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Icons on the Pantheon of Gilgit-Baltistan

Gansara Singh surrendering to Fakhr-e-Kashmir Ghazi Babar Khan
CUSTOMARY IT HAS been eversince 1947, to commemorate 1st November each year with fitting jubilation and pomp, across Gilgit-Baltistan as the epoch-making triumphal day on which the regional people unshackled themselves and threw off the yoke of servitude fastened to their necks by an unimaginative power id est the Dogras who had forcibly occupied the territory about a century back in connivance with and at the instance of the British India. This initiative therefore, is aimed at paying glowing tributes to, and eulogize the gigantic contribution and achievement of the iconic personages – the victors (ghazis), martyrs (shaheeds) and those who got injured terribly with some losing thier limbs and thus heroically became the change-makers in the regional history at such a very vital point in time and such critical moment and as such emerged as the symbol and source of hope, courage, determination and inspiration to put it succinctly. The momentous struggle marking the epochal day was spearheaded by the legendary Gilgit Scouts led by its Subedar Major Ghazi, Raja Muhammad Babar Khan, Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam. To put it briefly, the adorable icons on the pantheon of Gilgit-Baltistan who made an abiding niche in the region’s history for their unprecedented valor and unmatched gallantry immortalized them. It has, at the same time to be born in mind that any doctoring of history of any people and for that matter, of any nation, doesn't help nation-building but, instead, it makes a people myopic and distrustful to put it succinctly. Raja Muhammad Babar Khan, son of late Mir Shah Sikandar, the ruler of Nagar State, was born on 25th December 1916. He joined the Gilgit Scouts as a VCO in the year 1935.

Only about three months back, one of the grandsons of Raja Ghazi Muhammad Babar Khan [Fakhar-e-Kashmir,Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam] charitably let this writer have a photocopy of the diary of this great hero - literally the linchpin of the Scouts - which prima facie, unfolded that he had himself played the key-role and led the team for the arrest the Dogra Governor Brigadier Ghansara Singh on 1st November 1947 as glimpses of the precise accounts recorded therein unveil. In these memoirs in Urdu script, purportedly penned down in the year 1957, late Raja Ghazi Muhammad Babar Khan [Fakhar-e-Kashmir,Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam] made a precise summation of the chronicles which this scribe proposes to present by way of rendering it into English as follows: “In the wake of the liberation of Gilgit-Baltistan, I had a deep yearning and keen desire to publicize my ‘Diary’ in book form but unfortunately, found no leisure time to do so. For the last few years, Bad-e-Shumal issues remain underway and an attempt is being made to air ‘voice of this voiceless and god-forsaken humanity inhabiting Gilgit-Baltistan’ – something heretofore kept merely reverberating but lost within the confines of the sky-scrapping and impervious mountains of the region with no outlet whatsoever. Although a few, very few, are educated among these people, they are either in service or else are engrossed in materialistic pursuits to such an extent that none has ever been able to throw light on and pen down some of the monumental events concerning this region including the accounts relevant to the epoch-making war of liberation of Gilgit-Baltistan in the aftermath of overthrow at Gilgit (1st November 1947). Given this, I would first like to give a correct perspective to what exactly obtained in the area at the time preceding the momentous struggle as alluded to in the above. This would greatly be instrumental in and helpful to understand the correct scenario. Truly speaking, I did not have an idea of writing a brief account but what in fact prompted me to raise pen is the variegated versions coming forth from the paper under reference in some issues of which brought forth write-ups based merely on hearsay and sheer distorted accounts. 

The World War II ended on 15th August 1945 in the aftermath of defeat of Germany, the British-Indian Army which was fighting for the British the war against Japan in the East or else was combating in the Middle-East or Europe against Germany. When the war ended, all the combatant personnel (Officers, JCOs and NCOs) belonging to the subcontinent were returning home and were being released on their way back, it happened to be a time when the demand for the independence of the subcontinent was on its peak. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ai Jinnah, having taken note of the Hindus intent on manipulating the situation entirely to their favor, resolved firmly to seek a separate homeland for the Muslims. This was ensued by strenuous efforts to make this dream attainable to an extent that the former (Hindus) were at last constrained to concede though unwillingly. 

But nevertheless, when Pakistan came into being, the Hindus resorted to such contrivances aiming extinction of the Muslims. They formed a surreptitious nexus with Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy of the undivided India which culminated in the principles inter alia, that the Hindu majority areas would constitute India while those parts forming Muslim majority would make Pakistan. The States would be free to join either of the two dominions. For example, former NWFP, the Punjab, Sind, Bengal and Balochistan which had clear Muslims majority, but notwithstanding this, a few pro-Congress Muslim leaders in these areas vainly created hurdles and impediments in the way of creation of Pakistan. But as fate would have, it Pakistan became a reality despite all these trammels while Punjab and Bengal were divided. 

As I have referred to in the fore-going, The Hindus were able to exercise their influence over Lord Mountbatten and in the meantime, Redcliff was appointed as the president of the Boundary Commission. This commission drew boundary lines in such an unjust and mischievous way that today, even after 12 years, these are instrumental in innumerable border disputes between India and Pakistan. A few days back, attempts at resolving all the disputes appear to have yielded tangible results, thanks the dynamic leadership of Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan. 

In the meantime, the Hindus were embarked on systematic killing of the Muslims in pursuance of a preconceived plan. Tens of thousands of Muslim refugees flooded into Pakistan. It was a time when majority of the Muslims in Indian Army were abroad in Malaya, Middle East and Europe. The parts which were conceded to Pakistan too were kept under immense pressure while such was the case with the empty State coffers. Plans were made to stops water supply to the canals irrigating the fertile lands of Punjab aimed at their desertification leading to eventual food insecurity to the people of the newborn State to leave them to starve. 

