go and pick up your toothbrush.
You are going to Srinagar with V P Menon. The flight will take
off at about 4 o'clock'. I said, 'why me, sir?'
'Because we are worried about the military situation. V P Menon
is going there to get the accession from the Maharaja and Mahajan.'
I flew in with V P Menon in a Dakota. Wing Commander Dewan, who
was then squadron leader Dewan, was also there. But his job did
not have anything to with assessing the military situation. He
was sent by the Air Force because it was the Air Force which was
flying us in.'
Since I was in the Directorate of Military Operations, and was
responsible for current operations all over India, West Frontier,
the Punjab, and elsewhere, I knew what the situation in Kashmir
was. I knew that the tribesmen had come in - initially only the
tribesmen - supported by the Pakistanis.
Fortunately for us, and for Kashmir, they were busy raiding, raping all along. In Baramulla
they killed Colonel D O T Dykes. Dykes and I were of the same seniority.
We did our first year's attachment with the Royal Scots in Lahore,
way back in 1934-5. Tom went to the Sikh regiment. I went to the
Frontier Force regiment. We'd lost contact with each other. He'd
become a lieutenant colonel. I'd become a full colonel.
Tom and his wife were holidaying in Baramulla when the tribesmen killed them.
The Maharaja's forces were 50 per cent Muslim and 50 per cent Dogra.
The Muslim elements had revolted and joined the Pakistani forces.
This was the broad military situation. The tribesmen were believed
to be about 7 to 9 kilometers from Srinagar. I was sent into get
the precise military situation. The army knew that if we had to
send soldiers, we would have to fly them in. Therefore, a few
days before, we had made arrangements for aircraft and for soldiers
to be ready.
But we couldn't fly them in until the state of Kashmir had acceded
to India. From the political side, Sardar Patel and V P Menon
had been dealing with Mahajan and the Maharaja, and the idea was
that V.P Menon would get the Accession, I would bring back the
military appreciation and report to the government. The troops
were already at the airport, ready to be flown in. Air Chief Marshall
Elmhurst was the air chief and he had made arrangements for the
aircraft from civil and military sources.
Anyway, we were flown in. We went to Srinagar. We went to the
palace. I have never seen such disorganisation in my life. The
Maharaja was running about from one room to the other. I have
never seen so much jewellery in my life --- pearl necklaces, ruby
things, lying in one room; packing here, there, everywhere. There
was a convoy of vehicles.
The Maharaja was coming out of one room,
and going into another saying, 'Alright, if India doesn't help,
I will go and join my troops and fight (it) out'.
I couldn't restrain myself, and said, 'That will raise their morale
sir'. Eventually, I also got the military situation from everybody
around us, asking what the hell was happening, and discovered
that the tribesmen were about seven or nine kilometres from what
was then that horrible little airfield.
V P Menon was in the
meantime discussing with Mahajan and the Maharaja. Eventually
the Maharaja signed the accession papers and we flew back in the
Dakota late at night. There were no night facilities, and the
people who were helping us to fly back, to light the airfield,
were Sheikh Abdullah, Kasimsahib, Sadiqsahib, Bakshi Ghulam
Mohammed, D P Dhar with pine torches, and we flew back to Delhi.
I can't remember the exact time. It must have been 3 o'clock or
4 o'clock in the morning.
(On arriving at Delhi) the first thing I did was to go and report
to Sir Roy Bucher. He said, 'Eh, you, go and shave and clean up.
There is a cabinet meeting at 9 o'clock. I will pick you
up and take you there.' So I went home, shaved, dressed, etc. and Roy Bucher picked me
up, and we went to the cabinet meeting.
The cabinet meeting was
presided by Mountbatten. There was Jawaharlal Nehru, there was
Sardar Patel, there was Sardar Baldev Singh. There were other
ministers whom I did not know and did not want to know, because
I had nothing to do with them. Sardar Baldev Singh I knew because
he was the minister for defence, and I knew Sardar Patel, because
Patel would insist that V P Menon take me with him to the various
Almost every morning the Sardar would sent for V P, H M
Patel and myself. While Maniben (Patel's daughter and de facto secretary)
would sit cross-legged with a Parker fountain pen taking notes,
Patel would say, 'V P, I want Baroda. Take him with you.' I was
the bogeyman. So I got to know the Sardar very well.
At the morning meeting he handed over the (Accession) thing. Mountbatten
turned around and said, ' come on Manekji (He called me Manekji
instead of Manekshaw), what is the military situation?' I gave
him the military situation, and told him that unless we flew in
troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going
by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport
and Srinagar, we couldn't fly troops in. Everything was ready
at the airport.
As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa,
God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He
said, 'Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give
it away'. He (Nehru) said,' Of course, I want Kashmir (emphasis
in original). Then he (Patel) said 'Please give your orders'.
And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and
said, 'You have got your orders'.
I walked out, and we started flying in troops at about 11 o'clock
or 12 o'clock. I think it was the Sikh regiment under Ranjit
Rai that was the first lot to be flown in. And then we continued
flying troops in. That is all I know about what happened. Then
all the fighting took place. I became a brigadier, and became
director of military operations and also if you will see the first
signal to be signed ordering the cease-fire on 1 January (1949)
had been signed by Colonel Manekshaw on behalf of C-in-C India,
General Sir Roy Bucher. That must be lying in the Military Operations
Excerpted from Kashmir 1947, Rival Versions of History, by Prem Shankar Jha, Oxford University Press, 1996,
Rs 275, with the publisher's permission.Readers in the US
may secure a copy of the book from Oxford University Press Inc USA, 198, Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016, USA.
Tel: 212-726-6000. Fax: 212-726-6440.