The Invasion of Baramulla: On October 26, 1947, Pashtun tribe members, armed to the teeth and sent by the Pakistan Army, took control of the town of Baramulla in north Kashmir, as Maharaja Hari Singh was undecided on whether to join India or Pakistan in the wake of freedom from the British and the division of the sub-continent. Without resistance, the Pushtuns looted houses, and temples and raped women, regardless of their religion. At this crucial juncture, Maqbool Sherwani, a tall, handsome 30-year-old activist of the National Conference, had an idea to buy time and stop their advance. He befriended a group of invaders wandering in the streets of Baramulla and sent them in the opposite direction towards Srinagar, the capital city.
Sherwani’s Trick to Save Kashmir
Sherwani belonged to an industrial family and owned a soap factory in Baramulla. When he heard about the invaders, he quickly left for Baramulla and asked his family to shift to a safer place. He then met the dominant group of invaders and misled them in the wrong direction. Afterward, he organized other National Conference activists to arrange shelter and support for the Hindus and Sikhs fleeing the violence.
His trick proved crucial in saving Kashmir from falling into the hands of the Pakistani invaders. The Maharaja sent an SOS message to Delhi for military help and signed the instrument of Accession the same day. The Indian Army landed in Srinagar on October 27 and eventually routed the intruders.
The Martyrdom of Maqbool Sherwani
However, the local supporters of the invaders informed them about Sherwani’s trick, and they came looking for him with a vengeance. They pumped 14 bullets into his body and tied it to an electric pole. His body was removed and buried by his elder sister, who died a few years later.
The Indian Army has since refurbished Sherwani’s grave and erected a tombstone. They have also erected banners across Baramulla and Srinagar to honor his memory on his martyrdom day. Pro-Pakistani people have threatened and abused his two surviving brothers and their families as traitors.
Honoring Sherwani’s Legacy
Sherwani’s legacy of saving Kashmir from becoming part of Pakistan is slowly becoming folklore. His nieces and nephews are proud of their Uncle and hope to be one day. He will get the recognition he deserves. Despite the fear of coming out in the open to claim his legacy, his family hopes that Kashmiris will remember his heroic deeds and honor him for his sacrifices.