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 Headquarters of J&K State (now in P.O.K) when out of its total population of 25,000 souls which included men women and children of tender ages, more than 18,000 persons were brutally killed in three days bloody carnage on 25th, 26th and 27th November, 1947.
Even today the eyes get moistened with tears if that dreadful scene re-appears in the mind when in the midst of heaps of dead bodies , the serious and half -dead wounded people 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 episode. About 4000 were made prisoners and huddled up in an old dilapidated Gurdwara building at Alibeg which was situated at 5 miles away 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 only including the author, could escape from the barbarous clutches of the raiders who after walking on foot without food and water for seven days, reached Jammu in a very miserable condition.
The only fault of those unlucky victims was that the people of Mirpur who had a will of iron had unitedly decided 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 Government of Jammu and Kashmir State and the Government of India due to political conflict between them at that time, did not send army to protect Mirpur from the raiders as a result of which the meager quantity of ammunition which the 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 1/3 rd part of the Jammu and Kashmir State went in the illegal possession of Pakistan.
Soon after coming into existence of the Muslim country Pakistan, the Muslim population of Mirpur city moved to Pakistan and gave tangible clues to the Pakistan army how to attack on Mirpur effectively and to make Mirpur territory as a part of Pakistan. The Pakistan Government managed to send a bag of pamphlets written in Urdu language in 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 territory of Mirpur without any hindrance. They wanted 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 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 followed by the shower of bullets from each defense picket of the city. The result was that the Government of Pakistan immediately made an 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 “Zan and Zar Agreement “.
The situation further aggravated when on 26th October, 1947 the Maharaja Hari Sigh 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 November 24,1947, 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 spiritedly resisted by the depleting garrison force continuously for six hours. Although the city pickets held tough resistance, the enemy came in wave after wave and after six hours 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 nearly 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 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 though at that time the Indian army was stationed at Jhanghar which was at a distance of only 20 miles from Mirpur.
In the aforesaid critical 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 the city from all the sides at the stroke of 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 grave yard of dead bodies and where many uncounted 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 a 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 the 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 an ill-fated group of about 2,000 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. Thereafter, the male persons were asked to remove their clothes and lie down in a row. There was no option for them and they had to follow their blind directions. 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 daylight. Finally there was a massacre at Alibeg where about 4,000 captives were huddled up in an old deserted and unhygienic ruined Gurudwara 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. Besides, on average basis about 15 to 20 aged captives died every day due to severe cold weather condition, starvation, illness and mental shock. Out of the total population of 25,000 of Mirpur city , luckily or unluckily a group of about 3000 persons only which included the author, could find right way and after walking on bare feet for seven days and nights without food and water, reached Jammu in such a miserable condition and mental agony which is too difficult to be explained in words even now.
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 supplied much needed food and medicines to the captives. On March 18, 1948 they managed to get the captives liberated in exchange of the 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 reception by their relatives and general public.
In the memory of Mirpur martyrs of 1947, a Sheedi Samark has been constructed by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir in front of the main entry gate of Government Medical College at Maheshpura Chowk Bakshinagar Jammu.
On 25th Nov ember every year thousands of Mirpuris residing in Jammu city and its peripheral colonies march in Prabhat Pheries coming from different sectors of Jammu city assemble at the said ” Mirpur Shaheedi Samark” to pay jointly , the rich 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 who made supreme sacrifice of their lives while fighting with the Pakistani raiders to protect their mother land of Mirpur city.
(The author who is the eye witness of the whole episode is retired Deputy Secretary J&K Government).
C P Gupta