Part I can be read at: https://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/the-coup-of-1951-part-1/
Part II can be read at: https://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/coup-of-1951part-ii/
Major General Akbar Khan
Colonel Mirza Hassan Khan was the accused number nine in the Hyderabad Tribunal which was trying the accused in the coup of 1951.He had been assigned to bring troops for the Coup- d’état from Kahuta where 3 A.K. Battalion was stationed under the command of Capt. Nur Hussain. Col. Hassan had been arrested in the second week of May 1951 and taken to Attock Fort and a few days later, Gen. Ayub Khan who was on a visit to Attock Fort along with a Turkish Army delegation, ,having sent a message to Col. Hassan khan through the Mian Anwar Ali DIG[CID] who was interrogating Col. Hassan at the Attock Fort to become a approver and cooperate with the government agencies. This offer was spurned by Col. Hassan Khan. The role of Col. Hassan was very vital in the execution phase of the operation-as the whole of 3 A.K. Battalion was to arrive from Kahuta to Rawalpindi before the appointed hour-the day the Prime Minister was to be in Rawalpindi in connection with the election campaign. That evening Gen. Akbar who was the CGS was to go to the GHQ and issue orders to pre-arranged parties of officers to arrest the Prime Minister, the C in C Gen. Ayub Khan, Major Gen. Hayaudddin GOC 7 DIV, Brig. Altaf Qadir; the local Brigade Commander in Rawalpindi-Lieut. Gen. Meckay, the Chief of Staff-as well as a wide range of civil & military officers whose lists had been prepared and locations marked-in addition to 3 AK Battalion, ,two companies under Lieut.Col. Arbab CO of 1st/2nd Punjab located at Thal was also to be called in. At the same period as 3 AK Battalion, a contingency had been catered for additional troops which were to be procured from 4/13 FFR-which was stationed also in Rawalpindi and the previous commander of this unit Lieu.-Col. Sidique Raja [who became approver number one] would make the necessary arrangements [rest of the operational plan I will discuss when the roles of other accused is highlighted.
Mirza Hassan Khan, as a Captain in the Dogra State Force had fought on the Burma Front-in the Second World War while serving in the 4th Jammu & Kashmir Rifles, which became part of the 9 Brigade under Brig. DFW Warren and the GOC-Maj. Gen. Evans, of the 5th Indian Division-toward the end of September 1944.This unit of J & K rifles had been sent to Burma to replace-3rd/14th Punjab which had suffered heavy losses and was in a bad shape and was being sent back to India for rest & reorganization. The 5th Indian Div. was on the axis-Imphal-Tiddim-Kalemyo-Kalewa Road and the progress was very slow due to Japanese resistance, The biggest hurdle en-route was the ‘Kennedy peak’ 2704 meters high and held tenaciously by the Japanese and INA troops. The 2nd/1st Punjab had tried its best but was held up. Later 3rd/2nd Punjab had tried to work its way up the ridge and had failed. On 26th Oct 1944,the CO of 4 J&K rifles assigned Lieutenant Banaras Dev to lead a Guerilla party and get vital information about the location of Japanese lethal 75mm guns sited all around the Ridge. His party came back with exact locations and this paved the capture of this salient feature.
Much later after many a battles on this axis-on the night of 22/23 March 1945,the Japanese attacked the entrenched forward positions of 4 J&K rifles at ‘Meiktila’ held by the ‘C’ Company-under Capt. Hassan Khan, as the Japanese advanced towards the trench positions of 7th and 8th platoons of the ‘C’ company-which held two important features. The Japanese were fearless they came in waves & in frontal attacks -the fighting continued the whole night-the Japanese were unable to dislodge the ‘C’ Company position, at Dawn the enemy withdrew leaving behind 257 dead. Captain Hassan Khan was awarded a Military-Cross for his gallant leadership due to which the men of his company struck on so stubbornly to their positions against determined Japanese Attacks.
Reverting to the subject of the liberation of Gilgit regions-and the role of Col. Hassan Khan; the British Govt. had taken on lease the whole of Gilgit Agency from Maharaja of Kashmir on 1st Aug 1935 for a period of 60 years which was to expire on 1st Aug 1995.As per the following major terms; that the entire Gilgit Agency was to be administrated on Civil & Military matters by the NWFP Govt, under the orders of the Viceroy of India, all Dogra forces were to be withdrawn-joint posts were however allowed to be maintained with the Dogra state forces at-Bunji-Leh-Kargil-and Skardu. The company posts at Leh were strengthened, in view of the influx of Turk refugees from Chinese Turkistan in 1937 and later of Kazak’s from the Russian-Soviet State in 1942.
