One flag, one nation and one heart signifies the magical tricolor! It adds to the magnificence of Gulmarg in its signature fluttering style!
-‘Oh! Those flushing meadows of Gulmarg are absolutely magical with a super amalgamation of colors all created by God’s in their spare time and now with the tricolor flying the concoction brewed is absolutely stunning!’
-‘Incidentally, Gulmarg is one of the locations along the Line of Control wherein Pakistani troops had infiltrated in 1965 and owing to the prompt response of young shepherd Mohd Din, who alerted the security forces about the same, the Indian Army was greatly benefitted in defeating the nefarious designs of Pakistan.’ But before this also plenty had happened (all and much more is in the script).
-‘Gulmarg is not just a place but an emotion that every person wants to experience. The stunning beauty of this gorgeous meadow surrounded by the snow capped peaks (in summers gray with polka dots of snow white patches that just mesmerize the eyes. It’s a kind of a necklace of a wide array of natural gems on the move and that is the feeling one gets as he/she lets their eyes go groping into far distances to check out the hidden treasures they have in case missed. But something happened in the past and someone tried to play the spoil sport here and it all began in 1947 and then in 1965! But that is history and today is the present. The present that is to be rejoiced and lived through in a manner the humans should be doing!’
-‘Partition tore India into three pieces. Disaster struck. There was East Pakistan, there was West Pakistan, and there was the rest of India. Millions of people were uprooted from their houses, tens of thousands massacred on both sides. It was one of the greatest mass migrations and killings in human history. People today do not realize the tremendous trauma of Partition, whose negative vibrations continue to haunt us even today.’ (Dr. Karan Singh). Who better than this great man knows Jammu and Kashmir, the prince who could never become a king but has left several imprints on the sands of time’!
If that was what the man from the royal house of Jammu and Kashmir said then this is what the youth heartbeat of today says where in this beautiful place the humanity steel feels mangled with an added tinge of despondency that the things may well never improve.
‘Everyone wants Kashmir but no one wants Kashmiris. Is it not a miracle? A seed of humanity that survived the slaughters. I think I believe in freedom. I just don’t know where it is. I think I believe in home, I just don’t know where to look.’ (Fatima Asghar)
Operation Gulmarg was the name given to the invasion into Kashmir by Pakistan and what happened then can only be read in books written as there perhaps would just be a handful few who say that horrifying saga. Those living must be children then, the small and beautiful kids bouncing about in the natures cradle without know as to what was happening around as mothers must have hid them from the menacing eyes of the knights of falsehood with only murder in their eyes.
‘The horrors of the tribal invasion that left between 35,000 and 40,000 dead, besides, a grim mark on the fate of Jammu and Kashmir. The day in that year 1947 marked the first and most critical step in the erosion of the Kashmiri identity with the state and its people being torn apart by an UN-drawn LoC (Line of Control) that divides the erstwhile princely state and its inhabitants. It was Pakistan with an idea to ruin Kashmir that the leaders there and the military that planned and executed the Operation Gulmarg that had been conceived as early as August 1947 under the command of the then Major General Akbar Khan (he later wrote a book on the same subject ). 22 Pashtun tribes that were involved in the invasion. Besides General Khan, the other prominent person who planned and led the operation was Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, a close aid of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Shaukat later revealed that he had been appointed supervisor of the Kashmir operation, adding that Rs 300,000 were given from the Pakistani treasury by then finance minister Ghulam Muhammad for this operation. Major General Akbar Khan fixed October 22, 1947, as the date on which the attack on Jammu and Kashmir would be launched. All lashkars were asked to converge at Abbottabad near the border with the state by October 18 and thus began what was later to be chronicled as the first Kashmir war.‘
I. A bit of history:
Every conflict between the Nations has a history and thus it’s not surprising that Jammu and Kashmir too has one. Some pertinent points are as follows:
Prior to 1815, the area now known as Jammu and Kashmir comprised of 22 small independent states (16 Hindu and six Muslim) carved out of territories controlled by the Amir (King) of Afghanistan, combined with those of local small rulers.