It is to be remembered that the British exercised direct control over Gilgit in pursuance of the lease agreement of 1935 entered into with Maharaja of Kashmir which was accordingly to last for 60 years. Gilgit Agency comprise two independent States of Hunza and Nagar whose rulers are called ‘Mir’ – a Central Asian attribute of king or ruler while the rest making part of the Agency i.e, Punyal, Yasin, Gupis, and Ishkoman are ruled over by ‘Governors’ who used to administer the Governorates strictly in consultation or to put it, with the approval of Political Agent at Gilgit. As regards Gigit proper, it came under direct control of the Assistant Political Agent (A.P.A). Likewise, there used to be an Assistant Political Agent at Chilas 

In order to put in place an effective mechanism to help resolve internal dispute that might arise any time, the British brought into being a small unit called ‘The Gilgit Scouts’ which comprised 587 personnel. The formation of the Scouts was in a manner that 3 Platoons each of Hunza and Nagar while one Platoon each from Punyal, Yasin, Gupis, and Gilgit made total rifled-Platoons in all. There were 87 personnel comprised exclusively as the Headquarters force. Out of the above, four platoons were kept deployed at Chilas, one Platoon at Gupis, six Platoons at Kalamdarchi while the remnant four at Gilgit. These were commanded by total four British officers – Commandant = Major, 2nd in Command= Captain (at Chilas) who performed the administrative duty of Assistant Political Agent too. The other two British officers included one Adjutant Captain while the other Quartermaster Captain. The Junior Commissioner Officers (JCOs) included Subedar Major, Subdedars =4 and Jamedars =9. These JCOs included those all who were inducted on the basis of recommendations of the Mirs, Governors who would recommend only those from prominent clans much loyal to them. In the case of other ranks too, these aspects were invariably kept in view during the course of the recruitment. 

Before partition of the Indo-Pak sub-continent, R.N Bacon flew to Peshawar and returned to Gilgit after making consultation with Governor NWFP about Gilgit. On arrival back, he announced that Gilgit Agency would be handed over to Maharaja Kashmir. In the course of this, all the civil employees were asked whether they would opt for India or Pakistan to continue service but strangely enough, the Scouts were not asked about such an option. 

Brigadier Ghansara Singh accompanied by General Scott Chief of Staff, J&K Forces, flew to Gilgit by Maharaja’s personal plane to take charge as the military Governor at Gilgit. On the eve of their arrival, a Company of 6th J&K Regiment led by Captain Dargah Singh while on the other Revenue Assistant Raja Noor Ali Khan with his staff , entered with great pomp and show into Gilgit with blaring bands exhibitive of tremendous jubilation and authoritativeness but when the Political Agent Gilgit on his way back from Peshawar, broke the news that Gilgit would be handed over to Maharaja of Kashmir. This became rather quite certain that the Maharaja would accede to India – something became well construable from the sudden visit of Mahatama Gandhi to Kashmir. 

Put in a nutshell, these were the circumstances under which the Gilgit Scouts had given in writing to me to represent them and this was the consensus among the Scouts that they would not hesitate to sacrifice their lives by serving in Pak Army. In this covenant, only three JCOs refused to side with me. When R.N Bacon was making preparations to leave Gilgit, I, representing the Gilgit Scouts, put forward some demands to him making it clear that: ‘You cannot leave without any decision in our case’. The following day, an information from Brigadier Ghansara Singh came which asked me to get to the Governor House along with my companions, for a ‘Conference’ concerning our demands. I went there along with four JCOs. Our demands included 14 points in all inter alia that there were 32 lac Muslims in the overall population of the State while only 5 lac comprises non-Muslims. There were only one and a half battalions constituted Muslim as opposed to seven and a half platoon, one Cavalry and the Palace Guard – all non-Muslims. And if the Dogra rulers, for any reason, may hold the view that Kashmiri Muslims do not make a martial race, the Gilgit Agency would make for this deficiency. Half of the Muslims should equitably be inducted into the State Army. Secondly, keeping in view the military capability and loyalty of the Gilgit Scouts, the British rulers considered the current strength of Gilgit Scouts sufficient for deployment in the forward areas here but now, it is learnt that the Dogra government is sending a battalion into Gilgit from Kashmir. Until our demands are met, we will not allow entry to any military personnel. 

So all the demands were thus conveyed point-wise but the reply was precisely that our demands would be taken to Srinagar by the Chief of Staff in order to present them to the Maharaja who alone would decide and respond. We however, made it clear that we would wait for a week only otherwise arrangements should be made for our sending to Pakistan like other civil servants. These were indeed very stringent demands that posed a challenge. On the other hand, R.N Bacon was very much anxious to leave Gilgit. However, after two days, upon the insistence of R.N Bacon, we let him go who left Gilgit by plane. In this way, we kept waiting to be recipient of the kind of reply to our demands. It was perhaps upon the advice of General Scott that the commandant and the second in command other British officers Major Brown who a few years back, had earlier been the Adjutant of the Scouts and Captain Mathiesen who was somewhere in Scouts of the Frontier Corps (FC) came and three Muslim Lieutenants too were posted whose names are as follows: Lieutenant Saeed (now Lieutenant Colonel), Lieutenant Muhammad Khan (now Major) and Lieutenant Haider (now Major). 

