In what could be seen as an attempt to repose the narrative on Kashmir from the perspective of raids by Pakistan, the atrocities committed by the raiders, and circumstances under which Kashmir chose India in 1947, the government is planning a string of cultural activities to mark October 22 — the day of the raid in 1947.
The key among them will be setting up a museum to showcase history of the raid and atrocities committed by the raiders supported by Pakistan army.
There will also be an exhibition and a two-day symposium on the events of October 22 in Srinagar.
“The museum, likely to come up within Lal Quila (Red Fort in Delhi) in the next six months, may be announced on October 22. It is important that people understand that the Kashmir issue has not been created by India, rather by Pakistan – and that, too, back in 1947,” a senior government official said.
The entire exercise is being organised by the National Museum Institute (NMI) under the Ministry of Culture.
In an attempt to capture the “horrors which continue to affect Kashmir and the rest of India”, it will present a month-long exhibition to mark 73 years of the attack by Pakistan army-aided Pashtun militia, which had advanced towards Srinagar nearly two months after Partition.
Titled “Memories of 22 Oct 1947”, the exhibition will be inaugurated at Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre on October 22. The exhibition, accompanied by a symposium on October 22-23, will be inaugurated by Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patel, with J&K Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha as chief guest.
Raghvendra Singh, NMI vice-chancellor and Secretary, Culture Ministry, said, “It is a start — a first step towards collating, documenting, archiving and representing the history…of valour and horrors which continue to affect Kashmir and the rest of India till date.” He said the exhibition will capture the Pakistan-backed invasion through visuals, archival documents, audio and video footage and graphics.
Sources in the ministry said the government’s “objective in organising an event of this magnitude to mark the day for the first time is to refresh public memory about Pakistan’s designs to occupy Kashmir after Partition, and to change the popular perception that a chunk of the Muslim population of the Valley sides with Pakistan”.
A special section in the exhibition has been dedicated to Maqbool Sherwani, a 19-year-old National Conference worker who is credited with single-handedly stalling advance of the tribals to Srinagar. He rode around on a bike, telling invaders that the Indian Army was camping outside Baramulla, and that a move towards Srinagar would be their undoing.
Many say the outcome would have been different had the invaders reached Srinagar before the Indian troops did. Catching Sherwani’s bluff, the tribals killed him in Baramulla on November 7.
The symposium, which will also be streamed online, will have speakers from fields such as military history, international relations, economics and defence.
Prof Raghuvendra Tanwar, who teaches Modern History and will chair a session on the inaugural day, said, “Having organised the invasion of Kashmir in October 1947, Pakistani commanders were shocked to see a vast majority of Kashmiri Muslims coming out against the invaders and in support of democratic and secular India.”
Underlining the intent of the government project, the concept note of the symposium says, “October 22, 1947, in fact marks the beginning of the first Indo-Pak war. The consequences of this watershed event are still affecting the country. It is necessary to portray such historic narrative in order to create a dialogue among the people. The aim of such initiative would be to bring about awareness among the people about this phase of our history. It will help in remembering how the country fought in the very first conflict faced by India.”