On 22 October 1947, Pakistan launched the tribal invasion of Jammu & Kashmir. As the State became a part of the Union on October 26th, her protection became the responsibility of India. The first batch of Indian troops reached just in time on October 27th morning to stop the enemy on the outskirts of Srinagar. The D Company of 4 Kumaon, led by Major Somnath Sharma, was airlifted to Srinagar on October 31st. When his company was asked to move to Srinagar, Major Sharma’s arm was in plaster and he was advised rest till the plaster was removed. But he insisted on being with his company at this crucial hour. On November 3rd, D Coy led by Major Sharma had taken up position south of Bagdam. Around 1435 hours, a large force of the enemy, about 700 strong, appeared from a depression to the west of his position. It attacked with coy with small arms, mortars and heavy automatics. The accurate and devastating fire of the enemy inflicted heavy casualties on D Coy. Major Somnath Sharma understood the gravity of the situation and the imminent threat to both Srinagar town and the airfield was looming large before his eyes. He rushed across the open ground to his sections, exposing himself to enemy fire. He also laid out panels to guide IAF aircraft to their targets in the face of enemy fire. The company held on for six hours against heavy odds.
When heavy casualties adversely affected the firing power of the company, Major Sharma, with his right hand in plaster, took upon himself the task of filling the magazines and issuing them to men, operating light machine guns. While he was busy fighting the enemy, a mortar shell exploded on the ammunition near him. His last message to Brigade HQ, received a few moments before he was killed was, “The enemy are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to our last man and our last round.” His answer is now part of the Army lore. In the battle of Bagdam, Major Sharma, one JCO and 20 other ranks were killed. But their sacrifices did not go in vain. He and his men stemmed the tide of the enemy advance on Srinagar and the airfield for some very crucial hours. Major Sharma was awarded India’s first and highest war-time gallantry medal, Param Vir Chakra.
Gulab Singh founded the state of Jammu and Kashmir after purchasing the entire territory along with people between the rivers of Ravi and Indus from the East India Company in 1846, for 75 lakh. Hari Singh, the great-grandson of Gulab Singh was the ruler at the time of India-Pak independence. Hari Singh, in the weeks after August 15, 1947, gave no indication of giving up his State’s independence, unlike other 570 princely states in the region. It proved to be the root cause of present day Kashmir conflict. Md Ali Jinnah wanted to meet Hari Singh through the excuse of visiting the beautiful valley to recover his lost health. A state with such a vast muslim population makes clear point to come in Pakistan & Jinnah was over sure about this. His shock found no limit when he knew that Hari Singh does not want him in Kashmir even as a tourist. Pakistan then decided to force the issue, and a tribal invasion to drive out the Maharaja was initiated. In the early hours of October 24, 1947 the invasion began, as thousands of tribal Pathans swept into Kashmir. Their destination: the state’s capital, Srinagar, from where Hari Singh ruled. The Maharaja appealed to India for help.
On 25 October, V. P. Menon, a civil servant considered to be close to Patel, flew to Srinagar to get Hari Singh’s nod for Kashmir’s accession to India. By signing the Instrument of Accession, on October 26, 1947, Hari Singh agreed that the State would become a part of India. On 27 October, India’s 1st Sikh battalion flew into Srinagar. Srinagar was soon secured from the Pakistani invaders but the battles in the larger region were just beginning. When Jinnah learnt of the Indian troops’ landing, he reportedly ordered his acting British commander-in-chief General Sir Douglas Gracey to move two brigades into Kashmir, who refused the request. Pakistan finally did send troops to Kashmir but by then Indian forces had taken control of nearly two thirds of the state. Gilgit and Baltistan territories were secured by Pakistani troops. Meanwhile Hari Singh fleed Srinagar with a convoy of 85 cars and wealth of 500Cr. Loaded in 8 trucks and finally settled in Mumbai. Finally, a United Nations (UN) ceasefire was arranged. After long negotiations, the cease-fire was agreed to by both countries, and came into effect at the end of 1948.