C P Gupta
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 the then District Headquartersof Jammu and Kashmir State (now in P.O.K.) when out of its total population of 25,000 citizens ,more than 18,000 persons which included innocent men, women and children of tender ages, were brutally killed in 3 days bloody carnage on 25th, 26th and 27th November 1947.
“My legs tremble, forehead gets perspired and eyes get moistened with tears even now after 73 years of the said episode , when that dreadful scene re-appears in his mind when in the midst of heaps of dead bodies , the serious and half dead wounded persons were crying in the wilderness and battling for life in the whirl pools of their own blood and there was none to take care of them.”
This was not the end of the said episode. About 4,000 persons were also made prisoners and huddled up there in an old dilapidated Gurudwara building at Alibeg which was situated at a distance of 5 miles from Mirpur city wherein they were further tortured and most of them were murdered in cold blood in batches and many died due to starvation and cold weather condition. The remaining about 3000 including theauthor, luckily or unluckily, could escape from the barbarous clutches of the raiders and after walking on bare feet for seven days and night without food and water, reached Jammu in such a miserable condition and mental agony which is too difficult to be explained even now.
The only fault of those unlucky victims, was that the people of Mirpur who having will ofiron,had decided unanimously and vowed to protect Mirpur their birth land from the Pakistani raiders even at the cost of their own lives till they had ammunition to fight with them . Due to irony of fate, the then Government of Jammu and Kashmir State and the Government of India, due to political conflictbetween them, at that time, did not send army to protect Mirpur from the raiders asa result of which the meager quantity of ammunition whichthe State army had at that time at Mirpur diminished to zero level as a result of which there was unprecedented loss of human life and 1/3rd part of Jammu and Kashmir State went in the illegal possession of Pakistan.
Soon after coming into existence of the Muslim country, the Muslim population of the city of Mirpur, moved to Pakistan and gave tangible clues to the Pakistan army, how could they attack on Mirpur effectively and to make Mirpur territory as a part of Pakistan. The Pakistan Government managed to send abag of pamphlets written in Urdu language, into the city of Mirpur , in which it was written that Pakistan Government would assign a special status to Mirpur in Pakistan if the citizens of Mirpur amicably surrender themselves and allow the Pakistan army to occupy the territory of Mirpur without any hindrance. They suggested that the people of Mirpur may accept their offer by showing green flags to them from the top of their houses in the besieged city. The literate and elderly persons of the city who were faithful to India to the core of their hearts and had iron will, met in the evening and decided out rightly to reject the proposal of the Pakistan Government and the refusal was conveyed to them by showing Red flags instead of green flags followed by a shower of bullets from each picket of the city. The result was that the Government of Pakistan immediately made a secret agreement with the Pathan mercenaries according to which if Mirpur was forcibly occupied , the captured women would be taken by the Pathans and the immovable land of Mirpur and the movable property viz gold, cash etc. would be the share of Pakistan Government. This was known as “Zen and Zar Agreement”.
The situation further aggravated when on 26th October 1947, the Maharaja Hari Singh the then Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State signed the Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with Indian Dominion. This could not be digested by the Pakistan Government which brought a terrible attack on Mirpur. The small and ill-equipped State army stationed at that time at Mirpur, was fully assisted by the young civil population of the city. At the midnight of 24th November 1947, under a thick cover of fully armed Artillery, the raiders pounced upon the city of Mirpur , by shelling and bursting of grenades which are normally used during an openly declared war. This was a major attack on the southern side of the city which was repeatedly resisted by the depleting garrison force continuously for six hours. Although the city pickets held tough resistance, the enemy came in wave after wave andafter sixhours 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 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 zero level. Further, due to another 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 to disruption in radio link with the State Police Headquarters at Jammu and 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 then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir State , did not send army to Mirpur though at that time, the Indian army was stationed at Jhangar which was at a distance of only 20 miles from Mirpur within the command of J&K State Government.
In the afore-said 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 . Immediately, after the departure of the State Administration from the city, a fully armed Battalion of the Pakistan army assisted by Pathan raiders entered into the city from all the sides at about 8.30 A.M and by creating terrible sounds from the 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 different groups 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 graveyard of dead bodies and where many countless 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 seriously injured persons. Ultimately, in the depleting evening, the Nature 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 temporary stay in the day atrocity.
This was not the end of the misery of the people of Mirpur. At night of the same day at about 9 P.M. an ill-fated group of about 2000 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 at that time. Soon thereafter, the male persons were asked to remove their clothes and lie down in a row. There was no option for them but to follow their directions blindly. 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 their “Zen and Zar “agreement with the Pakistan Government. Next day, the enemy drove another group of about 2000 persons and brought them to a village known as “Thathal “. They also met the same treatment as at ” Kas Gumma ” during day light. Finally there was massacre at Alibeg where about 4000 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 as joy. Besides, on average basis 15 to 20 aged captives died every day due to severe cold weather condition, starvation illness and mental shock.
In the middle of January, 1948, a team of ICRC (International Committee of Red Cross) arrived there and took charge of the Alibeg Camp and immediately provided much needed food and medicines to the captives and took proper care of them under their own custody and assured their safety thereafter. They felt much relief. On March 18, 1948 the ICRC managed to get the captives liberated in exchange of same number of Muslims who were in India and willing to go to Pakistan. These liberated captives were not more than 1600 as the rest were killed /died or kidnapped. The liberated persons were mostly aged and even unable to walk. They reached Amritsar (Punjab) where they were given warm embracing reception by their relatives and general public.
In the memory of Mirpur martyrs of 1947, a Shaheedi Samarak has been constructed by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir through the JDA (Jammu Development Authority ) in front of the main Entry Gate of Government Medical College at Maheshpura Chowk Bakshinagar Jammu.
On 25th November every year, thousands of Mirpuris residing in Jammu city and its peripheral colonies, march in Prabhat Pheries coming from different sectors of Jammu city and reach the said”Mirpur Shaheedi Samarak to pay jointly , rich floral tributes to the martyrs of Mirpur who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their Mother land as a result of which the State of Jammu and Kashmir remained an integral part of India.
A big Salute is due to those more than 18000 men, women and children of Mirpur city who made supreme sacrifice of their lives while fighting with the Pakistani raiders to protect their Motherland.
(The author is retired Deputy Secretary from J&K Government)
C P Gupta