Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Fake heroes of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Fake heroes of Jammu and Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry     7 April 2015

History is not only distorted by conquerors; but it is also distorted by people of occupied territories. Both occupiers and occupied may have different reasons for distorting historical facts.

For example, some leaders of the occupied people, political activists or people belonging to resistant movement could tell people exaggerated stories of bravery and heroism to keep up the morale of the occupied people.  Furthermore, some people from the occupied territory could be eulogizing their relatives and friends to boost the morale of their tribe or family; or to demonstrate how brave their elders were.

More I look into this matter, more myths I confront. At one time in a small place like Valley of Kashmir, there were around 150 Commanders in Chief fighting India. This should be compared with the fact that in real life each country, no matter how big or powerful it is, has only one Commander in Chief. But in Kashmir Valley there were around 150 militant groups and each group had a Commander in Chief. Officers spend their lives in army to become a General or a Commander in Chief. In Kashmir, anyone with half dozen militants with very basic training and few pistols and some AK47 rifles could have one Commander in Chief.

Last week I had a chat with a man who claimed to be a grandson of ‘Major General Raja Sakhi Delair Khan’. I politely told him that Sakhi Delair was not a Major General. He strongly disagreed with me and asserted that his information was true. Again I politely said some soldiers during the 1947 war promoted themselves to officer ranks within months, as there was no proper command and control system in place.

At that time he asserted his grandfather was a Major General in the British Indian Army before the partition of India. He said he will provide me evidence and increase my knowledge on the subject. I knew for sure he was not a Major General even in Azad Kashmir army or in Pakistan army; and it was out of question that he was a Major General in the British Indian army; however, I didn’t want to hurt sentiments and pride of a grandson of Sakhi Delair Khan. I said I will investigate this matter and will inform him.

Sakhi Delair Khan, was he a Major General?

Sakhi Delair Khan belonged to Mangral tribe of Rajpoots, and hailed from Sehnsa which is in District Kotli. He served in the British Indian Army during the Second World War. He also served under Major MK Mirza. Major Mirza served as an Instructor in Royal Military School, Sarai Alamgir, near Jhelum; and many of his students became brilliant officers.

Before going any further, I feel it is pertinent to give account of how people earned military ranks or promoted each other in the war of 1947. Justice Yusuf Saraf, who researched on history and struggle of Jammu and Kashmir and produced two lengthy volumes, wrote:

‘I was told by a senior army officer that in the beginning of 1948 when he was on the Rajouri sector, a soldier in the rear, at distance of 10 to 15 miles, was supervising the despatch of supplies and sending a signed chit with each supply, detailing the material. In the morning when he sent the first chit, he signed it as a sepoy - a soldier with no rank, but gradually started building up his rank; when the last consignment was received at the other end in the evening, the soldier had signed the chit as Major.’ 1

Another example is narrated by Major General Akbar Khan, who writes: ‘Around Poonch two rival commanders had set up headquarters, both submitting reports to GHQ Azad, one signing himself as Captain and the other as Major. Then they promoted themselves to Major and Colonel. Then to Colonel and Brigadier, and so on, until both of them became Field Marshals’. 2

While Major M K Mirza who lived in Jhelum was away from home, Sakhi Delair Khan visited his house and left a message with his son. On Major Mirza’s return his son told him that Major General Sakhi Delair Khan came to see him. Major Mirza could not locate this name with the rank of Major General. Later on he discovered that it was Sakhi Delair Khan who visited his house, and left the message.

In the environment where his colleagues were promoting themselves to higher ranks, Sakhi Delair Khan did not want to remain behind; and he also ‘assumed the rank of Major General.3 During the battle for control of Pallandari, in order to out manoeuvre his opponents in a competition of ranks, it is reported that he was ‘made Commander in Chief and a War Council was set up with Captain Khan Mohammed Khan as President’. 4

Sakhi Delair Khan was not a Major General, or even a commissioned army officer; but that doesn't mean he did not command people or did not exhibit bravery and leadership. No doubt he was a brave man; and played a significant role in capturing many important posts including strategically important Azad Patan Bridge, Sarsawa etc. Sakhi Delair Khan risked his life many times, and moved fast to surprise his enemies. Also he played an important role in wars of Kotli and Pallandari; so he deserves respect and praise.

There are scores of other people in Jammu and Kashmir who were given titles, or they assumed titles themselves. These people did not deserve these titles. For example, how Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas and many others on both sides of the divide deserve the titles they were given or assumed?

If we critically and impartially look at the events of that time and analyse roles performed by some people, they should have been punished for siding with our neighbours and working against interests and sovereignty of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. A man elects to join the army of Jammu and Kashmir, and takes oath of allegiance to be faithful to the State and the Maharaja. He receives uniform, training, weapons, food and a salary for his services; and when a difficult time comes he sides with those who want to occupy Jammu and Kashmir and destroy Rule of the Maharaja. For his act of betraying his oath and trust, should he be regarded as a hero, a patriot or something else?

I leave this matter to the conscience of the people.
1. Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, Justice Yusuf Saraf, Vol 2, page 878
2. Raiders In Kashmir, Major General Akbar Khan, page 94
3. Justice Yusuf Saraf, page 878
4. Ibid, page 881
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of KashmirAffairs.Email:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com

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