Hoarding seen in Kashmir saying October 22 to be observed as ‘Black Day’ | via Twitter

India and Pakistan wage psychological warfare over the events of 1947

Over the last ten days, Pakistan has waged a battle of historical narratives with India, turning to psychological warfare in a desperate bid to black out the widespread protests taking place against it, both on its soil and outside as well.

From London to Srinagar and even parts of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, protests have taken place against the atrocities that Pakistani forces unleashed on the Kashmiris seven decades ago as well as against the fresh efforts being made to destabilise Kashmir.

It is well known history that, in October 1947, Pakistani raiders invaded Jammu and Kashmir and tried to capture it, only to be repulsed by the Indian Army—who fought the raiders till November 7 and managed to drive them away.

Once again, it is not just territorial claims but nationalistic and historical assertions by India that are unsettling Islamabad, which has been using extreme forms of violence and brutality to try and change the ground situation in Kashmir to its favour.

“After the abrogation of Article 370 and crackdown on Pakistan-sponsored terror groups and separatists in the Valley, Kashmir is no longer seen as a meeting ground for three kinds of nationalism—Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri. The growing Indian nationalism in J&K is a matter of worry for the Pakistan ISI,” says a senior intelligence official.

Each year in October, Kashmiris recall the painful memories of the invasion by Pakistani raiders. However, the “wrong history and propaganda” by Islamabad has “under the cover of religion, slowly been fed into the minds at a young age and the new generation of youth are not aware of the decades-old Kashmiri nationalist sentiment,” said an intelligence official.

''So, it is important to go back to history and remind the youth of Kashmir how they have fought alongside the Indian Army against the unprovoked aggression that started against them in October 1947, resulting in the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people of JK, [in] looting and arson, [and in] the rape and kidnapping of Kashmiri women,'' the official added.

To counter Pakistan's propaganda, national security strategists in New Delhi are not losing any opportunity to reach out to and remind Kashmiri people about their history.

Whether it is through social media cells of intelligence agencies, discussion forums or local outreach programmes in Kashmir, the aim is to build confidence between the security forces and Kashmiri people by reminding them of the history that shaped Kashmir through the sacrifices and contributions not just of the Indian army but also of Kashmiri nationalists like Maqbool Sherwani.

When Pakistani raiders were asked by the Army to plunder the city and seize Srinagar airport, it was Sherwani who, on his motorcycle, tried to misguide the raiders by directing them to the wrong path. Security officials said the trick by Sherwani was a huge contribution as it helped buy time for the Indian Army to be deployed in Kashmir as Maharaja Hari Singh was yet to sign the instrument of accession to allow the Indian soldiers to enter Kashmir. The Maharaja signed it on October 26 and the Indian government airlifted the Indian army into Kashmir on October 27.

However, once the raiders discovered that they were misguided by Sherwani, they searched for him and found him in Sumbal, a town in Baramulla. They tortured and mutilated his body.

''To terrorize the nationalists, the raiders pasted a paper on his head with the message 'He is a traitor, his punishment is death,’” recalled an official. “These are the terror tactics that continue to be employed by Pakistani state actors and non state actors to instil fear,'' he added.

However, government officials say that after the abrogation of Article 370, the Kashmiri people, especially the youth on both sides of the border, have been keen to look beyond the distorted history, thus becoming more aware of Pakistan's role in the devastation of their lives, culture and future.

A case in point is an intelligence report which notes that this year, despite COVID-19 constraints, Kashmir Black Day protests have taken place not just in Srinagar, but also in Nepal, Bangladesh, Tokyo, the Netherlands, Malaysia, London, Tanzania, Washington and PoK. In PoK, residents of Bagh, Muzaffarabad and Hajira took to the streets with masks and placards to end the violence against Kashmiris. In places like Spain, Indian communities organised webinars.

The report noted that a desperate Pakistan is trying to black out these protests taking place on its soil. Already on a sticky wicket after its failure to garner international support against India's move to abrogate Article 370, Islamabad is desperate to play down the events that took place this time of the year in 1947. But, in cities such as Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot, Kotli, Gilgit and Rawalpindi, the people have defied the government and gathered on the streets to register their demand and protest against the illegal occupation of Kashmir by the Islamabad government. The Jammu Kashmir Awami Workers party has already blamed the Pakistani government for violating the agreement signed with the Maharaja of Kashmir and invading JK.