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First Param Vir Chakra
- Prof. venkata ramanamurty mallajosyula
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Lately many pleas have been made that Mohammed Afzal Guru's execution should be stayed because his death 'could fuel separatism in Jammu & Kashmir.' The state chief minister himself has been an ardent advocate for clemency for the terrorist who attacked the Indian Parliament in December 2001 (and nearly provoked a war between India and Pakistan). The 'secular' protagonists claim that his execution will make a martyr of Afzal. I will not enter into these fallacious arguments, but the time has perhaps come to remember a true martyr: Major Somnath Sharma who on November 3, 1947 saved Srinagar airport (and Kashmir) at the supreme cost of his life. Had he not sacrificed his life, Afzal's defenders would not to day make front page news in the Indian press, for the simple reason that they would be Pakistani citizens living under a military dictatorship. Our story starts during in the early days of October 1947 when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru received a message from a former deputy commissioner of Dera Ismail Khan [one of the province's main districts] in the North West Frontier Province. The bureaucrat warned of 'a scheme to send armed tribals from Pakistan to the Pakistan-Kashmir border; some of them had already moved towards the area in transport provided by the Pakistan government. Arms confiscated from non-Muslims had been supplied to these tribals.' As Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir was reluctant to sign the Instrument of Accession to India, Nehru refused to take any action. Two weeks later a large contingent of Afridis, Mahsuds, Wazirs, Swathis and regular soldiers of the Pakistan army \'in mufti' began to enter Kashmir.

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