The Indo-Pakistan war started soon after the partition of both the countries. It was a poor strategy and attempt of Pakistan to use military might for accession of Independent state of Jammu and Kashmir, while India was following peaceful, political and diplomatic means. Pakistan triggered the war just after independence by launching tribal militants from Waziristan to forcefully capture the state, while the state was still independent & slated to make a decision regarding its accession to India or Pakistan. The 1947-48 war concluded after ceasefire by the UN and started a never ending proxy war affecting geopolitics of both the countries.
On being attacked by rebels, Maharaja Hari Singh requested Indian Govt for military intervention. Indian army was airlifted to Srinagar for driving out the rebels who had plundered and looted various cities, once Maharaja Hari Singh signed the document of accession. Indian Army along with Jammu and Kashmir state forces fought against irregular forces and Pakistani army. The war witnessed unprecedented valour and bravery from the military men as well as locals to save the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Many heroes laid down their lives for safeguarding the territory of the Motherland and helped in shaping the future of India. Out of the plethora of such stories, I would mention about two heroes whose contribution to 1947-48 war was irreplaceable.
The 19 year old boy immortalized his name, when he took 14 bullets to save the state from tribal forces of NWFP. His bravery completely changed the outcome of the war. He fooled and misguided the tribal forces to a wrong direction in pretext of taking them to Kashmir and ensured that they do not reach Kashmir before Indian Army. This delay provided sufficient time for Indian Army to land at Srinagar on 27 October and eventually change the outcome of the battle by intercepting tribal forces at Shalteng, a few kilometers outside Srinagar on 07 November. As per the experts the story would have been completely different, had tribal forces reached Srinagar before Indian Army. Meer Maqbool Sherwani was tortured by NWFP forces and his bullet ridden body was discovered bound to wooden bars and with 14 bullet holes in his body. Few reports suggest that raiders posted a note in Urdu stating, ‘He is a traitor, his punishment is death’, before nailing his body to wooden bars.
Brig Usmaan attained veergati on 03 July 1948 and his last words were “I am dying but let not the territory we were fighting for, fall to the enemy”. His funeral was attended by Indian Prime Minister Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru. An Indian journalist Khwaja Ahmed Abbas wrote about his death “A precious life, of imagination and unswerving patriotism, has fallen victim to communal fanaticism”.
However, after the attackers were driven out from Baramulla by Indian Army, his body was buried with full military honours. He was considered a war hero and Mulk Raj Anand, the famous author, wrote a short novel in his honour titled ‘Death of a Hero’. ‘Life’ Magazine reporter, Margret White described Maqbool as a Robin hood character and portrayed him as a staunch believer of religious tolerance, unity and nationalism.
Brig Mohammad Usman, MVC
Brig Md Usmaan was a symbol of India’s “Inclusive Secularism”. He was opposed to the idea of partition of India on the basis of religion and he with many other Muslim officers decided to stay in India and serve the country. During Indo-Pak battle of 1947-48, he was chosen to command 50 th Para Brigade deployed at strategically important area of Jhangar. He took a vow that he would not sleep on a bed till Jhangar is recaptured from the enemy and was successful in capturing Jhangar three months later, at the cost of his life. He was the highest ranking military officer, who laid his life during the battle and was awarded Maha Vir Chakra for his bravery and inspiring leadership. He was also known as ‘Lion of Nowshera’ for his unbreachable defence in Nowshera against overwhelming enemy strength.
As per the official figures his troops inflicted around 2000 casualties to Pak forces, against only 135 casualties to our forces. Pak forces became overawed by his presence and announced a sum of Rs 50000 for his head. The repeated attempts by the enemy were foiled in Nowshera sector and it frustrated the enemy. Brig Usmaan attained veergati on 03 July 1948 and his last words were “I am dying but let not the territory we were fighting for, fall to the enemy”. His funeral was attended by Indian Prime Minister Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru. An Indian journalist Khwaja Ahmed Abbas wrote about his death “A precious life, of imagination and unswerving patriotism, has fallen victim to communal fanaticism”.
Though, we may feel that history does not directly affect our future, but it is very important facet for planning the future. It is well said that “The generation which ignores history has no past and no future”. During the time of war, all of us play our roles with utmost sincerity and devotion, but only few of us go beyond the call of duty and perform acts that are unparalleled and unheard of. They endure hardships and overcome their humane fears, for the motherland and it’s citizens. We must remember and honour their sacrifices, as we live in the freedom gifted by them and at the same time look towards the bright future of this great nation.