On 1st Aug 1947-The British played a dirty trick and handed back the Gilgit Agency to The Dogra Forces-The major pertinent point which Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan never raised at any forum was when the whole region had been actively controlled by the Govt of NWFP and a Referendum had finished on 17 July 1947-whereby the whole province and its agencies had voted in favor of joining Pakistan-Why was this territory and its lease still subsisting handed over so surreptitiously to Hari Singh on 1st Aug 1947 ??? Liaqat Ali Khan turned a blind eye to the whole affair in his usual callous manner-
After the Gilgit Agency previously part of NWFP and its agencies was handed back to Dogra state-Brig. Ghansara Singh was made the Governor of this region-he came along with 6 J&K rifles-and was further reinforced by two extra Sikh companies taken on loan from the Maharaja of Patiala state forces-The other paramilitary force in the region was of Gilgit-Scouts, under Maj. Brown & Capt. Mathieson and two local officers Lt. Sayeed and Lt. Ghulam Haider. The other important officers were Subedar Major Babar khan, Subedar Nadir Ali of C company, Muhammad Ali of D Company, OC of Adm. Company was Capt. Nek Alam from Mirpur. Other subedars were Bostan Khan, Ahmad Shah and Shafi of the Adm. Company.
Capt. Mathieson was located at Chilas-Subedar- Major Babar khan was the real uncle of the Mir of Nagar and Jemadar Shah Khan was the real uncle of the Mir of Hunza.
The arrival of 6 J&K rifles at Bunji had alarmed the men of the Gilgit Scouts-and their Subedar Major Babar Khan had represented the matter to Maj. Gen H.L. Scott Chief of Staff Dogra Forces who snubbed him by stating that the Gilgit Scouts could never be at Par with the Dogra-State forces, officers or even Jco’s. The ring leaders of the takeover of the Dogra Governor’s house and arresting and implementing the whole operation were-Babar Khan, Subedar Safiullah Beg[education JCO] Jemadar Fida Ali, Quarter master JCO and the platoon commanders, Shah Sultan, Shah Khan & Sultan Firoze Sufi.
Brig. Ghansara Singh had got a wind of the revolt and had ordered the CO of 6 J&K rifles, Lieut. Col. Majid Khan at Bunji to send in a company to Gilgit. Who accordingly detailed Maj. Hassan Khan and Capt. Ehsan Ali to move to Gilgit. However Subedar Major Babar khan becoming aware of this, moved in quicker and surrounded the Governors house on the night 31st Oct/1st Nov.1947.Babar Khan leading 100 picked men, encircled the compound of the residency and asked Ghansara Singh to surrender, who tried to delay it-as he was expecting a company of 6 J&K rifles from Bunji. Meanwhile Maj. Hassan Khan and Capt. Ehsan on the horseback reached ahead of the marching columns of the company-and on reaching both officers openly declared their loyalty to the cause. Brig. Ghansara Singh seeing this surrendered. On 1st Nov 1947 Pakistan Flag was hoisted at the Gilgit Residency.
Lieut. Col Majid Khan on hearing of this news rushed to Gilgit. Enroute he was ambushed along with his leading team members and put under arrest with Brig, Ghansara Singh. On hearing the news of the arrest of their CO Capt. Sikander Singh & Capt. Balder Singh Bajwa decided to move out of Bunji. However Gilgit scouts ambushed them enroute and took them prisoners-they and rest of other men of 6 J&K Rifles were later transferred along with Brig. Ghansara Singh to the Attock Fort and later repatriated to India in March 1950.
By Jan 1948-the total manpower of Gilgit Scouts was 500 rifles plus a HQ company. The Muslim elements of the defunct 6J&K rifles were 400 men under command of Major. Hassan khan, Maj.Ehsan Khan & Capt. Muhammad Khan Jaral. Lt. Nadir Khan and Lt. Bostan khan. At the same period a new Azad Force was also raised with each company of 120 men divided in three platoons.300 men each from Hunza-Nagar-and 100 each from Punial-Kuhi-Ghizer-Gilgit were also inducted-they were given training on a war footing. This force was divided in three wings-The main was the Tiger Force wing under Maj. Hassan Khan. The second was ‘Eskimo force under Lt. Shah Khan and the Ibex force came under Lt. Babar khan. The overall commander of the last two forces was Maj- Ehsan Ali Khan.
