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Director & Producer : Harbux Singh Latta – Harshvir Singh Latta

Writer : Harbux Singh Latta, Ashwani Sawan & Harshvir Latta

Music : Bittu

Songs : Arun Kumar, Pammi Hanspal & Harpal Sanehi

Performances : Presented by Chinar Corps on 7th Nov 2021 at Shalateng Garrison, Srinagar


When the British left in 1947 after creating Pakistan and India, the Princely States were given the option of acceding to India or Pakistan or to remain independent. All the Princely States except three had soon aligned with either India or Pakistan. When it became apparent that Maharaja Hari Singh would not join Pakistan on his own, Pakistan prepared to annex it by force. It got together about 10,000 tribesmen from the North-West Frontier Province and an equal number of Muslim locals from the border areas, armed them with rifles, light machine guns and heavy weapons like machine guns and mortars. The Raiders were given the license to loot, rape and kill. The operations in the Jammu Sector and Poonch started on October, 15 1947 and in the Kashmir Valley on October, 20 1947 with the aim of capturing Srinagar by October 26, 1947. The operation for capture of Srinagar was given the code name OPERATION GULMARG

The State Forces at Uri under the personal leadership of Brig. Rajinder Singh though fought gallantly to the last man and last round. Uri fell after two days of bitter combat on October 25. The retreating State Forces blew up the Uri Bridge. Brig. Rajinder Singh was killed in battle and awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.

At Baramula, the orgy of violence went on for three days during which at least 3000 people were slain and half the town was burnt. It is reported that the loot was so much that some of the raiders went back to leave the loot before coming for more. Hundreds of young women were forcibly taken away to be sold as slaves in Pakistan.

The Maharaja of Kashmir, seeing the gravity of the situation, approached the Indian Government for assistance. The Instrument of Accession was signed on October 26 and the first Indian troops, the battalion headquarters and three companies of 1 SIKH under Lt Col Ranjit Rai, were air lifted and landed at Srinagar airfield on October 27.

Col Rai ordered C Company along with a section of 3-inch mortars to proceed immediately to Baramula. It reached Mile 30 on the Srinagar – Uri Road and saw that Baramula was already in enemy hands and burning. Capt Kamaljit decided to take up defences at Mile 32-33. He also sent back information about the situation to the Commanding Officer. The next troops to arrive the same day were the D Company of the Battalion under Major Harwant Singh. Col Rai ordered the company to carry out a flag ‘march through the Srinagar city before moving for Baramula to join the C Company.

The Raiders regrouped and launched an out flanking move. There was no option for the company but to withdraw. Lt Col Ranjit Rai died in this action while supervising the withdrawal which took place during the night of October 28 / 29. He did not succeed in evicting the intruders but had made them wary and slowed down their advance. 1 SIKH fell back and took up defences at Shalateng.

In the meantime 161 Brigade under Brigadier J C Katoch had begun to arrive on October 29. Brig Katoch was wounded on October 31 while visiting 1 SIKH at Patan and Brigadier Sen took over. The enemy consisted of about 8000 raiders led by Pakistan Army Regulars. The main force approaching Srinagar along the main Uri – Baramula – ­Patan – Srinagar Road. A northern column approaching from the north via Sopore and a southern column of about 1000 was approaching the airfield from the south via Gulmarg/Badgam

Badgam was a small village south west of Srinagar and a few kilometres from the airfield. On hearing reports of enemy concentration in Badgam area, the Brigade Commander, on November 3, sent a patrol of two companies of 4 KUMAON under Major Som Nath Sharma to check the area. Another patrol of one company of 1 KUMAON was to pass through the companies of 4 KUMAON, contact 1 PUNJAB at Mangan and return to the airfield. This patrol did not meet any enemy till 1300 hours and was sent back. Major Sharma and his companies established a firm base on a hillock near Badgam. He was asked to withdraw and sent back one of the companies to the airfield at 1400 hours. The company was engaged by the enemy with mortar and machine-gun fire at about 1500 hours. Though surprised and without properly dug in defences, the company fought a determined battle. Major Sharma, who had accompanied the battalion in spite of having a hand in plaster, died fighting when a 2 inch mortar shell landed close to him and was awarded the Param Vir Chakra.

Brigadier Sen now decided, to redeploy and reorganised his troops for the defence of Srinagar and a decisive battle. Brigadier Sen had two options. He could hold the enemy till the promised reinforcements arrived or he could attack the enemy with what he had and try to put him off balance. He decided to attack.

Brigadier Sen’s plan was simple. 1 SIKH was to hold firm in their defensive position and keep engaging the enemy from their position at Shalateng. 1 KUMAON was to move from Rifle Range and be prepared to attack the enemy from a canal bank south west of the Sikhs. One company of 4 KUMAON, deployed at the airfield, was ordered to secure the forming up place for 1 KUMAON. The armoured cars and rifle troop of 7 Light Cavalry was ordered to move along the road from Gandarbal via Sumbal and Shadipur to the rear of the enemy and be prepared to attack the enemy from the rear. The assault was to be launched by 1 KUMAON as soon as the armoured cars reached their positions. Once the Kumaonis had attacked, the Sikhs were also to attack the enemy from the east. Every available artillery gun and mortar was ordered to support the attack.

The battle commenced around noon, November 7 and was over by 1700 hours in the evening. The machine gun fire from the armoured cars from the rear was especially unnerving for the enemy. Shot up from all sides and Subjected to heavy shelling, they ran helter skelter and fled the battlefield. The air force also did their bit by strafing the enemy. The Sikhs pursued the retreating enemy and Patan was recaptured by 2000 hours November 7. Enemy left 472 dead on the battlefield and 146 more bodies were counted on the road to Baramula. So demoralised were the Raiders after this defeat that they did not stop retreating till they reached Pakistan.

A decisive battle was thus fought and won at Shalateng on Nov 7. Thus as far as Pakistan was concerned, OP GULMARG was over. It totally changed the tide of battle in the Kashmir Valley. It completely removed the threat to Srinagar and led to recapture of most of the territories lost to the Raiders in the initial days of the conflict. Shalateng was the first decisive victory of the Indian Army after independence.