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Amidst Article 370 Controversy, Remembering Biju Patnaik- The Savior Of Kashmir

06 August 2019


Bhubaneswar: On August 5, India rejoiced as Article 370 was scrapped and the country’s crown State of Jammu & Kashmir was given a new birth. But had it not been for former Odisha Chief Minister and the lion-hearted Biju Patnaik, India would have had lost the entire territory of Jammu & Kashmir in the 1948 war with Pakistan.

Do not be confused. Here is the entire story behind the incident.

After the sub-continent was freed from British Raj and India-Pakistan was divided, the two nations were constantly at loggerheads over claiming Kashmir. In 1948, Pakistani infiltrators attacked Kashmir, killed and looted people on the way.

The princely State’s ruler Maharaja Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession with India asking for military help. However, things did not get better for months. Finally, the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru asked Biju Patnaik, who was a skilled pilot, for help.

On the dawn of 27 October 1948, Patnaik landed at the Srinagar Airport bringing 17 soldiers of Sikh regiment along with him. He flew at a very low level to find out whether the enemy had already taken over the airport or not. Nehru had given Patnaik clear instructions to not land the DC-3 if he detected any Pakistani presence there.

But, Biju Babu acted very skillfully and accomplished the work assigned to him. As most of the roads were blocked by infiltrators, India securing the Srinagar airport and sending troops through it was the deciding factor in the war.

This vital fact in India’s Kashmir history is not known to many people. At the time when India is rejoicing the abolition of article 370, it is important for the new generations to turn back the pages of history and take note of an important contribution in Kashmir’s accession to India.