Remembering ignored bravehearts

Nagendra Singh

Name of the book : Against All Odds
The Nuashera – Jhangar Battles
Author : Colonel Ajay K Raina
The 1947-48 campaign by Pakistan sponsored raiders who were, incidentally, being led by Pakistan army regulars, has been covered by many historians and quite an amount of material exists on the subject. A careful scrutiny of all such material, without exception, throws up a sad fact and that is an unfortunate gap that exists in such a literature. There is no doubt that it was only after the intervention by the Indian Army that the situation could be salvaged, first in the Valley and then in the Jammu region and every book on the subject reinforces such a fact. However, there was a long gap between the invasion of Poonch-Mirpur-Bhimber belt in the first week of October 1947 and the arrival of a Parachute Brigade in the area in the third week of November 1947. And of course, there were raids and intrusions that had started well before October invasion. If that be so, those brave hearts who had stood between the invaders and the helpless civilian population during those troubled times, somehow have been conveniently ignored by the historians at large. But for a couple of books that carry details of heroic deeds of the State Forces, a major chunk of the literature on the subject is silent about them. Sadly, even those few books that have narrated their stories, have done only for the period preceding the arrival of the Indian troops!
The new book, ‘Against All Odds : Naushera-Jhangar Battles 1947-48,’ by a son of the soil, Colonel Ajay K Raina, Sena Medal, comes across as a sincere attempt to bridge the existing gap. In addition to the details about the battles (each one supported by a painfully constructed sketch), the book carries many anecdotes and stories that have never been told before. The uneasy quiet about the massacres at Mirpur and Rajouri as also about the atrocities unleashed on a hapless populace in surrounding areas like Kotli, Ali Beg, Lam and so on, stands shattered by some detailed descriptions of those unfortunate events. And then are the minutiae about those brave sons and daughters of the soil and the folklores associated with them in addition to those of men in uniform who became legends through their bravery, leadership and foresight.
Aesthetically hardbound with a dust cover, this 90,000 plus words and 346 pages book carries a wealth of information that is already at the verge of getting faded away from the public memory. From the operations room of Pakistan GHQ to Cabinet Committee of Defence at Delhi to UN HQ, the canvas is large but the narration is crisp and fast paced. There is no dull moment throughout the chronicle. For many readers who either belong to the area or have the knowledge of the area, the book would serve as an anchor that would help them relate events to the contours of the terrain.
The foreword of the book has been written by a serving Lieutenant General and is an endorsement of the quality of the work done by a soldier by another soldier. The book is highly recommended for libraries and individual collections since, in addition to every thing else, the work guides us back to our roots and makes us understand how our ancestors survived those fateful months of violence, plunder and inhuman behaviour in the border belt between Chhamb in the Southeast to Rajouri in the Northwest.