Naushera Gate is a testimony to the fact that something happened in 1948 where a spectacle of courage and bravery was on full display!
‘I am dying but let not the territory we were fighting for fall for the enemy’ (Brigadier Usmaan)
‘Anybody can draw courage from a hundred people, but when a hundred people draw courage from you, that’s greatness. We all know what the world needs – the country needs thunder-nerves that strike the enemy invading our lands and volcanic veins that erupt and annihilate the invader. This happened here in the hills of Naushera district Rajouri’
The Pakistani tribesmen had choreographed the dance of destruction for so long, tearing the people apart, plundering, murdering and looting them at will. The time had come for the Indian Army to make some great new moves. The time had come to use are own armoury to put the invaders to sword as they had left aside all scruples and wanted to sweep off our countrymen. It was time for locals to see the truth, see the wiping off of the enemy who had come on horses to torture, torment and traumatize them. The wild invaders were sent packing back as they stood no chance in front of sheer audacity and wrath of our soldiers in what was to become one of the greatest shows put up on the battlefield and the same has also been christened by the name as ‘Battle of Naushera’. Perhaps at that time the exploits of the soldiers on the battlefield would not have been disseminated to the public at large because of the lack of communication and news spread facilities but there is plenty written in books in the form of their experiences by the men who saw the action. But one thing is certain while taking on the ruthless enemy the officers and the men must have said this in one voice during the great charge, ‘fear not oppressors will tremble hearing our footsteps and bigots will shiver at the sight of our arrival.’ The enemy did wilt in the fury unleashed by our men.
I The Battle of Naushera
In 1947 Pakistan sent tribal irregulars into the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in an attempt to capture it and accede it to Pakistan. Lion of Naushera Brigadier Mohammad Usman, MVC (15 July 1912 – 3 July 1948). Usman became a symbol of raw courage. The man set very high standards of chivalry in this battle. Usman, then commanding the 77th Parachute Brigade, was sent to command the 50th Parachute Brigade, which was deployed at Jhangar in December 1947. On 25 December 1947, with the odds stacked heavily against the brigade, Pakistani forces captured Jhangar. In January–February 1948 Usman repulsed fierce attacks on Nowshera and Jhangar, both highly strategic locations in Jammu and Kashmir. During the defence of Nowshera against overwhelming odds and numbers, Indian forces inflicted around 2000 casualties on the Pakistanis. His defense earned him the nickname Lion of Naushera. Pakistani forces then announced a sum of Rs 50,000 as a prize for his head. Unaffected by praise and congratulations, Usman continued to sleep on a mat laid on the floor as he had vowed that he would not sleep on a bed till he recaptured Jhangar, from where he had had to withdraw in late 1947. It was during this defense of Jhangar that Usman was martyred on July 3, 1948, by an enemy 25-pounder shell. He was 12 days short of his 36th birthday. His last words were ‘I am dying but let not the territory we were fighting for fall for the enemy’ For his inspiring leadership and great courage, he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.
On 25 December 1947, with the odds stacked heavily against the brigade, Pakistani forces captured Jhangar. Located at the junction of roads coming from Mirpur and Kotli, Jhangar was of strategic importance. On that day Usman took a vow to recapture Jhangar – a feat he accomplished three months later, but at the cost of his own life.
In January–February 1948 Usman repulsed fierce attacks on Nowshera and Jhangar, both highly strategic locations in Jammu and Kashmir. During the defence of Nowshera against overwhelming odds and numbers.
The then Lieutenant General K M Cariappa (later General and Chief of Army Staff and years after retirement made Field Marshal), who had taken over as Western Army Commander, brought his tactical headquarters forward to Jammu to oversee the conduct of two important operations, namely the capture of Jhangar and Poonch.
The operations commenced in the last week of February 1948. The 19th Infantry Brigade advanced along the northern ridge, while the 50th Parachute Brigade cleared the hills dominating the Nowshera-Jhangar road in the south.
What happened thereafter is history but Naushera and Jhangar remained the to defensive battles fought by a smaller strength of soldiers against the enemy who came in form of blizzards
Indian Army launched a series of operations that included Operation Vijay: counterattack for recapturing Jhanger and Rajouri. Indian Spring Offensive 1 May 1948 – 19 May 1948, Operations Gulab and Eraze, Operation Duck 15 August 1948 – 1 November 1948, Operation Bison and Operation Easy. Poonch link-up 1 November 1948 – 26 November 1948. All these operations were marvelously executed and each has a great history and amazing stories about the art of fighting and finally the Pak tribesmen had no option but to lay off with a bloodied nose.
II. Brigadier Usmaan:
Perhaps the man believed in one thing, ‘If I’m here to do something, come what may I will do it’ because the thing called as determination and never say die spirit always oozed out of him and words such as ‘I have no path, for I am the path’ were not uncommon for the soldiers to hear. Mohammad Usman was born in Bibipur, now Mau, Uttar Pradesh, in the Azamgarh district, United Provinces, British India on 15 July 1912. At the age of 12, he had jumped into a well to rescue a drowning child. 24 years later he had to save many as he defended Naushera and Jhangar. Usman later made up his mind to join the Army, and despite the limited opportunities for Indians to get commissioned ranks and despite intense competition, he succeeded in gaining admission to the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). He entered RMAS in 1932, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and appointed to the Unattached List for the Indian Army on 1 February 1934. He was attached in India to the 1st battalion of the Cameronians on 12 March 1934 for a year.
Brigadier Mohammad Usman MVC was the highest ranking officer of the Indian Army killed in action during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.] At the time of the partition of India he with many other Muslim officers declined to move to the Pakistan Army and continued to serve with the Indian Army.
III. Naushera Gate:
It is said that there is no death for those who die for the people, there’s only immortality. This Gate of victory will make us remember the efforts of those great men who came here, saw and conquered. Some crossed the gateway of heavens to fade int immortality and some lived to tell about their hair raising exploits. The men who defended Naushera and Jhangar sought no reward, sought no applause, they just kept on walking in the course of the cause of the then new born nation and now called as a giant, ‘India’. This happened in Udhampur today:
Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Y K Joshi named a gate at the Udhampur military station in Jammu and Kashmir as ‘Naushera’ to honour the valiant soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in the ‘Battle of Naushera’ in 1948 to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.
The ‘Battle of Naushera’ was a decisive and historic victory for India’s armed forces and a serious blow to Pakistan. It resulted in the successful defence of Naushera town in Rajouri district.
In remembrance of the valiant soldiers who fought this battle and laid down their lives, the Army commander named one of the important gates of the Udhampur military station as ‘Naushera’ and unveiled it.
He paid rich tributes to the gallant soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of the nation in the best traditions of the Indian Army. Ssenior Army officers and veterans of Udhampur military station attended the event.
The various gates of Udhampur Military Station are named after important operational locations like Hajipir, Rezang La, Basantar, Tololing, and Tiger Hill. All great battles.
The Battle of Naushera will be remembered year after year and make us remember the great men who laid down their lives for the country and its people. The men who dared death with a smile as they said to the invisible dark lady, ‘I’ve never wanted to live as a mortal, I’ve always wanted to die as an immortal. It’s nice that you came yourself to take me into your arms for eternal sleep. You are doing me no favors, instead I’m because you came to welcome me’! I’m sure the lady called as death too would have been having tears in her imperious stone eyes at that moment of truth!