These were collectively referred to as the Punjab Hill States. These small states, ruled by Rajput kings, were variously independent, vassals of the Mughal Empire since the time of Emperor Akbar or sometimes controlled from Kangra state in the Himachal area.
Following the decline of the Mughals, turbulence in Kangra and invasions of Gorkhas, the hill states fell successively under the control of the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh.
The First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–46) was fought between the Sikh Empire, which asserted sovereignty over Kashmir, and the East India Company.
In the Treaty of Lahore of 1846, the Sikhs were made to surrender the valuable region (the Jullundur Doab) between the Beas River and the Sutlej River and required to pay an indemnity of 1.2 million rupees.
Because they could not readily raise this sum, the East India Company allowed the Dogra ruler Gulab Singh to acquire Kashmir from the Sikh kingdom in exchange for making a payment of 750,000 rupees to the Company.
Gulab Singh became the first Maharaja of the newly formed princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, founding a dynasty that was to rule the state, the second-largest principality during the British Raj, until India gained its independence in 1947.
The plan of the invasion as per Indian military history the plan was accidentally revealed to an Indian officer, Major O. S. Kalkat who at that time served with the Bannu Brigade.
According to the plan, 20 lashkars (tribal militias), each consisting of 1000 Pashtun tribesmen, were to be recruited from among various Pashtun tribes, and armed at the brigade headquarters at Bannu, Wanna, Peshawar, Kohat, Thall and Nowshera by the first week of September.
They were expected to reach the launching point of Abbottabad on 18 October, and cross into Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October. Ten lashkars were expected to attack the Kashmir Valley through Muzaffarabad and another ten lashkars were expected to join the rebels in Poonch, Bhimber and Rawalakot with a view to advance to Jammu.
But with the arrival of the Indian armed forces everything fizzled out and the Lashkars were chased out but they left an outrageous legacy behind and the scars of that still remain on Jammu and Kashmir.
II. Everything was thought to be over as Jammu and Kashmir began rebuilding but Pakistan’s stance remained the same as it was. Kashmir was an infatuation and to get it somehow their obsession. Whether they wanted Kashmiris or not the people know the best. But a few of them really thought that indeed the country adored them which was nothing but a figment of imagination. If the leadership both political and the dark and deep, needed the Kashmiris it was just to waste them. They had done it in 1947 and they are doing it till now! But again in 1965 Pakistan yet again set its eyes on the valley with a new project in the hands of the military there and the name given to it was Op Gibraltar.
This was the codename of a military operation planned and executed by the Pakistan Army in Jammu and Kashmir in August 1965.
The operation’s strategy was to covertly cross the Line of Control (LoC) and instigate the Muslim-majority Kashmiri population into an uprising against Indian rule.
The military leadership believed that a rebellion (sparked by Operation Gibraltar) by the local Kashmiri population against Indian authorities would serve as Pakistan’s casus against India on the international stage.
Pakistan’s leadership specifically chose this name to draw a parallel to the Muslim conquest of Portugal/Spain that was launched from the port of Gibraltar.
In August 1965, Pakistani troops disguised as locals, entered Jammu and Kashmir from POK with the goal of fomenting an insurgency amongst the Muslim-majority population in the Kashmir Valley.
However, the strategy went awry from the outset due to poor coordination, and the infiltrators’ presence was soon disclosed to the Indian military.
The original plan for the operation, codenamed Gibraltar, was conceived and prepared as early as the 1950s; however it seemed appropriate to push this plan forward given the scenario.
Backed by then foreign minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and others, the aim was an attack by infiltration by a specially trained irregular force of some 40,000 men, highly motivated and well armed.
It was reasoned that the conflict could be confined only to Kashmir. In the words of retired Pakistani General Akhtar Hussain Malik, the aims were to defreeze the Kashmir problem, weaken Indian resolve, and bring India to the conference table without provoking general war.
As a result, groundwork and intelligence gathering for execution of the plan was laid by launching Operation Nusrat, the purpose of which was to locate gaps in the Cease Fire Line (CFL) that were to serve as entry points for the mujahideen, and to gauge the response of the Indian army and the local population. One such gap was Gulmarg.
