What a terrible and heart rending scene it was which the author witnessed at the age of sixteen, when Pakistan with its fully armed Battalion ,Like an hungry wolf, pounced upon the innocent and unarmed population of Mirpur city ( now in P.O.K) when out of its total population of 25,000 souls , more than 18000 persons which included men, women and innocent children of tender ages, were brutally killed in three days carnage on 25th,26th and 27th November ,1947.The only fault of the people of Mirpur, was that they had collectively vowed to protect Mirpur their birth land, from the Pakistani raiders even at the cost of their own lives.
The trouble started when on 26th October, 1947, the Maharaja Hari Singh the then Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State, signed the Instrument of Accession after which the state of Jammu and Kashmir became an integral part of India. This could not be digested by the Pakistan Government. They planned a nefarious design in connivance with the Pathans which led to a secret agreement between the Pakistan Government and pathan mercenaries according to which if Mirpur falls to Pakistan, the captured women would be taken by the Pathans and the immovable land and the movable property viz. Gold, cash etc. would be the share of Pakistan Government. That document was named as” Zan and Zar Agreement”. Before conducting the army attack, the Pakistan Government in the first week of November 1947, managed to send a bag of pamphlets written in urdu language, in the city of Mirpur, in which it was written that the Pakistan Government would assign a special status to Mirpur if the citizens of Mirpur amicably surrender themselves and allow the Pakistan army to occupy the territory of Mirpur without any hindrance. On the same very day, the literate and elderly persons of the city met in the evening and decided out rightly to reject the proposal of the Pakistan Government and refusal was conveyed through the shower of bullets from each defense picket of the city. This brought a terrible attack on Mirpur from the enemy.
The small and ill equipped State police force stationed at that time in Mirpur, was fully assisted by the young civil population of the city. At the midnight of November 24, 1947, under a thick cover of artillery shelling and bursting of grenades which are normally used during an openly declared war, the Pakistan army launched a major attack on the southern side of the city, which was spiritedly resisted by the depleting garrison force for six hours. Although the pickets had tough resistance, the enemy came in wave after wave and after six hours of ceaseless fighting, the defense line of the city was run over by seven pathans. Alarmed by the most critical situation, the flying Death Squads of the city engaged themselves madly in hand to hand fight with the infiltrators and killed all the seven pathans at the cost of life of many young men of the Mirpur community. Though the people of Mirpur displayed tremendous grit and tenacity but the end seemed gloomy and dreadful because that operation brought the city stock of ammunition to nearly zero level. Further, due to the irony of fate, the old modeled Wireless set installed in the police camp at Mirpur suddenly developed some technical defect and went out of order which led in disruption in radio link with the State Police Head quarters at Jammu and also with the Government of India. Despite war like situation created by Pakistan, the Government of India due to political rivalry between the then Prime Minister of India and the Maharaja of Jammu And Kashmir State , did not send army though at that time , the Indian army was stationed at Jhangar a place which was at a distance of 20 miles from Mirpur.
In that critical situation, the State Administration headed by Wazir Wazarat of Mirpur decided clandestinely to retreat to Jammu leaving behind the hapless civil population of the city to face the wrath of the marauders. In fact, at that time it was the moral duty of the State Administration to ask the citizens of Mirpur to vacate the city and march towards Jammu under their protection but contrary to that, the Wazir Wazarat and his police officers galloped their horses and left the city in the wee hours on November25 , even leaving behind their own wounded soldiers who were crying in pain of their wounds in the police line hospital. That coward departure of the State Administration from the Mirpur city, gave a jubilant signal to the enemy. At that time the whole population of Mirpur city felt themselves as hanging breathlessly in between the tight jaws of the enemy which was very eager to swallow the flesh and even the bones of the people of Mirpur who had refused out rightly to give shelter to the Pakistani soldiers in the city of Mirpur.
