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A TRIBUTE TO THE SAVIOUR
(Brig Rajinder Singh, MVC)
10/27/2020 12:03:20 AM
Col J P Singh

Military history is written by the victor and not the vanquished. But the history made with supreme sacrifice of men and women defending their motherland and written in blood, even if vanquished, is never allowed to die down. Such history is preserved and recalled on every appropriate occasion to enlighten and inspire future generations to emulate the heroic deeds of their predecessors so that the nation attains victory and regains its lost glory. Hence 73rd martyrdom day of Brig Rajinder Singh, MVC on 27 October 2020 is an occasion to recall the glorious history written with blood.
Aware that during these 73 years after Brig Rajinder Singh’s martyrdom, the nation barely knows why and for what he made the supreme sacrifice. That apart, nation must recognise services of this courageous and brave leader of the men who saved just not the valley of Kashmir but the entire Jammu and Kashmir. Thus it will be of great relevance to remember those who laid down their lives for our safety and to promote nationalism.
While Maharaja Hari Singh was thinking about accession, Pakistan, the newly formed nation on our western side, harboured other ideas. At the time of partition M A Jinnah had said, “Kashmir is in my pocket”. Sensing an unfavourable decision about accession by Maharaja Hari Singh, Pakistan decided to grab the State by the use of military force. For this purpose an assorted force of 10,000 Lashkars, comprised of re-entrenched soldiers of 2nd world war, serving soldiers of Pak army (shown on leave in official documents) & tribesmen of North West Frontier Provinces, reinforced and commanded by regular army officers, was surreptitiously assembled. Exploiting the religious sentiments, the pro-Pakistani elements in the J&K State Forces were weaned away to join this force.
On the fateful day of 22 October 1947, Pakistan launched an invasion on the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. Muzaffrabad was the major town of J&K near Pakistan which was first attacked. It was astride Jhelum river. 4 JAK Infantry was guarding Muzaffrabad & Domel axis. Pakistan subverted the loyalties of Muslim soldiers of 4 JAK. Two Companies switched sides. They killed Col Narain Singh, their CO and other comrades ruthlessly. They took the weapons & ammunition and joined other side. Thereafter, they in fact opened the proverbial gate to the Muzaffrabad town. Tribal, who had been promised of loot and plunder let lose wrath on Muzaffrabad. The raiders spent three days looting & plundering the town and exploiting women before their commanders could push them towards Baramulla and Srinagar.
When the news of fall and barbarity of Muzaffrabad reached Srinagar, Maharaja Hari Singh called Brig Rajinder Singh, the Chief of Staff of State Forces. Chief informed the ruler that there was nothing stopping the invaders till Srinagar and took Maharaja’s permission to himself go the frontline. He rounded up around 100 soldiers of his state force, who were deployed on administrative duties, and led them to Uri. In a series of rear guard actions including destroying Uri Bridge, this small Dogra contingent held back the invaders for crucial four days from 23 to 26 October 1947. Brig Rajinder Singh laid down his life in the line of duty at wee hours of 27 October. These four days were the most important time factor which allowed maharaja Hari Singh to negotiate accession as well as allowed the armed forces to establish an Air Bridge and land Indian army in Srinagar. But for this risky initiative of Brig Rajinder Singh, the invaders would have captured Srinagar Airfield and there would have been no way that the forces would have entered besieged Srinagar. Even Maharaja would have been captured, compelled to sign the Instrument of Accession in favour of Pakistan and J&K lost forever.
Brig Rajinder Singh’s martyrdom is unique in the annals of military history. Nowhere in the history of world armies there is an instance of an officer of Brigadier rank being ordered to command a contingent of 100 men and fight ‘to the last man and last round’. This is best done by a Captain or a Major. But he did it not only as a brigadier but also as ‘Chief of States Forces’ and fought to the last round and laid down his life at the altar of his Ruler’s command in the centuries old Dogra traditions. His martyrdom was a saga of unmatched courage, valour, devotion to duty and self sacrifice.
An epoch making 4 days battle between a small Dogra Contingent led by Brig Rajinder Singh and over 5000 strong enemy commanded by Maj Gen Akbar Khan ended with preventing valley from falling into marauder’s hands. Out of five officers involved in this operation only Brig Rajinder Singh was martyred and the other four including Capts Prithi Singh, Jawala Singh, Khazan Singh and Nasib Singh survived with multiple injuries and returned to active service after treatment. 70 % soldiers are said to have been killed and those who actually survived, survived with serious and disabling injuries. Brig Rajinder Singh was awarded Maha Vir Chakra posthumously and given the unique title of, Saviour of Kashmir’ and hence deserves to be remembered on every appropriate occasion.
All we know is that important historical events or the personalities are a byproduct of history. It is the stories told about them after they have left leaving their footprints on the sands of the time. If the stories about them are not told in the proper perspective then their importance diminishes and soon forgotten. Reason for the diminished sacrifices of handful Dogras in the face of tremendous superiority in numbers, to my mind is, because Brig Rajinder Singh didn’t live to tell his own story unlike Field Marshal Manekshaw and Sheikh Abdullah, Pt Nehru & Mahatma Gandhi who wrote their history themselves. Thus martyrs version of the story remains untold until someone like me makes an effort to go through the available material and writes about it.
For the people in Jammu, Brig Rajinder Singh is known as the ‘immortal Dogra’ and the ‘Saviour of Kashmir’. He hailed from the Duggerland and from a community deeply entrenched in the armed forces of India for several generations. He continues to be an inspiration for people across Jammu. Almost every household has one or two members in the armed forces, with many of them defending the borders of J&K. (Three Generals from one family of Gurha Slathian is a living proof of service to the nation through Indian army and Col Ranveer Singh Jamwal, CO of SFF Vikas Battalion of Tibetans, which occupied dominating Southern Pangong Tso Ridge on 29 August 2020 in Ladakh, in face to face with PLA, is also from Duggerland).
26 October is etched in the conscious of the nation because of historic accession of J&K with India but 27 October martyrdom, which made it happen, does not stir anything in the minds and hearts of majority in Jammu and Kashmir. 26 October is celebrated as black day by separatists in Kashmir to degrade accession. On the contrary nations celebrates it as black day to condemn Pak invasion. In addition 27 October should be celebrated as Martyrs Day along with the traditional Infantry Day.
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