Fall of Muzaffarabad || By Bhushan Parimoo || LIVE IMAGE

Fall of Muzaffarabad || By Bhushan Parimoo || LIVE IMAGE

The fall of Muzaffarabad has left many questions unanswered? Located on the banks of the Jhelum and the Krishan Ganga rivers.At the western end of the Kashmir Province bordering Pakistan had been of a very strategic importance from a defense point of view . From Muzaffarabad defenses and the Srinagar there was nothing in between to stop the invaders. In case defenses were breached and that was happened as feared. State had only 8 Infantry Battalions in all to defend its borders with Pakistan from jammu up to Leh.

Keeping in view the given situation Ace battalion was detailed to defend giving it preference over others as it had earned named as Royal Battalion. Had brought envious laurels under his command in the World War Second .

It was non other than the 4th JAK Rifles under the ablest Commanding officer of state Forces Late Col Nariyan Singh Samyal. His second in command was Major Sher Ali his blue eye buddy.Beyond whom Commandant saw nothing. Rtd col Kulwant Singh s/o late Naraian Singh shared that this regiment was raised by the great warrior by Zorawar Singh , the Napoleon of Asia .

Yet not a single short was fired in defense. The Civil Administration was under Sh Duhni Chand Mehta , of Kishtwar, as Wazir -i- Wazarat. Assisted by Pt Tara Chand 'BA' alias Wagam. Assistant Wazir-i-Wazarat who got converted as Tariq Ali and promoted as Wazir-i-Wazarat by Pakistan Administration, Kacho Ali Mohammad (who later rose to be a Minister in J&K cabinet) was Asst. Commissioner in Muzaffarabad.

He had his family with him. Gave shelter in his house to all Pandit ladies (who numbered 10-12) saved from lustful eyes of raiders. Mohammad Yusaf Butch, Tehsildar from Srinagar who later assisted Justice Sir Ch Muhammad Zafarullah Khan of Sailkote in UN for Pakistan and later rose to the rank of Press Secretary to the PM of Pakistan Mr Bhutto. just to add for the readers a south Indian journalist G K REDDY crossed over to Pak Occupied Kashmir and was appointed Information Adviser by the newly formed government.He remained there for about 2 years and then crossed back to India and joined The "HINDU", as its Delhi based correspondent. 

He was editor of Kashmir Times which had been started by one ABDUL REHMAN MITHA ( A R MITHA) from Bombay toeing the lines of the policy of Molvi Yusuf Shah. Information had started to pour in from the last week of September 1947 with regard to imminent attack by Pakistan army , who had started recruiting tribes through war lord to grab the state with the barrel of the gun , Informers were none other than Gujjars of Haripur Hazara who will come down daily to supply milk to among those were Kashmir Pandits serving as teacher, compounder , revenue officials , post office etc with whom they had developed the intimacy and reverence for the service these officials were rendering.

As these civilian officials had no concept of war and took it rumours about impending invasion lightly. So did unfortunately too by whom detailed to protect the area to the last bullet and last man. By Pt. Bishambar Nath Sapru a teacher who had joined High School Muzaffarabad in July 1947 in his write up How I lived under occupation forces Muzaffarabad 1947, recollects as on the intervening night of 21st/22nd October he was woken up from sleep by the sound of 'tin tin'. Rumours were already rife in the town about an imminent Pakistani invasion.

He went down to tell Gulab Ram that 'firing is going on'. He assured nothing to worry so went back to sleep. Soon 'tin-tin' sound grew louder and two bullets hit the door opened it and picked up the hot casings of the cartridges.

LT Col. Narain Singh

When showed these to Gulab Ram he turned pale with fear It was 1:30 AM.The previous day Pt. Prem Nath Nehru and other Kashmiri Pandits had met Col. Narain Singh, the Commander of Dogra Garrison at Muzaffarabad and conveyed to him that Pakistan had already purchased loyalties of a section of his troops. They impressed upon him the inadvisability of putting these troops at the front.

