Who Will Pay the Price for War?

Voices from Ladakh must not get drowned in the din of mainland India’s calls for war with China.

When the story of India’s 1948 war with Pakistan is told, the focus is on the Instrument of Accession, the agreement that made Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) a part of the Indian union. We are taught in school that the Pakistani army supplied civilians with weapons and arms, who then came all the way up till Srinagar in 1948, and that the panic-stricken Maharaja Hari Singh of J&K called for ­India’s help to push back the invaders. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then home minister, agreed to send help only after the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession. After J&K acceded to India, we are told, the Indian army landed in ­Srinagar and drove away the raiders up till the present-day Line of Control (LoC). All was well.

But from a Ladakhi perspective, this story is incomplete, with Ladakh and Ladakhis missing from the narrative. To be sure, the main theatre of action during the 1948 war was ­indeed the Kashmir valley. However, what is often left out is that many Pakistan-backed raiders also came to Ladakh. Killing and pillaging, they reached the Ladakh Khongkha (the hillock more commonly known as the site of Gurdwara Pathar Sahib), from where Leh, the capital city of Ladakh, was merely 20 km away. Had the Indian armed forces, which landed on a hurriedly constructed airstrip at Leh, not forced the invaders back, the invaders could have just as easily reached Leh.

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Updated On : 10th Jul, 2020


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