Last Governor of Gilgit

O P Sharma
There are numerous shining stars on the horizon of Jammu and Kashmir who have made rich contribution to the society. While many are still living and making their mark in various spheres of human activities and some have passed into history, the EXCELSIOR, a leading newspaper has been putting focused light on them. Some illustrious sons of the soil by their daring deeds and selfless service are just like beacon-light for the youngsters.
One of such proud figures of Jammu and Kashmir was Brigadier Ghansar Singh (1895-1991), who strolled on the scene during a crucial period of this sensitive and strategic State’s history. Being the first Graduate from the Rajput community, he had eventful career in the J&K State Force, as he was appointed on pivotal post of Governor of Gilgit during the critical period of August, 1947.
Critical Assignment
It may be noted that Gilgit area, having borders touching Russia, China and newly created Pakistan, was also part of Jammu and Kashmir State but was on lease to British India. And after lapse of British Paramouncy on August 1, 1947 the Gilgit area was reverted to the J&K State Brigadier Ghansar Singh was appointed by Maharaja Hari Singh as its Governor at a critical period of history. The Governor found Gilgit in deep turmoil and due to Pak sponsored and British officers-aided rebellion of a section from the State Force, Ghansar Singh was captured and sent to Pakistan. Brig. Ghansar Singh was later released and he came back to Jammu and Kashmir.
A detailed account of the events has been vividly narrated in the chapter titled “How Pakistan Occupied Gilgit-A First Hand Account” in the book “Maharaja Hari Singh” published in 1995 by Har Anand Publications, New Delhi. He has authored the book: “Gilgit Before 1947” published in 1983.
Administrative Skill
In an exclusive interview to EXCELSIOR, Surinder Singh emotionally talked about his father, Brig. Ghansar Singh’s repatriation from Pakistan via Suchetgarh border on January 1, 1949. He recalled the re-union of family as a matter of fate and rejoicing as Brig Ghansar Singh continued his innings for over 42 years occupying important positions and rendering service to the society.
Ghansar Singh’s other two elder sons Arjun Singh retired as Naval Commander, while as Brig B S Jamwal after retirement settled down in Noida while Surinder Singh is residing in Jammu.
He became president of Dharmarth Trust in 1950 and remained on this post for long 26 years and contributed to looking after the temples and shrines as also promoting the religious sentiments among the people. He had a brief stint in politics as well. During Lok Sabha elections in 1967 he got elected from Kathua-Udhampur-Doda constituency but soon resigned in favour of Dr. Karan Singh who later bagged this Lok Sabha seat. It is noteworthy that he remained as Member of Legislative Council and also served for a brief period as acting Chairman of the Upper House of the State Legislature. Born on January 21, 1895 in the family of Thakur Suram Singh in the village Raipur, 10 km north-west of Jammu city, he had his early education in Jammu and graduated in 1971 from Prince of Wales College (now GGM Science College, Jammu) by earning the distinction of being the first graduate from the Rajput community. He was selected as Wazir Wazarat (Deputy Commissioner) in 1919 but on completion of training, he was transferred to J&K State Forces on January 20, 1920. Through dedication, loyalty and competence, he climbed the Army ladder and rose to become Brigadier in September, 1934.
Career in State Forces
After commanding Kashmir Brigade (1934-38) and Jammu Brigade (1939-42), he was promoted as Brigadier General Staff Grade-I. This post he held till mid-1947 when he was chosen by Maharaja Hari Singh on July 1, 1947 as Governor of Gilgit area. He took over new assignment on August 1. After the passage of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 by the British Parliament came to the creation of India and Pakistan as separate countries. The J&K State later had joined India by signing of Instrument of Accession by Maharaja Hari Singh on October 27, 1947 and this decision had the full support of the most popular leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
Brig. Ghansar Singh was deeply moved by the neglect and sufferings of ex-Faujis of Jammu and Kashmir and formed the J&K Ex-Servicemen Association for looking after their welfare. Years later this organization was re-christened as the J&K Ex-Service League.
Social Services
It is worth mentioning that he played a significant role in the setting up of Sainik School at Nagrota in 1972. This educational institution has come of age now and is imparting quality education to the students in this part of the country. The BGS Higher Secondary School, Barnai has also been set up in his memory and is being looked after by Vijay Singh grand son of Brig. Ghansar Singh.
Replying to a question, Mr Surinder Singh said that his father was a strict disciplinarian, punctual in his work, a man of integrity and full of patriotism. He would always command respect by his fair deals and invariably taught moral values and discipline in the family. He remained a member of Anti-Corruption Committee for a short while.
He undertook several social reforms, especially related to the cause of widows and farmers. He was member of Backward Classes Committee set up following Gajendragadkar Commission’s recommendations. During 1976, age started telling on his health and he resigned from the presidentship of Dharmarth Trust. Thereafter, he led a retired life and breathed his last on January 22, 1991.
(Starline Syndicate Service)