Indian Army’s Brigadier Mohammad Usman was the highest-ranking officer to have laid down his life in the India-Pakistan War of 1947. But before that, the troops led by him had recaptured Jhangar in Jammu and Kashmir defeating the Pakistan Army.
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His grave now rests at the “VIP section” of the graveyard near Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi. However, the marble grave was believed to have been damaged by some miscreants recently and the Indian Army has moved to restore it.
The Army sources told the news agency PTI that they are “deeply disturbed and anguished” on the damaged condition of the national hero’s grave.
Who was Brigadier Mohammad Usman?
Popularly known as the ‘Naushera ka Sher’ (Lion of Naushera) and ‘Saviour of Naushera,’ Brigadier Usman was among the officers who refused to join the Pakistani Army at the time of partition and remained with the Indian Army.
Born in Azamgarh District of Uttar Pradesh on July 15, 1912, and an alumnus of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, Brigadier Usman joined the army at the age of 23 and was commissioned in the Baluch Regiment. Following the partition, he was transferred to the Dogra Regiment.
During the India-Pakistan war of 1947-48, Brigadier Usman, a Commander of 77 Para Brigade, was given the charge of 50 Para Brigade at Jhangar. Despite resistance from the Indian troops, the Pakistani Army captured Jhangar on December 25, 1947.
Three months later, Brigadier Usman fought the enemy and won back Jhangar to India. Following the Pakistani Army’s defeat in Jhangar, it targetted Naushera, which was ferociously guarded by Brigadier Usman’s troops. This feat earned him the name of ‘Saviour of Naushera.’
According to the Centre for Land Warfare Studies’ (CLAWS) archive papers, Brigadier Usman had worked out a very intelligent Artillery fire plan for the battle of Jhangar.
“He had brigaded all the 24 field guns and the Mortars of the three battalions. He had concentrated them on a limited front targeting the highest point of the feature, which was attacked first. Once the barrage lifted, the troops were already at the enemy trenches taking them by surprise.”
Brigadier Usman lost his life at the age of 36. Following Jhangar’s win, when he stepped out of his tent and a single shell killed him. He was the only soldier to receive a funeral with full state honors in the presence of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Governor-General C. Rajagopalachari, and many cabinet ministers said Heritage times.
The epitaph on the grave today reads:
“He was commissioned into the 5/10 Baluch Regiment, where he served till Independence. During Partition, he was given the option to join the Pakistan Army as Army chief. A true patriot that he was, he declined and chose to serve the country of his birth, an epitome of secularism and patriotism. Brigadier Usman took over command of 50 (I) Para Brigade in December 1947 at Naushera, J&K. Under his command, the brigade halted the advance of Pakistani tribals at Naushera against all odds. He then led the brigade to recapture Jhangar, thereby turning the tide on the raiders.”
He was honored with Maha Vir Chakra posthumously for his role in the 1947-48 war.