The day Rajouri was recaptured

K.D. Maini
Every year Baisakhi day is celebrated as Vijay Diwas in Rajouri because this day on 13th April 1948 the Indian Army had recaptured Rajouri town from Pakistan sponsored forces after about six months of illegal occupation of Pakistan. The main function is organized by the Army in collaboration with the civil administration and the public of Rajouri at Martyrs memorial which is situated in the main Chowk of Gujjar Mandi Rajouri. The programme starts with the laying of Wreath ceremony on the memorial in which normally GOC 25 Division, Dy. Commissioner Rajouri, Civil officers and prominent citizens take part and pay tributes to the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Rajouri. The prominent public personalities like Ch. Gulzar Ahmed and Kuldeep Raj Gupta are specially invited in this function. These people witnessed the recapturing of Rajouri town on the intervening night of 12th and 13th April 1948. Large number of general public also participates in the function to recall the memories of the liberation of Rajouri. To make the program me more colorful and attractive a Mela is also organized by the Army at ALG near Martyrs memorial for the amusement of general public
In 1947, the misery of Rajouri town started with the desertion of Colonel Rahmat Ullah Khan from the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh. He became the king-pin of the rebels who revolted against the State Government in 1947 in Rajouri area. In 1947 when the country was divided into two nations, i.e. India and Pakistan, immediately after 14th August, 1947, the people across the border of J&K State started talking about jihad for Kashmir and Pakistan started trying to spread large scale violence in the State. At that time, Colonel Rehmat Ullah was posted at Jhangar and commanding 9 JAK Co. which was under the overall command of Brigadier Chattar Singh who was stationed at Mirpur.
In the month of October, 1947, disturbances started in Sensa area of Mirpur District and the area was taken over by the rebels. Brigadier Chattar Singh of Mirpur Brigade ordered Colonel Rehmat Ullah to move from Jhangar for the re-capturing of Sensa. He along with his company immediately rushed for the help of Sensa on 12th of October, 1947 but was engaged by the rebels at Juna. Brigadier Chattar Singh then deployed 3rd JAK for the help of Colonel Rehmat Ullah under the command of Maj. Nasar Ullah. When Maj. Nasar Ullah reached Juna and met Captain Rehmat Ullah at this very place, both the officers were motivated by some rebels. They came under the influence of rebels and both the officers along with JCOs and some others revolted against their own forces. They killed the Gurkha sepoys of their own companies at Juna and moved towards Throachi Fort which was 22 miles from Jhangar and was held by the Gurkhas under the command of Captain Raghbir Singh Thapa. Col Rehmat Ullah organised all the deserters of Maharaja’s forces and moved towards Rajouri and reached Chhachhera on 28th of October, 1947. Since Colonel Rehmat Ullah was working in Maharaja’s force and knowing that the defense of Rajouri was very weak he therefore, started building pressure on the town.
In the meantime, two Tehsils of Poonch Principality had gone under the illegal occupation of rebels and the rebels under the leadership of Sardar Ibrahim Khan had declared the formation of so called Azad Kashmir Government on 26th of October, 1947 at Palandri, a Tehsil of Poonch Principality. When Sardar Ibrahim came to know about the desertion of Colonel RehmatUllah and his plan to capture Rajouri, he dispatched his contingent of rebels under the command of Sakhi Diler who joined Captain Rehmat Ullah at Chhachhera in the last week of October, 1947.
In the first week of November, 1947, Captain Rehmat Ullah sent a message to Tehsildar Rajouri Pandit Harji Lal for surrender. Pt. Harji Lal without taking the citizens in confidence, left during the night hours of 8th November along with Dogra forces and escaped. When the citizens of Rajouri came to know on 9th morning about the escape of Pt. Harji Lal, they got discouraged even when they had decided to fight against the rebels. In the meantime, a prominent advocate and a seasoned citizen of Rajouri Shri Narsingh Dass Kalla sent a message for negotiation to Captain Rehmat Ullah through Mirza Faqir Mohammad who was the President of Muslim Conference at that time in Rajouri town. Sh. Narsingh Dass Kalla tried his best to avoid the bloodshed by mediation and negotiation. He involved prominent Muslim leaders also but Captain Rehmat Ullah and Sakhi Diler turned down his request of negotiation. In these circumstances, Captain Rehmat Ullah on 9th November, 1947 laid the seize of Rajouri and started firing on the town from all sides. The Gurkha platoon and some volunteers from the city started retaliating. However, up to 10th November, 1947, all the Gurkha Jawans and majority of the volunteers got killed. In the meantime, the citizens of Rajouri city were harassed and demoralized due to continuous firing from all sides. When they thought that it is not possible for them to face the rebels and defend the town, then on the request of young ladies, the prominent citizen Dina Nath Kalla distributed poison among them who took poison and died on the spot.
