On this day in 1947, Baramulla man changed the course of 1947 Indo-Pak War

‘Lion of Baramulla’ Maqbool Sherwani donned many hats
He would often be heard raising slogans, ‘Sher-e-Kashmir Ka Kya Irshad? Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Ithaad.’ (What does the Lion of Kashmir {Sheikh Abdullah} want? The unity of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.)
He would often be heard raising slogans, ‘Sher-e-Kashmir Ka Kya Irshad? Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Ithaad.’ (What does the Lion of Kashmir {Sheikh Abdullah} want? The unity of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.)Special arrangement

Baramulla: Maqbool Sherwani, the man from Baramulla, who changed the course of the 1947 India-Pakistan War, was killed on November 7, 1947, by tribal invaders from the erstwhile North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan.

Born in a Baramulla family that owned a small soap factory, Sherwani right since his adolescence was associated with political activities in the region and joined National Conference (NC) in 1939.

A secular to the core, Sherwani used to recite the poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Ali Sardar Jafri, Sahir Ludhianvi, and Dinanath Nadim and made the idea of secularism his political and personal ideology.

He would often be heard raising slogans, ‘Sher-e-Kashmir Ka Kya Irshad? Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Ithaad.’ (What does the Lion of Kashmir {Sheikh Abdullah} want? The unity of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.)

Sherwani was part of the 22 National Conference volunteers who joined the resistance forces of the national militia and led several detachments of militiamen who toured different areas instilling confidence and unity among the terror-stricken people of Kashmir.

Sherwani had a close friendship with many Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activists and came to the rescue of the Kashmiri Pandit families of Sopore. 

Sherwani along with other volunteers worked as guides at vital installations to keep track of the mercenaries.

While going back to Srinagar, he cautioned the Sikh Jatha of the Hamal region that was migrating to Srinagar, not to take the Sangrama-Srinagar National Highway due to the potential threat of Pakistani raiders on that road.

They disregarded his advice and consequently, over 300 Sikhs were abducted and killed at Choora Bulgam.

To frustrate the raiders’ advance towards Srinagar, he misinformed them, diverted them, and made them wander in the Sumbal area on the wrong routes.

His display of presence of mind exhausted their precious time till the troops of the Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army reached Srinagar for its defense. After realising that they were being misguided, the raiders crucified him in the central square of Baramulla.

The courage with which he sought to impede the advance of the tribals and the intensity of his loyalty and commitment towards his motherland made him popular as the ‘Lion of Baramulla’.

Every year, in his memory, at Maqbool Sherwani Auditorium and Mohammad Maqbool Sherwani Memorial in Baramulla, tributes are paid to him on his anniversary.

The Balidan Stambh monument by Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry also bears the name of Maqbool Sherwani.

Writer Mulk Raj Anand wrote an account of Sherwani’s story in his novel, Death of a Hero. Anand's novel was adapted into an Indian television show, ‘Maqbool Ki Vaapsi’, which aired on DD Kashir in 2011.

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