I have told before in the above that the formation of Gilgit Scouts from JCOs down to Sepoys comprised influential people of the area and everyone of whom had made a categorical covenant to me but nevertheless, I thought of an alternative plan if the situation should change because of any pressure being brought to bear on any segment of the Scouts. Keeping this in mind, I went to my cousin Raja Shah Rais Khan who already knew what I was about to do. He liked my alternate strategy. It was accordingly decided that an ‘Anjuman” will be formed by the name of ‘Anjuman-e-Sarfaroshan’. A few schoolmaster, clerks, shopkeepers and clergymen were successfully included in it. But nevertheless, it was kept secret with each of them only having link directly with me. They would go to surrounding areas to convince the people and won their unflinching favor. Anyone who would get convinced was to be first sworn by the Holy Qura’n and then brought to me for registering his name. Thus I started registration of this Anjuman on a full swing and told them to get ready for my call which I will do at the right moment. The day of the ‘call’ be the day of taking-over the Cantonment. In short, by the time of the revolution, the members of which reached up to 500. What was my striving alongside was in sum that I wanted to get this plan accomplished through the Scouts. It is upon my suggestion that Raja Shah Rais Khan kept special contacts with Brig Ghansara Singh as if the former were his confidante or privy to the latter. 

Raja Shah Rais Khan would keep ensuring Ghansara Singh of my continued loyalty and fidelity to him. In the given scenario, I was getting more and more popular among both Scouts and the public day by day. For the first time, Major Brown got the proposal regarding my removal from service but that had to be shelved owing to my growing popularity as mentioned above. Major Brown’s second proposal was inter alia to appoint any of my brothers to the rank of Subedar Major to create an intrafamily rift and discord. In pursuance of this, my brother Za’afar Khan (now Lieutenant) was called and made the same offer but he put the question straightaway what would happen to me if this offer is accepted. He was told that I had completed three years tenure. At this Za’afar Khan told that he would reply after thinking over it. Za’afar Khan came to me and told of this and we both exchanged view on prospective events and it was decided that Za’afar Khan would go and respond that he didn’t want service any longer. This he did forthwith. At this, Major Brown tried to persuade my other brother Raja Muzaffar Din Shah. He too did know well already as he was Raja Orderly at Chilas and he would accomplish very important tasks there. He would keep contacting Muslim League leaders and apprised of the latest events obtaining in Gilgit. On his turning down Brown’s proposal too, the last arrow of Brown failed to achieve target. It was a time when Khushwaqt family had fomented trouble in Gupis and Ishkoman. First of all, they wanted to amalgamate these territories with Chitral and then to launch an attack on Gilgit Agency. This trouble was on a full swing there on one hand while on the other hand, Raja Shah Rais Khan was interceding with the Governor for me and had to some extent, succeeded in his efforts as the latter at one point in time, asked my opinion on how to quell the trouble in Yasin-Gupis to which I had given my correct prognosis. This had perhaps, removed the suspicions of the Governor about me to some extent that is why he would frequently call me to his Bungalow to apprise him of the latest situation on these riots. He would make hints aimed at tempting me that he had written to the Maharaja for grant a Jagir etc. 

At last, it was learnt that the 6th J&K Battalion had arrived at Bunji. These troops could not be brought to Gilgit Cantonment primarily because it was explicitly contained in our demands that we will not allow Kashmir troops to enter into Gilgit Cantonment if our demands are not met. After arrival of the State forces at Bunji, the officers of the 6th J&K Battalion came to Gilgit to meet the Governor Brig Ghansara Singh. On this occasion, Mirza Hassan Khan, who was a Captain the 6th J&K Battalion came too. When I talked to him, he made a firm promise that he along with his Company would join us. This was yet another success because of an imminent showdown with the 6th J&K troops. I assured on my part that mustering support of and preparing both the Scouts and the public for the upcoming events would entirely rest with me while seeking his help only in the matter taking into his confidence the three Muslim officers who belong to his Battalion and also help meet them with me. He said it will be his sole responsibility and exhorted me not to worry the least in that matter. A few days later, he informed that two were ready i.e Lieutenant Saeed, Lieutenant Haider Khan but nevertheless, about Lieutenant Mohammad Khan, he said he could not succeed to bring him round to his point of view. Upon this, I told him lest Mohammad Khan should pose any trouble for us. Hassan in reply said he Mohammad Khan would not dare tell it to anyone else but he is nonetheless, coward. We three (meaning Hassan, Saeed and Haider) have threatened him of dire consequences whilst swearing him. Moreover I haven’t broken any secret yet and will arrange meeting with Saeed and Haider tomorrow. 

The other day, I, Hassan Khan, Saeed and Haider went out on the pretext of a walk along ‘Sardar Kool’ and while at the tunnel there, we all the four swore by the Holy Qur'an. Another thing to be jubilant about was that a few days later some officers of the State Army were promoted in which both Lieutenant Saeed and Mohammad Khan were promoted to the rank of Captain but the latter (Mohammad Khan) was simultaneously posted back to 6th J&K Infantry Battalion. Mid October 1947 happened to be the birthday of the Maharaja and celebrations fitting the occasion were hectically underway. Alms, charities and money were being distributed among the public. 6th J&K Battalion was called from Gilgit which was followed by a grand show of power in the form of blatant firing with all the weaponry at their disposal which obviously was to create fear and consternation among the public as well as the Scouts. On the other hand, the Maharaja had at this juncture, signed the Standstill Agreement on the other hand, months were passing for us like weeks and weeks passed like hours and thus the time was ticking. The stage of the Revolution was almost set. Perplexity gripped all over and anxiety was simmering boundlessly. News of carnage and ruthless killings of the Muslim in Behar, Amritsar, and Jammu were making the newspaper headlines which my workers would tell the general public. The inroads into this territory of one Battalion of the State Army and its deployment here was worrying everyone as future seemed bleak at this point in time. The last resort secret plan of the authorities as became known to us was to storm the garrison and disarm the Scouts and eventual trial of my colleagues and me but the plan of their entry into the Gilgit Garrison was thwarted as said before with the result that they were now constrained to camp at the Shahi Polo ground. At this point in time, the MIrs, Rajas and notables of the area were converged who did all that which could create fear in the hearts of their relatives and dear ones to desist from getting involved in any negative activity. My fellow JCOs too came to me and told of the same lessons which were taught to them by their dear ones. These were all centered on the weakness of Pakistan and India’s being a potent force. In short, the stress was on producing the document which I got earlier signed by them in the context of their unwavering and firm support to me against all odds – something I told them flatly was not possible. I told them in categorical terms that I would not return to them and instead will demonstrate to them by accomplishing what I would in the course of time whether they side with or not. In case if I get caught and arraigned due to your conspiracies, I understand well that I would be fastened to the mouth of the cannon but remember, I would deliver the document containing the covenant between you and me straight to the State officials before the cannon is fired and I am blown. Beware you will meet the same fate which I would do in such an eventuality. At this they said: ‘No, no, they are being taken wrong. They don’t mean that. We would never leave you alone but nevertheless, it would be in the fitness of things to rethink in keeping with the spirit of the time. To take head-on with a power could be a futile attempt while on the other hand there is no positive response from Pakistan government yet.’ In response, I recited Iqbals’ following verse: 