Capt. Muhammad Khan Jaral of later Zojila pass fame was made the overall commander of the defunct element of 6 J&K rifles. The Mir of Rondu on his own raised a force of 300 men, armed with local muzzle loaders and took up the position overlooking the Byicha pass gorge to check any Dogra Advances towards Skardu. The Ibex Column was sent to Haramosh-25 miles east of Gilgit later it moved to Tongas covering a snow decked region of 100 miles in just three days a admirable feat of human endurance done under the leadership Lt. Babar Khan.
The Tiger Force under Maj. Hassan Khan remained involved in the liberation war from March 1948 to Jan 1949.His four companies had the following composition-The punial company had 50 rifles of the Dogra era Gilgit scouts along with 60 rifles of new recruits, Subedar Shah Zaman of Punial was the company commander beside .303 rifles they had one two-inch mortar, one bren gun, two LMG’s. The same weapons were also held with other companies. The Kuhi-Ghizier company was under Subedar Akbar Hussain of Gupis, Yasin company was under subedar.Adina shah and the Gilgit company under Subedar Firdos Ali son of the Mir Shah Rais khan of Gilgit.
This force fought its way till ‘Tragbal’ the last frontier post enroute to Srinagar. The Tragbal post is on a plateau 11,800 feet above sea level-and it was a check on the conventional land route between Gilgit and Srinagar via Bandipur. The most important aspect of this feature was that it threatened the Indian Advance positions at Uri & Teetwal from the rear. Maj. Hassan khan with his limited resources advanced till Baba Shukar Din’s hillock a few miles short of Bandipur-heavily fortified by the Indians and covered by Artillery and daily Air Raids which came on the positions of Maj. Hassan Khan who was daily sending raid parties across the Indian side of defenses and had reached the Dak Bungalow in the Sundarwan forests. However, Indian Air Staffing kept him pinned down. The objective of Maj. Hassan Khan was to set up a base at Tragbal and launch a pincer movement towards Srinagar-However he had a limited force-in view of this he requested the GHQ to send in reinforcements of at the least 2000 men including a few companies of the Frontier rifles. However it much in the middle of June 1948 that this force/Lashkar of tribesmen and the companies of Frontier Rifles, reached his position-However here a new twist took place-the overall command was taken away from Maj. Hassan Khan, as he was still of the state forces-and he was called back to GHQ-the command came under a Maj. Ismail, Maj Queirshi and Lt. Anwar Khan of Frontier rifles. The result was a major fiasco. These officers, showed extreme cowardice and vacated the Tragbal and Gurez on the first attack on their positions by the Indian, Air & Artillery bombardment along with their troops. When this news reached the GHQ Brig Sher Khan DMO was livid and immediately sent for Maj. Hassan Khan who had been sent to Kohat to be inducted in the regular Army-On reaching GHQ -Maj Hassan Khan was told this distressing news-and forthwith put in a small Harvard Plan and sent back to take over the overall Command after being inducted on papers in the regular Army.
By the time Maj. Hassan Khan reached and trekked his way to his Command the previous leaders had not only retreated from Tragbal/Gurez, but had also lost the lands south of Burzil-pass. However the force of Maj. Hassan Khan was now augmented by another brave man-Colonel [INA] Prince Burhan ul Mulk of Chitral State, who had come with his 2000 volunteers from Chitral regions, barefooted with no beddings and bows and arrows, equipped with old muzzle-loaders but with very high spirits.
This force now focused on the capture of the Kishanganga Valley [Neelum valley] and succeeded. Towards the middle of Aug 1948-Indians attacked the Durmat Post at mid-night-Maj. Hassan on receipt of the wireless message rushed with some men and LMG’s and held the post against extreme Indian bombing and morning Air Strafing. All Indian attacks were beaten back this post was situated on a hill 10,000 feet above sea level and controlled the Tilail Valley which overlooked the old route to the western fringes of the Zojila-Pass.
(To be continued)