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Maqbool Sherwani: The Forgotten Hero Who Won Kashmir For India

May 08, 2024 08:59 IST
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Shaheed Maqbool Sherwani changed the course of Indian history, but himself lies forgotten in the town he saved, reports Syed Firdaus Ashraf/

Photographs: Umar Ganie for

If you travel at high speed from Srinagar to Baramulla towards Uri, you will surely miss the Sherwani community hall.

The community hall building is not a grand structure or one of great design that will catch your eye.

Even after reaching the Sherwani community hall you wonder what the importance of the building is as it does not do justice to the man after whom it has been named.

The only thing youngsters in Baramulla know is that the community hall has a theatre which screens movies off and on.

Only old-timers know the history of this building which was built to commemorate Shaheed Mohammed Maqbool Sherwani.

On October 22, 1947, when Pakistani raiders invaded Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir had not yet signed the accession documents pledging his loyalty to India.

Within no time, the Pakistani raiders were at Baramulla, a mere 60 kilometres from Srinagar, the capital.

They wreaked havoc in Baramulla, pillaging the properties of Hindus and Sikhs.

Baramulla always had a large population of Sikhs after 1620 after the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind visited the town.

The looting and violence angered Maqbool Sherwani, a member of the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah, who always upheld the principles of secularism.

The National Conference slogan then was 'Sher-e-Kashmir Ka kya Irshad? Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Ithaad (What does the Lion of Kashmir want? The unity of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh).' Sheikh Abdullah was referred to by his supporters as Sher-e-Kashmir.

The Pakistani raiders got in touch with Sherwani who made them believe that he would lead them to Srinagar.

Sherwani then sent the Pakistani raiders in other directions, away from Srinagar.

Finally realising the urgency of the situation, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Treaty of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India on October 26, 1947.

A day later, an Indian Air Force plane with the 1st Sikh Regiment landed in Srinagar.

Wasting no time, Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai, the commanding officer of the unit, arrived in Baramulla with his troops. Sadly, after he fought bravely, Lieutenant Colonel Rai attained martyrdom the same day.

When the Indian Army arrived, the Pakistani raiders realised that Maqbool Sherwani had fooled them.

They then tortured Sherwani to death, but his tactic helped the Indian Army drive the Pakistani invaders from Baramulla on November 8.

Had Sherwani not delayed the raiders from Pakistan, they would have captured Srinagar and the Indian troops would not have been able to land on October 27, 1947.

The Sikh Regiment continued its advance towards Uri and later took part in the battle of Shalateng that saved Kashmir for India.

Maqbool Sherwani changed the course of Indian history.

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