Despite initial reservations by the President of Pakistan Ayub Khan, the operation was set in motion. In the first week of August 1965, (some sources put it at 24 July) began to cross the Cease Fire Line dividing Indian- and Pakistani-held Kashmir across the Pir Panjal Range into Gulmarg, Uri and Baramulla. Several columns were to occupy key heights around the Kashmir valley and encourage a general revolt, which would be followed by direct combat by Pakistani troops.
According to sources as many as 30,000– 40,000 men had crossed the line, while Pakistani sources put it at 5,000 -7,000 only. These troops were known as the Gibraltar Force.
Nothing much happened this time also and the Pakistani dreams again crash landed as they had to.
III. As the times changed:
Time kept moving on and Kashmir still remained on the simmer more so because of Pakistan’s devious over indulgence into the affairs of the Kashmiri. They keep pestering the mindset of the populace here and try to psyche them out by the usage of religion and discreetly embossed with extreme verbals. They almost succeeded as General Zia-ul-Haq launched his infamous Operation Tupac.
This was a military intelligence contingency program run by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, active since the 1980s.
The program has a three-part action plan to provide covert support to separatists and militants in Jammu and Kashmir. It was authorized and initiated by the order of the President of Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1988.
The designation is derived from Tupac Amaru II, the 18th-century revolutionary who led the war of liberation in Peru against the Spanish rule.
The program is thought to be active as the ISI is currently engaged in covertly supporting Kashmiri separatists, Islamists and militants in their fight against the Indian authorities in Kashmir.
Though all the separatist militant groups received funding the Pro-Pakistani groups were reportedly favored. Under this program, the ISI helped create 6 separatist militant groups in Kashmir including Lashkar-e-Taiba. American Intelligence officials believe ISI continues to provide protection and share intelligence with Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Yet again Pakistan achieved nothing. If it did then it was a tag of a terror state and a breeding farm land where humans were brainwashed to be converted into killing machines only to die and hit the graveyards.
IV. The brilliant initiative by the Indian Army:
It is Indian Army that has stood by the Kashmiris through thick and thin. Yes, in insurgencies harsh measures have to be taken to get rid of the bad company and that is what they precisely did. The extreme element in the Kashmiri society, the one who had become a scourge was packed off and those who were to be loved and respected were taken into the fold with wide open arms. In case their own men floundered they were punished. As I said the time kept moving on and then they resorted to doing something big in Gulmarg having a theme, ‘One Flag, One Land, One Heart ahead of the 75th Independence Day’!
As part of 75 years of Independence, a 100 feet tall National Flag was dedicated to the Nation at Gulmarg in a modest ceremony.
The ceremony was presided over by Lt Gen Y K Joshi, Army Commander Northern Command, who also honored the next of kin of the soldiers who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the Nation.
The Army Commander also felicitated certain members of civil society who have contributed immensely towards nation building through various endeavors.
Set amidst beautiful and salubrious surroundings of Gulmarg, the monument adds to the tourist attraction of the location. The monument has already become a major draw for the tourists who have been flocking to the monument to take selfies with the backdrop of the National Flag.
During the ceremony, The Army Commander said that the Flag is a tribute to the countless Kashmiris who have made the ultimate sacrifice while safeguarding the unity and integrity of the Nation.
What an idea, what a theme, what an execution and what a deliverance! It was awesome and this only the Indian Army can do.
So finally in conclusion I would say that India is a hope and a future great country. We have taught the world several things and the most important one is humanity therefore everyone of us should believe in India, where the most precious cultural enduring legacy is etched into the hearts of humble enlightened descendants of literary revolutionists and great humans who have left a legacy behind. So let us all come together under one elevated flag, one noble heart, one unified awe-inspiring voice and one majestic nation of India in recognizing the humanity, freedom, liberty to reveal a sacred place where no dream is too big and no dreamer is too small. The flag at Gulmarg is bound to get this feeling pumping inside you as and when you see it, each and every time you see it!