Immediately, after the departure of the State Administration from the city , a fully armed Battalion of the Pakistan army assisted by pathan raiders entered the city from all the sides at the stroke of 8.30 A.M. and by creating dreadful and terrible sounds from their war instruments, pushed the city population into one corner of the city. The terrified men, women and children in utter chaos and confusion in the midst of heavy firing from all the sides and in choking atmosphere due to smoke coming out of the burning houses of the city, scattered and marched in caravan in different directions without knowing where they were going. They were intercepted by the enemy at various places and like hungry wolves they unleashed terror and brutal savagery which made the whole area an open grave yard of dead bodies and many uncounted seriously wounded uncared persons were battling for life in the whirl pool of their own blood. By the time of sunset the whole area from Mirpur city to hill foot, was fully covered with dead bodies and critically injured persons. Ultimately, in the depleting evening, the Nature, by force had to display a signal through the darkness that the grave yard was full and no more entry of any dead body was possible. That brought the temporary stay in the day atrocity.
This was not the end of the misery of the people of Mirpur. At the night of the same day, an ill-fated group of 2,000 captured persons was brought at a place known as “Kas Gumma ” a colony of retired Muslim soldiers. The enemy encircled the captives and asked them to surrender all the cash and jewellery which they had with them. Thereafter, the male persons were asked to remove their clothes and lie down in a row. They were tortured brutally and killed in batches during the whole night. The women and girls were taken to unknown places by the pathans as per the “Zen and Zar” Agreement with the Pakistan Government .The next day the enemy drove another group of about 2000 persons and brought them at a village known as ” Thathal”. They also met the same brutal treatment as at “Kas Guma” throughout the day. Finally there was a massacre at Alibeg where about 5000 captives were huddled up in an old deserted and unhygienic ruined Gurdwara building. In the beginning about 50 to 100 young men were daily taken on pick and choose basis to kill them in the open field. Besides, on average basis, about 15 to 20 aged captives died every day due to severe cold weather condition, starvation, illness and mental shock.
On December 1, a young Muslim attorney named Mohammad Ibrahim being very soft in tongue and well known to many Hindu Officers of Mirpur, visited the Alibeg prison and showed his lip sympathy to the intelligentsia who were brought there as captives and also shed his crocodile tears and assured them that he would do his best to talk with the concerned authorities of the Government of Pakistan to get them employed in the factories on daily wage basis till they were in Alibeg camp as captives. He distributed Muslim caps and mufflers to some of them as a token of friendship but these gestures were in fact subtle signal and indication to Pakistani soldiers to kill those persons first. The next morning, the enemy soldiers drove a group of 42 educated people of the prison, on the pretext that they would be taken back in the evening after utilizing their services in the factories on daily wage basis. Those wearing caps and mufflers proudly occupied the front line to get priority in getting job in the factories but none of them came back as they all were slaughtered one by one on the bank of Jehlum canal.
In the mid January , 1948 a team of ICRS ( International Committee of Red Cross) arrived there and took charge of the camp and supplied the much needed food and medicines to the captives. On March 18, they managed to get the captives liberated in exchange of same number of Muslims who were in India and willing to go to Pakistan. The liberated captives at that time were not more than about 1600 as the rest were killed /died or kidnapped. The liberated persons were mostly aged and even unable to walk. They reached Amritsar via Wagha Border where they were given tearful and touching reception by their relatives and the general public.
In the memory of Mirpur martyrs of 1947, a Shaheedi Smarak has been constructed by the Government of the Jammu and Kashmir at a conspicuous place in front of the main gate of the Government Medical College at Maheshpura Chowk Bakshinagar Jammu. The Jammu Development Authority dedicated the said Smarak to Mirpur Community which was unveiled by Miss Sushma Chouhary I.A.S. the then Financial Commissioner on 25th November, 1998. The said Smarak is also the starting point of “Mirpur Road”which was named so on the same day viz 25th November, 1998 to pay tributes to the martyrs of Mirpur, under the patronage of S. Harsajan Singh who at that time was the Chairman of the Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir State.
On 25th November every year, thousands OF Mirpuries residing in Jammu city and its peripheral colonies, march in Prabhat Pheris coming from different sectors of Jammu city and assemble at the said Smarak to pay jointly, the rich tributes to the Martyrs of Mirpur who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their mother land as a result of which the Jammu and Kashmir State remained an integral part of India.
(The author is the retired Deputy Secretary of J&K Government)