“Koi Andaza Karsakta hay ooskay zoor-e-bazo ka
Nigah-e-mard momin say badal jatee hain taqdeerain”

Can anyone imagine the power of his muscles, a look or even casting sight by one with unflinching faithful or staunch believer can change destinies? 

Here there was a talk between some officers of the State Forces and the Governor Ghansara Singh on matters relating to the Scouts. Colonel Abdul Majid was considered the ablest officer of the State Forces. He and the Governor underestimated the Scouts and the latter gave assurances to the Governor to stay calm in this regard saying: ‘If the Scouts dared raise their heads, I would turn Gilgit into debris’. It was now a situation calling for prompt action. The officers and other ranks of 6th J&K battalion accompanied Colonel Abdul Majid Khan to Bunji. While leaving, Hassan Khan told me that his Company was ready because they are mostly on leave and are in their homes. Some are faced with abduction like ones wife or daughter and as such they are very much anxious. But nevertheless, until Colonel Abdul Majid is there, no one can dare. So before starting up the mission, a few Scouts or Civilians be sent if they are arrested during the night to be taken to undisclosed locations, the rest of the personnel would get ready. I replied that both become probable. Bold civilians may become available but I would send some intelligent Scouts. I further asked if they could not raise their hands on the Colonel, what should they do next? He replied that the Colonel had commanded this battalion for such a long time and is held dear by all whether Muslim or Non-Muslim. Moreover, he has a charismatic personality. Although they do something or not, they would definitely not raise rifle against your party. And now it is certain that when action here ends, they return to Azad Jammu and Kashmir to fight in their own territory. After concluding the talk, there emerged the matter of code-name for the purpose of correspondence with agreement on changing this code every week. After this, he went to Bunji. On reaching Bunji, Colonel Majid sent a Sikh Platoon to Jaglote Chowki which was designed to block Chilas route. Likewise, a section was deployed at Partab Pullover River Indus which blocked entry into Bunji, the other at Ramghat over Astore River. Mail from Punjab blocked altogether. Traffic too was banned. In this situation, no news whatsoever, from Pakistan came in, except by Radio. 

I made the last-ditch attempt to make contact with the Muslim League leaders. I deputed Mujahid Amir Jahandar Shah for the purpose who proceeded through the sheer mountainous route instructing him to approach the Muslim League leaders at Mansehra to send the application/mail given to him by registered post on reaching there. The route he adopted was through Kargah nullah and after much difficulties, succeeded in reaching Mansehra and did his job satisfactorily. On return, when he was bringing a letter from the Muslim League Leader Mansehra, he was intercepted at Parri and was shifted to Bunji where he was successful in burying the letter under a stone while pretending to urinate. While he was being taken to Bunji, he told one Constable Raza (later Head Constable) who too belonged to the Anjuman-e-Sarforoshan, that the letter was buried under the stone of which he provided clues while requesting him deliver the said letter to Subedar Major. I was greatly embarrassed to learn about interception of Amir Jahandar Shah that it would lead to arrest. Two days later, HC Raza retrieved the letter and brought to deliver it to me. In the meantime, Amir Jahandar Shah was released after initial interrogation. The applications I sent through the emissary were in the names of all leading Muslim League leaders - Quaid-e-Azam, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Raja Ghazanfar Ali, Muhammad Ismail Chundrighar. On my letter, there was a brief response: “Learnt about the situation in Gilgit. Immensely delighted that the fervor of liberation has reached as far as these mountains. No assistance can be sent from here nor will do later. Our prayers are with you and your nation. Good bye! 

