Army veterans call for immediate repair and subsequent shifting of his mortal remains to a place in Delhi Cantonment
NEW DELHI – The mortal remains of Brigadier Muhammad Usman, the 1947-48 Indo-Pak war veteran and an iconic figure of the Indian Army, lies in the graveyard of Jamia Millia Islamia.
According to a media report, his grave has been vandalised. No one knows who is responsible for this but the news, broken by Md Umar Ashraf in Heritage Times, is shocking. Everyone is crying foul. At least two former army generals have expressed their anguish through tweets. They have called for immediate repair of the grave and its subsequent shifting to Delhi Cantonment.
Brigadier Usman is referred to as ‘Lion of Naushera’ for the unparalleled bravery he displayed during the India-Pakistan war of 1947. He led the 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade which famously recaptured Jhangar and Naushera, two strategic locations in Jammu and Kashmir, from Pakistan in 1948. His feat earned him the title ‘Naushera ka Sher’, or ‘Lion of Naushera’. Unfortunately, he was killed in a mortar attack in July 1948.
Usman’s funeral was led by Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and attended by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, President Dr Rajendra Prasad, Governor General C. Rajagopalachari, and many other cabinet ministers.
According to Heritage Times, he is the only Indian soldier on whose head Pakistan Government put a prize money. Pakistan announced a prize of Rs. 50,000 to kill him which they successfully did on July 3, 1948 but not before he was already a national hero. Even before his martyrdom, he had become a part of popular folklore for his bravery and compassion in Naushera. He was the seniormost officer to lay down his life during the 1947-48 war.
No one has any idea how his grave was damaged or when but The Print news portal reports quoting residents to say that the cemetery is not secure given that both entrance and exit gates are open 24×7 and an entire side of the premises is open to the Jamia Metro Station and the main road.
Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain and Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia have called for ‘urgent repairs’ to Brigadier Usman’s grave. “Heartbroken. @adgpi please see this info is put up to the AG and the Colonel of the Parachute Regt. This grave must be repaired by us, the Indian Army. We should move the mortal remains to a place in Delhi Cantt where they will be treated with honour,” Lt Gen Hasnain said in a tweet. He also shared the link of a report which claimed that the site was ‘damaged by some miscreants’.
Army sources have described the matter as a “protocol and emotional issue” for the force. They said the immediate concern of the force was the repair of the grave. Plans to shift the remains of Brigadier Usman to the Army Cantonment as suggested by some will be decided in time, the sources told The Print.