K D Maini
Poonch Brigade in collaboration with the public of Poonch celebrates Jammu Poonch Linkup Day on 22nd November every year to remember the brave soldiers and natives of Poonch who laid their lives while defending besieged Poonch town.
This battle of Poonch sector is also a story of a dedicated Brigade commander S. Pritam Singh who not only defended territory but also arranged food items for hostages, boosted their morale, provided them employment by setting up of two battalions from the locals and then fought with about 10000 enemy for about one year.
Due to Jammu Poonch Linkup development about 40000 hostages had got relief and the whole area from Nowshera to Poonch including Rajouri, Thanamandi, Manjakote, Mendhar, Surankote and Mandi was liberated. Jammu Poonch linkup was the climax of Kashmir war during 1947-48 when 250 kms long strip in the south of Pir Panchal was snatched by Indian Army from Pakistan sponsored forces. Major General Akber Khan of Pakistan forces who led the operation Gulmarg against India in 1947 under the code name ‘ General Tariq’ wrote in his book ‘The Raiders in Kashmir’ that Poonch linkup was the biggest defeat of Pakistan sponsored forces in 1947-48 during J&K war.
After the turmoil of 1947, Poonch Brigade proved as the saviour of Poonch till date. In 1965 this brigade under the command of Zora Singh along with Uri Brigade commanded by Z. Chand Bakshi started offensive operation from Uri and Poonch simultaneously and captured Uri Poonch bulge, opened 49 Kms Uri Poonch historic road and secured 538 Sq Kms area including Haji Pir Pass, Neja Pir, Chanjal, Kahuta, Aliabad, Rankari and Ziariat and plugged the infiltration routes. Unfortunately this area was returned to Pakistan after Tashkant pact of 10th January 1966.
In 1971 war, Pakistan launched two brigade attacks around Poonch city on 3rd December 1971 to capture Poonch town. However after two days of fierce and hand to hand fighting around Poonch city at Bandi Chachian, Langoor, Bagyal Dara, Shahpur, Qasba, Mantar and other posts, Poonch brigade repulsed this attack successfully and enemy retreated with heavy causalities. During this war an important feature Nanga Tekri top in the heart of POK was snatched by Punjab regiment. During militancy days before the induction of Romeo force Poonch Brigade was not only defending the LoC but fought militancy within the sector.
After the pause of about 10 years from 2003 to 2012, Pakistan again started firing across the LoC till Feb 2021. Poonch Brigade defended the border effectively and helped the residents near the LoC. Presently when there is a ceasefire on the border, serious attempts are being made by Poonch Brigade to uplift the habitants of border area by conducting social events and creating economic avenues. Tazeem Akhter, chairman District Development Council Poonch said that ‘the people friendly attitude of Army commander 93 infantry brigade and his mixing with the public of border area have created very congenial atmosphere between Army and Awam of the sector. The officers and Jawans in the fields are always helpful for the natives near LOC, they provides medicines to ailing persons, distribute books and sports materials in schools, organise social activities and create need base developments for the public. On the other hand, the natives of border area are also cooperate with Jawans on the LOC as and when they need’.
Keeping in view the needs of the people of the border villages, Army Good Will Public School was established at Sawjjian in which mostly the children of tribal and deserving poor families are enrolled, where all modern facilities of quality education , sports , library, computers, books and uniforms are provided to students. This institution was established on the demand of the public of border area in 2010 and so for 2229 students have been educated. Abdul Quyoom Sarpanch Sawjjian-B told that the Good Will school have created educational environment in this area. The students of poor families of Gagrian, Sawjjian, Uripura, Nehrian, Barari, Chimber, Khet and Dunugam are undergoing education in this school where best educational facilities are available for them.
During current year four medical camps were organized by 93 infantry brigade in the village Bandi chachian, Ajote, Chapprian and Nehrian. In these camps 3370 persons participated. They were checked up and medicines were provided to 976 patients in these camps. Similarly Veterinary camps at Sawjjian in block Mandi and Shahpur Upper in block Nangali Saab Sain Baba Miran have been organized. In these camps 294 live stock were treated and provided medicines. Mohd Ayoub sarpanch upper Shahpur while appreciating the goodwill gesture of Army in treating the animals mostly of tribal families told that about 700 animals were brought in this camp by the farmers from Shahpur and nearby Dhokes like Jabri, Brooda, Murri, Kopra and Jabar Thal. About 300 animals were treated and medicines given to them. The milch animals were given injections to increase the milk production. Such efforts create conducive atmosphere and establish good relations between Army and public in the border area.
The natives of village Ajote, Degwar, Noorkote, Nakarkote, Seklu and Kosslian had represented to commander 93 infantry Brigade for provision of water storage tanks. Accordingly 30 such tanks were provided to needed families for storage of drinking water. During current year a community hall was constructed by this brigade. On the demand of Tuglu, Nakarkote was handed over to the village committee. Pervez Akhter Sarpanch Noorkote told that there was no such place in the village to organize functions. Now this community hall has become center of the locality to organize social function, marriages and Gram Sabha.
A number of people residing near the LoC have become disabled due to firing across the LoC and action of Pakistan Army against the civil population of this area. Poonch Brigade every year organizes Artificial Limb fitment Camp for such persons so that they could become normal to some extent. This year in collaboration with Kiwanis Club new Delhi, 74 such persons were identified in the Artificial Limb fitment camp out of which 32 persons have been fitted with limbs while the rest shall be fitted on Linkup Day on 22nd November. Out of the above beneficiaries one Mohd Safeer of Dokhri village by praising the efforts of Army told that during the firing across the LoC he had lost his left leg and now due to fitment of artificial limb he is in a position to walk and live a normal life.
The above facts reveal the extent of cooperation which 93 infantry brigade provides the natives of border area in Poonch Sector. The saviours of Poonch are always engaged to help the public and to improve the life of the people residing near the LOC through social, economic and developmental activities while the attitude of patriotic people towards army is also appreciable who are cooperating with the defense forces upto last post and last Bunker. These goodwill gestures between Army and Awam are in the interest of the nation.
This year also on the occasion of Linkup day, a number of functions are being organized by Army with the involvement of people of Poonch which includes cultural programmes, photography competition blood donation camp, hockey match competition, dog show and equestrian show, artificial limb fitment camp, wreath laying ceremony at Naman Sthal, interaction of public and X-service man, screening of documentary on the history of Poonch, brass band, patriotic poems, presentation by Jazz Band and prize distribution.
K D Maini