I concealed this letter from my colleagues lest they should oppose it. On 27th October 1947, Maharaja of Kashmir announced accession of Kashmir with India and in this situation; it was not advantageous for us to wait any longer. Brig Ghansara Singh conveyed telephonic orders to Colonel Majid at Bunji 36 km from Gilgit, to move towards Gilgit along with maximal number of non-Muslim personnel. This scheme was aimed at disarming the Gilgit Scouts. When the message reached Colonel Majid, he immediately called for a conference of the officers of his battalion. It was decided that the work a non-Muslim can do for the Dogra rulers cannot be done by me. I have made a mention to the effect that the Colonel had an abiding trust in his armed personnel and so did the latter in him. On 30th October 1947, the Muslim Company under the command of Captain Mirza Hassan Khan left for Gilgit. It became known to me that Brig Ghansara Singh’s message was passed to Bunji and from there armed personnel moved towards Gilgit on 30th October. But nevertheless, it remained quite unclear whether this contingent comprised Muslims or Sikh-Dogra personnel. A few weeks earlier, Captain Saeed was sent to Kalamdarchi to close that post. Lieutenant Haider Khan wondered as to what would happen at this juncture. If there is no hope, provide a guide to me to help me flee towards Pakistan, he said. I assured him to remain contented that during the coming night, the matter would get resolved altogether. Explaining I said, it is sheer luck that Colonel Majid is operating from his headquarters. It is quite certain that after deploying a contingent at Parri will himself move first. They may be thinking that no one knew about their scheme. He will be arrested right here while for the rest of the Sikh-Dogra personnel, an ambush would follow at Bhup Singh Parri. He again asked is there is certainty in it? Yes, I re-assured saying that the strength of the Scouts for now is 60 personnel while the personnel of Anjuman-e-Sarfarooshan consists of 500 which also include 21 soldiers. 

These talks were going on while strolling along at the time of the parade time. In the meantime, a peon of Brig Ghansara Singh, attired in overcoat and pantaloon with golden-blazed borders, entered the football ground At first, our face color faded and quite unintentionally, we both moved towards but legs were benumbing then. When we approached the peon, he addressed me and informed that Brig Sahib desires to meet you! I instantly accompanied the peon towards Governor’s bungalow. When I entered the bungalow just crossing the Guard Room, I saw him sitting on a chair under chinar tree. I approached and saluted him. In reply, he smiled and signaled me to sit on the chair. I accordingly did but frankly speaking, didn’t have the courage to ask as why I was called. The Brig cast a comprehensive glance at my physique - from head to toe and then again from toe to head - down to my feet and again from feet up to head smilingly. After a silence of about 20 minutes, I stood up and sought permission to leave. He smilingly responded my salute by nodding his head. I hurriedly got out the Bungalow and reached the garrisons back. Lieutenant was on the wait eager to know what would happen while the rest of the JCOs were perturbed over the situation as if there were a straw in the beard of the thief. I told all the story and all listened to me with rapt attention. As all surprisingly looked at me and jabbered out that it was the very first miracle of Islam. In the like manner, I was called twice during this week but there was no talk whatsoever. Lieutenant Haider took the JCOs towards his room to offer tea. It was the time to act with the plan being ready for giving the finishing stroke. However, upon the advice of some friends, a slight change had to be made. It was nonetheless; decided that Major Brown should be overpowered before 6.00 pm. I along with the guard of 8 personnel, reached the Commandant’s bungalow, sent orderly into the house for meeting but the Commandant himself came out and asked what the matter was? I replied that there was a very urgent matter that called for your opinion that prompted to get here. He took me inside the bungalow and first put the question to me ‘what was the matter’? I told him that here was the news from me that from tomorrow onward i.e 1st November onwards, Gilgit will become Pakistan. He asked what would happen to me? I told him that he was an Englishman and I do not know as to what would happen to him. However, there remains a fight between Hindus and Muslims so if you would side with us, we will extend the same respect and honor to you. If you do not do that, we would have no complaint about that. That in the event of putting him under arrest, we will protect your life and property and would send him to Pakistan whenever the passes open and if you oppose us, I am here to arrest you. On hearing this, he stood suddenly up. I too stood up and told him to sit down and reply to my questions. I insisted him on his early replying to all the three questions saying there was an mountainous work to be done by me and that the State troops are likely to arrive at Gilgit from Bunji tomorrow. He, in a surprise, asked who told me about the arrival of the Bunji contingent. I replied him that there is no need of digging out such matters at this point in time. Whoever has told this will automatically come to the surface. He kept quiet for a moment and then broke silence by saying that he is already in favor of Pakistan and as such would side with you people. I told him to leave these talks aside and accompany me to the Garrison. He replied: ‘Do you taking me there to put under arrest.’ I said ‘no’ explaining further: ‘As it could be very much difficult to contain a revolution and set parameters thereto and this especially when it is between Muslim and the non-Muslim since, fears are there that lest some frenzied in the fit of rage, attack and kill you. Given this, you will stay with me while the rest in your service are Muslims. Moreover, I have brought a guard with me here to ensure protection of your luggage. 

