Sanjay Gupta
The 1947 Mirpur massacre will go down in history as one of the worst genocides of Hindus and Sikhs in Mirpur which was a part of Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir. On November 25,1947, the historic city of Mirpur fell to the tribal raiders, who were aided and abetted by Pakistan. On that unforgettable day men, women and children embarked on their uncertain journey leaving behind their dead and earthly possessions.
Hospitality and courtesy were the inherited qualities of the people of Mirpur. They had their own sweet language known as Mirpuri. The city of Mirpur gradually rose to become a great commercial centre next only to Jammu and Srinagar. But the partition of India in 1947 resulted in the city being all but destroyed.
At the time, with a population of 25,000 souls including migrants from Punjab, it became the boundary line between India and Pakistan on the western side of Jammu and Kashmir State. Pakistan connived with Pakhtuns and attacked Mirpur in full force with the intention of grabbing the whole of Jammu and Kashmir state. But the Mirpuris unitedly stood against the invaders to a man.
On the 4th of Nov. 1947, heavy enforcements of the Pakistan Army took position on the ridge known as Palan-Da- Galla and also started heavy firing and tried to besiege the small garrison of State Forces on the river Jehlum about 10 miles from Mirpur city. Under heavy odds, the State Forces decided to retreat falling back to the city.
This brought the enemy right to the gates of Mirpur city which now looked within it’s easy reach. But the people of Mirpur were not prepared to give -in without fighting in collaboration with the small State Force. They organised
the defence of the town. Together they repulsed the enemy attack with
heavy losses on November 6, 10 and 11, 1947.
The morale of the State Garrison got a big boost when on Nov. 12, the Indian Air Force effectively bombed and strafed the enemy positions around Mirpur city. The Planes appeared in the skies over Mirpur again on November 14 dropping some small arms. Having been loosely packed these were damaged and
unuseable.
In the meantime, the enemy came
closer to occupying almost all the posts around the city. Not only was the ammunition almost out, essential commodities such as food, water and medical supplies in the besieged city became critical. The people of Mirpur then organized committees to distribute the limited supplies among the people. After November 16, the intensity and regularity of the enemy attack on the city greatly increased but the young and brave souls of Mirpur also displayed tremendous grit and tenacity in their defence. On Nov. 19, the then thin and poorly equipped strength of the State Army had little hope of holding out for more than three days. In that critical situation, the State Garrison received another consignment of 25,000 rounds of ammunition dropped by air in the nick of time.
Though insufficient, the extra ammunition boosted the morale of the garrison tremendously. The next day another massive attack was made on the town and the enemy managed to break through the defence on the south western portion of the city. The enemy was then rebuffed in hand to hand fighting by the young men of Mirpur and the soldiers of the State Army. The enemy was pushed back and their attempt to enter into the city was foiled. Unfortunately on November 21, the wireless set with the garrison went out of order and all contacts with the country were lost. The air strikes of the Indian Air Force against the enemy also declined thereafter. On November 22 and 23 , the enemy used its full force putting bullets into the city from all directions. This continued day and night without any break.
On November 24, came the final blow when a full battalion of the enemy strongly supported by artillery and 3 inch mortar fire launched an attack on the south western part of the city. This was the heaviest attack witnessed so far. The post put up the most spirited resistance, but the enemy came in wave after wave after wave and after six hours of ceaseless fighting, this portion of the defence was over run by the Pakistan Army units which entered the city at midnight.
Alarmed by the most critical situation, the internal flying squads engaged themselves in hand to hand fights with the infiltrators and kept them on their toes at the cost of their own lives till the morning of November 25. Unfortunately at this critical juncture, the administrative machinery at Mirpur clandestinely took the decision of retreating to Jammu leaving the civil population to its fate. In an utter display of cowardness, the State officers showed their backs to the enemy. Some other soldiers also left their picket and followed suit.
This created panic, chaos and confusion among the civil population. Thousands of women committed suicide to save themselves from the clutches of the cruel enemy and rape let loose by the invaders.
Others assembled in the deserted army camp where the wounded and sick soldiers of the State Forces, lying on their beds were looking towards the sky with tears flowing from their eyes. In the camp, the old men, women and children were searching for their family members among those who lay dead or dying.
For a moment, there appeared a glimmer of hope when at 11:00 AM a fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force appeared in the sky and again at 13:00 PM. But each time hope turned into despair as the aircraft turned away without helping the helpless. That was the greatest misfortune of Mirpuris who were still alive or wounded .
The enemy then greeted the people of Mirpur with showers of bullets from all sides and the whole town was covered with the blood and dead bodies of over 18,000 people. About 3,500 wounded and half-dead were made prisoners while another group of about 3,500, after walking miles and miles barefooted, managed to make their way to Jammu. Their very miserable condition of starvation and mental condition is too difficult to describe in words. That tragic scene of, ‘the naked’ dance of death at Mirpur on 25th, 1947 which brought the tragic fall of Mirpur can never be forgotten.
Every year 25th Nov is remembered as Mirpur Day. On this day in 1947 a curse descended on Mirpur, now in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Out of a total population of 25,000 about 18,000 Hindus and Sikhs were killed and about 3,500 were wounded by the raiders. To pay tributes to Martyrs on this day Mirpur Mahajan Sabha organises programmes in which people from all walks of life including school children participate in processions and meetings etc. A grand function is organised at Mirpur Chowk, Mahesh Pura, Jammu by the Mirpur Mahajan Sabha.
(The author is the president of Mirpur Mahajan Sabha, Jammu. He is a well known social activist)