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JANUARY 11, 1948: TRAIN TO INDIA

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

N Surendranath

Soldiers are the guardians of a nation and protect its citizens at all costs, even before the constitution of the country comes in play; before the unfurling of the national flag. This story of 2 Bihar Regiment that announce the fierce bravery and sacrifice for people of a nation that was minutes away from appearing on world map. Salute to Heroes !

 

The tragic incident on the night of January 11, 1948 at Gujarat railway station in Pakistan is a saga of blood and sacrifice by 2 Bihar Regiment. A story that this generation would have rarely heard as it is buried deep in the pages of history. 11th January is not an ordinary date. History has lot written about this date in blood. It tells us a tale of heroism, a tale of raw courage and a tale which is to be remembered for ages.


Bihar Regiment of Indian Army saved refugees
Soldiers of 2 Bihar Regiment Preparing to board train for refugee protection

The night is remembered for the raw courage and selfless sacrifice of 36 soldiers of 2 Bihar Regiment who laid down their lives while protecting a train of refugees coming from West Pakistan into India. While politicians were not at all bothered about this bloodshed and were busy in their own affairs, Punjabi refugees faced the most brutal treatment in the hands of goons of Pakistan who gathered in large numbers to slaughter any Hindu or Sikh moving around. It was a horrifying day. Partition was ordered several months back, and refugees were still transiting from India to Pakistan and vice versa. A company of 2 Bihar Regiment under the command of Captain Gurbachan Singh Grewal was tasked to escort a train from Pakistan to India. The train was full of Punjabi refugees who left all their belongings, lost their family members and were totally helpless. At the same time, the provisional government of Pakistan had given free hands to the armed goons to loot the refugees and kill them in order to create an atmosphere of fear. The same they did in Bengal during “Direct Action Day” and later in 1971 during “Operation Searchlight” in Bangladesh.


Pakistanis felt that it is the perfect way to show their supremacy over the other community. Second Battalion of Bihar Regiment was formed as part of Military Evacuation Organization (MEO) and was involved in safe repartition of Hindus and Sikhs from newly formed Pakistan.


On the night of 11th and 12th Jan 1948, Charlie Company of the battalion was escorting a refugee train from Mari Indus to Amritsar. Soon after midnight when the train stopped near Gujarat Railway Station, it was attacked by more than 2000 Armed Pathans. 36 brave soldiers of 2 Bihar laid down their lives selflessly while saving the refugees. Most of them were tribal from present day Jharkhand (Erstwhile Bihar). Yet they wrote a saga of sacrifice and utter courage with their blood. Political leadership of that time was not desirous of making the deeds of such sacrifice’s public (Probably due to their appeasement politics) and covered this part of history in the dust. However, when we look back and see what we lost to the partition, the blood of these soldiers of Indian Army reminds us how they fought and how they sacrificed themselves to the political ambitions.





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