In the wake of this, I brought Major Brown to garrison where Lieutenant Haider Khan and the JCOs were waiting for me at my room. On hearing the news, they were immensely jubilant about and saying ‘yet another obstacle removed’. When asked further scheming, we let Brown know that we would ambush those coming from Bunji at Bhoop Singh Parri. Why it is known by Bhoop Singh Parri is in short, that General Bhoop Singh along with the State Force was defeated at this place by my grandfather, Mir Za’far Zahid Khan the ruler of Nagar State that is why this place is known as Bhoop Singh Parri. And now it is my turn to do the same and exterminate the State Force there. Precisely, I have called all the force personnel to attend the grand meeting at 09.000 O’clock making it clear on them that the State Force of 6th J&K is likely arriving here from Bunji whose chief objective is to disarm the Scouts in the very first instance. If the disarming takes place, I do not know what would be the fate of Gilgit Agency. The carnage enacted in Amritsar and Jammu will be repeated here also. Do you want to witness the same scene here? At this there was a uproar amid excitedly chanting the slogan of Pakistan Zindabad whilst expressing firm commitment and determination that: ‘We want to die an honorable death than to live a life of dishonor and disgrace.’ I told them that it was not the time of chanting slogans but instead it was the time to act. Since I had in my hands the Holy Qura’n, I stood at the exit door of the hall holding the Qura’n aloft and everyone filed out by swearing on the Holy Book. Then I ordered that every Jawan should get rifle from the Kote. When this was complied with, I fixed posts for the security of the barracks. I ordered Jamedar Adjutant to get deployed in the bazaar along with recruits to ensure that no one dares looting the shops. Signal Havaldar and a few Sepoys were deputed at the Post and Telegraph offices. Wireless Havaldar was ordered to take over the Civil Wireless Transmission Station. Likewise, guards were deployed at all Stores, Government offices whilst doubling the Treasury Guards. A party was assigned the task of bringing all the non-Muslims to the garrison before dawn. With my two fellow JCOs Jamedar Safiullah Baig and Jamedar Shah Sultan along with 15 personnel I proceeded to place Brig Ghansara Singh under arrest. On way, I informed Raja Shah Rais Khan that I succeeded to accomplish this task through the Scouts. I asked him to go to the Shahi Pologround and call all the members of Anjuman-e-Sarfaroshan to gather instantly there. Make appeals to the public not to resort to any loot or plunder. It was the night of 31st October; dry chilly winds were blowing which were piercing nose and ears as if someone were cutting with a sharp knife. The sky was clear and moonlit presented almost the spectacle of daytime. Upon arriving at the Guard Room, I asked the Guard commander whether Brigadier Ghnsara was within the bungalow or outside? He replied that they saw the Governor going out of the Gate along with his Personal Assistant on the evening-eve but they didn’t saw them re-enter the bungalow. Maybe he re-entered from the rear gate. This information created suspicion. However, we entered the gate and all the personnel were ordered to surround the bungalow and then entered into the bungalow along with above two JCOs and 4 Jawans. The doors of the bungalow were wide-open. We kept searching the rooms for about 15 minutes but no clue was found. I left the four Jawans inside and went out along with the two fellow JCOs and were quite repentant and fearful that the prey had eluded and they might join the Force coming from Bunji tomorrow. Amid these musings, a sudden loud cry came from the four personnel inside the bungalow that they are closeted in one room. 

At this, we three ran towards the steps leading into the bungalow to enter when firing started from within the bungalow and a Jawan fell. He was the very first martyr - a Hunza lad while the other injured was from Nagar. There was pitch-dark in the bungalow and moonlight outside had literally turned the night into day. I ordered that no Jawan will open fire. The Governor is under our siege and would eventually surrender by the following morning. Let him open fire and be on wait. This is what happened, the Governor kept firing throughout the night. I called for a Pandit called Alsabah, a Naib Tehsildar, and sent him into the bungalow to tell the Brigadier to lay down arms and surrender. This alone would be in his good else the bungalow would be set on fire. The said Alsabah was made to understand that he had himself seen with his own naked eye all the non-Muslims we have brought over to the garrison in the morning. It was further clarified to him that the reinforcement coming from Bunji for their assistance stands decimated on way. In the wake of this, Naib Tehsildar Mani Ram went in and after about 15 minutes, came out of the bungalow and told that the Brigadier asks us to get into the bungalow to get me lay down arms. I got ready to enter but my colleagues didn’t allow me to enter saying that if God forbid, fire is opened on you, our plan will be a flop. During the course, Police Sub Inspector (now Inspector) Hameed volunteered himself to enter the bungalow. A consensus developed on this action and he went to the Brigadier to tell the situation obtaining in Gilgit at this point in time. On this, the Brigadier consented to surrender. After a while, the Governor came out of the bungalow. He was in sleeping-suit and was wearing an outer gown. On seeing him, I too entered and when I approached him, he smilingly said: “Babar how would you treat me?’ I replied: “The same which a POW(prisoner of war) deserves”. There were two Dogras and one Sikh in the bungalow who too came out. They thought we would kill them outright but I assuringly told them that our prime objective was to make Pakistan. There is no advantage or use to kill you. Muharaja did not take care of the 

Muslim majority and acceded to India. It was impossible for us to join India in anyway. You know what is happening to the Muslims in India nowadays. I asked Brigadier to go inside for a change of clothes. On his getting ready for that, I too accompanied him. First of all, he had four in his arsenal. I took possession of them and then got his private things and luggage packed in my supervision. All his things and luggage were kept in safe custody at the garrison stores and led Brigadier to the Garrison and lodged him at the JCOs Mess. In the night, we had sent two officers to Parri on the eve of the operation. Parri is 18 miles off Gilgit. Both the officers were tasked with ascertaining the exact strength of the personnel and their identity who had come from Bunji at about 08:00 O’clock in the morning. The informers conveyed the message that Colonel Majid himself was with his contingent there. Others accompanying him were Captain Hassan Khan with his Muslim Company and Major Ehsan Ali who belonged to Nagar and had just been posted to 6th J&K Regiment at Bunji. He was along with his family whom he wanted to take to his hometown. This was indeed a glad tiding. I wrote a letter to Captain Hassan Khan mentioning therein that the operation at Gilgit was accomplished with great finesse and stood successfully undertaken so he should stop the personnel at Parri in order to return to Bunji instead. Moreover, it will be better if Colonel Majid is convinced to come in advance. It will equally be better if you too come here in order to help strategizing further plans aimed at exterminating the Sikhs-Dogras at Bunji.” 

