C P Gupta
It may sound incredible but it is true that in unprecedented level of human rights violation, out of the total population of about 25,000 of Mirpur city, about 18,000 unarmed men, women and innocent children were brutally killed within 24 hours on 25th November, 1947 on which date the city of Mirpur fell to the hands of Pakistani raiders. Out of the remaining about 7,000 citizens of Mirpur about 3,500 wounded and half dead persons were made prisoners and dumped in an old Gurudwara building at Alibeg where they were further tortured inhumanly. The remaining about 3500 who escaped from the clutches of the enemy could find way to reach Jammu barefooted in such a very miserable condition of starvation and mental agony which is too difficult to be described in words even today. The author stands witness to the said tragic and terrible episode as he was one of the persons of the small batch which was not physically captured by the raiders on the way from Mirpur to Jammu.
Mirpur now in POK (Pak Occupied Kashmir) was the District Headquarters of Jammu and Kashmir State, located on the Indo-Pak border marked at the time of partition of the country on 15th August, 1947. The accession of the Jammu and Kashmir State with India declared by Maharaja Hari Singh could not be digested by the Pakistan as a result of which Pakistan made an aggressive plan to grab the state using army force clandestinely in illegal manner. She pushed her regular army and Pathan mercenaries and laid seize of the city of Mirpur and choked it by denying access to all essential commodities as Punjab was the supply line from the very beginning. In this nefarious design, the Pakistan Government made an internal secret agreement called “Zen and Zar “with the Pathan mercenaries according to which if Mirpur city was captured, the captured women would be taken by the Pathans and the immovable property would be the share of Pakistan Government.
The incessant firing and heavy gun operation from the Pakistan army, forced the small and ill-equipped state police force stationed at that time at Mirpur, to confine itself in the pickets within the city of Mirpur. The insufficient state force was assisted by the young men of Mirpur city as the whole Mirpur community had vowed not to allow the raiders to enter the city of Mirpur till they had the last bullet to fight with. They stood like a rock and with whatever meager stock of ammunition was available in the city stock, repulsed the enemy attacks with heavy losses to them on 6th, 10th and 11th November, 1947. The young men of Mirpur had determined not to bow before the enemy but alas! the continued large scale onslaught by the well equipped Pakistan army and failing of wireless set installed at that time in police camp at Mirpur led to disruption in the radio link with the state headquarters at Jammu and Government of India, strangled the city of Mirpur. Despite war like situation created by Pakistan and even signing of agreement of accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with India, the Government of India did not send army though at that time it was stationed at Jhangar which was at a distance of only 25 miles from Mirpur. This was due to political and personal conflict and differences between the then Prime Minister of India and Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir State as a result of which Mirpur became a scapegoat. At the midnight of November 24, under a thick cover of artillery shelling and bursting of heavy grenades which are normally used during declared wars, Pakistan launched a major attack on the eastern side of the city. This was the heaviest attack witnessed so far. The Garrison put up the most spirited resistance but the enemy used its full force to break the defense line of the city. In that attempt seven Pathans could make their way to enter the city at mid-night. Alarmed by the worst critical situation at that time, the internal flying death squads of the city engaged them- selves madly in hand to hand fight with the infiltrators and killed all the seven pathans at the cost of the life of many young men of the community. This operation brought down the city stock of ammunition to zero level. In this critical situation, the state administration headed by Wazir Wazarat decided clandestinely to retreat to Jammu leaving behind the hapless civil population 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 to vacate the city and march towards Jammu under their protection but contrary to it, the Wazir Wazarat along with his police officers galloped their horses and left the city in the wee hours on November 25, even leaving behind their own wounded soldiers who were crying in pain of their wounds and lying on beds in the police hospital.
The coward departure of the state administration from Mirpur gave a jubilant signal to the enemy. At about 8.30 A.M, the fully armed raiders entered the city in wave after wave and pushed the city population into one corner of the city. The terrified men, women and children in utter 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 who like hungry wolves unleashed terror and brutal savagery which made the whole area an open stage for the naked dance of death. The heavy firing on the moving caravan from all the sides from morning to evening laid down the dead bodies of more than 12,000 persons on the earth where excepting the sky, there was none to shed tears over the bulk departed pious souls and even the Sun ashamed on grave human rights violation, had hidden his face behind the clouds well before the darkness of the evening. This was not the end of annihilation of the misery of the unfortunate persons of Mirpur. At the night of the same day an ill-fated group of about 2,000 persons was captured at a place known as “Kas Guma”. The enemy gathered a round 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 and killed in batches during the whole night. The women and girls were taken to unknown places by the Pathans as per their standing agreement “Zen and Zar” with the Pakistan Government. Next day, the enemy drove another group of about 2,000 persons and brought them at a village known as “Thathal”. They also met the same treatment as at Kas Guma. Finally there was a massacre at Alibeg where there were 5, 000 captives. In the beginning 50 to 100 young men were daily taken on pick and choose basis and killed them in the open fields. Besides, on average basis, 15 to 20 captives died every day due to severe cold weather condition, starvation, illness and mental upset ness. On December Ist a young Muslim attorney named Mohd. Ibrahim being very soft in tongue and well known to many Hindu Officers of Mirpur visited the prison and showed his lip sympathy to the intelligentsia who were brought there as captives and also shed his crocodile tears on their pitiable condition 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 at Alibeg as captives. He distributed Muslim caps and mufflers to some of them as a token of friendship, but those gestures were in fact subtle signals to the Pakistani soldiers to kill those persons first. The next morning, the enemy soldiers gathered a group of educated people of the prison on the pretext that \they would be taken back in the evening with earning after utilizing their services in the factories during the day . Those wearing caps and mufflers proudly occupied the front line to get priority in getting job in the factories. They never came back as they all were slaughtered on the side of a canal.
In the mid January, 1948 a team of ICRC (International Committee of Red Cross) arrived there and took charge of the camp and supplied the needed food and medicines to the captives. On March 18, they managed to get the captives liberated in exchange of the same number of Muslims who were in India, willing to go to Pakistan. At that time, the captives of Mirpur in the Alibeg camp were not more than 1600 as the rest were either killed/died or kidnapped. The liberated persons were mostly aged and even unable to walk. They reached Amritsar where they were given touching reception by their relatives and general public.
In the memory of Mirpur martyrs of 1947, a Shaheedi Samark has been constructed by the Government at a conspicuous place in front of the main entry gate of the Government Medical College at Maheshpura Chowk Bakshinagar Jammu. The Jammu Development Authority dedicated the said Samark to Mirpur Community which was unveiled by Miss Sushma Choudhary 1.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, 1948 to pay tributes to the martyrs ofMirpur, under the patronage of late S. Harsajan Singh who at that time, was the Chairman of the Legislative Council of the Jammu and Kashmir State.
Mirpur city is no more now. The same was submerged in water when the Government of Pakistan constructed Mangla Dam in the late sixties. At present, the only visible sign of Mirpur city is an old Shiva temple which was in the heart of the city and can be seen when the water level of the Dam is low during the winter months.
According to a legend Mirpur city was laid about 850 years ago, by two saints namely Mira Shah Gazi and Gosain Budpuri. The word’ Mir’ was taken from the name of the former while’ pur ‘from the latter and gave the name ‘Mirpur’ which became the symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity and brotherhood but the cruel partition of the country on 15th August, 1947 applied the reverse gear and brought the tragic end of the city of Mirpur due to the general conflict between the two communities of the two countries India and the Pakistan.
C P Gupta