The Airlift that saved Kashmir

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I was inspired to write this article by Brigadier Vijay Sagar Dheman, Who had invited me to give a talk on the subject of the ‘First landing in Srinagar on 27th October, 1947’.

I am eternally grateful to Air Marshal Bharat Kumar, PVSM, AVSM (Retd) for allowing me to use material from his book, ‘The Incredible War’.

Mr Jagan Pillariseti, the ‘guru’ of Indian Air Force history has always been a guiding spirit for me apart from providing me with valuable historical facts and rare photographs.

Many thanks to Sqn. Ldr. Rana TS Chhina for allowing me to use the

USI Library and photographs from his book, ‘The Eagle Strikes’.

Thank you Mr KS Nair for some of the invaluable photographs you have given to me.

I have used some information from the book ‘Defending Kashmir’, published by the Publication Division, Government of India, as well as I have referred to material from the book, ‘History of Operations in Jammu and Kashmir, 1947-48’ compiled by Mr SN Prasad and Mr Dharam Pal, History Division, MoD, Government of India.

I would also like to thank Dr. Narinder Yadav, History Division, MoD, Government of India for allowing me to make excerpts from the Operational Record Book of No. 12 Squadron RIAF.

Lastly, I have also made references from my father’s (Gp. Capt. KL Bhatia Vr.C)’s log book entries pertaining to that period.

-Ranjeet Bhatia

Comment by Editor

After 76 years, history’s threads converge in this finely detailed article about the landing of the first airborne troops into Srinagar in October 1947. While the story had been repeated again and again over the years very few attempts have been made to historically record the actual facts. Air Marshal Bharat Kumar’s book aside, Ranjeet Bhatia puts together this fascinating document on the landing of the first Dakota (tail No. VP-905) in Srinagar on October 27, 1947, then being flown by his father, late, then Wing Commander KL Bhatia. It was one of the pivotal moments that would define our history for the next century including the conflicts that erupted between us and Pakistan that continue to this day.

Ranjeet’s eye for detail and his strict reliance on published accounts and sources, make this article a delight to read.