The concluding the chronicles, the diary unfold that there was a well-built connection between him and Colonel Mirza Hassan at Bunji and the latter was being uninterruptedly kept posted of the progress being achieved as planned. Famed writer Hidayatullah Akhat, Gilgit posed a question on facebook there day before whether or not Gilgit Scouts strictly complied with the orders of Major Brown on 31st October? This evoked brief comments and triggered a debate that ensued in the course of which the first terse comments were that Major Brown at that time, was but bound to act as per wishes of the Scouts under those compelling circumstances. The rest of the comments that followed were from renowned writer,reasearcher,author and columnist from Gilgit-Baltitan Syed Muhammad Abbas Kazmi inter alia, that according to his meticulous researches, Subedar Major Babar Khan had already rendered Brown wholly ineffective. He had only let Brown know of the actual programme, on the eve of his going for laying siege to the Govern House for the arrest of the Governor on 31st October upon which Brown got simply transfixed abruptly in great surprise at such an action. Moreover, Babar told Brown to simply keep a mum over the imminent goings-on and remain non-partisan. After this, Baber along with his team, moved towards the Governor House at about 10.00 PM. At least, the whole of that night and until the arrest of the Governor in the early morning of 1st November, Brown had no role to play nor did Hassan Khan in the matter of arrest of the Governor either. Abbas Kazmi lamented that inspite of passage of long seven decades, the people of the region (the author, writers) have not been able to draw a unanimousl historical conclusions in regard to the real heroes - something continuing to spawn untrue narratives based on fibs, prevarications and equivocations - witting or unwitting, leading to an unjust a haze. He bemoans that such acts could, but stem from despicable 'isms'of sort that need be shunned. In furtherance, he concludes his comments by saying that he has nothing to do with any of them who are equally respectable to him but nevertheleless, expresses his disparagement over this negative trend. One would readily concur with him that not speaking the truth is tantamount to what may be called the ‘murder of history’. The works of true historians, writers and researchers alone fling open the opportunities for many other researchers and scholars to emerge and challenge the accuracy of what stands made public as “historical facts’. Equally lamentable and matter of perturbation is the fact that the historical raison d’etre hasn’t been adequately communicated through the regional curriculum till now about the actual pasts to enable generations to carefully navigate around any complexities and be able to weave together a historical narrative inspired by a nationalistic impulse. 

Substantiating this, Syed Abbas Kazmi recently portrayed the facts as follows: "Abbas Kazmi Syed Shams Uddin 1-Most of the writer have quoted that Ghansara Sigh,came out of his Benglow in the morning of 1st Nov,1947 (No exact time is given). Ghansara Singh writes that "It was Babar Khan who arrested me". 3.Capt/Col. Hassan writes that he left Padi-Bangla early in the morning and reached Gilgit at around 10 a.m. and went straight to the Officers Mess for break-fast, where he came to know that, Ghansara Singh had not "surrender" so far, so he (Col.Hassan) sent a (chit) "NOTE on a piece of paper" with a sepoy giving him a dire thread, and ordered him to surrender. As and when Ghansara Singh saw his thread, he was so frightened that he surrendered at once". In these lines Col Hassan wants to show that it was he who actually made the Dogra Governor surrender. It means that at about 10.30 am Ghansara Singh surrendered. Col Hassan does not mention the man to whom Ghansara Singh presented his arms to surrender. Who ever it was the man to who the Governor handed his arms to surrender, why Col Hassan keeps it un-mentioned, whereas it was a very important historically. If we keep all differing references on one table and compare them in a natural/realistic way, it looks that the statement of Col. Hassan looks does not any weightage. Thus, it becomes that fact, that it was Babar Khan who actually arrested Ghansara Singh or Ghansara Singh surrendered to Babar Khan, and not to Col.Hassan or the sepoy sent by him with a "paper note". It is true that the Muslim Officers of J&K Infantry (leading by Capt. Hassan were in full wish to take the advantage to liberate Gilgit from Dogras and were in communication with the leading JCOs of Gilgit Scouts for the single purpose of getting freedom from Dogras, but it was Babar Khan who made the views of all JCOs/NCOs and soldiers of GS united together and made them ready for this great but risky mission and also kept in total secrecy from his British Boss Capt. Brown, till the last minutes. My findings are based on historical evidences & references and I myself has no personal liking or disliking to any of them and also not ready to tell lies to make some one pleased with myself. For me, both are respectable and son of soil, daring and fought for their mother land. Unfortunately, our brethren /writers of Gilgit ever study the facts or see at the evidences and always go in favor of one or another. They have not decided even after 71 years that the sons of soil and our heroes "did what, where and when". It tells that , we have not become sensible and mature yet and in this skirmishes they are distorting and destroying their history." To butress, this, he also invokes the wording of the Dogra in Gilgit (Aug to 30th October, 1947) Brig Ghansara Singh having unequivoally recorded in his book as Follows: "It was Babar Khan who arrested me." This stands also reflected in Tareekh-e-Baltistan, 3rd edition by Yusuf Hussainabadi. True, Gilgit-Baltistan has its own distinct history as an entity different from others and as such has its own history dating back to antiquity. These people, on their own, waged the war of liberation and lobbied for Pakistan after clearing their territory of the occupying force of the Dogras on 1st November, 1947 and spearheaded the war in Baltistan until liberation of that region on 14th August 1948. It is another matter that the accession they made in wake of war of liberation was kept in abeyance for the overriding reason being that Pakistan deemed it necessary during these seven decades, to do so on the basis of a “master narrative” created to explain and justify plebiscite attuned to the UN Resolutions on Kashmir dispute. 

