LG Manoj Sinha was dot on the spot when he talked of the extraordinary sacrifices made by ordinary citizens in October 1947 when tribal raiders, aided by Pakistan Army, attacked Jammu and Kashmir. He was also right that the present generation needs to be reminded of sacrifices made by Kashmiris like Maqbool Sherwani. Maqbool was a National Conference (NC) worker who misled tribal raiders through the jungles of Baramulla when they asked for the way to Srinagar. He was brutally killed by the attackers after realising that he was not leading, but misleading them and wasting their time. This had given invaluable time to the residents of Srinagar to organise themselves into small bands of defenders and also helped the Indian Army. One also needs to remember that the J&K of 1947 which Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India was 2,22,236 sq km in area, far bigger than the part which we control today. The raiders had reached Baramulla, virtually the gateway of Kashmir valley, after pillaging Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Kotli and several other areas. They had also killed thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and raped their women by the time they advanced towards Kashmir valley.The reputation of the raiders regarding unparalleled savagery, loot and wanton plunder had preceded them as horrifying tales had been recounted by refugees who had reached Srinagar. Pakistan Army had managed to collect thousands of Afridis and other Pathan tribals in Lashkars guided by them. The tribals were told concocted stories of atrocities on Muslims in J&K, provided arms, transport and directed towards territories of J&K to avenge this. The tribals were also incited by telling them stories of possible loot in terms of property and women they accumulate. In Punjab and West Bengal, and some other parts of India, communal clashes had happened at a lage scale around that time. So, these concocted and false stories of the atrocities on Muslims in Kashmir and their chances to save their co- religionists sounded as opportunities to the tribals. Of course, recalling all the horrors perpetuated by the tribals and Pakistani Army was important to avoid its repetition. However, a lot of ground realities have changed between October 1947 and 2020 to make the younger generation understand those difficult things. Instead of Maqbool Sherwani, separatists have made a hero out of Maqbool Bhat and they have not been countered effectively so far. Burhan Wani and his fellow terrorists were also painted among a section of population as cult figuresby anti-nationals. Given these ground realities, it is a huge challenge to spread the word about Maqbool Sherwani as a hero, as the LG suggested. We also need to talk about the sacrifices made by hundreds of Indian soldiers who were airlifted to Srinagar from Delhi to save J&K.
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