Meet the ‘Hero of Baramulla’ who conned Pakistan

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BY ANINDYA BANERJEE
New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS)
An event of patriotism from erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 has been given a fresh lease of life. The Union Ministry of Culture has thrown its weight behind the story of October 22, 1947 in its pursuit to mainstream the events of that day that could have altered Kashmir, as we know today.
The Ministry has decided to hold a National Symposium and virtual exhibition on Maqbool Sherwani, a fellow Kashmiri who halted the marching Pakistan-backed tribal militia towards Srinagar.
While Sherwani might have given the Indian Army adequate time to send reinforcements, he had to pay with his own life.
Now, the Narendra Modi-led Central government wants to publicise and mainstream this tale of selfless sacrifice and utter heroism that is starkly opposite to the attempted narrative by Pakistan and certain elements within the valley that Kashmiris want freedom.
The ministry is hailing him as the ‘Hero of Baramulla’.
Prof Amitabh Mattoo will virtually join the symposium themed on “Martyr Maqbool Sherwani: Memory, myth and Imagination”. The Centre organised symposium is also scheduled to take place the same day, Sherwani flaunted his passion for the country- 22nd October. The event is likely to be beamed live on all social media handles of the ministry — Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram.
“The bravery and subsequent martyrdom of Maqbool Sherwani in 1947 and the story of his role during the Pakistan-backed invasion of Kashmir needs to be mainstreamed throughout India,” says Mattoo.
Sherwani, then a 19-year-old National Conference worker, has been credited with single-handedly stalling the advance of the tribal invaders to Srinagar.
“He managed the feat by telling the invaders that Indian Army was camping outside Baramulla and that a move towards Srinagar would be their undoing. The enemy froze in its tracks before the Indian reinforcement had reached Srinagar. Many say that the outcome of the war would have been different had invaders reached Srinagar before the Indian Army,” reads an e-poster by the Union Ministry of Culture created for the event that will be used to generate interest, in the coming few days over social media.
While Sherwani had to pay with his life after his bluff was caught; he had refused to say, ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ till the very end.
His body was nailed on a wooden plank and left. Now, this heroic story will be disseminated to today’s generation of India and more so to those in the valley, many of whom may not be aware of such an event that could have altered history.
The Culture Ministry has also prepared a 53 second long audio video clip that will be teased over social media to create a buzz and generate interest in him and the significance of the date.
(Anindya Banerjee can be contacted at Anindya.b@ians.in)

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