Giving an account relevant to 1st November, K2 editorially highlights that Gilgit-Baltistan, comprising 72971 sq. km with a population put at 22lac, lay abutting China in the north, to north-west borders Afghanistan whilst just at stone’s throw is situated Tajikistan, on its south KPK, South-east is AJK whereas on the east is Indian occupied Kashmir. Given these multiple frontiers and consequent geography, the region occupies more significance than other part of Pakistan in geo-strategic parlance. This immense importance now stands multiplied, manifolds as a result of the CPEC.The editorial says that the Movement for Liberation of Gilgit got underway two and a half month after emergence of Pakistan, from Mohellah Dakpura in Gilgit. On the 1st of November when Gilgit and Bunji were first liberated from the Dogra Raj and the people rallied under the banner of Pakistan, Colonel Mirza Hassan Khan consistently headed the Liberation Movement while multitudes of volunteers from across the region kept ceaselessly converging on the call of Hassan Khan who – a returnee from World War II, and bestowed with tremendous strategic acumen and as the son of the soil, fully acquainted with geographic situation, tactfully grouped the Gilgit Scouts and volunteers converged at Bunji into two divisions. He sent one group towards Baltistan while the second under the command of Babar Khan, was deputed towards Astore while he himself preliminarily commanded both the divisions from Bunji. Both the division of these mujahideen and the participants of the revolution were determined that both would meet in Srinagar. The mujahideen from Astore side successfully reached as far as Gurez while on the other, the Bakhtawar group had by then, reached Baramulla despite insurmountable vagaries of wind and weather. Due to the very successful tactical planning of Colonel Hassan Khan who had earlier won the coveted Military Cross (MC) during Second World War, the movement for the liberation reached the climax when General Jilani took over the command and on whose orders, the mujahideen of Giilgit-Baltistan had to retrace their steps. During this 14-month long valiant struggle, the people of entire Gilgit, Baltistan and Astore extended generous assistance in both men and material terms that enabled the mujahideen to become victorious on all fronts. 

After arresting Governor Ghansara Singh and hoisting Pakistani flag at the Governor House, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan fought against the Dogra army despite facing innumerable hardships dearth of arms and ammunition and other vital supplies. And, in its wake, presented this extensive liberated territory to Pakistan unconditionally. The mujahideen fought fiercely and tempestuously as far as Ladakh and Kargil after clearing the Skardu of the Dogra forces. It exclusively redounds to the credit of these muhjahideen of unmatched patriotism that Gilgit-Baltistan today, has assumed arterial significance for Pakistan. It is this land, the El Dorado – with its diverse potential in terms of mineral, tourism, water, what and what not the harnessing of which may bring about positive economic transformation in Pakistan. The inhabitants of the area together, constitute an amazing human resource provided appropriate actions are initiated on governmental level to utilize this wonderful workforce by imparting them skills as well as jobs. 

Given the fore-going all, it becomes imperative that the celebrations of 1st November should not remain confined to Gilgit-Baltistan alone but that these are diffused nationally to let the compatriots know as to how the inhabitants of this region so courageously drove out the Dogras by way of a purely indigenous movement without any outside assistance, well nigh 03 months after the emergence of Pakistan sought accession to the latter by choice. The heroic struggle of these brave people needs be highligted fittingly both regionally and nationally by monumentalizing the deeds of the heroes in the federal/provincial capitals. While mentioning this,one's attention is drawn to famed journalist Manzar Shigri's 'piece' titled the 'First Martyr of the War of Liberation of Gilgit-Baltistan'published in Daily K2 dated November 1, 2019, in which he refers to a desolate place in Gilgit city where the very first martyre Amir Hayat lay buried at the locality called Haiderpura, near the bank of Gilgit River.This brave soldier belonging to Ganish in Hunza, got enrolled in the Scouts in 1940. When siege was laid to the Governor House at Gilgit by the team of the Scouts headed by Raja Ghazi Muhammad Bar Khan, Amir Hayat was in the vanguard and fell when the beleagered Governor Ghansara Sigh fired. He, according to the writer, lay buried at this desolate place which remains unattended even on the grand celebrations of the 1st November each year with none of the highups visiting the place to pay fitting tributes during the course of the solemnities.What justice demands is that the burial place of this first martyr is got commensurately and magnificently entombed as it deserves whilst paying fitting tributes to him on first November each year. There is equally the need of fittingly eulogizing the ghazis who rendered supreme sacrifices in liberating the territory from the enemy. For instance, about the heroic deeds of the 'Padam Party,' veteran journalist Qasim Nasim, refers to interviews of Wazir Muhammad Amin Sundus - one of the 36-member group of soldiers as saying how inconculable hardships his juggernautic 'Padam Party' had to experience while remaining valliantly and steadfastly entrenched for long evelen months at Padam to which they pushed forward ferociously fighting towards Zanksar in Ladakh and then spearheading towards Padam. It is to be born in mind that liberation war was fought during 1947-48 on heavily snow-bound heights of the lofty mountains in freezing winter in the complete of any logistic support whatsoever except the generous assistance of the local population generally while the 'Padam Party' was completelyshorn of any logistic support or ammunition supply whatsoever. There is, alongside, the dire need of introducting of a comprehensive plan aimed at fostering abiding peace, tranquillity and harmony in this region for being well poised to thwart nefarious designs of the enemies of Pakistan.This is in seeing that the divisive/disruptive forces may pave ground for endless manipulations. A tweet on 1st November, 2020 brought to the fore the announcement of Prime Minister Imran Khan to make Gilgit-Baltistan 'provisional constitutional province' attuned to and in conformity with the longstanding demand of these people for the constitutional rights. It has been clarified that this dispensation will not, in anyway, militate against and be violative of the UN Resolutions on Kashmir. The apothegm 'better late than never comes true in the case of Gilgi-Baltitan in the instant case as such a dispensation could have been ensured right at the time the regional people had acceded to Pakistan soon after liberating the territory 73 years ago. However, during the course of a hurriedly called press conference the other day, the caretaker Chief Minister, Gilgit-Baltistan made it clear that the Prime Minister's announcement meant that that the process of making Gilgit-Baltistan a ‘provisional constitutional province remained underway.


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