In these circumstances, on 11th of November, 1947, the rebels under the command of Sakhi Diler and Captain Rehmat Ullah entered the city. They got the city evacuated and gathered the citizens near the present Air Field. The prominent local Muslims like Maulvi Wali Shah, Mufti Azam Pahar and Maulvi Salah Mohammad apprehended that the rebels will kill the innocent citizens, requested Sakhi Diler that these minorities are now under their shelter, they may not be killed. But Sakhi Diler and Colonel Rehmat Ullah turned down their suggestions and on12th November, 1947, they killed all the young members of the families brutally and cold bloodily by leaving the women, children’s and old persons. It is said that people ranging from 3000 to 7000 were killed by the rebels on 12th November, 1947.
After slaughtering all young persons, Colonel Rehmat Ullah and Sakhi Diler suddan entered the town on 13th of November, 1947 and conducted the meetings with the prominent persons of the area. After deliberations, Colonel Rehmat Ullah nominated a prominent local leader belonging to Jaral dynasty Mirza Mohd Hamad Hssain of Behrote as the ruler of Rajouri and directed him to establish his Administration.
Mirza Mohd. Hussain who was MLA of Praja Sabha from Rajouri and very influential person of Rajouri declared his administration immediately after the capture of Rajouri by deserters. In this manner Mirza Mohd Hussain became the ruler of the whole Rajouri area including Darhal, Budhal, Thana, ManjaKote etc. on the other hand another administration under the name of ‘Azad Kashmir’ had already come into existence at Palandri in Poonch principality on 25th of Oct. 1947 under the leadership of Sardar Ibrahim Khan sitting MLA of Praja Sabha.
Both Mirza Mohd. Hussain and Sardar Ibrahim Khan were Sitting MLAs of Praja Sabha of Maharaja Hari Singh, both were having strong backing of Jaral and Sudan tribes respectively. Therefore, none of them was willing to work under the administration of other because there was a rivalry between them.Mirza Mohd Hussain was running his Govt. with the support of deserters of Maharaja forces mostly belonging to Jaral families but Sardar Ibrahim Khan was having the backing of about 60000 ex service men of second world war along with the backing of Pakistan Government. In these circumstances when Sardar Ibrahim Khan posted civil officers from Mirpur for Rajouri, Mirza Mohd Hussain refused to accept these officers in his territory and compelled them to return on the plea that he is the real ruler of ‘Azad Area’ and has nothing to do with the administration of Ibrahim Khan. However, Mirza Mohd Hussain apart from his Razakar force also allowed Pakistani forces in his territory to defend the area under his occupation.
In this manner the whole of Pir Panchal region including Bhimbar, Mirpur, Rajouri, Kotli, Mendhar, Thanamandi, Darhal, Budha, Surankote, Bagh, Rawlakote up to Muzaffarabad except besieged Poonch town and Nowshera area was under the control of Rebels Poonch, deserters of state.
This was the time when in the month of Oct, Nov 1948 Indian forces after vacating the Kashmir valley from the raiders planned a two side operation to capture those areas which were under the occupation of Pakistan Sponsored forces in Pir Panchal region of Jammu Province.
The Indian forces captured Jhangar on 15th March, 1948 under the command of Brigadier Mohammad Usman Khan. After securing Jhangar Gen. Kulwant Singh planned an offensive and started advance towards Rajouri. The offensive was well planned in which Gen. Kariappa was also involved and advance was started on 8th of April 1948 from Nowshera side by assaulting Barwali Hill which was captured by the Dogras on the same day. With the capture of Barwali Hill, they were now in a position to move towards Chingus along with Tanks.Chingus was the strong hold of Pakistan sponsored forces but they could not face the Indian offensive and vacated the area after small resistance. Therefore Chingus was captured on 10th of April, 1948. Then the offensive was planned for Rajouri under the command of Brigadier Yadunath Singh. After the capture of Chingus, the enemy was on the run. The advance of Indian forces continued and on the evening of 12th of April 1948, Rajouri city was stormed and captured after hand to hand fighting. This operation cost the enemies approximately 500 dead and it was the biggest success for the Indians forces. The capture of Rajouri town and Poonch town was the biggest success in the south of Peer Panchal region during the battle of 1947-48 in which 250 Kms long belt from Nowshera up to Poonch was liberated and the whole area of Budhal, Thanamandi, Manjakote, Rajouri, Surankote, Mandi, Mendhar and Poonch was liberated. Therefore, every year Vijay Diwas is organized at Rajouri on 13th April and Link up day Poonch is celebrated on 21st November to recall the memories of Martyrs.


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