The colonel had laughed away their apprehensions, saying, "They have fought with me in Egypt. They will never betray me". On 21st October itself, Prithvi Nath Mazari, a Kashmiri Pandit teacher posted at Danakcheli, (20 kms from Muzaffarabad) had ran away to Muzaffarabad after seeing tribal lashkar at Danakcheli. Mazari immediately after his arrival went to see Col. Narain Singh and Wazir Wazarat, Mehta Duni Chand. He informed them that Tribal lashkar was moving ahead towards Muzaffarabad.

The two officials put him off saying that he was spreading panic. We heard he was punished by tying him to a tree. 
                                    Major Sher Ali, got panicked for leaking of the plan , he took at the first opportunity his jeep and rushed across the border apprised his masters of the latest development, and it was decided to per pone attach .And on return brought sufficient crates of liquor and was supplied on the D-day through his men with strict instructions to ensure that others are made to have more than their fill and when job done, Sher Ali was guard commandant as well, unlocked armoury and neutralized their own fellow comrades on the altar of communal frenzy, Bullets were not wasted on Narian Singh and Duni chand, they and others were beheaded.

Mrs Dhuni Chand Mehta, called Smt Krishna Mehta

Mrs Dhuni Chand Mehta, called Smt Krishna Mehta was l later  retrieved from the clutches of the invaders through Red Cross.Who later became first women MP from the State  Late Ramlal Verma, elder brother of Dr S.L.Verma Retd, principal of Jammu Medical College who belongs to Muzaffarabad, in one of his write up in his Urdu paper had narrated that the dust which the speeding jeep of Major Sher Ali raised while going through the kohalla is still before his eyes after decades of the incident.

A column of 8 men, lead by Hav Bishen Singh, were sent there along with two Machine Guns, ammunition besides normal material to be transported on foot from Muzaffarabad to Poonch.Had to wait for the porters and pack animals to transport Arms to Poonch.

Although main section 8th Dogra had already moved through Rajouri along with logistic support there. During just casual routine meet and pass time interaction with fellow soldiers of a section of 8th Dogra it was shared with anxiety that all is not well with the affairs of the Battalion.

As routine activities were not being carried as per standard practice. Second in command Maj Sher Ali is playing mischief detrimental for the the cause for which Battalion is detailed here.He had been a trusted man of the commandant who along with the soldiers had fought shoulder to shoulder with credit, so no reason even in faintest to doubt him.f not good sign Muzaffarabad as said confined to the confluence of Jhelum and Kishanganga, tentatively, surrounded by mountain ring between other end of Khadee -Padeecan across was Pakistan area.

This side was manned by C and D cop, all from one faith, while Kohala Bridge was manned by A cop, of other faith. What was resented by soldiers of this area that for a fortnight, guard at C and D cop was not changed as standard practice to rotate after every 24 hours, which proved disastrous, beside Soldiers were disarmed and ammunition put in kotwali on the plea, in peace time it is to be carried as such One Hav Narsing Singh has been complaining to this abnormal behavior on the part of the authorities , he was arrested and put in custody, which proved blessing in disguise was morning , at 6.04 am, still dark, telephone rang line in the camp of 8th JAK when contact , someone answered at the other end from 4 th JAK HQ that save your lives that was all.

Narsing Singh who was under arrest did manage to escape posing of their faith and reached up to the rear of high school where section of 8 JAK was camping and shouted for his cousin Bishen Singh, after verification he was let in.

It was he narrated what he had seen , that whole night C and D cop facilitated to cross in civics and others to this side , soldiers of 4th Bn too joined , and murdered in sleep Commandant who despite of repeated warning called them as his sons, which they were Single shot at 6.04 hrs was a signal to go ahead to execute second phase of operation, as first task has been achieved as planned It is said a driver was all that survived A cop which was detailed at Kohala bridge, under fresh Second lieutenant Labh Singh Chib was approached from across by two British officers and asked to surrender, assured all security, on the plea Kashmir has fallen, Young officer asked his subordinate Subedar Parkash Chand, who refused to do so until orders from headquarter, said last man last bullet, taught and supposed to perform Thereafter, British officers tried every reason with him to convince but failed.

His presence of mind saved that flank from the raiders for some time .Retreated safely to Poonch via Hills .Labh Singh later rose to the rank of Lt Colonel and was one of the best officers who was hard task master but very caring.

  Bushan Parimoo
 (The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to    this Website .)
   (Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)

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